When Setting Goals, Sustain the Momentum by Creating a Picture of the End Result!
If you want results, you must keep your focus on your end game. With all the requests, agreements, commitments, and tasks associated with everyday living and working, the requirement to set goals, whether work-related or personal, can feel like a burden. It is easy to become distracted or lower your commitment.
How you frame your goal can go a long way toward helping you plan and achieve it. For instance, “I will lose 15 pounds by December” can lose momentum early. It’s daunting. Remember those New Year Eve resolutions? However, “I will fit into my skinny jeans by the end of the year,” creates a visual of how I will look when I achieve this result. That is more exciting and provides visual impact.
The same is true of work goals. How will the assigned work goal fit into your larger career picture? “Through this project, I am gaining project management skills and experience I need to qualify for the jobs I want to advance to the next level.” This project was assigned, but you have made it your own.
As you develop your plans, you are creating a picture or story. It’s like taking a trip twice, first in your mind, and then physically doing so. Checking on details, overcoming obstacles, and determining what you need can add to the anticipation rather than feeling burdensome.
When setting goals, we not only need a goal we can get excited about; we also need a way to sustain momentum; especially if it takes longer than you first anticipated.
So, What’s My Motivation?
Successful people look at goals as a means to create the life they want one step or one goal at a time. Successful people ask themselves two clarifying questions:
- What are the benefits of achieving this goal?
Consider a goal to run the Boston Marathon. Training for a marathon can be grueling – requiring discipline, determination, and commitment. Be clear on how this goal will benefit you. (I.E., it will give you the confidence to try other things you were afraid to do, become healthier, help a charity, etc.) Listing the benefits will remind you of the reasons to continue when stopping feels easier.
Awareness of the benefits keeps your eyes on the prize and your feet on the path.
- How will I know I have accomplished my goal?
What will change when you’ve succeeded? You must recognize what will be different. I ask my coaching clients to write down at least five things that will be different from completing their goal.
For example, in accomplishing a career goal to lead a project, you might expect (1) to develop specific new skills (what are they?), (2) to gain experience as a project manager, (3) to become known as an expert, (4) be ready to take the next step in my “front pocket” plan (see my blog post “Your Front and Back Pocket Plans,” 2/18/19, and (5) get an increase in pay.
If you can’t think of five at first, try for three. If you can’t think of any, ask yourself: why am I doing this?
Work the goal!
When you have answered the above two questions, and you’re enthusiastic about your goal, ask yourself these questions as you work your goal:
- What am I learning as I take these steps?
- Where else can I apply what I’m learning?
- Is this goal still relevant?
- Do the benefits I’ll receive still excite me? If not, what needs to change?
- When I’ve completed this goal, what’s next?
Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop!
Sometimes we need to set small, easily achievable goals to clear the way for the big ones. Besides, easy wins make us feel more confident in working on more challenging, riskier goals.
When you stretch yourself, taking significant steps, and stretching outside your comfort zone, it can be discouraging when you don’t see results right away. Remember, it is an investment in your life. Remind yourself, you got this far with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and you’re a lot farther than when you started! Dust yourself off and decide what to do next. Get yourself a coach or mentor to help figure it out if you are stuck.
Please don’t cheat yourself by becoming too comfortable with small, easily achievable goals. You must continue to stretch yourself in ways that could change your life; if not, you’ll get left behind. We all have untapped potential to mine. What a beautiful life is in store for you if you choose!