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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

How to Be Determined and Achieve Your Goals

How to Be Determined and Achieve Your Goals

You have set yourself a new goal. You’re excited, inspired, and motivated to achieve your next level of success. Things are going great, and you’re making progress. Then, it happens—out of nowhere, you find yourself stuck, stalled, or stopped. You can’t believe that just a short time ago you were on fire and crushing it, and now you’re not getting any closer to achieving what you want. You’ve hit “the wall.”

How can you stay determined when you hit the motivation wall?

It’s common to feel great about starting a new project or goal. In the beginning, we feel like we have the energy and passion to get something or accomplish something that we want. Willpower is what most people rely on to get started. However, willpower is not enough. It has a short life, and it alone cannot sustain the effort needed to reach the finish line when obstacles get in the way. You need a better strategy.

Here are 3 keys to staying motivated and determined no matter what, so you can use your time right: set S.M.A.R.T. goals, set tour “Why”, and set your schedule.

Key #1: Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Your “GPS S.M.A.R.T. Goals” are specific goals meant to move you in the direction of your overall success. To be successful, you have to first make sure your goal is set up correctly.

Take the time to craft written goals and put them down on paper. This is the first step to make sure you have the highest chance of success. It’s like setting the right address into your GPS.

S.M.A.R.T. goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-centered.

Specific

Create your goal with as much detail as possible. It should be written with precision, clarity, and specifics by focusing on the five W’s:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?

Measurable

Establish specific criteria for measuring your goal so you can track your progress and stay motivated.

  • How will I measure progress?
  • How will I know when my goal is achieved?
  • How much?
  • How many?

Answering these questions will give you the details on how to measure progress and see that you are always moving forward—for example, in income, pounds lost, hours saved, etc.

Attainable

Make sure that your goal is achievable and realistic. It should stretch you and push you to your limits but still be obtainable.

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  • What appropriate and inspired actions do I need to take to meet my goal?
  • How can I achieve this goal?

Relevant

Choose a goal that you are willing and can put the appropriate time and effort into. Also, that goal should be something that actually matters to you and/or the collective.

  • Does it connect to my overall short-term and long-term plans?
  • Is this goal going to make a positive difference for me and/or others?
  • Is this aligned with my “why” or purpose and my values?

Time-Centered

Have scheduled and trackable tasks and timelines. This inspires action and holds you accountable while also helping you stay determined. Also, you should set a specific time frame for accomplishing your goal.

  • When will this goal be completed?
  • Am I committed to investing the time needed?

Use these questions to make sure that every goal you make is a SMART goal.

Key # 2: Your “Why”

The bigger the “why” the easier the “how.” —Jim Rohn

Clients come to me when they’re stuck, stopped, or struggling to have the life they want and when they want to accelerate their progress or have more consistent results than they’re getting, whether it’s in their business or their personal lives.

One of the very first things I ask any and every client is this: “What are you committed to having?”

That can be anything from their life purpose, a specific business goal, or a life goal. Most people have a clear understanding of the goal, such as “building my business,” “having a better relationship with my spouse,” or “being healthy and fit.”

The big question comes next. I ask them the simple question, “Why do you want that?”

The typical response is a generalized surface answer with no deep emotional connection to their core motivation and purpose. It has been pre-programmed for so long that it doesn’t have a current and relevant emotional connection. This gap between their obvious answer and their core motivation is the primary reason why so many people get stuck, stopped, struggle, or lack consistency and motivation.

Simon Sinek, one of the leading thinkers on this topic, tells us in his book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, that “everyone knows what they do 100 percent of the time. Some know how they do it. Very few people in organizations, in the world, and their own personal life know why they do what they do.”

His definition of “why” is “the purpose or cause—the single driving motivation for action.” Knowing your own “why” is the key to connecting with the deep motivational centers of your brain that inspire action. Your “why” gets you to connect with your purpose. Your “why” then becomes your purpose identified, and this helps you stay determined.

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Why Is Your “Why” So Important?

Your “why” gives meaning to everything you do. You can appear to be successful on the outside, but if you are not internally aligned with your why, you will never truly feel satisfied in life.

Your “why” directs and guides you. Not only can your “why” give you meaning, but it can also give you a clear direction about where to go in life. It can help you make both big and small decisions and take the next step.

Your “why”motivates you. In life, there will be difficult times to go through. You may experience setbacks, rejection, and failure. In such situations, your “why” can give you the motivation you need to keep going. It also becomes your GPS guide in everything you do with your time and schedule.

Identify Your Why

I have a specific process you can use to uncover your purpose. It involves answering the questions below. You must ask yourself the key question 4 to 5 times.

As an example, I’ve provided my own answers as a way for you to understand what the process is like.

“What am I committed to having?”
My answer: “To be the best researcher, speaker, and coach.”

  1. Why is this important to me?
    My answer: “So I can feel good about helping people improve their lives.”
  2. Why is that important?
    My answer: “So they feel someone is in their corner supporting them.”
  3. Why is that important?
    My answer: “So they believe that they can have the life they want.”
  4. Why is that important?
    My answer: “To help people discover and live their true purpose.”

This last answer finally got me to the core of my true motivation. It can take 4 to 5 tries asking yourself “why is that important?” until you really hit on your core reason or belief that’s motivating you.

Determining your “why” can apply to specific goals in any area of your life. For every goal you have or anything you want to achieve, you need to know the “why” to align your efforts and motivations to achieve your goals.

Here is another example:

I had a client come in for wellness and health issues that were affecting her business performance. Audrey is an executive in her late forties. She believed she had 20 pounds to lose and knew she was not in good physical condition.

When she walked in, she said, “I’m having some barriers to losing weight.”

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“What’s your goal?” I asked.

“To lose 20 pounds.”

“Why is that important to you?”

“Well, so I can feel good,” she answered.

“Why is that important to you?”

“You know, so I can feel healthy.”

“Why is that important to you?”

“I need to be more active to keep up with my kids.”

“Why is that important to you?”

“Because my mother passed away when I was 20, and I want to be there well into adulthood for my kids.”

I could literally see the shift reflected in her eyes. Audrey’s purpose was not just about losing 20 pounds so she could be more active and feel better. Instead, her “why” for this particular goal was to be present and have an enriched long life with her kids. When she realized that, she became highly motivated and easily lost all the weight after trying and failing in the past.

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If I had let Audrey’s purpose be to just lose some weight over time, she would have failed. There would have been no connection with the deep motivational centers of her brain—the area that motivates her to take action.

Your “Why” Makes Your Time Relevant

Connecting with your why ensures that you are using your gifts and talents in a way that connects you with your true purpose, making a positive difference for you and your community. This is key to learning how to be determined because it directs and maximizes your time in a purposeful and meaningful way that gives relevance to everything you do.

Key #3: Schedule Everything

Now that you have established your SMART goals and determined your “why,” it’s time to schedule what you need to do to accomplish them. You can do this successfully by making sure you put your tasks on your calendar.

Your calendar is where you are committing your most valuable asset—time—to your most important priorities. If your tasks are not on your calendar with the appropriate time scheduled for them, there is a good chance in our 24/7 hyper distracted world they won’t happen.

Your daily schedule should be written as a visual reminder of what you have chosen to do on any given day, which guides the intentions you set for each day. It represents what’s important in your life and business.

There is an old productivity saying that I live by: “If it’s not on the calendar, it didn’t happen.” Live with this mindset and calendar everything important, and scheduling will be the key to unlocking your motivation and potential and staying determined.

Final Thoughts


Knowing how to stay determined despite the hardships you’ll face is not an easy task. So, the next time you’re lacking motivation, set yourself up for success by using these 3 steps: set S.M.A.R.T. goals, connect to your “why”, and schedule everything. Doing this will ensure that you start strong, build momentum, and stay determined in reaching your most important goals.

More Tips on How to Be Determined

Featured photo credit: dylan nolte via unsplash.com

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Steven Griffith

Steven is an Executive Coach. He's been helping the world’s most successful people perfrom at their peack level.

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Last Updated on April 8, 2021

How to Start Taking Action on Your Goals and Dreams Now

How to Start Taking Action on Your Goals and Dreams Now

I’m going to tell you the secrets on how to start taking action on your dreams. When you decide to turn thoughts into action, there are specific, actionable steps you can take to move forward.

The first thing I want you to do is think back to when you were a child. Our childhood selves hold many of the secrets to realizing our real life dreams. Think about what you loved to do most and how you told yourself it was possible without worrying about what might get in the way. I’d like you to reconnect to your imagination and playfulness.

By taking the following steps, you’ll do some playing and storytelling to reveal your dreams and start making them come true.

1. Tell Your Story

Your life story is unique and has brought you here today. The next chapter of your life is in your power to write and to realize by taking action. Not everything that happens to you is in your control[1], but the actions you take and how you choose to feel about what happens are in your control.

Finding out what our future lives and dream lives might look like can be done effectively through the eyes of our childhood selves.

Can you remember what you loved to do most as a child? Maybe you enjoyed collecting things like me–I always had a collection of pebbles in a carrier bag that smelled of seawater nestled under my bed. Perhaps you loved taking care of your pets: I had a dog, a tortoise, and many guinea pigs. Or maybe you were really great at making stuff.

You can use the instincts, passions, and skills you had as a child to fuel your progress toward your adult dreams.

I’m inviting you to really think about what you wanted to be when you grew up[2] and the memorable activities you enjoyed as a child, the ones that gave you a real sense of freedom and excitement, or the pursuits that you truly lost yourself in.

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What we call getting into our flow state[3] as an adult is what came naturally to us as children. So, go back there now and think about how that felt. It may clue you in to what still remains true and important to you today.

2. Define Your Dream

The first secret when you want to start taking action on your dreams is to know what they are. This sounds obvious, but so many people only have a loose definition, such as: “more free time,” or “more money.” Busy people know there is something else to life apart from slaving away for a job, or a boss they don’t like, but if you’re too busy to even know what your dream looks like, how can you make it come true?

Once again, I’d invite you to connect to the optimism and playfulness of your childhood self. Go back to thinking about what your dreams involved at age seven or eight. Some of those may still be what you want today.

Now, write down what it is that you want and when you want to achieve it. Note down how you’ll know when you’ve got there and made this dream come true. How will you measure your success? Be as specific about your goals as you can.

A study at the Dominican University in California[4] proved that writing down your goals, accountability, and commitment are three key ingredients to successfully achieving our goals and learning how to take action.

This step also involves building motivation for the steps to come. If you need help in that area, check out Lifehack’s free Ultimate Worksheet for an Instant Motivation Boost.

3. Picture Your Dream Coming True

Think about exactly how it will feel when you start taking action and ultimately achieve your dream, the sense of freedom and excitement. Imagine it in as much detail as you can with all five senses. If you’re finding it hard to imagine a different life, imagine a childhood memory with all its sensations.

As a little girl, I loved to ice-skate, making huge swirly patterns across clean expanses of beautiful glistening ice. The feeling of freedom, of trust in myself to balance, of speed. It felt very immersive, the coldness and my breath turning into little clouds in front of my face.

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Imagine a childhood memory like this, and then imagine the future you want, with as much detail and attention paid to how it looks, feels, tastes, smells, and sounds.

Draw, paint, speak, or write your future story.

If you loved to create pictures like I did as a child, or write stories, or play on the computer, use your natural creative skills and what you love doing to map out your exciting future. You could create a picture, vision board, written story, or audio file.

Then, let’s put that future story somewhere you can easily access it. Make sure that you include a timescale for when you want to achieve this dream by, how you will measure your success, and what you need to get there. If possible, start breaking your dream down into small, manageable steps.

4. What Part Do You Play?

You can’t control everything, so you need to be realistic about your role in taking action and making your future dreams come true. Think about where you need help. During childhood, we were not afraid to ask for help from a parent, friend, or sibling to realize our dreams and plans.

Whatever we needed, our eager and enthusiastic childhood selves would reach out for support. We’d be resourceful with whatever we had to make our creative ideas a reality.

As adults we also need to ask for support and help, and at the same time to notice what is in our control and what we can do to take action today towards our dreams.

5. Who Can Support You?

If you’ve noticed you need a bit of help, then get your tribe together. Which friends can cheer you on, and which can connect you? Who in your family will indulge in your dreams with you? What about the pragmatic ones who might help you work out what you need to get there?

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Whether you need someone to check in on you and see how you’re progressing, or need a buddy to brainstorm with to help the ideas flow, bring a few of your friends into the plan to help you move forward. Successful people know that the habit of taking action is best built with help.

6. Ensure Your Dream Is Realistic

Maybe the dream you’ve outlined just feels impossible. It costs too much or will take too much time to achieve. Instead of telling yourself “no, but,” try the “yes, and” approach. This is much more representative of how a child’s mind works.

When we were little, we weren’t scared to fail, as failing was not a concept to us back then. Let’s harness some of that kid energy and see how “yes, and” can move us forward when our dream feels unrealistic.

Let’s look at an example: maybe your dream is to have a hit record, and you think you can’t sing, or you don’t believe you have any musical talent. Instead of closing that down, if we “yes, and” it, we can say: “I want to have a hit record. Yes, and there are so many ways to achieve that. Some people have a hit record by working for a music business, and others might design the cover art. Some people speak on records instead of singing… yes, and someone has to write the lyrics or have the idea for the song. Yes, and I know someone who organizes a choir every Christmas at their local bar, and everyone in the bar is on the record. That amateur choir even got on TV as it was so much fun and all the money went to charity.”

So, before you decide your idea is unrealistic, try “yes, and-ing” it to see how you can start taking action on your dreams, even if you think it sounds impossible!

7. Use Small Wins and Rewards

On your journey toward achieving your dream, there will be small wins and important milestones; it’s not just about going straight to the destination. Measuring your progress is important and can be a chance to celebrate.

Finding a way to measure it that is visible can really help. Whether it’s a chart or an app, whatever you choose, following and celebrating your progress is key, and celebrating that win is part of the joy. Being in the process and on the journey is just as important as reaching your target. Celebrate with the happiness of a small child: do a dance, take a photo, tell your friends.

8. Update the Map

You might find the plan you made isn’t working for some reason. Things have changed, and your goals and targets are not working out for you . Let’s look at how you can change things up and put new life and energy into the project.

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Take it apart and put it back together again, but start small. Define the new plan and the new goals, and start on the next phase of the journey, equipped with the knowledge and learning from what didn’t work last time you tried to put your thoughts into action.

9. Make Space

Achieving our dreams might mean losing something else, and that’s ok. It could be a literal swap, such as giving up wine to save money towards the goal. Or it could be something more ideological, like giving up saying yes to everything to make more time to focus on your pursuits. Think about what you can give up to make space for taking action on your dreams.

10. Use Your Superpower

What’s your superpower? Use this to take action on your dreams today! Perhaps you’re awesome at using your network to find solutions to problems. If that sounds like you, then consider picking up the phone and start asking for some ideas and connections.

If you prefer to research, get reading or watching TED talks and presentations to find practical ways to achieve your particular dream. Who else has overcome a similar problem? How did they do it? What can you borrow from what they learned, and what can you learn from how they won or lost along the way?

11. Keep Your Energy up

Remember to take a rest and recharge on the journey towards taking action on your dreams. Take breaks, eat and sleep well, exercise, and listen to and tune in to what your body and mind needs to thrive.

Final Thoughts

Achieving your dreams is unlikely to be an overnight task. It’s more likely to be a winding road with setbacks, lessons, obstacles, and new discoveries. It might take years, but every step, no matter how tiny, can be enjoyed, even the struggles. Maintaining a mindset around enjoying the journey will really equip you to thrive and see those ambitious dreams become a reality.

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Featured photo credit: Tom Rogerson via unsplash.com

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