Motivation Through Goal Setting
We have talked before about the challenges of staying motivated, and how success (or failure) can make or break your ability to stay on track with goals. There is another side to this story, which is motivation through goal setting. How do you maintain your motivation by giving a voice to what you want to accomplish? Author August Turak wrote an article for Forbes called “3 Keys to Getting and Staying Inspired”. In it, he outlines the relationship between the two:
“As counter-intuitive as it may sound, inspiration actually emerges from the soil of action: perspiration is just the water that nourishes it.”
In other words, if you want to find your motivation, or keep it, you need to start doing something. That’s where goal setting comes in. By outlining your goals and the steps to get there, you have the necessary clarity to take action.
With your goals outlined, it is important to start with baby steps. Your overarching goal may be to finally get fit, but if you start off by trying to run 5 miles and find yourself overwhelmed after a week, you’ll fail. Start with a manageable task: “I’m going to walk 3 miles throughout the day,” or “I’m going to run at least three times this week for as long as I can”. As you develop the habit you will move closer to your goal, and in doing so, your motivation will naturally increase.
When it comes to motivation, there are essentially two types of people: those who are intrinsically motivated and those who derive motivation from external sources. People who have intrinsic motivation are the type who have no trouble getting up and going to the gym every day. Externally motivated people are more likely to find that inspiration from things like the compliments they get about losing weight or fitting in to clothing they find more desirable.
From a psychological perspective, there is biological evidence to support the idea that goal setting will increase your motivation: Goals improve self esteem and bolster commitment. Achieving your goals produces dopamine (which is associated with pleasure) and also makes you more likely to continue seeking challenges (and therefore you will find the motivation to continue achieving more things in your life).
When you sit down to set your goals, don’t forget to use the SMART method. Be pragmatic and realistic in your goals to increase your likelihood of success. If necessary, ally yourself with someone else who has similar goals as a way to get that extra push to do something. Find people who have already achieved the kind of goals you want to achieve and talk to them about how they accomplished what they did.
And lastly, do not forget that your interest and commitment to a goal will play a factor in your motivation to achieve it. If you want to keep going forward, find a way to establish a personal stake in achieving the goal.
Ultimately, if you want to find your motivation to achieve anything, you cannot simply wait around and wait for the right mood to strike you before taking action. Motivation through goal setting may sound counter-intuitive, but get out and do something, and you may find that the spark you need to get some positive momentum going.