The first step is to define your goal. Perhaps you've always dreamt about running a race or learning a new language? Maybe you're determined to seek a promotion or you simply want to shed a few kilos. Consider everything. What would you do if you had more time? What would you like to accomplish in the future? What do you regret about the past? In the words of motivational speaker Les Brown , "Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life." Whatever you choose, make sure your goal is specific, achievable and tangible.
A goal without a deadline can be forever postponed, so set a deadline and aim to be as realistic as possible. If your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight for example, count on losing 2 pounds (around one kilo) per week. If you have your eye on that promotion, think about when your next appraisal is scheduled or another opportunity when you will have the chance to shine. Diana Scharf Hunt, author of The Tao of Time (Fireside), summed it up perfectly by saying, "Goals are dreams with deadlines."
True motivation comes from understanding your underlying purpose, so think about what that is. Ensure your goal is something that you really want and not what others want you to do. Ensure also, that the goal you have set is in line with your overall purpose. If your purpose is to get fit, then a weight-loss goal may not be in line with this - it is possible to be slim, but still be unfit. Instead, it should rather be, "To achieve the same fitness levels I had when I was 20".
Determine, and better still, write down, the benefits you expect to enjoy from reaching your goal. Ask yourself what you will achieve from conquering your goal? Defining the benefits will help you to overcome moments of weakness. Evaluate these carefully and your goals will become much more attainable and your motivation increased. Lucy Mackintosh, NLP Coach and founder of The Law of Attraction Group in Dubai says, "Write them on post-it notes and stick them on the fridge, in the car, on a mirror; by never losing sight of the benefits of success, your goal will remain at the forefront of your mind which will only strengthen your resolve."
You must believe your goal is achievable; unless you believe you can 100 per cent reach it, you will have no true motivation. Those who think they can and those who think they can't are both right; the power of positive thinking knows no end. According to Carolyn Mitchell, NLP Life Coach and owner of Blue Sky Life Coaching , "Affirmations are an excellent tool to promote self-belief and assure ourselves of positive outcomes. Begin with fast forwarding to the time when you have achieved your goal. Learn what it feels like [in your mind] to experience what the success of achieving your goal means to you. Feel it or see it for yourself. Once you have learned what success feels like, you simply can't unlearn' it. By writing, reading and re-experiencing those feelings of success over and over again you are essentially telling yourself what you want by believing that you already have it."
Now identify your potential obstacles. When suddenly faced with obstacles it can be difficult to remain focused and energetic. They can sap your energy, time and enthusiasm. What may hinder your progress? Old habits die hard and current mindsets can be difficult to shift, but identifying the obstacles will prepare you for the road ahead - forewarned is forearmed after all. "Be perfectly honest with yourself," says Carolyn, "this is the only way to identify all the possible problem areas. And only when you identify these can you develop strategies to minimise them."
Think about how you can overcome these obstacles. What in your life needs changing? This is your opportunity to plan your strategies for handling the setbacks. If you consider each obstacle, one by one, you can easily identify a suitable solution; this may mean a change to your usual routine, enlisting the support of a friend or family member or a change to your current mindset. "If you can't find the solution yourself then ask someone who has achieved a similar goal how they did it" says Lucy, "or imagine you are sitting with a role model, a top athlete, for example. Ask them what to do and then put yourself in their shoes and give the advice they would give."
Take time to imagine that you have achieved your goal. What is it like? How do you feel? Excited? Exuberant? How has your life changed? How does it look, feel or sound? Capture that moment in your head and never lose sight of it. Try to make your vision so clear that you can perceive it with all five senses. The clearer the image in your mind, the easier it is to manifest into reality or in the words of Napoleon Hill, author of Think & Grow Rich (Ballantine Books), "What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve."
Create a step-by-step action plan detailing exactly what you need to do to achieve the goal. Remember in step one we identified that goals are the road maps that guide you? Well think of your action plan as the specific directions to get you to your destination, via the quickest and easiest route possible. Depending on the nature of your goal, identify any major milestones necessary to achieve it, then break down each milestone into specific tasks or steps. Sometimes just knowing where to start is hard, in which case enlist the support of others, be it friends, colleagues or a support group. Be prepared to journal the process. Writing things down helps to collate our thoughts, handle potholes and identify and deal with weaknesses. Strive to make progress every day. Every single day. And tell everyone you know about your goal - accountability is a great way to ensure that you do what needs to be done.