If you’re going to quit anything this year, then quit making excuses.
Below, I outline for you in some detail how to make a whole lot more of the coming twelve months so that you can achieve long lasting and powerful change. Here, I focus on three main areas of life…motivation, goal setting and how to overcome difficult obstacles.
Firstly, understand that by adding even an extra bit of focused time and energy each and every day towards achieving positive change; it will makes a remarkable difference in terms of your performance and quality of life.
15 minutes a day = 91.25 hours a year
30 minutes a day = 182.5 hours a year
45 minutes a day = 273.75 hours a year
60 minutes per day = 365 hours a year
How do I stay motivated?
Motivation can be defined as ‘a reason for acting or behaving in a particular way’. Its what causes you to act, whether it is getting a glass of water to reduce thirst or reading a book to gain knowledge Motivation involves the biological, emotional, social, and cognitive forces that activate behaviour and there are three components to it.
- Activation – involves the decision to initiate a behaviour, such as enrolling in an exercise class.
- Persistence – is the continued effort toward a goal even though obstacles may exist e.g. work/family/study
- Intensity – can be seen in the concentration and vigour that goes into pursuing a goal e.g. how much effort each person makes during the exercise class.
As outlined above motivation can be considered as the ‘reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way’ or in other words the ‘motive’! This is absolutely key. For those who remain overly focused upon short term outcomes it is highly likely that the real ‘motive’ will remain unknown to them and they lose passion, drive and yes, motivation. That is why you may have noticed that the novelty of the new exercise class, bonus or car, the new organisational system or structure, tends to wear off and the same feelings of guilt, shame and/or longing for something ‘better’ re-emerge again and again.
However, if you find your ‘motive’ then you are truly quipped with your compass. The guiding principal for your day to day actions and interactions. Whether this is individually, part of a team or organisation your thinking and behaviours should align to this. The best teams or companies in the world, those that are most successful in their field and the most successful leaders as individuals are very clear in finding their ‘motive’ The benefits and successes that they subsequently experience are almost secondary to this and an inevitable by-product of their powerful ‘motive’. Take the time to understand your motive. What is it that you want your legacy to be? What is it that you truly want to achieve? How will you define success?
Powerful Goal Setting
Goal setting is one of the most common themes that I come across when providing coaching to individuals and teams. For some, they coast along without focus or direction while others seem to be continuously chasing objectives but to what end? Here, I set out some key questions to help guide you as you begin to consider the topic of effective goal setting so that you can pursue your own dreams or motive.
Are you goals meaningful?
What motivates me may not necessarily motivate you and vice versa. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to have a good level of self-awareness before setting goals. Do your goals correlate with your values and beliefs? Do you even know what they are? How motivating are your goals to you? Will they ultimately add to your legacy whatever you may want that to be?
Are your goals specific?
Improving results over the next quarter too vague? How about to lose weight. There are thousands of other examples of poor attempts at goal setting. In order to succeed you have to firstly define each of your goals in vivid detail. What exactly does it look like and how will you know when you have reached it?
Are your goals positive?
The language that we use around our goal setting is very important and should always be positive when framing them. A newly promoted team to the premier league doesn’t set a goal of not being relegated (if they do they will inevitably fail). Instead they set themselves positive goals such as to acquire a minimum of 40 points etc. In terms of the goals that you set frame them with positive language and you too will succeed.
Are they taking time?
Is the pursuit of your goals taking time each day? If the answer is yes, then that is good! You will never reach your goals unless you actually spend dedicated time working on them! ‘Time management’ could be more accurately called ‘priority management’. We all have 24 hours each and every day. How are you investing your time and energy? Refer back briefly to the list above where I have outlined how even a few minutes each day incrementally builds over the course of a year so that you can achieve more than you ever thought possible!
Are they ambitious?
The most common model when it comes to goal setting states that should always be SMART with the ‘R’ standing for ‘Realistic’. The problem with this is that it encourages individuals and teams to be overly conservative and it becomes a box ticking exercise. Replace ‘Realistic’ with ‘Risky’ and see what happens! You are likely to be far more capable than to think right now so stretch yourself and see what happens. The results might even surprise you!
Are they measurable?
Yes, your goals should be measurable. How are you getting on? In what way will you celebrate each milestone as you proceed as doing so helps to maintain focus and motivation? Who is responsible for each action and where are you in the process? Set timeframes and hold yourself (and others) accountable on a continuous basis. Consider setting ‘minimum targets’ rather than ‘absolute goals’ as you may be able to achieve more than you initially thought!
Are they displayed?
Finally, if your goals are clearly written down and displayed research has shown that you are far more likely to achieve them. Its that simple! Alternatively save them to your mobile phone. Revisit them each and every week as this too helps to maintain focus and direction.
Its Hard? That’s good!
Most individuals and teams gravitate towards staying in their comfort zones. Sure why not? It’s easier, it’s non-confrontational, its…safe! But that’s why most individuals, teams and organisations are average in terms of their level of performance.
Excuses for not achieving more are normally attributed for them to external factors with little sense of self leadership and ownership over the actual controllable aspects of which there are so many.
The reality is that working on the edge of your current level of capability and embracing a certain level of discomfort whether this be physical, mental or emotional will improve performance. This type of performance orientated mindset is counter intuitive to many as we live in a society today that tells us that we should instead seek comfort and reassurance.
Studies have shown that elite athletes as well as successful businesses achieve enhanced performance through intentional practice that stretch them in terms of their current level of capability. They embrace discomfort. For example, elite skaters were found to try movements beyond their existing level of capability where less proficient skaters did not. Similarly, we see that individuals improve when they play a sport or work with better calibre professionals. More challenging? Absolutely? Initial discomfort? For sure. But ultimately embracing discomfort improves performance.
With this in mind, consider the following questions…
How does fear of criticism effect your day to day actions?
What action(s) would you be willing to take if you had permission to fail?
What would positively stretch you today?
Related to this concept is ‘ego orientation’ where individuals place enormous value on external recognition and validation but are disillusioned whenever they do not receive it. These individuals are not the type of people that you want on your team when the going gets tough. Contrast this with those individuals that have a ‘mastery orientation’ where they focus on the process of constant improvement and are not obsessed with the end result. They view failures as learning opportunities. Those that have a ‘mastery orientation’ understand that while perfection is unattainable, they will pursue it relentlessly in the knowledge that in the process they will achieve excellence.
Take a few moments to think about the following…
Who is your harshest critic?
What is your best (most useful) mistake recently?
What habit(s) do you have that you would like to change/get rid of and what positive alternatives might you replace them with?
These concepts relate to that of the unhelpful ‘fixed mindset’ where an individual may say ‘I am a _____ ‘(fill in the blank). Those with a ‘fixed mindset’ view themselves as unchanging, inflexible and struggle with discomfort. Contrasted with this, someone with a ‘growth mindset’ recognises the values of lifelong learning. They understand that they are not in a fixed state but rather that they are fluid and evolving each and every day. They recognise that discomfort in part of the process. Always learning and improving regardless of how successful they may already be. These are the high performance people, teams and organisations.
Finally, consider the following questions…
If you set a ‘100 day plan’, what would it look like specifically?
How will you map your priorities?
What do you need to let go of in order to achieve your plan?
How will you measure success?
Joe McDonald is a professional coach and trainer. As founder of create10 he works with individuals, teams and organisations with a focus on improving performance and outcomes. If you are keen to make the most of the coming twelve months then reach out to Joe today at firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.create10.ie for further information.