Are you currently stuck in the neverending cycle of inspiration and letdown?
You know you are capable, smart, and interested, but you find yourself lacking the motivation needed to make your goals happen right now. You have put in a lot of time and effort, but you keep realizing it is still not enough to bring you over the edge.
There’s probably a reason for this, and it isn’t laziness (unless it is laziness, ya know?). The problem could lie within the goal itself, and not what you are or are not doing..
This is not about changing your life’s path or giving up on your dreams. It is about having a new perspective of how you view your goals, and what makes goals more attractable.
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Intrinsic vs Extrinsic
Intrinsic – adjective; belonging naturally; essential.
Extrinsic – adjective; not part of the essential nature of someone or something; coming or operating from outside.
Your intrinsically motivated goals are what you should be searching for. This type of motivation is much more powerful than extrinsic motivators. Intrinsic goals are done for the sake of themselves, and they are truly enjoyable for the person pursuing them. Extrinsic goals are usually pursued due to societal or familial expectations. These are goals to obtain something outside of yourself.
You can have the same goal as someone else, but the motivation behind the goal could make a grand difference in how long you are able to stick with that goal.
For example, you may have the long-term goal of becoming a lawyer, but your reasons behind this goal could be much different.
“I want to be a lawyer because my family has been in law for many years, and I plan on taking over the business to continue the legacy.”
“I want to be a lawyer because I want to make a difference in the lives of those accused and represent those who need my help the most.”
Same goal, different motivations. Which reason do you believe to be a stronger motivator?
Along the same line as intrinsic goals, you also want your goal to be authentic, or true to who you are. Your goal should fit with your personality.
The process of creating authentic goals relies on your ability to discover and know who you are. Your values and interests should align with your goals. People who are pursuing goals that they own are found to be much happier, healthier, and hardworking. Realizing authentic goals satisfies your true values and innate needs.
While approach goals are those that are reaching towards something desirable, avoidant goals are those that are moving away from something undesirable.
Just as with intrinsic and extrinsic goals, approach and avoidant motivators can affect how well you are able to stay with a set goal. Take for example a stay-at-home mom trying to build an online business.
“I want to build my online business so I don’t have to work at the crappy 9-5 anymore.”
“I want to build my online business so I am able to spend more time with my children and raise them the way I had always imagined.”
It could be the same goal, but from different perspectives. Which perspective do you think is a stronger motivator?
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Harmonious goals can be something that people struggle with if their goals are not intrinsic or authentic. Your goals should be harmonious, or complementary to each other. It is hard to pull yourself in one direction for one goal, while going in another direction with a different goal. This tug-of-war never has a winner and can lead you to failure.
Think about all of the goals you have for yourself. Can they all be possible together?
Again, you must know yourself and dig deep to know what you want. This is how you can find the goals that speak to you and will be harmonious with each other.
Flexible and Appropriate Goals
Goals can change over time depending on your life circumstances. Some goals may blossom up, while others may dwindle. What is important to you and your values can change, therefore, so may your goals.
Depending on your stage of life or situational changes, your opportunities can change as well. What is most important is to continue pursuing goals that are right for you at that time, as this will bring greater happiness than giving up altogether.
Activity goals prevent you from experiencing hedonic adaptation, or the process of adaptation that leaves people longing for even more. Activity goals continue to challenge and contribute to new opportunities and experiences. Some examples may be joining Toastmasters, reading a new book, or meditation.
A scientific study was conducted on people who were to describe two goals: first, a positive change in their circumstance, and second, a goal that involved taking on a new activity. The results showed that people were much happier 6 weeks later due to both goals, but only the activity goal kept them happier after 12 weeks.
Activities create a continuous stream of happy feelings and experiences.
How You Can Totally Commit
Take a moment to write down 5-8 goals you currently have.
With each goal, determine whether they are intrinsic, authentic, approach-oriented, harmonious, flexible, and/or activity-based.
If your goals are lacking one of these characteristics you may need to rewrite your goal to see it from a new perspective, or scrap it all together and determine a new goal.
It is important that your goals are serving your higher purpose, and are meaningful to you because money and pleasure are not enough to keep up the motivation to pursue your goals.