“Deciding in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal can double or triple your changes of success.”

~ Heidi Grant Halverson

Why is it that when we set goals – even ones we’re excited about – we don’t always have a tonne of motivation to crush those goals? It’s an interesting problem, because usually we’re setting goals that will bring us something we really want; less debt, better health, to finally have that book written, or that project completed.

Michelle Cederberg here, pondering goals and the motivation it takes to achieve them.

Watch the video below, or read the transcript that follows, and then decide when and where you’ll crush those important goals.

There are sooo many reasons that goals get left undone. One of the main ones though is that life gets in the way of progress. On any given day, your list of responsibilities will drag you away from goal crushing: emergencies and deadlines at work, childcare, last minute necessities that need to get done NOW… and when you finally get those tasks out of the way, fatigue and distraction will continue to confound your goal completion efforts.

It’s not that we don’t want to accomplish those goals, it’s that we don’t always give them the same level of priority as the urgent ‘to do’s’ that pop up all day long. So…we find ourselves saying “I’ll get to it when…”

I recently read an interesting study that talked about the fact that wanting what the goal will bring is often not enough motivation to help us get that thing.

The study in the British Journal of Health Psychology assigned 248 adults to one of three exercise groups.

The control group kept track of how often they exercised over a two-week period. Before they left, each person had to read the opening three paragraphs of an unrelated novel.

Group 2 was the motivation group. They also had to keep track of exercise over two weeks, and also had to read a pamphlet on the benefits of exercise for reducing the risk of heart disease. They were also told “Most young adults who have stuck to a regular exercise program have found it to be very effective in reducing their chances of developing heart disease”

Those actions were meant to motivate Group 2 to exercise regularly, and while (in my opinion) I think the promise of money or looking more attractive might have been more motivating, it’s not group 2 I’m interested in.

Group 3 the intention group, was also told to track their exercise, they also read the pamphlet and got the same speech as group 2, PLUS (and this is the part I want you to pay attention to) they were also asked to formulate a plan for WHEN and WHERE they would exercise over the following week.

“During the next week I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [insert day] at [time of day] and [place]”

And then off they all went.

Two weeks later only 38% of control groupies exercised at least once a week. Only 35% of the motivation group exercised (not surprising to me but hey…) AND 91% in the intention group exercised at least once per week.

Simply by writing down a plan that said exactly when and where they intended to do their thing, they were more likely to follow through. Intention and the plan that came out of it produced far better results than motivation alone. If it was easy we wouldn’t need to write down those goals and set our intentions for action, but it’s not always easy… so take that extra step when you set your goals and get specific about when and where you’re going to implement.

Right now, I’m writing book #2, and after a number of false starts, I’m applying this method to that goal. At least three times a week (I set the days at start of the week), I get up before 7 am, go to my office with a coffee and a piece of toast, and write for at least 45 minutes. It’s in my calendar. And suddenly, I’m writing more and more often. Exciting!

According to Columbia University Professor and success researcher Heidi Grant Halvorson, deciding in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal can double or triple your changes of success. I like those odds. I mean, why set a juicy goal if you just keep pushing it aside?

Yup, goals are deceptive little things that get us excited for the OUTCOME, but if you want the outcome you have to develop a process that will help you get there. What goal of yours deserves a new implementation plan?

Choose the goal and then decide when and where you will take the next step. Get it in your calendar and make it happen. And then let me know how it’s going.

Until next time, I’m Michelle Cederberg reminding you that it’s not the doing that tough, it’s getting to it, so amp up that success-energy with a bomber implementation plan. You got this!

Michelle Cederberg, CSP, MKin, BA Psyc

Empowering today’s dreamers, leaders and go-getters to create the life and career they want.


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