“A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.”
Although I have dreams and aspirations I often found myself stagnant or in states of inactivity. I am more than happy to spend my free time binging on Game of Thrones or engaging in my favourite pastime – sleep. But at some point, you look up and realise that you’re not achieving what you set out to. Yes, I was getting by, I was going through the motions and my basic needs were satisfied. But I don’t want to be basic. I don’t want to be satisfied. I want to be fulfilled. I had long since decided on the different things I wanted in my life, the different things I wanted to achieve and I had simply done nothing about it! Time was passing me by and I had nothing to show for it. It wasn’t because I was lost, I knew what I wanted to do. I would have little bursts of activity but they would always die out. So, it was clear that my problem was sustainability, consistency, that force that makes you work when you don’t have to, when you don’t WANT to. I lacked MOTIVATION.
Now when it comes to other things, things I have to do, say academic work I had no problem getting it done. Books on books on journal articles on books would be read and longest most boring essays would be completed long before the deadline. I needed a way to transfer that self-discipline into activities that I was actually passionate about. I thought about what made me effective when it came to tedious things like academics or job applications. Surely if I could get through those I could maintain a blog. So, I’m going to let you in on my little secret. This technique has gotten me through countless essays and job applications and keeps me in check up until this day.
I know you’ve probably heard all about it. You probably don’t think it’s anything special. You already know what you want to achieve so how does setting goals help you? But it is one of the most effective and widely recognised forms of motivation.
Its more than the process of writing things down, it’s about shaping your mind and behaviour to achieve it. I set long term goals (6 months, 1 year, 5 years) and short term goals. It’s more than writing “I want to have a successful blog”. It’s writing “I want have a successful blog in 2 years” I am going to achieve this through these smaller goals e.g. coming up with a concept for the blog by the 21st of August; setting up my blog and writing my first post by 1st September; writing a weekly post. These are statements which are :
These characteristics enable them to keep me to keep myself in check and track my progress.
Each small achievement deserves an associated reward, for the smaller ones it could be something as small as a glass of wine or a bar of chocolate, of course the bigger ones call for a bigger celebration. But no matter how small, these celebrations associate a positive feeling with the accomplishment of the goal, these rewards act as a positive reinforcer making it more likely that I will engage in the behaviour again and try to achieve another goal.
Research has found that just the act of setting a goal and working towards it provides a major source of motivation in itself. Furthermore, the specificity and difficulty of a goal is positively related to task performance (Locke and Latham, 1990). Whilst specificity is achieved by using SMART, the most effective goals are also challenging, require commitment, allow for feedback (to help you grow and adjust your goals) and considers task complexity. If your goals don’t have these characteristics then you may find yourself with a goal that is too easy and whose accomplishment is not motivating or goals that are too challenging/unrealistic that the underachievement is demotivating.
“when it is obvious the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps”
So, go forth and prosper, set your goals and achieve them. You will see immediately what a huge motivator it can be. It’s worked for me so it just might work for you. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself, you deserve it!
“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going”
“You control your destiny, your future. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.