Motivation Through Goal Setting

The learning process will never stop, but we are done with the scientific and psychological discussion. It is time for you to gain some applicable concepts to help you work on your self-motivation. The key elements to remember going forward are:

  • Self-motivation is tied to self-confidence and anxiety.

It is a cyclical relationship, so to work on one, you need to work on the other two. You are going to gain information on how to reduce your anxiety to a manageable level that helps you become more productive. You are also going to find tips on how to increase your self-confidence.

Goal setting is the first step to gaining more motivation through the use of anxiety and confidence. You need goals to accomplish to have motivation. The downside to goal setting is we often try to achieve goals that are beyond our current capabilities or desire.

There is a difference between a realistic goal and a dream. A dream is something we tend to romanticize as the “perfect” goal, but we lack the desire to follow through and attain it. For example, you might have changed majors. 

You thought about the original major, what life would be like to have that career, but the reality was totally different. The learning required to reach the degree and gain a career showed that reality and your perception were separate. It does not mean you cannot achieve a dream, it just means that your acceptance of the reality versus the “dream” quality needs to happen before you can meet that goal.

So, as you begin to think about the goals you want to have, you need to consider the reality of the situation.

As a motivation quote says, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Another good example is of a person who is seriously considering going back to school to attain, at least, a cybersecurity certification. The person was considering starting this process right away, but then reality sunk in. The person holds two jobs, works six days a week, is trying to build a house and is currently living in flux between two homes. 

Multiple pets and family also depend on this person to help support them, clean house, wash dishes and clothing, and make meals. The house building is going to be accomplished by this person and the family, rather than hiring a contractor. 

Time, which is already an issue, is soon to become more constrained. The reality is that taking one or two classes every eight weeks is not possible unless the person does not want to sleep and wants to open up the potential for failure.

It is better to wait on this type of goal until the person has a slightly less demanding life. Say, when the house is built and expenses are fewer, and thus the elimination of the number of working hours is less.

With the examples, you can see why it is important to assess your goal setting with a hyper-rational mind and less romanticism.

Making a List

1). Get out a piece of paper or open a word processor on your computer.

2). List the things you want to do. It can include career, relationship and other personal desires, such as travelling, learning a new hobby, and anything else. Your list could include taking an hour to clean the house. It is up to you.

3). Beside each goal, if you have not done so, write how long it would take to achieve the goal in a “perfect” situation. For example, let’s say you want to travel to Japan. A flight is $2,000 from your location, a two-week stay at a hotel is $2,000, meals will be $500, and entertainment is $1,000. You need $5,500. Due to your bills, you have $300 leftover each month. How many months would it take to afford $5,500? It would be a little over a year and a half. You can do the same for going back to school and accomplishing your career goals. You may have a program that takes 24 weeks, for $6,000, but could you do the program as it is designed, or will you need double the time?

4). You will begin working on the short-term goals first. Let’s say you want to clean your home. It will take an hour. Get up now and accomplish that goal. You can come back to the book when you are done. In fact, any short-term goal you wrote down that can be completed right now—go do it.

How do you feel with a goal completed? Do you feel the pressure is reduced? Do you want to see what you can do next and remove it from your list? Most individuals do—it is the combination of dopamine and reward that brings your desire higher.

You are not going to set a date of completion for the other goals. Being too specific in your goal setting can lead to faulty initiation, pressure, and heightened anxiety. If you set a goal that is a year down the road, an emergency happens, and you have to extend the completion date, you may lose confidence.

We will not set you up for such a “failure.” Rather, you are going to look at your goals, the potential amount of time for completion, and decide which goal you are going to tackle next.

To help build your motivation, confidence, and lower anxiety, you should choose small goals at first and work up to the more complicated goals.

What is something on your goal list or you can put on your goal list to complete tomorrow? Write it down and focus on that goal.

Each time you fulfil a goal, mark it off the list or create a list of completed goals. It is up to you and your needs to decide if you need a new list or to simply cross something off.

Some of the simple goals may appear and reappear on the list, given you must clean your home often it is a daily, weekly, or monthly goal to meet. But, the act of getting this task completed is where the confidence boost will derive from and help you meet other goals.

The long-term goals that require money are sometimes where a person can falter significantly in the motivation department. We will focus on the Japan example.

You know in 18 months prices for a flight, hotel, and other vacation expenses can increase or decrease based on the popularity of the destination. You may save $5,500 and find you need $8,000 in 18 months. It is easy to think your goal setting has failed or that you are never going to be able to afford the vacation.

Neuroplasticity is needed in this situation. It is time to retrain your brain. Rather than thinking something is “never” going to happen, you should focus on the goal you attained. You met the goal by saving $5,500. Changes in cost are out of your control.

You can decide to ensure the change in cost that may occur in 18 months does not affect your true goal. For financially responsible individuals, it is possible to use a credit card. You put the vacation on your card, you put the card in the safe, and you make monthly payments of $300. At the end of 18 months, the card is paid off, assuming you paid no interest.

The example is why you need to assess your goals with a hyper-rational mind.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term it implies that you set goals without emotion, you step back and assess the potential failure points, the reality of gaining the goal, and what you can do to ensure you complete the goal.

The holiday to Japan showed you could pay for the holiday with a credit card to get the best cost. The downside is you may have an emergency when you need the $300 for something more important than the credit card payment. 

What would you do to account for this situation? Would it cause you to go off track and only make the minimum payment to the card? Is it worth being in debt to meet the goal knowing that life can throw things at you that are out of your control?

You need to assess the anxiety such a situation would cause. Would this anxiety boost or lower your motivation? If it would lower your motivation, you cannot pay for a goal with a credit card.

Enough of this example, let’s not bore you. Just remember it as you create your goal list.

Concentrate on the following:

  • The goal
  • The time it would take to complete the goal
  • Any unforeseen complications you can think about, such as an emergency, illness, job loss, or other issues
  • Your anxiety level about the goal and what would reduce the anxiety or push you to be motivated

If you can keep the four points above in your mind when setting goals, you are less apt to set goals you know you cannot accomplish, and suffer from lower confidence, and thus “failure” and increased anxiety.

With goals in mind, we can move to the next stage in motivation and confidence building.

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