Do you struggle with achieving your goals?
Are you even now, distracted and lack focus for your business as an independent consultant? If so, then you’ll be interested in checking out the tactics I’ve collected from my network of successful consultants. You just may find a gem to help you.
Let’s put this into context
Earlier this month, I met with one of my mentees. She has some similar business and lifestyle goals as my own. I help her with attaining her goals, which is why she asked to be my mentee. But I also truly enjoy meeting with her-we provide each other with a lot of value.
I get several gifts from her in return:
- I get to share in her energy and journey,
- I’m afforded the opportunity to understand her perceptions,
- She keeps me in touch with the younger generation, and
- She helps motivate me to bring my A-game for her.
Ultimately, because of working with her, I feel connected, a part of something bigger and it motivates and focuses my own goals.
When I asked my mentee about her goals for this year, it thrilled me to see how excited she was. This excitement led us to exchange ideas and tactics about how we become excited about our goals. And more importantly, how we stay motivated and on track to achieve them.
Staying focused on our own goals can be hard to do as independent consultants
We’re often so focused on providing value to our clients and supporting their objectives that it distracts us from our own business goals. But when I contribute to someone else’s similar goals, like my mentee’s, my own become clearer and of a higher priority. And I become even more motivated to take action to accomplish them.
No business degree or MBA can teach you how to stay motived
Being focused on my goals has been a major contributor to my ability to build a successful independent consulting business. I’ve been seeking information and testing various systems for well over 20 years. Some of the fruits of my labour are the following four tactics.
4 Tactics to Stay Motivated and On track to Achieve Any Goal
Tactic 1: Write Your Goals Down
Have you stopped to write down your goals for this year?
Dr Gail Matthews, a professor of Psychology at the Dominican University in California did a goal-setting study. Her research confirmed that writing down your goals increases the likelihood of achieving them by 42%.
I have been writing down my goals since I was a child. I learned the habit from my foster parents, Lilly and Ted-one of many life-changing gifts they gave me. Without their help and willingness to invest in me, I am sure my life would have turned out very differently. But because I learned from them to write down my goals, I also started to focus.
And things began to change.
Tactic 2: Set Some Goals that are Risky-Goals that Scare You
My husband and I have a belief. We believe that unless our goal is risky, audacious, it’s not worth chasing.
Risky is scary and uncomfortable. Risky is often associated with the potential to fail. However, for my husband and I, risky goals are good! They mean we are advancing ourselves, radically. To do this, we frame risky goals differently. Instead, we frame them as a challenge-to set goals beyond what we thought was within our reach.
Others told us there was no way we, or I, could:
- Buy two houses, at the same time, as our first home purchase, or
- Start and sell our first transportation business, or
- Become mortgage free within a year, or
- Write my first book, and then another, or
- Change my career and become an independent consultant, or
- Buy our first apartment building, and another, or
- Expand my consulting business during a recession, or
- Become developers and build a net-zero, 5000-square-foot house as a first-time build, or
- Continually raise my rates and secure contracts during another recession.
We always found a way.
We were not going to allow others to determine what we could and couldn’t do. With that belief, we have continually surprised others with what we have achieved.
Research supports setting risky and scary goals
I learned this from listening to the One Thing podcast, episode 104. Jeff Woods was interviewing Michael Hyatt. Michael Hyatt is the author of several bestselling books related to goal setting. In his research for his recent book, he learned of two researchers, Steve Cure and Douglas Lapelli, who did a study about goal setting. And they determined that:
- If you set goals too low, you usually achieve them, but you won’t stay motivated, and your focus and attention will wane.
- However, if you set goals that are risky and more difficult, you are far more likely to sustain your enthusiasm for them and perform at a higher level.
This explains why our risky, scary goals have rewarded us handsomely with an extraordinary life.
Tactic 3: Determine ‘Why’ the Goal is Important to You
Remember the mentee I mentioned earlier? And how she was so excited about her goals?
I asked her why her goals were so important to her. She expressed very clearly all the benefits she would receive when she accomplished her goals. And she was excited, animated, practically squirming in her seat!
Many of the successful people in my network also apply this tactic. And so do I.
I write a minimum of three motivating factors for each of my goals
Motivating factors can be how the goal will benefit me. Or they can be what will be at stake if I fail to achieve the goal. In either case, I want three motivating ‘whys’ for each goal. Most of them relate to how they will enable my extraordinary life-my benefits.
- Be the first in my family to acquire a university degree because I wanted to:
1. Earn more than a cook, waitress, nanny, or house cleaner.
2. Create more career options.
3. Prove to all the naysayers that I could be more than a welfare foster kid.
- Change careers and industries so I could:
1. Negotiate more vacation time and pay as an employee.
2. Gain more experience.
3. Get experience that would support my goal to become a consultant.
- Invest money and time to write my first book and have it published to:
1. Increase my personal brand awareness.
2. Have a product to provide to my clients.
3. Have a book launch party with all the amazing people of my network who supported me.
Whenever I told someone I planned to do any of the above, they were shocked and began to warn me about how I might be disappointed or how I could fail. But when I expressed clearly what I wanted, and why the risk was worth it, those same people were often my biggest cheerleaders.
When your motivation wanes-look to your motivating factors
Whenever I became tired or frustrated, I would look at my reasons for the goal. Or my supporters would remind me what I was giving up if I didn’t keep going. Then I would get back on track and continue forward, which leads to my final tactic.
Tactic 4: Have an ‘Accountability’ Partner or Group You Respect
Have you publicly announced your goals in the past? But found yourself lacking motivation?
I thought if I shared my goal, I would create a ‘peer pressure’ situation. And I would be more inclined to take action and succeed. But I soon noticed I was slow and sluggish to take action on the goals I had mentioned to anyone who would listen. My motivation sucked! Like the time I proclaimed I would write a second book and publish it. It took forever!
It wasn’t till I mentioned it to one particular person that I seemed to get a fire under my butt and get it done.
Why? Where did my logic fail me?
Studies show announcing goals doesn’t work for many people
New York University professor Peter Gollwitzer has been studying why announcing your goals doesn’t seem to work. He found that when people share their intentions, it gives them a “premature sense of completeness.” As it turns out, just talking about a goal to others and having them acknowledge it allows the brain to identify the goal as a “social reality”. The brain will treat your conversation as if you have already achieved the goal.
No further action is required. Devious brain!
Gollwitzer determined that “those who kept their intentions private were more likely to achieve them” than those who publicly shared them and were acknowledged by others.
So how do we improve our ability to achieve our goals?
I, and many in my network, still share our goals, but with a crucial twist. We are successful when we are very selective about who we share our goals with (and with a caveat). I only share my goals with those in my ‘inner’ circle, whom I highly respect and feel accountable to.
And I ask them to gift me with their help too:
- ‘Call-me-out’ when I seem to be making excuses,
- Help me remember why the goals were important to me in the first place, and
- Help me find solutions to achieving my goals.
And I do the same for them. I am blessed to have a fantastic group of friends and colleagues in my circle.
With that slight shift, I find I achieve my goals; I surpass my expectations.
The moral of the story
By writing down my goals precisely (those goals that make my heart race) and articulating the multiple benefits, I am well on my way. But when I add the final tactic-an accountability partner or group-I seem to be able to achieve anything.
Are you ready to set your goals so you can make the most of your independent consulting business? With these 4 tactics, you will have a higher level of motivation to not only set them, but to achieve them.
If you found this article helpful, please share it with your community.
Thanks for reading.
Founder and President
Stand & Deliver Inc.