Staying Motivated – The Necessary Ingredient for Achieving Your Goals


There are plenty of things most of us want to accomplish.  We spend a significant amount of time setting goals and trying to achieve them so we can say we’ve done something important.  Goals are interesting things, they draw us toward something we aspire to be, they frustrate us when we don’t achieve them, the pursuit of them teaches us a tremendous amount about who we are, but in the end, a goal demonstrates we’re more than the mere biological drives and instincts connecting us to the animal world.  There are a multitude of books and articles written about setting and achieving goals.  I find all of them fascinating but only some of them helpful.  For instance, I’ve found its best to keep the number of goals you want to pursue to no more than two.  A book I read indicated a big factor keeping people from reaching their goals is they tend to create too many and therefore never achieve what they want.  You have to limit them to no more than two exceptionally important achievements. Anything more than that is just setting yourself up for failure.

Another important factor when chasing your goals is to keep score.  Too often we set a goal and don’t establish daily habits we can track to see how well we’ve shaped our behaviors to achieve what we want.  By tracking daily activity, we can gauge whether or not we’re actually working toward what we aspire to be.  It keeps us from merely being dreamers.  If you keep score each night you can ask yourself “What did I do well, what do I need to change to get closer to what I want, and how honest am I being in regards to wanting to achieve my goal?”  These are important questions that help you keep track in real time of your progress.

These are all great suggestions but, in the end, there is one important characteristic that matters more than anything else.  That important ingredient for achieving your goals is motivation.  How do I keep motivated to pursue my goals?  This is often the biggest problem people face when working toward their goals.  Motivation seems to evade all of us and if we can keep motivated we can achieve a great many things.  Here are some tips I give my clients on how to remain motivated.

First, make sure you own the goals you set and they’re something you really want to achieve.  You need to connect your goals to something you’re really passionate about.  You don’t just want to lose 15 pounds, you want to live a vibrant healthy life and have confidence when speaking in front of large groups of people.  Be sure you’re connecting your goal to those bigger things that mean something important to you.  If you don’t do that working toward your goals is just doing more mundane work that means little to nothing to you.

Second, be honest with yourself and realize adding a goal or two to your life doesn’t mean you’re going to stop the day to day activities you need to complete in order to keep your life functional.  Those necessary tasks are going to remain consistent and necessary.  You need to determine what is absolutely important for you to achieve and what you’re willing to do above and beyond your already packed schedule to achieve your goals.  One author I read said you need to pick one or two wildly important goals you’re willing to pursue above what you’re already doing.  If you believe you’re going to stop doing what needs done daily to accomplish your goals you’re lying to yourself.  Pursuing new goals means you’re going to establish daily habits above what you already do to achieve something new, different, and wildly important in your life.

Third, take your daily schedule and block out time to work on something that gets you closer to achieving your goals.  I wanted to lose 15 pounds which meant I had to change my eating habits but also incorporate an exercise regiment in my day.  I found if I took 30 minutes of time out of my morning schedule and made an appointment with myself I would actually exercise.  It makes the daily habits used to accomplish your goals mindless activities to complete throughout your day.  You get up, look at your schedule, and follow it mindlessly.  Every night I sit down, evaluate how well I worked on the tasks necessary to achieve my goals, and plan out my next day.  Then, that next day, I simply go through the schedule one appointment after the other diligently working on what needs to be done to reach my goal in the stated timeframe.  Sure, there are days things get in the way or unexpected needs pop up but more often than not, I’m getting something done to reach my goal.

These three important tips can make a significant difference in your ability to stay motivated.  If you can make your goals something you really want to achieve, set the honest expectation you’re going to work above and beyond your already packed day to achieve them, and schedule daily habits aimed at getting you closer to your end goals, you’ll find you’re pretty much able to accomplish more than you ever believed.


Published by

Dominick D. Hankle PhD

Dr. Hankle has 20 years of experience in pastoral counseling and pastoral ministry. He is founder of the organization “From Emmaus to Jerusalem,” that promotes sacramental healing, spiritual direction, and counseling. His publication and presentation topics include spiritual discernment, the use of the psalms in therapy, and healing from a holistic perspective. He has also written about the use of psychology in priestly formation and other faith topics. Dr. Hankle serves as a priest in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, a convergence community and pastors a community in Virginia Beach called Emmaus Fellowship.

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