Getting the first spark is easy, follow through and actually reaching your goal without failing is the hard part. It is like starting an engine on a cold winter morning, it might take a couple of tries before you get started, and still you need to endure the distance and be persistent. So what do you do to keep your engine running? In this blog post I am going to talk about sticking with the plan.
Achievement goals and Learning goals
Let’s say that you are a salesman and you need to get 12 sales each day. It is easy to do the math and set the goal to 60 for a week. This is called an achievement goal. Now let us examine a learning goal: I am going to continually improve my selling skills. Is this limited to 12 sales each day? No? Is it possible to fail? Maybe, if you are really crap and become worse as time goes by, but as all learning humans we tend to evolve.
A learning goal is a commitment to become better
So how do you become a better salesperson? By learning from those that are better, by improving your skills, by reading some books, by talking courses, by practice and devotion. I have been on a five year long conscious journey to become the best possible leader. I have just ordered six new books on customer service, leadership and motivation. I am on a healthy diet and exercise plan to lose weight, because fat people are according to research losing out to thin people, because we are judged as lazy. There is strong evidence that obese job applicants face weight bias in job evaluations and hiring decisions. I thought the world was less superficial, but I just need to face the facts. So I have lost 15.4 lbs (7kg) in four weeks. I have not been this thin for about 7-8 years. Why am I talking about my diet? It is a part of a learning process, what does it take to reach my full potential? Diet is one of the elements I need to consider, because I cannot let a first impression cheat me of an opportunity. I am committed to becoming better and this is one step on the way, I am committed and it gives me a lot of motivation.
Let’s break it down
There are a lot of myths about motivation and working with goals.
- Don’t set your goals to high
- Set yourself big goals, so you got something to reach for
- Don’t tell anybody about your goals, so it don’t hurt when you fail
- Tell everybody so you feel pressured to continue
As you see there are a lot of contradictions when you work with motivation. I like to look at goals as directions, not a place with a finish line. So my first advice is:
- Find yourself a learning goal
Walt Disney wants to make people happy. If he at first made two people happy, he would still be making people happy, if he limited himself to 5000 people happy it wouldn’t become a worldwide establishment.
As soon as you have your learning goal, you need to break it down to bits. I read books and I exercise and eat healthy. To successfully make my so far 27 days of diet into 2700 days of a healthy lifestyle I need to track everything, I am weighing myself each day, I am measuring my waist once each day. I am writing it down on a white board each day. I am drawing a plan for the next few weeks. I am analyzing the numbers to spot progress, because progress is a strong motivational factor for me. I might not see it from day to day, but as I am calculating average per week I see progress. This works for me. People tell me, you can’t do that every day, you will lose motivation as you stall. I don’t care; I need to do it my way. I have not set a final destination, but I am chasing progress all the time.
So for my second advice:
- Do whatever works for you, not what other people tell you to.If you need to plan, if you need to keep score, if you need to wing it, whatever you feel comfortable with, do it.
A learning goal can be a life long journey. Henry Ford once said: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” and I agree. This brings me closer to my third advice; analyze your progress, are you moving forward? Are you stalling? Are you moving backwards? This is actually a way for you to draw new directions, eliminate obstacles.
My third advice is:
- Find out what is stopping you and find solutions
“Obstacles are things a person see when he takes his eyes off his goal.” – Cossman
Finding a solution to a problem is learning. But still you could fall out of flow and into your old ways. What do you need to do to stay motivated over time? After all I have been dieting for 27 days so far. No great achievement by itself, but I am trying to change my lifestyle, this means a permanent change, not for a set period of time, but for the rest of my life. Hopefully for about 15-16000 days into the future. This is where your inner drive, your why and your values are important. Why do you want this learning goal? Is your goals aligned with your values? I want to teach about motivation, how can I teach you about motivation if I cannot succeed myself? I have no goals of running New York Marathon. But I hope I can keep improving my health. I want to become the best leader possible. I am falling in love with motivational theory, and being able to inspire other is giving me a lot of energy. I want to make other people better. So my goals are aligned with my values of knowledge and sharing. I need to remember why I am doing what I am doing.
This brings me to my next advice: Lockdown.
- Lock yourself to your current results
This means that you shall not cross this line ever again. I have managed to become 88 kg (194 lbs). I am never going to weigh more ever again. I need to take action if I am getting close to this limit. This means I can enjoy a juicy burger, fries and a chocolate milkshake, but be on the healthy wagon as soon as I am getting near my locked goal. My next lock will be on 85 kg. As a seller you might lock yourself to 10 sales each day. You might have slow days, but then you need to find out what to do to prevent slow days. Now you will know what actions to take if this ever happens again. You learn to avoid fall backs and you will learn how to get on track fast.
Still it might be hard to succeed, what do you do to keep motivated over time? I need to quote Mark Twain to finish this blog post:
“If He Tom Sawyer had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do and Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” – In other words make it fun.
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