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How to Get Motivated and Achieve Goals

How to Get Motivated and Achieve Goals
Pat Dickson - Tue Aug 06, 2013 @ 01:45PM
Comments: 0

I have a secret to getting motivated and accomplishing goals:

  • Name your goals
  • Specify the steps for achieving each goal
  • Calendar every specific action you need to take on an hourly, daily, monthly and yearly basis
  • Do everything you put on your calendar, even if it hurts!

For example, I have achieved the goal of writing four novels and publishing them (under a pen name I may one day disclose!).

Many of my friends privy to my pen name and writing hobby have asked me the secret to my publishing success. I of course told them what I just set forth in bullet points above. But more specifically, I told them I keep a detailed daily, monthly, yearly calendar/spreadsheet (to-do-list) on my computer for every book I intend to write and publish, including the completion/publication dates. I make myself do everything I calendar, even if it hurts! 

Here is how my goal setting and calendaring (writing and publishing a book) has worked in the past.  

1. I named my goal: write a novel

2. I specified the steps for achieving my goal, of writing my novel

  • outline the story
  • write 40,000 words
  • proofread and edit
  • publish online with Lulu

3. I calendared everything I had to do to get the job done

  • every day for 7 days, work on outline of story from 4-6 am
  • then, every day write 1000 words from 4-6 am; finish draft 1 in 40 days (date specified)
  • then, every day for 40 days, from 4-6 am; edit and proofread 4000 words (thus completing 4th draft final version)
  • and then, every day for 7 days, from 4-6 am; complete online publication with Lulu (including cover design, typesetting, and online profile)

As a result of such planning, I started and finished and published four books, one at a time, and one in only 94 days!

Of course, in all but one case, I took more than 94 days to achieve my goal of starting and publishing my next novel. I got lazy. For months at a time I simply refused to get up at 4 am and write 1000 words. There was no motivation or desire.

I can only say that the answer to finding motivation and desire - to just doing the things on your list - is simply getting up when your alarm goes off at 4 am, even if it hurts! Work through the pain, open your eyes, get out of bed, sit at your desk and start typing. Just do it!

I actually keep four big goal types calendared at all times, which are writing (as just discussed), health and exercise, travel, and work.

For my one meal a day diet, I calendar 2 pm every day for mealtime. When I eat, I delete the task of eating for the day and go on to my next calendared event. If a meal isn't on the calendar, I don't eat it. When I eat it, I delete it!

Do what is on your calendar and nothing else!

For my workout, my schedule says I have to be at the gym from 6-7 am, right after I'm done writing.

Finally, for my travel goals, I pretty much calendar what I have to do a step at a time, e.g.:

  • July 1: pick a place overseas to travel from Sept 1-15
  • July 15: give notice of my vacation at work
  • Aug 1: buy ticket
  • Sept 1: leave on vacation

The point is that it is very easy to just daydream about what we want to achieve. We can say we have goals. We can imagine being motivated. But at least for me, if you want to achieve goals you have to write them down, calendar every step of every goal, and get it all done, even if it hurts!

I won't deny that finding the requisite motivation inside ourselves can often be a problem. Sometimes writing our goals down and planning everything on our calendars is of no use if we just can't seem to do it. But this reminds me of what Charles Bukowski said about writers block one time. He said something to the effect of:

"There is no such thing as writer's block. If I want to write I just sit in front of the typewriter and start typing." 

So, if our goal is to paint, calendar the time each day and when the time comes, pick up the paintbrush, dip it in paint, and put it to the canvass.  

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