How to Set a Goal That Will Actually Motivate You

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How to Set a Goal That Will Actually Motivate You

Motivation-There’s only so much of it to go around

The beginning of the new year is coming around so this makes sense to write about now. When you set a new goal you often ask yourself if it will last longer than the January push, here is how you set a foolproof goal that will actually motivate you.

If you’re lost and you don’t know what to do to get yourself motivated then this one is for you.

People often have questions on how to get motivated and they ask about how to set a goal, this will combine knowledge from both questions to give you the best answer you can find.

Get Extremely Clear on Your “Why”

You might workout because you want to look good in a pair of jeans, you might also workout because you want to set a good example for your children, those are both completely good reasons because they’re yours. They are however completely different. No one can do this step for you. Don’t worry, you’ll learn exactly how below.

This may be the first time you’ve done this. For some of you, you know exactly why you workout, you want to feel healthy and exercise is the best way to get there. For those of you who have no idea, you might want to practice asking yourself 5 “why’s”

For example here’s a scenario between me and an example client, if you’re wondering, yes these conversations can get this personal the first time you have a consultation, I would never share someone’s personal information so let’s use our imagination:

Example of how you can find your “Why”

Original goal: I want to lose weight! (Great!, There can be multifaceted goals)


You: I want to hire a personal trainer to help me lose weight, I’ve looked around on the internet and asked my friends for advice, you seem like a fit for me, where do we start?

Me: Okay great, I’d love to help! Why is losing weight important to you?

You: Well I want to look better in my clothes, and to be honest, out of them. They’re starting to fit me a little differently than they used to.

Me: Okay, and why do you say that?

You: Well I don’t think right now that I look good and it makes me feel a little upset when see myself from a bad angle. I don’t think anything major is wrong with me I’m just not comfortable in my clothes.

Me: Why is feeling comfortable important to you?

You: I think that I carry myself a little better when I feel comfortable. I’m a lot happier and nicer to be around when I’m in a good mood. My coworkers and business friends always notice when I’m in a funk.

Me: Okay, why is important to you that your business friends see you in a good mood?

You: If I’m in a good mood and I’m able to do my job really well then I’ll make more money and I’ll finally be able to take that dream vacation!

Okay so maybe things got a little off script there but you get the point. We found out through this activity that taking vacations is really important to this person. So that’s something you would want to remember every time you didn’t feel like exercising.

You might say something to yourself like: it’s raining out, I’m not feeling it…I don’t want to go to work in a funk, maybe I’ll take a sick day?

Well actually I know I’m in a better mood after I exercise. Everyone at work will probably be in a funk to, I would really stand out if I was in a good mood today of all days. Then I can look awesome and inch closer to that raise I want.

I better put my shoes on! 

If vacations aren’t your thing then it may be more free time to spend with your loved ones, it might be to set a good example for your kids.

Now that you’ve determined what motivates you now we need to do something with that motivation.

Get Clear on Where You’re Going

All the motivation in the world won’t get you to where you want to be, it’s important to have guidance.

Let’s say you wanted to take a trip from Columbia, Missouri to Chicago. You could set out aimlessly north and hope to eventually make it to Chicago, you’ve got a full tank of gas and can afford to get there at some point within the next 12 hours, that might work.

Or you could do yourself a favor and get a map out to guide you along a proven path to get to Chicago. Then it would only take you X hours, if you drive the speed limit of course.

Now both of those methods could get you to where you want to be (I’m assuming you don’t have a stubborn husband who won’t stop to ask for directions when you can’t read the map) but how long could you really get into your drive before you got frustrated and gave up or worse, ran out of gas.

That’s what motivation without clear direction is. It’s a full tank of gas but no roadmap. You cheat the system a little when you take the time to set a clearer goal.

Say you want to lose 10 pounds:

Taking the extra steps of defining how and when you want to lose 10 pounds by makes all the difference in the world.

If you don’t know how then you’ll need to spend the time searching the internet on how to lose 10 pounds, the options are endless keep it simple but keep the important details.

An Example Clear Goal

The difference is night and day:

Not clear enough: You want to lose 10 pounds.

Almost Foolproof: You want to lose 10 pounds by January 29th because you’ve got a work party to go to on the 31st that you’ll want to buy a dress for on the 30th. You’ll do it by changing your eating a little bit and hiring a personal trainer since you don’t want to spend hours on youtube watching exercise videos and you don’t know where to start.

The third and final step is shaping the path you’re on.

Don’t Forget to Plan Ahead

It’s easy to set the goal and get off to a good start, only to be derailed by a midnight trip to the fridge to grab some ice cream because that always sounds good right? (No sarcasm intended, is a bad flavor of Ice cream even real life?)

If you put yourself in a bad spot you’re bound to make it harder on yourself. It’s hard to make a decision if you haven’t mapped out all of the little steps to get you there. Shopping is stressful because there are so many choices for you to decide on.

If you don’t have cookies in the pantry, are you really going to drive to Walmart at 11pm to get them?

Most likely not. Still possible but you just made it that much harder for you to fail, that was really smart planning!

The same logic applies, if you have good stuff you’ll probably eat it.

Action steps:

  1. Think of a goal you want to accomplish, you can do this any time, the beginning of the year might be a good time since everyone will be trying out some new changes so you won’t get as much resistance.
  2. Ask yourself the 5 why’s as to why you want to achieve that goal, it may not take all 5.
  3. Map out as many of the details as you can upfront so you can set yourself up for success down the road
  4. Don’t forget The Most Overlooked Step for a Successful New Years Resolution.

If that sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is! The quickest route you can take is to hire a professional to take a lot of those steps off of your plate, you can hold that person responsible for mapping out the steps. All you have to do is pick that dress out.