How would you like to give your goals some real oomph this year? How would you like to light a flame under your motivation?
This is a great time of year. It tends to get us thinking. It instills extra desire to make good things happen. That’s an incredible thing and worth harnessing.
So how can we make the most of it? I’ve seen and heard a lot this week about what people want to make happen this year. Sadly, it often seems there’s one critical element missing.
We’ll talk about what’s missing in a moment. First there’s something I want to encourage you to get rid of.
Get Rid of Should
How often do we describe our goals using the word should?
It’s an insidious, guilt-ridden word. It’s often laden with the fear or regret. That might sound a bit dramatic, but if you stop to think about it you’ll see what I mean.
So often should represents arbitrary standards, coercive expectations and extrinsic motivations.
“I should exercise more.”
“I should eat better.”
“I should spend less money.”
There’s an unspoken “or else” at the end of these kinds of phrases.
Try increasing your awareness of how and when you use the word should. Are you setting goals out of fear of regret, to impress others or just because someone else is doing it? Are you basing your goals on unfair expectations or external influence?
If so, you’ve set yourself up for failure before you’ve even started.
I find that should brings a constant low-grade discontent that I would rather live without. Let’s do away with should and replace it with something more constructive.
The Reason Why — An Action Activator
So when you set a goal, avoid the word should. Instead, try completing the following sentence. I call it the Action Activator.
In order to have more ____________, I want to ____________.
This phrase helps you to dig into your psyche and pull to the surface your intrinsic motivation. It defines your reason why.
Here are some examples from my own life.
- In order to have more happiness I want to spend more time connecting with my closest friends.
- In order to have more peace of mind I want to invest more money into steady wealth-building.
- In order to experience more energy throughout the day I want to exercise every day, first thing in the morning.
- In order to live more passionately I want to create more than I consume.
- In order to feel healthier and more vibrant, I want to consume more water instead of soda.
One of the biggest reasons we fail to reach a goal is that the motivations are largely extrinsic which science has proven is a poor motivator. Sadly this is how we’ve been programmed to think by society, our parents and the school systems. So cut yourself some slack. It takes time to reprogram. I still have a ways to go.
Kicking in the Afterburners
If you want to take it to another level, take the Action Activator and mix it with one of the following techniques.
- Reading passionate stories by others that have already achieved what you want to do
- Look through sites or magazines to find photos that represent your desire
- Write a paragraph or two about what it will feel like as you do the action and move towards the goal
- Discuss and brainstorm the action with a like-minded and trusted person