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Joe McDowell: Strong Motivation Required

Posted 1/15/18 at 07:00am. Column by Joe McDowell

Setting goals is one thing; following through is another. Staying on target requires strong motivation. Personal goals are much harder to reach, because the motivation to complete these goals often must be self-generated. In other words, no one else is “holding your feet to the fire,” so you must do it yourself!

When you set goals for yourself, you often start out strong and make good progress toward achieving them; but, as time goes by, your motivation often wanes and you see your goals slipping away, often never fulfilled. So why is it that you are able to reach some goals and not others?

The result largely depends on motivation. Motivation is your desire or drive to accomplish something. Psychologists say motivation is the process that arouses, sustains, and regulates behavior. In a nutshell, when it comes to goals, motivation comes down to 1. the reason you set a goal in the first place, and 2. what’s going to sustain the behavior needed to complete your goal.

The harder and longer it takes to complete goals, the stronger your motivation will need to be to achieve them.

When I realize I’m hungry, it does not take any more motivation than that realization to cause me to reach the goal of satisfying that feeling. In fact, it is very easy to be over-motivated and indulge in this area. When I notice the grass in my yard needs mowing, the motivation to get it done may be low; but then there’s the realization that the taller and thicker it gets, the harder it is to deal with. That realization can be just the thing I need to motivate me to get the job done.

The goals you truly wrestle with are of greater significance than eating or mowing the lawn. Sometimes you know you should to set certain goals. The thought of setting these goals can create real anxiety, because you know they will be difficult to reach. You know you could fail. You know pursing the goals will create pain physically and/or mentally. You are afraid of them. In order to set and reach these goals, your motivation must be STRONG!

Some examples of difficult goals could be losing weight, setting and maintaining a quiet time, reading your Bible through in a year, stopping a habit like smoking or nail biting, reading a certain number of books during the year, studying a subject like real estate for self-improvement, etc.

You all have probably struggled with setting goals in some areas of your lives, and there are probably some goals you have known you need to set but never have.

When your desires become God’s desires, strong motivation can result.

How do you set and reach goals that are difficult? You must be motivated to set each goal. You must look deep within yourself and pray, often seeking God’s help, for the motivation you need. God’s word and the working of the Holy Spirit can help you find motivation in many areas of your life. God wants you to be as healthy as you can be, he wants you to be as intellectually sound as you can be, and he wants you to grow in your spiritual lives. There are many aspects of life in which God has very specific instructions. When your desires become God’s desires, strong motivation can result.

How to maintain strong motivation:

  1. Revisit the reason/motivation for setting your goal in the first place. Continually return to your original thoughts. Your original motivation can be a strong influence to keep you going.
  2. Measure your progress. To do this, the goals you set must be measurable. Be pleased with forward progress. Movement toward your goal is success! And that success can be additional motivation.
  3. Have at least one cheerleader. Tell someone who will be supportive and ask them to be a positive voice in the pursuit of your goals. At the same time, ask “Debbie Downers” to keep their comments to themselves.
  4. Interact with others who have the same goal(s). When two or more seeking the same thing(s) come together, there can be mutual encouragement and mutual commiseration. Yes, sometimes a little sympathy can actually be motivating.
  5. Pray and seek God’s help through the Holy Spirit. Pray daily about your goals. Back up your goals with scripture. Scripture can be extremely motivational. Just remembering these two verses can be motivation to complete any good goal.
  • And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 (ESV)
  • I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (ESV)

Whatever goals you set for yourself, in order to make them a reality in your life, the following steps are essential:

  1. Set Your Goals — Make them challenging, yet reasonable.
  2. Establish Strong Motivation — Set your goals with a clear reason.
  3. Continuous Challenge — Have a constant reminder to stay on target.
  4. Adjust Your Goals — Adjust the goal if it is unreasonable.
  5. Acknowledge you may falter — Predetermine that a falter will not stop you.

So far, we have discussed setting challenging yet reasonable goals and establishing strong motivation for your goals. The next blog post will discuss the need for continuous challenge. Build these essentials into your goals, and you will be successful!

Rev. Joe McDowell is the Concord Baptist Association director of missions.

You can read his past columns here, and you can reach Joe at jmcdowell@concordbaptistassoc.org