When it comes to setting goals, a lot of us experience what I call:
"The Treadmill of Disappointment"
Tell me if this sounds familiar…
Not the best way to move the needle on what’s most important to you. The good news? You can get off this treadmill.
Let me show you a better way of setting goals so you achieve what you set out to do. A way that sets you up to win without ever giving up.
One of the most important “hacks” I ever learned for achieving my goals was to “ride the motivational wave.”
Remember the last time you cleaned your whole house?
That’s a motivational wave.
“Motivational waves” are those moments where we feel really inspired to take action on a list of to-dos. Remember the last time you cleaned your whole house?
That’s a motivational wave.
I learned this from one of my mentors, BJ Fogg, who runs Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford.
In this video, Fogg explains how to use these “motivational waves” to your advantage… rather than getting really motivated and falling back into our old ways of doing things a few days later.
Check it out:
What this might look like in your life:
BJ Fogg's goal was to drink more tea. So when his motivation was at its peak, he bought a bunch of tea, an electric kettle to boil water, and set everything up in easy-to-reach places on his kitchen counter. He built a system so that it was a no-brainer to make tea whenever he was in the kitchen.
A few years ago, my goal was to form a gym habit. The problem I had was that I’d get up in the morning planning to go to the gym, but after a few minutes of being awake, I’d decide not to go. So, the next time I was feeling really motivated, I built a system. It looked like this: I put my gym clothes and my shoes next to my bed so I saw them first thing in the morning. As soon as I got out of bed, I would get dressed. By the time I finished putting on my clothes, I’d think to myself, “Well, might as well go to the gym,” and I DID!
These types of systems guarantee success. THAT’S what you should use your motivation for — to set up fail-proof systems. That way you’ll follow through even when you’re no longer motivated.
Feeling “motivated” right now? Use that to your advantage.
Make a list of everything you need to get in order to accomplish your goal.
Then, sketch out a rough outline of your fail-proof system that’ll help you follow through on your goal (like the examples above).
We’ll go into much more detail of how to set up fail-proof systems later in the guide, but don’t let that motivation go to waste. Capture your rough ideas whenever your motivation is at a peak.
When you’re starting out with any goal — like exercising — it’s better to actually start than to dream about starting forever.
With each little milestone you achieve, you’re doing what you set out to do.
With exercising, that means ACTUALLY walking one mile once per week is better than PLANNING to run three miles 3x per week… and never running at all.
Each mile you walk represents a “small win” for your goal. And getting a lot of those little wins is what helps you succeed. Because with each little milestone you achieve, you’re actually doing what you set out to do… not just hoping things work out.
Here’s how to use “small wins” for your goals:
You can ramp up from there. But you don’t want to fail from the start.
Think of some of the goals you’d like to accomplish (getting fit, learning a new language, cleaning your house).
First, break your goals down into the TINIEST steps you can imagine. And I mean SERIOUSLY tiny: 2 pushups per day, 1 tooth, 1 glass of water… however small you need. Make it something you KNOW you can do.
Draft up a plan for how you’ll do this for 2 weeks. Once you hit this target, then you can consider expanding.
But remember, big goals are accomplished with tiny steps. How can you start taking some of those tiny steps today?
Imagine you’re playing in a basketball game against LeBron James. You have the best shoes, the most expensive pair of athletic shorts, a fancy headband, and the greatest jersey in the world. And he has no shoes, ripped shorts, and a dress shirt.
Who would win?
It sounds ridiculous, right? But we play this same game against motivation every day.
The tools don’t matter as much as we think.
Novices LOVE to focus on productivity hacks, apps, and tools. It’s easy — and frankly, more fun — to play with new shiny tools than to simply do what works.
But usually, the fundamentals — things like a simple calendar, pen, and paper — work just as well, if not better, than some app.
Take a look at my calendar system.
See how it’s not a super advanced set of apps? I purposely make it easy on myself so I can follow through and easily update it.
EXECUTION is more important than the tactic itself.
Here are three things you can do today to help you achieve your goals:
If you keep thinking ahead, you’ll never be caught off-guard or pressed for time. Those tiny improvements every week will add up. And it won’t be long before you’re crushing every goal you set.
Learning how to set goals like this increases your chances of making your habits stick.
Having said that, I know motivation plays an important role in taking the first step.
That’s why I created this free guide on how to get (and stay) motivated. This will help you kickstart the cycle of achieving everything you want. You can download a free copy of the guide by entering your name and email below.