Motivation Isn’t Always the Answer in Goals

There are lots of right ways to have goals. And lots of wrong ways.

The biggest mistake I see – a mistake I’ve made too many times myself – is to focus too much on the first pillar of goal-setting: motivation.

Let me make this clear: I think that motivation is the most important pillar. The raw emotion and drive is what holds the rest of the system together.

So it makes sense that we focus on motivation. But that can lead to failure.

All Three Pillars Needed

Over-emphasizing motivation can cause us to neglect the other two pillars. We don’t rank our priorities or plan our action well.

We throw all of our energy behind the emotion of motivation, instead of following through with the practical planning stages of how to actually achieve goals.

Then when we encounter difficulty, the experts tell us the answer is more motivation. Just want it more, and you’ll do whatever it takes to make it work.

Doesn’t Work in Real Life

Motivation by itself can work when there aren’t any priorities to rank. If your career is your single driving passion and you don’t mind sacrificing family, friends, or health to achieve your career vision – then motivation is all you need.

But that’s not where any of us stand today. We’ve got family, church, health, career, and a host of other balls to juggle in our schedules. We need the other two pillars to focus the energy of motivation.

What happens when your goal of reading a book a week runs up against your desire to be a faithful dad and husband? What happens when your goal of establishing a side business conflicts with the time needed to remain physically fit?

It’s juvenile to simply say the solution is to really, really, really want your goal.

The Truth Isn’t Shiny

The approach that manages all three pillars is often dry. The nuts and bolts of implementing a goal aren’t nearly as attractive and fun as talking about the motivations for your goals.

Break down a goal into smaller steps and then input the proper time for these goals into your schedule.

It’s a give and take dialogue. Your crowded calendar tells your lofty goals that maybe they’ll have to be scaled back a little. Your goals tell your calendar that maybe things will have to be rearranged accordingly.

Implement in small steps. Review. Adapt.

It’s a messy work in progress. But that’s the three pillars at work.

Photo Credit: Jez Nicholson (Creative Commons)

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