young girl with paper wings and googles getting ready to fly

The Not-So-Secret Formula for Reaching Your Goals

In Career Exploration, Employment Articles, Featured, News by Helena Gerritsen

Motivation is not the secret to success.

Yes. I said it. Motivation does not always end with achievement. And for those of you still skeptical, think on it for a moment. From your desire to set a goal, you have already shown a motivation to do it. You want to change, so you tell other people you’re resolved to change. But then the idea . . . fizzles.

Thankfully, science can help you. Here is their not-so-secret formula for reaching your goals:


Focus on Building Habits

The missing piece that will connect your motivation to achievement is habit. Simple, repeated, everyday habit.

Habits are the building blocks of motivation. Habits are, to use a metaphor, the motion behind the step. They move you from point a to point b. By building new habits, you make yourself more likely to do something in the future by doing it today. Objects that start in motion tend to stay in motion, as they say.

Break Your Goal into Smaller Steps

For large goals that seem impossible to pinpoint to a time or place (think buying a home, going to college, and other benchmark-type ideas), try breaking down the goal into smaller steps. Go from a 5-year plan to a 1-year plan.

Ask yourself what small step you can take today that will get you closer to your destination. Keep things specific; keep things real.

Decide on When and Where Your Actions Step Will Take Place

If you decide on when and where your desired action will take place, you will be more likely to actually do it. There’s something in our brains that is wired to love concrete ideas. We like specifics, and the when and where has the power to take us out of vague promises to exercise and get us running.

Don’t leave your goals to chance, the right time, or motivation- plan out the goals you want to achieve.

Make “If-Then” Scenarios in Case Things Go Wrong

What if disaster strikes and you’re not able to complete an action step? Just add in the “If-Then” scenario. It goes like this:

  • If I don’t complete my resume by Friday, then I will ask a friend or family member for help on Saturday.
  • If I don’t pack a healthy lunch to take to work, then I’ll eat the healthy snacks I keep in my drawer at work.
  • If I forget to exercise tonight, then I will do 20 jumping jacks the next time I hear a commercial.

If-then statements can say whatever you’d like- essentially you commit to a small means of achieving your goal if something goes awry. Try making one now. Once you’ve got one, pat yourself on the back. You have made the first step towards being the boss of your own destiny!

Write Down Your Goals

Committing your goals to writing makes them feel real. Write them down, then post them on the fridge or somewhere where you’ll see them often and be reminded of your commitment.

Get an Accountability Partner

Tell someone about your goals and ask them to be your accountability partner. We don’t like to let other people down, and by telling someone else about our goals we are more likely to put in the work it takes to reach them.