“What is the why behind everything you do? When we know this in life or design it is very empowering and the path is clear.” ~Jack Canfield
Did you set new years’ resolutions for 2020? If you did and you’re still on track, then give yourself a pat on the back because you’re one of the few. By February and March, goals and resolutions are forgotten and many have lost their motivation. Only 8% of people succeed at the goals they set for themselves and 92% of new years’ goals have been abandoned by January 15th. As someone who’s found themselves within that 92% group in previous years, I decided that 2020 was going to be different, so, I’m doing a deeper dive into the key success factors of those in that 8% group.
One of the main reasons people fail at achieving their stated goals is because they set them for the wrong reasons. While you may have been fueled by your temporary enthusiasm, sustaining your motivation and achieving lasting change will be challenging unless you apply the following strategies:
Find your “WHY”.
Finding your WHY is a crucial step when setting goals that you truly want. There is a big difference between doing something you think you should do and something because you truly want to. Your goals should align with your purpose and core values. You need to be clear on WHY you want to achieve a specific goal, and be able to articulate that WHY in simple, clear terms. Your WHY is the thing that will ultimately inspire you to keep going. Why do you want to live a healthier lifestyle? Why do you need to read more? Why do you think getting a new job will bring you happiness?
To find your WHY, take a look at your goal(s) and ask yourself an honest WHY you want it. Keep repeating why 3-5 times until you reach the same answer and finally uncover what’s at the core. For example, your goal is to lose weight. Why? So I can fit into my clothes; Why? Because I want to look and feel good; Why? So I have more energy for my career and family; Why? So I can be a positive role model for my children and others. Once you have a purpose and have asked yourself WHY, think about all of the benefits you’ll get by achieving your goal, and consider who’s counting on you to follow through.
Understand your brain.
Have you ever wondered what motivates each of us to do the things you do in life? Each of us has a built-in predominant need that must be met to achieve our goals and be who we are meant to be. Our predominant need and the priority of our other needs are hardwired at birth. When you understand your nature and needs, it becomes easier to consciously guide your behaviour and move towards your goals. This understanding can help you identify the blind spots that limit your perspective. You can break the longstanding patterns that have been holding you back or preventing you from developing beyond a certain point. For example, for those people with a predominant need that comes from their upper right-brain (like me), will find it natural and easy to envision what they want, however, they’ll likely struggle with breaking down their dreams and goals into small, actionable steps. On the other hand, someone with their predominant need in their lower left-brain, might find sequencing steps and implementation easy but may struggle with envisioning and defining their goals and dreams. When you know and understand the needs of your Predominant Style, you can seek help in the areas that are hardest for you to access. This level of self-awareness is a superpower.
Shift your mindset.
If you want sustainable motivation then you need to examine your thoughts. One of the biggest shifts in my mindset was realizing that I don’t have to feel like, enjoy, or even like doing something, if it supports my overall goal, and my “why”. However, I suggest that you try to shift your mindset or change your language about a particular activity so you can actually enjoy it more. For example, if your goal is to get healthier, or fitter, instead of saying, “I have to work out today”, try saying, “I get to work out today”, or “I can work out”. Maybe your goal is to read one book per month, you can say “I get to do my reading”. This will help to change your feelings about the activity. You don’t have to want or like doing it but I do believe that the things that you do you should have a purpose why you are doing it. Do it because you have a reason to do it. I work out because it gives me energy, I feel better, and by doing it, I’m building a habit, mental muscles, and grit.
Break your goal into the smallest, simplest steps.
“Inch by inch, life is a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard”. Once you’ve defined your purpose or WHY for your goal, learned about your predominant needs, and checked in on your mindset, you’ll need to figure out what activity is required and then break it down into bite-sized simple steps. You want to ask yourself “what is the smallest thing I can do so I can make progress and advance to meet my objective or goal?” For example, if it’s something like working out, ask yourself what’s the smallest step you can take right now. Maybe it’s something simple like putting on your workout clothes when you get up or signing up for a gym membership, or just going for a walk around the block. Figure out what the smallest incremental thing you can do. The benefits of starting small are that you’re more likely to follow through. For example, if it’s reading a book a week, just plan on reading a page, or even a paragraph, a day, and not 45 mins a day. When you chunk your goal into small, doable steps, you can’t fail. It’s less confusing and overwhelming, and when someone is confused, they typically do nothing.When you have a purpose for something, you bring life to it, but when you break it down into very small steps that don’t require a lot of energy, then little by little you can accomplish a lot.
Even if you do all these steps, you need to create energy to stay motivated. Think about it. I know why I need to go to the gym, I understand my predominant need, I’m aware of my mindset, and with support, I’ve broken down my plan into the smallest simple steps. But if I’m really tired because I didn’t get sleep, or I over-ate, I won’t have the energy to work out or to read. I won’t have the energy I need to do the things to take action. It’s very hard to stay motivated if your energy has been sapped.
So what gives you energy?
- Food: Certain foods give you energy, certain foods deplete energy;
- Sleep: We know when we sleep, we recover and replenish;
- Positive thoughts: Negative thoughts deplete energy compared to thinking positively;
- Exercise: Physical exercise gives you energy;
- People: The people you spend time with can be energizing; while others are draining to be with and steel your energy;
- An Organized Environment: It’s easy to be distracted if your environment needs to be cleaned, or is cluttered and messy;
- Managing Stress: Being in fight or flight mode can zap your energy. Fear and chronic stress take a lot of energy and will shrink your brain. Practicing deep, conscious breathing and meditation help.
In this Tedx talk, Simon Sinek explains why we need to start with WHY.
Now, it’s your turn.
What were your new years resolutions or goals for 2020? Are you still on track or have you lost your motivation? Do you know WHY you want to achieve your specific goal(s)? Share in the comments below.