You can use the template I’ll be using to overcome your own obstacles and feel motivated to move forward on something even when you don’t feel motivated.
This is the template the Brainstorming and Accountability group will be following in February and it’s the template I plan on using throughout all of 2021. I’m presenting it for you in 4 questions so that you can ask yourself these questions about any goal you plan to work on for yourself. And for illustration purposes, I’’ll give examples of how to use these questions in a few different areas- towards a business goal, towards a weight loss goal and a workplace goal, like getting a new position or promotion. Even if none of these examples align exactly with a goal you have, you can hear the example and customize it to your own situation.
What’s your plan to get to your goal?
Please don’t misunderstand the purpose of the question. We’re not coming up with a plan that we’ll be sticking to 100% and expecting to work perfectly.
We’re coming up with a general idea of one of the ways you could meet the goal. This “plan” is just to overcome the obstacles of thinking “I don’t know how” and “I’ve never done this before.”
Even though you’re coming up with your rough sketch of your plan, this is really only your first draft so that you can get started and move forward.
But – this is super important! Your mantras throughout this whole thing should be along the lines of:
Process over outcomes
It’s the journey, not the destination.
Think of this as a road trip – where the purpose of the trip is the travel.. Not the place you end up at (but, of course, if you stay on the road trip, of course you’ll end up at your destination).
Road Trip Analogy
Think of this analogy: have you ever gone on a road trip with someone for practical reasons- like to help someone move or pick something up? The destination wasn’t the fun, or interesting or meaningful part – but it was the purpose for the trip – but the part that you looked forward to and think back fondly about was the time you spent together traveling, the songs you sang, the snacks you ate, the amazing solutions you came up with to any problems you encountered – like a detour or a flat tire or getting lost.
So, how does this road trip analogy apply to the first step of the template? I want you to have a rough route sketched out for yourself, so you know where you want to end up – but I don’t want you to hold yourself to that route. (and) You should expect surprises and setbacks and delays as part of the normal experience.
Examples of “What’s your Plan?”
Let’s apply this to a business example. Let’s say that my goal in 2021 is to double my revenue from last year. How would I do that? Maybe I’ll decide to double the number of coaching clients I work with and maybe I’ll decide to find a complimentary income stream that go along with my coaching practice.
Let’s apply it to a weight loss example. This one may be the most straight forward because everyone knows there are so many “proven ways” for someone to lose weight. So, you would just need to pick one and decide to follow it. Maybe you work with a weight coach, maybe you do a program like 21day fix, maybe you start intermittent fasting- your rough plan is just to choose one of these methods and decide thats how you will lose the weight.
Let’s apply this first step to a work example. You’ve decided your goal in 2021 is to change positions within your company. How will you do that? You’ll find a position you think you’d like to move into and start pointing yourself in that direction. Figure out the job requirements and if you’re missing any of them. Start to align yourself with the new department and people who are already there. Learn about the transfer or interview process in your company.
Think about your goal that you want to achieve in 2021. What do you think a possible route might be? Can you give yourself a rough sketch of how you could do it?
What do you need to set up?
This is the time to think of those potential roadblocks we discussed in the last step, as well as things you’ll want along the way.
Just like you would do before a road trip, you’re going to pack and prepare. What do we need to figure out before we start? What do we need to have access to?
Do we have the route mapped out? Have we checked weather and road conditions? Will we have any tolls to pay? Do we have a general idea of when and where we’ll stop to rest or eat or sight see?
Examples of “What do you need to set up?”
Checking in on our business example. What do I need to set up? What do I need to learn, research and experiment with in order to double my business. One assumption I’ll make for myself is if I want to double the number of clients I have, I’ll need to meet many more people than I know right now so that they’re aware of who I am and what I do. Maybe, I do this with the podcast, or with teaching workshops. So, I might want to learn how to expand the reach of my podcast – or how to build an audience for teaching workshops.
Checking in on our weight loss example. You might want to think about your meal plans, or look up recipes that fit your new eating protocol. You might start planning how you’ll handle scenarios that have been obstacles to following an eating plan in the past (like what will you do if someone offers you your favorite indulgent food, what will you do when you’re feeling stressed, or tired or if you haven’t had time to meal prep?)
Checking in on our work example. Your plan is to change positions- so what do you need to set up? Maybe you set up job-shadowing to see what that new position is like on a day-to-day business. You could invite someone from that department to a virtual lunch or coffee. Why not volunteer for a project or committee that works along with someone in the position you’d like to move into? And maybe, you also need to develop skills you don’t have yet. Could you take a class? Attend a training?
So, thinking about your 2021 goal: what do you need to prepare for and set up? Are you going to attend a training? Will you make contingency plans for unexpected detours? Could you learn a new skill?
Set an objective, make it measurable and start working towards it. Have a way to mark your progress.
This means you’re forgetting about the overall goal and just thinking about the first or the next steps.
And when I say first or next, I really mean just a few – 3 maximum – because, as we know, things change! Surprises happen! We don’t know what we don’t know yet.
Plus, we don’t want to give our brains the chance to get overwhelmed by thinking of the whole plan in its entirety.
So, we just tell ourselves: “first I’ll do A, B and C. Then I’ll decide what to do next. Maybe, I’ll be doing D and E after that- but, since I don’t know what’s going to happen with B and C – I’m not even going to worry about D and E yet.“
Examples of “Get Going!”
In my business example, this might look like me reaching out to other podcasters to offer to be a guest on their shows – see how I’m not worried about what if our schedules don’t align and what if there’s a technology issue when we try to record? I don’t have to entertain those concerns during my first steps- I only need to think about finding other podcasts and pitching myself to them. Then, when I get a yes or a no, I’ll decide what my next steps are.
For the weight loss example, I’ve heard weight loss clients tell me they worry about losing weight because then they’ll have to buy all new clothes. Do you see how that’s resistance? From steps way, far ahead on the journey? That worry about future obstacles could keep them from starting to take action on what they really want. So, for this piece of it, for the get going piece, we’re not even worrying about buying new clothes or your current clothes being to big for you. First, we’re just focusing on what you’ll eat today and tomorrow and confirming you have that food on hand and making sure you know what you’ll do if you get tempted – just today or tomorrow, we’ll save thinking about the future when it arrives.
Here’s how the “Get Going” step could look in the work example. You update your resume. Then, you fill out the application. And maybe, you send the email asking for an interview. That’s it! You don’t need to worry about how you’ll transition from your current role to the new role if you get the job. You don’t need to think about what your current coworkers will think if you tell them you’re transferring. That’s all down the line- but, first things first, you just take the very first step towards your plan.
This is when you get to celebrate! Give yourself credit and also, evaluate and course correct.
This gives you markers for your progress. You’ll have irrefutable evidence for how far you’ve come!
Progress gives you momentum!
And by checking in periodically to evaluate, you can also make more informed decisions about when you do want to pivot, or modify your current route.
And bonus points for you if you’re doing this in an accountability group or with a partner.
Examples of “Check in”
How could I check in for the business example? I can keep track of how many other podcasts I’ve reached out to each day. I can keep track of how many days I’ve researched podcasts to pitch myself to. Or, I can keep a running total of how many interviews I have scheduled and completed. And then I can review those numbers each week or each month and see those numbers going up.
How do you check in for the weight loss example? Maybe, you make a check mark on your calendar for each day you followed your eating plan. Maybe you use some public accountability and encouragement and post a picture of your meal prep once a week on social media. I really recommend you weigh yourself frequently and write it down so you have more data about if your weight is going up, or down or staying the same as you’re following your steps.
And, for the work example, it’s pretty similar, you keep track of the steps you’ve taken towards your goal. What’s the total number of hours of the training you completed? How has the skill you’re developing improved from last month to this month? How many people in your company know of and encourage your intention to transfer?
What about your goal? How frequently do you intend to collect data to mark your progress? Will you keep it on a spreadsheet (like I like to do)? Or do a monthly interview with yourself in your journal (I also like to do this)? Or have a weekly check-in chat with a buddy to check up on each other?
There are so many options and I’m not suggesting one is better than the other.
What I am suggesting is that many people fall victim to their own resistance before even starting. Or, they get started but quit before finishing because they lose motivation or things don’t work out exactly as they thought they would.
So here’s the template to overcome your own obstacles and keep your motivation as you work toward a goal.
Map out a rough plan to get to your goal. This step overcomes the obstacle of thinking you don’t know how or what to do.
Set up what you need to set up. This step overcomes your resistance that you don’t have what you need or don’t know what you need to know yet.
Get Started. This step gives you momentum. And by only focusing on the tiniest first steps, you’re overcoming the obstacle of overwhelm. And by telling yourself “I can do this 1 thing” you don’t need superhuman levels of motivation to keep going, you just need motivation for the very next step.
Check in. This is where you give your brain the reward of progress! And! You get to show off and brag and be proud of yourself!
Continue to Follow the Template
Then, you just continue following this template over and over until you’ve reached your goal.
It will be so interesting to look back when you have reached it to see how different the path you followed looks from the path you laid out- that was planned for and expected right?
It’s going to be so fun for you see how much progress you made as you review your periodic check ins. And, you’ll notice how some things you didn’t know how to do, or you were scared to do, became no big deal as you kept doing them.
Follow this template in 2021 to go after your plans. You can use this template to overcome your own obstacles- both the resistance you might have about starting something new and the possible loss of motivation you might feel along the way.
Brainstorming and Accountability Group
If you’re feeling excited and motivated and eager now, I’ve got a suggestion for you.
And, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and unsure, I’ve got the same suggestion for you!
Next week I’m starting a Brainstorming and Accountability group. It’s really geared towards people who have started or are about to start their new businesses, but as you’ve heard throughout this episode, this template can be applied to a variety of goals.
We’ll meet every Tuesday evening in February to brainstorm ideas and hold each other accountable. We’ll be following the template I’ve outlined for you today, so you know it won’t be overwhelming. And, you know we won’t let your own resistance hold you back from what you really want ot move forward on. To learn more about the group and sign up to join us on Tuesday, go to the Business Brainstorming and Accountability Group page.
And, even if you don’t decide to join us on Tuesday nights, I hope you decide to apply these ideas on your own, for yourself.