Have you ever had the experience of setting yourself a goal only to find a reason to ditch it? I have. Lots.

I wrote the following in an attempt to motivate a little more strongly this year; I hope someone else finds it useful, too. Although I am discussing fitness in this article the principles can be applied to any project or goal you are working towards. Happy 2015!

It’s a new year and everyone is motivated after the holidays to change. You reflected on your life at 11:58pm on New Year’s Eve and realized you didn’t achieve as much as you wanted to last year. You made a promise to yourself to make a change and define goals for the New Year. You head back to work relaxed, confident, and ready to attack your life.

BAM! You check your emails, show up for a meeting, take your kids to school, someone tells you that you don’t know what you are talking about, or whatever and your goals go out the window. Life attacks and you lose your way. You have done the same thing you have done every single year. Maybe it was the first day back or the tenth day back. It doesn’t matter. You lost sight of your goals. You revert to old comfortable patterns and then you complain about how much your life sucks. We have all been there and done it. Heck you are probably already debating bailing on this post. Reality is encroaching your post-holiday daze.

If you really want to change, it takes hard work. It doesn’t mean just showing up. That is what average people do. Change means creating a plan and working every day towards your goals. Change needs extreme focus and determination to get through whatever crap life throws at you. You have to embrace discomfort and fear by finding ways to motivate yourself to achieve your change. It means thinking outside of the box, riding the waves, dancing in the rain, creating your own path, and pushing boundaries. It is about disregarding what other people have to say and staying true to your mission.

Does this sound like flaky new age crap to you? Well here are some practical tips and advice to help you get started on the hard work:

What Is Your Mission

Your mission is what you decided was so important that you were going to dedicate a portion of your life to pursuing. Maybe it was to be healthier, get a promotion, reading the top 100 books of all time, or to give back to the community. Whatever you decided, that is your mission. Keep it simple and to the point. You will be working for this the whole year so be very clear on what you are going to achieve. Write it down.

My 2015 mission is to build muscle so I can lose fat and be healthier.

What Is Your Motivation

Why do you want to pursue your mission? What makes you want to do this? What will happen if you don’t do this? You need to write down your motivation because throughout the year you are going to get tested and dissuaded from your mission. In the tough moments, looking back and remembering your motivation will help you see why this is important to you and help move forward through the fear, pain, and discomfort. It will also help you refocus and find a clear path in when you waver.

For me, I am tired of being tired. I want build focus and control in a healthy constructive environment. I want to feel better physically and emotionally. I want to see the results of my hard work. I mostly want to look amazing in the mirror. If I don’t do this I will remain unfit and depressed. Zombies will surely catch and eat me if a plague breaks out. More than all that though, I’m doing this for me. It’s mine alone.

Define Your Critical Success Factors

In the professional world we often use the buzz phrase critical success factor (CSF). CSF is the term for an element that is necessary for an organization, project, or person to achieve its mission – it’s the critical factor or activity required to successfully complete an objective. Start by asking yourself what needs to happen in order for me to achieve my mission. Break it down into less than 5 CSFs.

  1. I will need to regulate my food intake to help build muscles and reduce fat.
  2. I will need to follow a training plan to safely increase my cardio.
  3. I will need to follow a training plan to safely increase my muscles.

Create SMART Goals

It is natural when we start creating goals to be idealistic and overly optimistic in what we can achieve. The SMART goals method will help you create clear, realistic, and specific goals, which have a much greater chance of being accomplished. SMART stands for goals that are:

  • Specific (Goals must be clear and unambiguous)
  • Measurable (Results must be quantifiable in some way)
  • Attainable (Goals must be realist and achievable by an average person)
  • Relevant (Goals must relate to your mission)
  • Time-bound (Goals must be of a fixed duration and so have definite starting and ending points)

Look back at your CSFs and create SMART goals or action statements to complete the activities necessary for working towards your mission. You’ll want to create two or three SMART goals for yourself, such as:

  1. Starting in 2015, I will consume 1,400 calories a day and limit myself to one cheat day a week for the rest of the year.
  2. Starting in 2015, I will decrease by body fat percentage by 2% before the end of the year.
  3. Starting in 2015, I will completed a local 10K run competition before the end of the year.

Create DUMB Goals

Being realistic will help you move towards your mission, but you need to dream a little bigger darlin’. You never know what you can accomplish if you don’t let your mind wander. Many of the greatest minds and role models of history accomplished things that society thought were unrealistic. By the end of the year you might even find yourself completing a dream you didn’t know you had. The DUMB goals method can help you brainstorm goals, dreams, and ideas you would have never previously thought about. DUMB stands for goals that are:

  • Dreams (What keeps you awake at night dreaming of the possibilities? How would you like to spend your life?)
  • Unrealistic (What would be the ideal? Push the boundaries on what you think you can do.)
  • Motivational (What would make you happy? What sounds like a lot of fun pursuing?)
  • Bold (Get uncomfortable. What would you do if you were not afraid?)

Look back at your CSFs and create DUMB goals that exceed your mission. Create as many DUMB goals as you like. Have fun exploring ideas.

  1. Complete the Goofy race at Disney World.
  2. Enter a zombie run and not get caught.
  3. Win an arm wrestling match.
  4. Have a crowd watch me do pull-ups with ease.
  5. Enter a fitness competition.
  6. Enter an iron man competition.

Create an Action Plan

Having an action plan is key to achieving success. It is a road map to your goals. You should know on every step of the way or at least what your next step is. If you have to think about what comes next then you may become frustrated, detour, and lose sight of what was important to you. Research shows that if you carry out a routine for 30 days that it becomes a habit that feels natural and is harder to stop. Look back at your SMART goals and break down how each day or week you are going to perform tasks and routines to move yourself close to each goal. You don’t have to have all the answers right now, but you should make sure you know at least two steps ahead of where you are. You should revisit your plan each week and revise it based on outcomes and unforeseen circumstances.

  1. Research what calories I should be eating based on my body and mission.
  2. Research a cardio training plan that sounds fun and realistic for where I am now.
  3. Research a weight training plan to safely increase my muscles.
  4. Research local races that will be held this year.
  5. Start walking to work each day.
  6. Book an appointment with a personal trainer.
  7. Pick a day of the week to have a cheat / relax day.
  8. Download Microsoft Health for my Microsoft Band to track my food intake and calories burned.
  9. I will start making lunches and snacks on the weekend that I can take to work.
  10. Download the couch to 5k internal training for my Microsoft Band.
  11. Create calendar reminders to exercise for an hour at least 3 times a week.
  12. Create calendar reminders and journals to review my plan and progress each week.

Get To Work

Now you have everything you need to get started. What are you waiting for? The only person who can do this is you. Here are some productivity and motivational tips that may be helpful to you:

  • Try to perform your goal tasks in the morning before your day takes over. You may have to wake up earlier to do them, but you won’t have the worry of getting your tasks done before the end of the day.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is another day. Get it done tomorrow. Make it #1 on your To Do list.
  • If you give 110% every day then you have already succeeded.
  • Keep your tasks short and sweet. Don’t over complicate things. Break down the tasks or problems into manageable actions.
  • Ask for help. You have to do the work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some help to get you there. Find a mentor, get a cheering squad, or team up with a friend. Do whatever it takes to get you there.
  • Find ways to have fun. Maybe that means studying in a whirl pool. Maybe that means running with the Zombie, Run! game. Check your work emails from Starbucks. Think of something fun when you are procrastinating or not looking forward to a task.
  • You will always feel fear. It is healthy. It kept your ancestors alive. If you know that you aren’t going to come to physical harm convert fear to excitement. Say to yourself “I am not afraid. I am excited. I care about what I am doing right here and right now.”. Go out there and do whatever it is you are fearful of. You will find out it isn’t as scary as you thought and you didn’t die in the process.
  • Find motivation. I like motivational quotes, books, and people. I view and listen to this kind of stuff all the time when I can’t muster the courage to say it to myself. Below is a video I like to watch daily. Warning this video contains a lot of swearing to drill home the point. My company did not produce this video and does not own any rights to it. It is just a great YouTube video by an exceptional man.



About Author

Christine Weaver has been the technical lead on projects designing, developing, deploying, supporting, and delivering solutions for SharePoint since 2003. Christine’s knowledge and experience leans heavily on her 10+ years as a software consultant and from being a Microsoft certified professional. Christine has been a regular presenter at TechDays Canada and runs the Halifax SharePoint User Group.

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