When you have a serious goal, it lives inside your mind. It’s a burning desire that doesn’t go away.
Even when a bout of demoralization or simple uncreativity strikes, you still have that goal burning. It’s smoldering, perhaps not burning strong, but it’s still there.
And frankly, that sensation is the worst of all. You know you need to work hard to make it happen, but you don’t have the motivation or desire.
That’s why when no one will support you, you must support yourself.
You can’t rely on others to push you.
You can have fantastic friends and family members who are supportive, but that won’t always be enough when you’re chasing big goals. You’ve got to be able to push yourself without getting a motivational pep talk from a loved one to kick you into action.
Goal setting is serious business; the American Psychological Association shares that motivation, self-efficacy, skill building, and goal implementation are the key to go beyond goal setting to goal flourishing.
“Wanting to change, often observed as stating intentions through goals, doesn’t necessarily ensure nor predict successful change. Motivated clients with a readiness to change will have the greatest success translating stated goals into practice plans.” — APA and Kenneth Nowack, PhD
There are studies on the science of goal setting and of course, habit forming.
The part that I want to focus on is self-efficacy.
It’s your goal. You need to inspire yourself to make it happen.
Trust me, I’m not trying to underplay just how hard it is to spend your entire day working, going to school, caring for loved ones, and then cutting into your sleeping time in order to advance your personal goals.
I know that none of us have enough time.
We all have obligations that take time, but we all need to push ourselves beyond those limits to advance our personal goals.
Because unfortunately, that’s what personal goals require. Making them happen requires a herculean effort and incredible strength of will.
People in your life–even your loved ones–won’t always be able to help you. Sometimes, they’ll hold you back, they’ll even push you back when they think they’re helping you.
Make your goals personal.
Make them yours.
Make them align as closely to your core values as possible.
That way, even when you have people pushing you down and getting in your way, your goal will be at the very fiber of your existence.
If you don’t know how to do this, then taking a few steps back to analyze your goals might be in order. You’ve got to ask yourself if the things you’re pushing for are things you truly want or if they’re things that others have encouraged you to do. It’s like the case of a reluctant college student; they’ll go to college because their family makes it a priority, probably do moderately well, but never quite have a personal desire to do it.
If you feel melancholy about your goals, you’ve got to find the ones that excite you and make you want to chase them.
When you stumble, refocus and think about your larger goal.
Keep track on your goals day to day is hard. Sometimes, the only way to do it is to remind yourself of the larger goal you’re chasing.
Here are two small examples.
If your goal is to be healthier, perhaps to lose weight, it’s hard to pass up when something like National Doughnut Day happens and you’re getting bombarded with free doughnuts. In the moment, it’s easy to break, it’s easy to take that free doughnut, and set yourself back a day on your goal.
However, if you remind yourself that those tiny decisions impact your greater goals, it’s easier to say no to temptation.
Here’s another example. I’m a writer. I try to write every day.
It’s incredibly easy for me to decide that I’m “not in the mood to write” or that I’m “too tired to write.”
That’s when I remind myself of my larger goals; to, with hard work and a little bit of luck, be a successful writer someday. We all have different metrics of success and I’m not going to get into that right now, since that’s not the point of this example.
The point is that your higher goal can help you make decisions to work toward your tiny, daily goals.
Meditate on your goals. Turn them into affirmations.
Setting intentions, meditating on them, and repeating them as affirmations really can work wonders to reinforcing your will.
When I started repeating affirmations, I thought it was absolute bunk. I went in with the mindset “there’s no way this will work, but what the heck, I’ll try it. It can’t hurt.”
If you’re a skeptic like me, it sounds like fluffy nonsense at first.
However, Psychology Today breaks down different studies that have on to affirm or not affirm; that is the question.
The scientific history of this is pretty pickley, for many would describe affirmations as a trick that only works on Freud’s topographical explanation of the conscious mind. If you took a handful of psychology classes in high school and college, you probably know enough about the science to cringe whenever people quote Freud very seriously.
Nevertheless, Psychology Today highlights several studies that were performed in the last five years which showed that groups practicing self-affirmation reported “greater happiness, hopefulness.”
At the end of the day, self-efficacy is key to accomplishing your goals.
Whether you want to be a good writer, to lose weight, to learn how to build a bicycle, how to fly a plane, or how to be an engineer who builds the plane, you have a goal.
There will be times when the only thing that can push you toward that goal is you.
It’s wonderful to have a support system, but even the most supportive people in your friend circle or family can’t be with you 24/7 to make sure you chase your goals with fervor.
That’s why you’ve got to have the drive coming from you to make things happen.