Monday, 1 March 2010

Motivation and Goals

Motivation can be an elusive quality. You can be steaming along feeling great about things, practicing hard or getting on with your purpose in life. Then something happens and suddenly every action is too much effort and it's like wading though treacle.

So what is motivation? Basically, it is the activation of goal-oriented behaviour. It is the impetus that we feel to ensure our goals are reached. Without motivation, the drive goes from our lives and we lose the will to apply effort. Understanding why we lose motivation is a good way of finding out how to get it back.

Where motivation is concerned, discoveries change everything.

You can discover that your goals are not what they used to be. People's priorities change, and what you may have gladly spent plenty of your time on last year becomes a waste of time now. It is normal for this to happen, particularly when relationships change (Love, Marriage, Children, Divorce, Bereavement etc.). The people we spend our time with affect our goals far more than most of us admit to.

You can discover that your goal is unattainable, or that despite very hard work, you have actually moved away from your goal.

The worst goal to have is one that relies upon how other people think about you. "I want to be respected" or "I want everyone to look up to me". These kind of goals are the hardest to attain, because they are the most fragile. One wrong word from someone and your world comes crashing down. You may discover that people don't think as highly of you as you thought.

It is at times like these that you need to reassess your personal and professional goals. If you don't have your goals, how can you progress?

1. Write your goals down. Whether it is on a spreadsheet or a piece of paper, make sure you have a clear reference of them so you can keep reminding yourself.
2. Make sure they are specific and measurable. In other words, make sure they can be done and measured. "Get more money" or "Get fitter" are not specific goals. Try something like "Increase my net income by 20%" or "Increase my exercise recovery rate by 10%". These are all specific goals that can be measured.
3. Vary your timescales. You should have long-term, overarching goals that define your actions. You can then break them down into smaller, achievable , more short-term goals.
4. Make sure they are realistic.
5. Stay focused. Don't set too many goals. 5 - 10 non-conflicting goals are ok.
6. Always have at least one simple goal and one difficult goal at any given time.
7. Prioritise and be flexible. Decide which goals are the most important and set your deadlines accordingly. However, you should always be aware that some of your goals may move quicker than others and allow some flexibility in your schedule.
8. Balance: Don't have all your goals in one area of your life. Try to spread them about.

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