Building Momentum for Change Beats Goal-Setting.
Goals are some of the most important instruments in our toolkit for change. Yet, when given too much attention, they can seem to get in the way. Goals can become the be-all and end-all of change – and make you blind to the reasons you were changing in the first place.
This is part of an argument given by one of my heroes, Simon Sinek. He observes – fairly wisely, I might say – that reaching goals, as an achievement in itself, cannot ever be the whole story. You can reach goals almost by accident, he says. And, one might add, that feeling of success once a goal is reached is sometimes enough for people to put a complacent brake on their subsequent progress.
Goals, in themselves, are insufficient for enabling change. What is more important, Sinek says, is momentum. It’s great if you can reach your goal of fifty push-ups a day by the end of the week. But it’s not so great if meeting that goal means that you pull a muscle and do no push-ups the week after.
The goal pales in comparison to momentum. Whilst you’re out of the gym with a limp arm, your mate might overtake you – like that classic fable of the hare and the tortoise. Your mate has the momentum; all you did was reach your goal.
Check out my podcast on the Power of Momentum:
Five Ways You Can Start Building Momentum in Change.
I want to share with you some ways that you can start building momentum in your change. Some ways that you can keep changing through thick and thin, even when you don’t reach every single goal along the way. As long as you keep going, you may well be more effective in your change than someone who hits every single goal.
If all your attempts at change start with goals, it is time you tried a different tack.
You can, of course, find more on all of this in my HOW Skill Set.
Intention: It’s Not the Micro-Goals but the Overall Intention that Matters.
Goals are great, but they are provisional, contingent, and finite. What you need to consider first is your intention.
Intention is about where you want to get to. It’s about the person that you want to be, life you want to lead, relationships you want, lifestyle you want to achieve and experiences you want – not a single goal that is away in the future. A holistic vision of your version of success.
Example, if you charge off after your work goals thinking if you could just get the perfect job, the car, salary, status, then life will be great. This point of view discredits all the other areas of your life – your health, well-being, relationships, happiness, life as a whole, what would happen?
Life is not linear, it is a complex non-linear journey. A winding road full of discovery and exploration of different options. We don’t know the final destination exactly, but having clarity on all the elements you want to feature, you can check in with that regularly and ensure you are headed in the right direction. We need clarity on what the whole picture looks like.
Ever heard of someone who slogged to achieve a goal that they believed would make them happy, but once they achieved it…the desired outcome didn’t happen! They got tunnel vision on a goal, blinding them to keeping a boarder view. Potentially missing other opportunities. Neglecting other areas of their life. As Stephen Covey describes “So busy climbing the ladder of success to realise it was leaning against the wrong wall!”. Sound familiar?
Without a core intention, a holistic vision of your life – you can’t be sure the actions you are using to create momentum are moving you in the right direction! It all starts with intention!
Insight: Your Environment Affects Your Chance of Building Momentum.
Goals are irrelevant if they are not suited to your specific context. Building momentum towards your intention means cultivating an environment in which that momentum can be built and maintained.
Before you change, consider how your current environment affects your ability to build and sustain momentum in the right direction. Check out my article on the six influencers of change for more on this.
Identify: Impact and Influence are the Keys to Consistent Improvement.
Building momentum is about being consistent – and consistency is the result of strategic thinking about what changes come first. Overwhelm is the biggest momentum and motivation killer. Be strategic what you decide to do first!
Identify which changes are the most impactful and the most influential. (And check out my article on impact and influence for more on this). Keystone habits, for example, can be a great place to start ‘gaining traction’ in the beginning.
Implement: Cut Out the Things Impeding Your Progress.
Momentum is something much more easily lost than built. Eliminate habits that pull you backwards, that distract you, and obstruct your ability to focus. Work on creating routines and implementing changes to keep momentum.
Carve out Protected Time dedicated to focused work.
Integrate: Build Momentum by Consolidating Habit.
Remember that change that sticks doesn’t come from one day to the next. Effective change comes through the slow accretion and consolidation of new habits and routines.
Don’t force yourself to do too much at once. That is not building momentum for change – and will surely lead to a blowout.
Your Tasks for This Week.
- Take time to return again to your intention. You have your New Year’s resolutions, but what sort of life are they taking you towards?
- Identify the key daily routines and habits that will make your future changes even easier. That’s what building momentum is all about.
- Aim of consistence of execution of routines, habits, actions and practices, instead of shooting for the end goal.
Check out my podcast:
Check out my podcast on the Power of Momentum:
Insights for This Week.