It is easy to set a goal for yourself. You want to finish college. You want to lose weight. You want to save a million dollars. You want to do an Ironman!
For many people, it's another thing entirely to do the work required to achieve that goal. The daily grind, the constant, never ending list of steps and actions and performance self-review, is just too much. The work put in doesn't equate to the goal stated. There's an imbalance in expectations; a conscious misunderstanding of how hard some achievements actually are. "It should be fine," is a lie we tell ourselves to get through the present as we dread the collision with our failed future self.
If you're one of the fortunate few that has no problem with internal motivation and continuous self improvement, kudos to you! You were equipped through personality and/or early environment to see the connection between doing and achieving. Keep on!
For those of you that find you struggle with sticking to the work required to achieve your goals, a few thoughts.
Step One: Nothing in Life is Easy
Allow this to wash over you and through you. Everything worth anything requires time. Effort. Sweat. Blood. Frustration. Tears. Work! There are no handouts. No one is coming to pick you up and carry you across the finish line. Anything you want, you need to do yourself. Don't count on your Mommy and Daddy, your sugar baby, your friends or family, to do what must be done. Allowing yourself to believe anyone else is going to do your work is a recipe for failure. To believe there are any shortcuts = failure. Own it.
Step Two: Do Work Every Day
Whatever this goal of yours is, you need to do some, or a lot, or a ton of work towards it every day. It doesn't really matter what you've heard about rest days or mental breaks or any of that. Every. Day. Counts. If it's a day off of physical training maybe you should review your pacing strategy. Or do some additional reading. Or make sure you're not sabotaging your gains by partying late into the night. Do homework. Do prep work. Don't be a sandbag.
Step Three: Get Fired Up
Some of those fortunate few are great about staying calm cool and collected as they put their nose to the grindstone and hammer out whatever they need to do to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve. You - YOU - need to get excited about what you're doing. Tell your friends. Tell your neighbors. Make them hold you accountable. Bring them along on your ride. Wake up ready to do work. Make it fun. Make it a game. Read other articles about the ten ways to stay motivated or the 5 SMART goals or the 3 Key Principles. I'm tired of hearing people make excuses for not doing the work. Don't make any excuses. Every time you hear yourself make an excuse, run a lap! Get fired up and get it done.
Step Four: Make a Map
Finishing college requires 120 hours of coursework, more or less. Saving a million dollars requires putting money in the bank every year then yelling at your advisor about rates of return. Your next goal needs a map! What are the conditions required to meet that goal? How much time do you need to make it reality? What milestones do you need to hit along the way? Are there any good books or articles out there on how people with similar goals made it happen? Are there other people in your area working towards the same goal? Are there conferences you should attend or people you should talk to? Your goal is not going to walk into your living room and land in your lap. Get off your butt.
You make it happen.
Marty Gaal, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon coach who lives in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Marty has been coaching endurance athletes since 2002. You can read more about OSB coaching services at www.osbmultisport.com.