If you are not making progress or are making slow progress on a goal you’ve set, maybe it is the wrong goal in the first place. Perhaps factors, including your attitude or environment, do not allow you to make your desired progress. However, it is easy to blame timing and luck; if you set a goal, you and only you are accountable for achieving it (read the achieve my goals guide). The question is, how?
1. Connect With Your Why
David Goggins is a retired Navy SEAL, an extreme endurance athlete, and now a successful author of the book Can’t Hurt Me. He came from a tough background of poverty, domestic violence, learning challenges, and obesity issues. However, he then moved on to complete not one but two Hell Weeks — the toughest military training in the world — and finish multiple ultra marathons and ultra triathlons.
To him, we all have limitless potential, and all of that is in our minds. When asked how he was able to become mentally tough and pull off those unbelievable feats, it came down to a simple question he asks himself: “Why am I doing this?” When the pain was too much to handle during the SEAL Hell Week or the 100-mile ultra marathon where his mind and body were telling him to give up, all he did was ask: “Why am I doing this?”
It wasn’t easy. For most people, the why question might lead to the answer of giving up. But if it’s something that matters to you, there will always be a strong, fundamental reason that makes giving up not an option. Some examples of times when you may need to ask “why” include:
- When you’re having trouble getting your client’s work done.
- When you’re not making progress at your business.
- When things get difficult in your relationship.
You don’t get into these career and personal goals for no reason. You commit yourself to them because there’s something bigger than your needs of instant gratification, your fears, and probably yourself. It’s crucial for you to reconnect with the why when things look less optimistic than you want them to be.
On my career path, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to explore and learn things practically. After a successful corporate career, I spent two years trying to establish an entrepreneurial consultancy, only to realize marginal success.
The consultancy formed based on my core values, candor, curiosity, and collaboration, but unfortunately, my customer base and projects were seemingly random and disjointed. While I understood I needed to establish a consistent and repeatable approach to content marketing to drive my clients’ results, that approach was not apparent in the brand I had built. Things got so rough that I had to resort to collecting unemployment at the onset of the pandemic.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I delivered a webinar called earning trust in uncertain times: coronavirus edition. Afterward, I received an email from a participant. He shared some thoughts on a campaign for his jewelry company and asked for feedback. When I read his email, I realized I could quickly help him to gain clarity, so I sent him a note with an offer to get his message on track. He offered to pay me for my time, and I said to myself,
“I am adding value, and I can charge for this!”
This first client needed to shift my offerings from general marketing consulting to a more diversified career that focuses on personal brand building.
It took a global pandemic to realize I needed to shift my goals to align with the change I was trying to make in the world, to a new business, coaching that applies my skills in an authentic way to me and valuable to prospects and customers.
2. Start With Your Identity
James Clear discusses identity-based habits as deeply rooted in a person’s outlook toward life. As a businessperson, identity-based practices are what impact business goals and your approaches towards achieving them. Identity is what you believe in, and outcomes determine what you seek to achieve. A permanent change comes from transforming the who part of behavior—the character.
Whether it is a coaching program I develop, a class I teach, or a marketing campaign I create, I always start identity. According to The Brookings Institute:
Identity is a unique, inherited collection of assets, history, traits, and culture that distinguishes it internally and externally and can unite people and places.
But this logic also applies to personal goals. If losing weight is your goal, your focus is on an outcome rather than an identity-based plan, and you may lose motivation. Think, “Why am I trying to lose weight?”
- Is it to be more healthy?
- Did you get some lousy test results at the doctor?
- Are you at risk of severe health problems?
It may help reframe your goal around a positive statement like, I am working to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Motivation has to come from a place of confidence and belief in yourself. You know what they say about the air mask on the airplane – put it on yourself first.
It is ok to set goals for others; for example, “I am losing weight so I can live for my kids;” however, if you don’t set goals around themes that you can own, and you don’t do it for yourself first, then the people in your life will not receive any benefit.
Think about what you achieve from your efforts — the outcomes. The reality that you are looking at right now must also allude to the fact you promise to create for your clientele, and that is not possible unless you believe in it and make it believable for others.
3. Be Specific About What, How, and When
Your values need to align with other people and systems to engage in meeting your desired outcome, so make sure to put in place a process that accounts for what motivates you, that you can reliably complete until you achieve your goal.
If you are not specific and clear about how many pounds you are trying to lose and when you will lose then, then how will you know if you met your goal in the first place?
BJ FOGG, the author of Tiny Habits, suggests that you start small. In the Tiny Habits method, you always start with a tiny behavior. Some examples:
- Floss one tooth
- Read one sentence in a book.
- Take one deep breath.
According to Fogg, an excellent tiny behavior has these qualities:
- takes less than 30 seconds (even better: just 5 seconds)
- requires no real effort
- doesn’t create pain or destructive emotions
Make sure it’s a habit you want to have in your life. Don’t pick something that’s a “should,” choose new behaviors you wish to.
The next thing to learn is where to place the further tiny action in your life. Just like planting a seed, you want the right spot for it, a place where it fits naturally and where it can thrive.
Be flexible and adaptable. We are in a complicated and volatile world, and things change on a dime, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you need to change how you go about achieving your goal or even what goals you are trying to accomplish first place.
Be aware of bias. As you set out to achieve your goals, it is critical to be aware of the bias that can sneak in and sabotage your thinking. Yes, it is essential to collaborate with others to achieve your goals, but you need to understand yourself and make sure you are not getting in your way before doing that. Here are some common forms of bias.
- Confirmation bias: People tend to listen more often to information that confirms the beliefs they already have.
- Selection bias: Selecting individuals, groups that do not provide diverse perspectives for you to consider.
- Self-serving bias: People tend to give themselves credit for successes but blame failures on external causes.
What about serendipity? Many of us believe that the great turning points and opportunities in our lives happen by chance, that they’re out of our control.
Dr. Christian Busch, author of The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck, spent a decade exploring how, if acted upon, unexpected encounters can expand our random social encounters can enhance our worldview, expand our social circles, and create new professional opportunities.
Serendipity is usually about connecting dots that have previously remained elusive. Busch’s findings suggest that Good luck isn’t just chance—it can be learned and leveraged. When you are perceptive, curious, open-minded, and eager to see opportunities, others might see only negatively. If you notice something unusual but can connect that bit of information with something else, you are in the right mindset for achieving serendipity.
4. Motivation and a Realistic Plan
Only you can choose the goals you set. Motivation is critical in meeting your goals. But choosing goals is not enough; you need to select the right goals and define a plan that keeps you accountable for meeting your goals.
Author Gabriele Oettingen defined a methodology you can use to get better at achieving your hopes and dreams. It’s called WOOMP!
WOOP stands for:
- W = Wish
- O = Outcome
- O = Obstacle
- P = Plan
WOOMP, there it is! WOOMP will force you to be hyper-realistic about your goals and be action-minded in your approach to achieving them.
Focus on Tiny Actions
Every action we take requires effort and energy. Talking about massive action might make you sound smarter in conversations, but it’s not as practical as it seems in real life. The bigger the action is, the higher the resistance pulling us away from getting started, staying focused, and being consistent. Instead of focusing on massive action, try starting small if you want to start making progress again. Here’s why:
- Tiny action takes less willpower — most of the time, it takes little to no effort and energy. It means you can get started and stay consistent easily.
- Tiny tilt in degrees (in any area: mindset, habits, vocabulary, etc.) can lead to monumental differences in trajectory.
- The compounding effect of consistent, small action will eventually get you where you want to be.
We can also see massive action as a combination of many small actions — often, it means nothing without unpacking it. For example, big goals like “I want to lose weight,” “I want to become an author,” or “I want to start a successful business,” don’t mean much without the steps to get there.
Clearly, these goals are massive plans made up one step at a time. The solution is to break them down into smaller, manageable chunks of tiny actions. It may seem insignificant at first until they add up into something so big that it changes your life completely.
5. Show up Consistently
In order to turn your vision into reality, you will have to regularly show up by consistently organizing, leading, and building to get to your goals.
“Some people show up when they need something. Some people show up before they need something, knowing that it will pay off later when they need something. And some people merely show up. Not needing anything, not in anticipation of needing something, but merely because they can.” — Seth Godin
While I would be happy to be your trusted advisor and coach, the answer has to start with you. My process will help you to define and document an ownable set of values and marketing frameworks that will make you more appealing to clients/ employers, especially on LinkedIn. These values will translate beyond work, as well.
Featured photo credit: Aj Alao via unsplash.com
|||^||David Goggins: Can’t Hurt Me|
|||^||James Clear: Identity-Based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your Goals This Year|
|||^||The Brookings Institute: The global identity of cities: Seven steps to build reputation and visibility for competitiveness and resilience|
|||^||Whoomp My Life: What Is Whoomp|