To Unlock More Motivation: Connect Your Feelings With Your Goals
I'm not gonna sugarcoat it—mainly because we're entering the holiday season during which everything in the world will be coated with sugar—but given that we're already into the fall season (yay!), I wanted to mention one crucial little tiny factoid: You still have time to achieve big goals by the end of the year.
Yes, I know this season is perhaps the busiest one of all, ricocheting straight from back-to-school fresh-notebook vibes into a whirlwind of present-buying and party-hopping.
But it's also filled with possibility: both for joy, positive endings, and a fresh start in the New Year (but don't worry, we don't have to project that far into 2020 just yet).
We should, however, be caring for our goals—and there’s an exercise that can help you do that. Before we can get into it: It’s first important to write down your goal.
The power of articulation is strong—not only are you reiterating to yourself the importance of your task, but you'll start to clearly see how this might be achievable.
For example: If you want to finish a painting to give to your mother by Christmas, writing down this goal might make you realize that you have three months until the big day. That'll force you to work backward—when do you need to start? When do you need to buy your materials? What seems big and complex will actually be revealed as a series of tiny steps that you can take—starting today.
Have your goal written down? Good—now we can get into noticing the feelings attached to your goal and the work ahead of you.
This matters because you're not a robot—you're a human with feelings, many of which might not be "I got this" when it comes to your goal. The key is noticing and accepting your emotions and bringing them along for the ride, rather than trying to pretend they don't exist.
"Rather than just write out your goals in a topline way, write at least a paragraph on how it feels to achieve your goal," writer Annabel Acton recommends in Forbes. "Acting like you have already achieved your goal will start to connect the dots between where you are now and the steps you need to take to achieve your goals."
Ask yourself these three questions to connect your feelings to your goals.
1. How do I feel about my goal right now, before I kick things off?
Write down your response to this question, and you might be surprised.
Sure, some of the more obvious emotions might be there: nerves, jitters, a touch of anxiety. But you might also be feeling excited, intrigued, and grateful that you even have this opportunity right now.
Deciphering your feelings at the outset might prevent any unexpected emotions from popping up later.
2. How do I feel about doing the work to accomplish it?
Then, of course, there's the actual doing of the thing. Now's the time to dig into your feelings about the process.
If you're scared, you can mitigate these feelings by preparing in advance, practicing, or asking for help.
If you already feel overwhelmed before starting, is there a way you can break down this process into actionable steps?
And the flip side: If you're feeling lackluster and bored already by the idea of completing this goal, can you pivot your mission or scrap the plan altogether? There's no harm in telling yourself: This actually isn't what I want to do right now.
The point of asking these questions in advance is to save you time and energy in the long run—and to prepare you for the long run.
3. How will I feel once I accomplish this goal?
This question is the biggest secret weapon of all.
When you accomplish your goal, will you be proud? Amazed? Excited?
Think about the effort you'll put in and the rewards you'll reap. Get as concrete as possible—exactly how will you feel? Will you be floating down the sidewalk? Will you be already plotting the next goal to conquer? Will you be proud of yourself?
That emotion you'll feel at the end is part of your "why," and a key thing to turn to when your motivation is flagging.
After you think about all these emotions, you are ready to begin.
So do it. Begin.