Many of us set goals, sometimes many different ones at the same time. At the start of a new year, we are very likely to have made some resolutions. And sadly it’s very likely that by the end of January things might be getting a bit wobbly! If you’ve set a goal and feel as if things are getting difficult, or feel you’ve already failed, read on. In this article, we look at the three essential things that you need to address to reach your goals. 

First up, what is it that drives us? Why do we reach some goals and not others? Were they not realistic? Did we not have as much willpower on those occasions? Well it may surprise you to know that it has nothing to do with willpower. 



1. Emotion drives us – not willpower 


The emotional part of our brain is what guides us towards our goals. If we decide we want to achieve something, it is our desire that motivates us. The very word ‘emotion’ derives from the word for movement. It is our emotion that moves us to do something. Understanding this is not only vital to help achieve goals, but we can use this to make sure we do. 

To make this fact work for us, we need to make sure that we are really in touch with the emotion behind the goal. Our unconscious minds work tirelessly to bring about what we focus on. It is the emotional content of what we think about that it understands and tries to create.  If we have a goal that isn’t driven by emotion, then you are purely relying on willpower. If after a couple of weeks, your feelings about the goal are disinterested, bored or disconnected then it is going to become harder and harder to stay motivated to reach that goal. 

Think about the targets that you have reached compared to ones that you struggled with or gave up? How emotionally invested were you in each one? 



How to emotionally connect with your goal 


Work out why you want to reach this particular target. What will it mean for you? How will life look when you get there and more importantly, how will it feel? By really visualising what this goal looks and feels like, your emotional brain engages with it to help you to make the right decisions to complete the goal. 

So for example, many people this January will be trying to lose weight. It’s likely that you do feel very emotional about losing weight. But it’s vital that the emotion is about what the goal gives you, and not negative emotion about where you’re at right now. Thinking, ‘I hate my body, I wish I was thinner’, is not a motivating emotion. Your unconscious mind will not be able to use this negative emotion as a drive to help you reach your goal. All that will do is make you feel unworthy of the effort and very demotivated. Instead, focus on feeling what the end result will be like. What are you doing this for? What will you be doing when you lose the weight? How will life be better? Tap into these feelings for a few minutes every day to make sure that your motivation stays strong.  

The emotion needs to be positive and the reasons clear.

But as much as engaging with the emotion of the goal is essential, the main day to day work should not be about the end result but about the process. 



2. Focus on the process, not the goal 


The second essential component in hitting your target, is to set up a realistic, repeatable process, which can build and improve as time goes on. I know, it seems a bit backwards to not focus on the end result, but here’s why. 

Before you start, what is the system you will use to get you to your goal? 

Life is made up of decisions. Every day we make hundreds of tiny choices. If we skip a workout, it won’t derail us from our goals. However, if we skip 20 workouts, it will certainly have a negative impact on the outcome. If you’re trying to lose weight and have two chocolate biscuits, it won’t ruin all your progress. But if you beat yourself up about it, and get highly emotional about it, you may let those two biscuits become a packet. Then you might decide you’ve failed and abandon the whole process, and label yourself a failure to boot. The emotional drive you have will enable you to make choices that support your goals. BUT, it’s important to make the system you use to get there something that’s achievable every day. Make it flexible enough that it allows for slight detours without ruining your progress. 



Small habits mount up 


If your goal is to read more, then building in the time to read just a small amount every day consistently will add up to a huge increase in your reading. James Clear, the habit guru, recommends reading 20 pages of a book every morning when you wake. At the end of his first 10 weeks he was well into his 7th book. Small habits mount up!  

If it’s achievable and repeatable, you will stick to it and see the result. 

If you decide to start working out, and you jump in with a routine that’s far beyond what you are capable of, you will ache the next day. You might even injure yourself. Either way, it will interrupt your progress. If you start small and build up, you will achieve consistent results. A too restrictive diet, is not sustainable, and promotes a forbidden food set up, that only makes it more attractive.

Whatever system you choose to get to your goal, it needs to be maintainable. It also needs to fit in with your lifestyle so that you can be consistent, day in, day out. And after many days of doing small, achievable things consistently, you start to see big results. 



3. Enjoy the process!


Sounds obvious really doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised how many people start doing something that they hate, and then find it almost impossible to stick to day after day. It’s no good deciding to go for a 5 mile run every day if you hate running! You will use willpower to make yourself do it for a few days, but sooner or later you’ll find very good reasons not to do it. You might say, ‘I’m too tired today, I’ll go tomorrow instead’. Then tomorrow, you might think, ‘I don’t think I’ll bother, I missed one yesterday’. And soon you’ve convinced yourself that running every day is pointless. But maybe it just wasn’t the right system for you. 

Ask yourself honestly, if what you are proposing is possible for you to fit into your current lifestyle. Also, is it something that you like doing. If running is torture for you, but you like dancing, then make a commitment to fit in a small dance workout daily. Love chocolate? Find a diet plan that allows you to indulge in small amounts of chocolate, so you don’t feel deprived. If you haven’t got two hours each day to devote to learning the guitar then spend 5 minutes EVERY DAY. 

It’s an old saying, but little and often is key. 


Feel it, plan it, love it


So the key to setting goals and sticking to them, is to feel it, plan it and love it! Get the emotion to keep you on track. Plan a system that’s achievable and that you can do consistently. And most of all, find a way to enjoy it! 

I really hope you’ve found this information about reaching your goals helpful. As always, please share if you know someone who would benefit from reading it. For more information and useful downloads, head over to our website.

With very best wishes


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