Motivational Goal Setting

by Jacob Abshire on January 16, 2015

Resistance is futile … or something like that.

SMART goals, no matter how smart, will be met with some resistance. Your failures from last year are evidence. But rest assure, resistance doesn’t mean failure all the time. In fact, I’m convinced you can push through the resistance when your goals really matter to you.

This is my next step when goal setting—identifying and writing down reasons why I want to achieve each goal. When a goal has purpose, it matters. When it matters, I’m both intellectually and emotionally connected to it. Then, not only do I know my goal, but I also feel what’s at stake.

Let me explain with an illustration. Suppose your goal is to lose thirty pounds in a month. This is a tough goal. It’s possible, but very difficult. The pain of ongoing exercise and extreme dieting would resist you at the core! You would find yourself emotionally and physically exhausted. And, as in most cases, you would fail.

Now, suppose this same goal is motivated by a few reasons. Imagine you nearly had a heart attack, and the doctor informed you that you must lose thirty pounds because your life depends on it. To add to that, your wife is expecting your first child in less than six weeks, and you don’t have life insurance.

Would you lose those pounds? Of course you would! Why? Because the reasons for losing those pounds has set a fire under your seat and motivate you to persist by any means. The odds of your achieving your goal are much higher.

This is why goals need to be connected to purpose. Only then will they be intellectually and emotionally connected to you. Here’s how to do it.

List Your Goals

On a sheet of paper, write down each of your SMART goals. Leave plenty of space between them because you’ll be listing your key motivations below each goal. Of course, make sure these goals have been qualified by the SMART criteria.

Identify Your Reasons

Try to think of at least five reasons you want to accomplish your goal. But think hard about it. They need to be meaningful. Ask yourself questions like: “Why must I complete this goal?” And, “What is at stake if I fail to reach this goal?”

Tweak Your Reasons

Your reasons might be telling a lot about you. Some of my reasons revealed how self-centered and shallow I can be. (This gave me a point of prayer and repentance.) So I adjusted my focus as needed.

Make Your Motivations

Now, with a revised list of reasons that are not so self-centered you’d be embarrassed if your pastor read them, make them compelling. Get creative and broaden their stakes. Rewrite them in such a way that they move you internally.

Prioritize Your Motivations

The final step is to prioritize them. Some motivations are more compelling than others. Take the most compelling motivation and move it to the top of your list. This will be your key motivator.

When you have motivations behind your goals, you are more energized to persist in achieving your goals and being intentional about your schedules. We get stuff done when stuff matters.

Now, see what kind of things motivate you to achieve your goals.

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