Two little words that marry goals to motivation

Confession: We’re 18 days into 2019, and I still haven’t set any goals. In fact, I feel like I haven’t paused long enough to formulate a decent deep thought since mid-December. Perhaps you’re like me. Or perhaps you drew up an impressive list of good intentions for the new year, but two weeks in, they’re feeling like unreasonable burdens.

Whether you’re still trying to set goals or struggling to achieve them, motivation just might be the underlying issue. SEND Taiwan missionary Beth Eckstein, a certified coach, shares a strategy that can help now or any time you want to achieve a goal.

Have you ever heard the expression, “People lose their way when they lose their why?” There is a lot of hype right now around the phrase “find your why,” and with good reason. Workers in any profession tend to produce better results and stay committed for the long term when they know their why. 

Goals and resolutions that are not connected to motivation will not last. As I’ve been working on my goals for 2019, I have tried to add both a measure and a “so that.” With this approach, “Be more content this year,” becomes “Keep a daily gratitude journal every night at 8 p.m. so that I can practice contentment and see tangible evidence of God at work.”

Simon Sinek elevated the concept of “Why” in his 2009 TED Talk. (If you’re not one of the 42 million people who have seen it, you can watch it here.) He says that for us to really execute on our “what’s,” we need to first answer the why. He calls this the Golden Circle. Many of us get hung up on the how and never even get to the why.

Jenny, a SEND missionary in the Yukon Territory, decided to take a few extra minutes as she worked on her goals for the year to clarify a “so that” — and in the process, found that several motivations fueled her goals.

Her desire to communicate clearly became:

  • I want to communicate clearly so that people understand what I am saying.
  • I want to communicate clearly so that there is less confusion and assumptions made, based on my conversation.
  • I want to communicate clearly so that I will feel that my message is being heard.

Her goal to pray more turned into:

  • I want to engage more in solitary prayer so that I can focus on listening to God’s voice.
  • I want to engage more in solitary prayer so that I can be vulnerable and authentic before God.

If you find yourself struggling with goals this year, try the “so that” method, so that you can focus your energy on goals fueled by worthy motivations.

Planning for personal growth: Even if you aren’t making specific resolutions this year, you might be at least thinking about where you need growth and change. Turning those thoughts into actions can be tricky. An Individual Growth Plan (IGP) can help — and you can download our free guide to creating a plan here.