“Acting on your dream adds significance to your life.”
– John Maxwell
Whether you have a dream, a goal, a “finish line” in mind… what does it look like? Think about this for a moment. How would you describe the experience you’ll have when you finally make your goal a reality? Create a vivid, detailed image in your mind. Here’s an example:
This year, I will read at least 20 new books. As I close the back cover on the last one, I will feel a sense of enlightenment and joy, as I will have so much more to offer others. I will be able to more deeply brainstorm ideas, add to conversations based on new knowledge, and make an excellent book recommendation. Accomplishing this goal will make me feel empowered, intellectual, and connected.
By creating this experience in your mind, you allow yourself to “see” the end result of hard work and dedication over an extended period of time. This should create an emotional response and get you excited about your goal! Now it’s time to get to work. As you embark on this journey, here are a few things to keep in mind:
What is motivating you? Consider your reasons for wanting to get after this goal in the first place – try to understand your “why.” If it lines up with your values, is something you inherently enjoy doing, or makes you feel complete, you likely have intrinsic motivation, which is powerful and long-lasting. If you're driven by reward or recognition, avoiding some kind of punishment, or someone else wanting you to accomplish it, you’re running on extrinsic motivation, which can be powerful in short bursts. This is often a great tool to get us started (who doesn’t like being rewarded for a job well done?). If this sounds like you, be sure to check your motivation regularly and try to more thoroughly understand it. When you realize that a medal, excitement about new clothes, crossing the finish line with your best friend, or the threat of going on medication no longer seems to matter, it’s time to dig deeper!
Set up your milestones. You have your finish line in mind; now let’s do some backwards planning. Here are a few questions to answer:
- In order to be on track with your goal, what do you need to accomplish or be able to do in one month? Three months? Six months? Nine months?
- To progress towards these milestones, what are some daily and/or weekly actions to build into your schedule?
- How do you plan to keep yourself accountable to these milestones?
Check your mindset. Think about this statement: "A goal getter gets to build new habits."
A goal getter whole-heartedly believes in their ability to accomplish a goal and relentlessly pursues that goal until it’s achieved. To keep your mindset focused on this reality, come up with a statement that encourages and reminds you of this ability, such as “I am capable,” “I believe,” “progress is possible,” or something similar.
When we talk about our day, we often say, “I have to…” or “I need to…” which sounds like an uninspiring list of things you must check off. When talking about action items or milestones, try saying, “I get to…” instead. For example, rather than “I have to read for 30 minutes today,” try “I get to enjoy some quiet time reading and pick up some new nuggets.” See the difference?
In setting a goal, and especially weekly actions to stay on track, it usually feels temporary, like something you have to get through and then (thankfully!) you can move on. Try making a mindset shift by deciding what new habits you want to build that align with your milestones and overall goal. What do you want to be a normal part of your life?
Remind yourself that your goal matters. At 28, Jim Carrey (at the time a broke, unknown comic) wrote himself a check for $10 million for acting services rendered as he launched himself on the path to becoming the real deal and a household name. He saw that check in his wallet day after day as it deteriorated and deteriorated – all while putting his nose to the grind and hustling to make his dream a reality. Five years later he found out he was going to make that exact amount… for his role in Dumb and Dumber. How will you constantly remind yourself of your goal?
Your goal matters. You matter. Add significance to your life by acting on your intentions.
For all of you who would rather watch something to soak it in, check out this video of our clinic at Big Peach Running Co. on this very topic!
Abby Keenan is a certified mental performance consultant located in Atlanta, GA. She mentally prepares athletes to perform at their best when it matters most. To work with Abby on a comprehensive goal plan, visit intrepidperformance.com/contact.