The Missing Ingredient in Most Goals

A clearly written goal is not enough. A carefully thought out action plan isn’t either. You need more than this if you are going to accomplish really big goals. Let me explain.

Woman Asking the Question, What Is at Stake? - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/fotosipsak, Image #18826194

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/fotosipsak

Last year, I set a goal to write a new book, called Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. As someone who has spent his career in the book publishing industry, I had witnessed hundreds (if not thousands) of people get turned away by publishers, simply because they didn’t have a platform.

In 2005, I set out to build my own platform, just to see if I could do it. Today, my blog is read by almost 80,000 people a day. That includes direct traffic to my blog plus email and RSS subscriptions. Along the way, I have learned a lot of lessons, mostly by “failing forward,” to quote John Maxwell.

So, I was super-excited about the idea of sharing my journey in book form, along with all the practical tips and resources I had gleaned along the way.

So I wrote a goal:

Finish a 50,000-word manuscript on platform-building by November 1, 2011.

I then wrote out a very specific, detailed action plan. It included developing the book proposal, securing a publishing contract, writing the first draft, etc. I then rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

I finished the book proposal by the end of April—right on schedule. Thomas Nelson offered me a book contract a few months later and I began working on the manuscript.

Then I hit my first snag.

I had an incredibly busy fall, with more speaking engagements than I had originally anticipated. As a result, I didn’t make as much progress on my book as I had hoped.

The November 1st deadline came—and went. I was a long, long way from turning in a manuscript. Worse, the original outline I had created wasn’t working. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the logic to work.

It was at this point that I really began despairing about the project. I seriously thought about pulling the plug and giving Thomas Nelson it’s money back. I was stuck in “the middle of the story.”

You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s that part of every journey when you aren’t sure you have what it takes to finish but you are too far along to quit. That’s exactly where I was.

So, I went back and took another look at my goal. I had a Goal Statement. I had a detailed Action Plan. Only problem was, that wasn’t enough.

That’s when I reviewed my Internal Motivations for this goal. This is a section I write out for every goal. I list why this goal is important and what’s at stake. It is the component that most people never think to include.

But it can save your bacon when things get tough.

Here’s what I wrote under the Internal Motivations heading for this goal:

I will achieve this goal because:

  • I want to help the tens of thousands of authors, artists, and would-be creatives who have been turned away because they don’t have a platform.
  • I want to establish my authority as an expert on platform-building.
  • I want to prove that you can create a platform and use it to sell books.
  • I want to open the door to additional speaking engagements on this topic.
  • I want to develop more product to sell on my website and at my speaking engagements.
  • I want to reach beyond my blog to pull in additional readers.
  • I want to establish a pattern of writing one major book a year.

As I re-read this section, I reconnected emotionally. I saw once again why this goal was so important—to me. When I rediscovered my why, I found my way.

I dove back into the project with fresh energy. That doesn’t mean it was easy. It took a ton of work, including the hard work of fighting through fear and doubt.

Finishing the project took me another nine weeks. But I am pleased to report that I turned it into my editor last Friday. There will be more work to do, no doubt, but we are still on track for a May 2012 publication.

So as you are working through your own goals for this year, make sure you have a S.M.A.R.T. goal statement. Then develop an action plan. But don’t forget to list your Internal Motivations. This is the difference-maker. It may be the one ingredient you need to go the distance.

Question: What is at stake your most important goal for this year? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

    Great post!

    I’m challenged to apply SMART more directly to my goals for 2012.  I especially appreciate the Internal Motivations analysis.

    For example, I want to train for and run another marathon in 2012.  Specifically, I’d like to run the New Jersey Marathon in May.  Having run three other marathons, I know the effort and sacrifice that is required to meet this goal.  The second part of this goal is to break four hours.  For me, this is making the goal a bit more specific.  I will need to train at a certain level to achieve this target.

    Now, I need to work on the Internal Motivations:
    -  Running significantly helps my stress levels and fitness levels.
    -  Running a marathon gives my running additional purpose.
    -  My friend, Brian, is running the NJ Marathon.  This would give us a common purposes.
    -  This is the start of my list.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent, John. I had similar lists when I have run half marathons.

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

      Good luck, John! I’m running 2 halfs this spring. I ran my first full 1.5 years ago.  Toughest thing I’ve ever done.

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        I can’t imagine. I did a 5K and that was a huge challenge for me. Congrats!

        • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

          Congrats on the 5K.  Whether it’s a 1 mile, 5K, 10K, half marathon, or whatever, it’s a great accomplishment!  Keep going.

          • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

            Thank you. It is a great accomplishment. I broke both my legs in a car accident when I was a child and told I would never walk again. I once weighed 330 lbs and lost 145 lbs. So, runnin gthis 5K was huge for me. 

          • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

            Wow!  What amazing accomplishments!  Sounds like you have an incredible story.

          • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

            Congrats on doing the 5K and overcoming that childhood injury!

          • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

            Thanks Joe. 

          • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

            Way to go, Sundi Jo! You’ve done your own mental marathon to accomplish what you’ve accomplished.

          • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

            Sundi Jo – seems like you are doing a great job at meeting your goals!  YAY!

          • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

            Thanks Kelly. Good luck with yours. 

          • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

            Absolutely remarkable!  Talk about making the effort to change your life!  You’re an inspiration.

          • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

            Thanks Joel. I couldn’t have done it without God’s strength. 

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Thanks, Joel.  The full is definitely tough.  But so is the preparation.  My last full (in Nov 2011) felt like a celebration of life.  I missed 4 hours by 1 minute, but I felt so blessed to run, to finish, and to experience the prep and the event.

        • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

          You’re right about that.  I’ve talked about prep with people moer than the race!  My goal was 4 hrs as well.  Missed it by 8 mins.  But I did beat my younger running buds.  =)  “Dad” won the day.

          • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

            Congrats!  This is a great accomplishment.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Great thoughts Jon.  I am running my first marathon in March.  I wholeheartedly agree how running helps with stress.  When I am grumpy my wife says, “You need to go run!”

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Tim, good luck!  Enjoy the experience.  I would definitely recommend keeping a journal or writing on your blog about the whole experience.

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Which marathon?

        • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

          The Woodlands Marathon. Great Houston Area.

    • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

      So awesome your getting to the details. Good luck in your running Jon!

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Thanks for the encouragement!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Good luck on the marathon Jon! That’s quite a feat to have accomplished three so far.

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Thanks, Joe!  How is your running coming?  I seem to remember you blogging about your training.

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Thanks for asking about the running. It’s coming along. Just put in 8.47 miles on Saturday. Longest run I have ever accomplished. I thought I would have calf pains afterwards but no issues there.

          There’s a Tough Mudder event coming up in April that I may start to train for. It’s 10-12 miles of course interspersed with obstacles. Just waiting to hear from a coworker if he’s getting a team together.

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            Tough Mudders look like so much fun! Would love to do one some day. Great job on the Saturday run, by the way!

          • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

            They do, don’t they? At points they can be a bit scary (electrified wires, submerged tubes, etc) but I think that’s half the fun.

          • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

            I may add a Tough Mudder to my life goal list (or bucket list).  I have heard that they are so much fun.

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            Maybe we should form a Michael Hyatt Tough Mudder team. Of course, being the leader, he’ll need to go first …

          • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

            Sounds like an interesting idea.

          • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

            Haha, would be neat and I’d be down for that.

          • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

            I will join in.  

          • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

            Sounds like we have a team!

          • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

            Now finding an event that would work for all of us is key (-;

          • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

            I live in the Philly area if that helps!

          • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

            I’m on the west side of Michigan.

          • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

            Jon, Where near Philly? I grew up in Philly Suburbs.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      “My friend…” anything sure offers motivation to accomplish goals. Jon, I like how you’ve laid out specific, easily understood details. I know what you want to do (NJ marathon), what your goal is in doing it (under four hours), and why you’re doing it. Excellent application of the material.

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Thanks.  (Obviously, this applies to my other goals, but this was an easy example.)  I’ve definitely been pondering the “Internal Motivations” thing.  I want my motivations to line up with God focused motivations.

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

          Then you would find motivation centered in “my Friend.” Our faith leads us to say, “To the glory of God,” and make choices–whether running a marathon, riding across America, writing the next bestseller, etc.–that live out the desire to honor Jesus Christ. Thanks for the reminder of our ultimate motivation.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      These are much like the goals I have. I want to run a half-marathon and after reading this post I will now mwrite out my motivations.

    • http://twitter.com/asparagusguy Neal Ely

      Awsome!  Working on the internal motivations is key.  It helps me to revisit my motivation and my “why” reguarly, especially when feel lazy or am lacking motivation. 

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com/ Patricia Zell

    Internal motivation–what we educators call intrinsic motivation as opposed to extrinsic motivation (students learn because they want to learn, not because the teacher, parents, etc. want them to). Perhaps we all need to stop and consider our motivations for what we think and do in order to understand who we are and where we’re going. As far as I’m concerned, understanding my motivation helps me to be patient and plod through everything that I consider important. My most important goal is to love God with everything I have and to love my neighbor as myself. Everything else flows from that…

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    They say that “a strong enough why takes care of almost any how.” 

    I’m curious about your phrasing of the items on your Internal Motivations plan.  Isn’t “I want to” essentially the same as “I’ll try to”? 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great question. I don’t think so. These are not goals but aspirations. I state the goals clearly in the goal statement, without using “try” language. Thanks!

  • Adelle

    First of all, thank you for your hints. They are really helpful. 

    I really like to write but I easily lose motivation and simply give up writing. But I want to start writing again. That’s my goal this year. So I need to establish strong internal motivations. 
    What are My Internal Motivations?

    I must write in order to:
     -cultivate my skills.
    -to improve my vocabulary.
    -to improve my creativity.
    -to connect to the people.
    -to become an inspiration to those who don’t have the courage or motivation to write.

    Are these inspiring enough?

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Adelle, I totally believe these Internal Motivations are inspiring.  If you do what you want to do from writing, I believe many will be inspired.  

  • http://twitter.com/DeafMom Karen Putz

    Wow, this post gave me clarity for a project that I’m stalled on. Thank you, Michael!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Karen, glad the post provided clarity.  

  • Salomsl

    Thanks for the timely advice. Can’t wait to add this to my goals today. One goal in particular has started to pop into my dreams in a bad way. This step may make all the difference. Fyi – there is an error in the verb of the 5th bullet in your post.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. Noted and corrected.

  • Anonymous

    I love the SMART approach for goals.  I will now have to go back and add the Interval Motivation for my goals this quarter.  I didn’t really set any annual goals.  Thanks Michael and GO WIN!

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    Spiritual eternity is at stake.

    “Bore no one with the Gospel.”

  • http://www.wonderwomanimnot.com/ Elizabeth Hill

    When I write my goals I think about what my obstacles are and potential ways to overcome them. Writing down why those goals are important to me isn’t something I’ve thought about before.  I can see the value of documenting the why, I’ll have to go back and add those to this year’s goal list. 

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Elizabeth, glad the post helped in your goal setting.  Based on comments it appears that many are going back and revising their goals!

  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    I think I’m at that point where I’ve lost motivation. In late 2010 I self published my Legacy Bible study ( http://www.leahadams.org/legacy/ ). It has really touched the hearts of those who have done it, yet I keep hoping it will be picked up by a traditional publisher. I feel frozen in time and unable to move forward with the proposal writing process. Sounds like I need to revisit the ‘why’ of writing the Legacy study. Thanks for a great post.

    • Rachel Lance

      Go for it, Leah! Reconnect with what catalyzed your project in the first place and carry it to a new level. Sometimes, in the face of daunting or undesirable tasks, I find myself stuck in analysis paralysis – rethinking, replanning, re-everything but working on my task. Whether fear or fatigue or something else is the barrier, naming the hang up and reconnecting with why I’m doing the task in the first place usually helps get me engaged again.

    • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

      @jeffgoins talks about waiting today. It’s a great article you might want to read: http://goinswriter.com/waiting-to-be-picked/

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I read that post myself and loved it. Jeff always seems to hit the nail on the head.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com/ Loren Pinilis

    Michael Linenberger has an approach to this that I like. He divides each goal up into a vision and target portion. The target is your typical SMART goal. The vision is, very similar to what you said here, about capturing your internal motivators. I think paying attention to these motivators is a pretty profound approach.
    One interesting thing that Linenberger advises is to make your vision, your internal motivators, as sensory-based as possible. Think of motivators in terms of how you will feel. Conjure up a vivid mental image. I think that’s powerful as well.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love Michael’s insight about “sensory-based.”

  • http://www.suttonparks.com Sutton Parks

    Thanks for sharing about, “fighting through fear and doubt”.  I guess those affect all of us.

    My most important goal is to develop my speaking using my book to help open doors.  This will:
    -I want to encourage other men who have been foreclosed on
    -encourage others dealing with depression and substance abuse that there is a way out
    -I want to discuss the life changing  power of gratitude; being grateful for the good and the bad
    -I want to transition from playing other people’s music in bars to speaking and playing my own music 
    -I want to be able to make enough money to support myself, travel, get out of debt and date or get married if I choose to
    -I want to develop my own platform

    I never heard of this method.  It seems putting, “I want to..” first helps, as you have done.  Thank you for sharing this!

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Sutton … Solid goals. Love it. Have you thought about quantifying some of them? For instance, I could see you doing something like, “In 2012, I want to encourage 10 men who have been foreclosed on.”

      Does that resonate?

  • http://joannamuses.com/ Joanna

    My goal is to get a job in the city (and preferably the general area of the city) I used to study in. I have had to temporarily relocate away from there and live with family to save money . Beyond the obvious reasons for getting a job (like having money to pay the bills), there are other things at stake.
    - I want to be able to continue involvement in a church I love. 
    - I want to be able to continue to develop and enjoy relationships with friends who live in the area, something that is harder to do from a distance. 
    - I want to continue my involvement with a domestic short-term missions group I have volunteered for, something that will be made easier by living in proximity to where training, planning sessions and post-trip activities happen. 

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Yes, yes, yes! Tangible, real-world goals! Whenever I go about setting goals, one of the things I try and do is quantify the intangibles. It gives me less “squirm” room and generally makes the goal process much smoother!

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    It seems that an important part of understanding our “why” is being honest with ourselves. If our “why” is not the real “why” then it will be hard to motivate us. Can’t wait to read the book, Michael.

    • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

      Important observation. I find myself mulling over some old “why”s this morning and discovering that at least a few have expired, and one was never mine in the first place. Clearly time to find some “real” whys!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, it is so true. I try to get in touch with my deepest emotions about this.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Totally agree Jeremy.  

  • Pierre M

    Hi Michael,
    Great post.  I have an idea that one might also find that a motivation of one, is negative.  And that one might then want to rethink one’s goal.
    Greetings.

  • Anonymous

    Couldn’t agree more Mike. As an Executive Coach, I see this all the time (as well as personally). In “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent”, Gary Keller refers to it as THE BIG WHY… and it changes everything.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like Gary’s phrase. Thanks for commenting.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Thanks for sharing from the heart, Michael. Motivation is so much of the goal achieving process. Over the past year, I have really been inspired by Simon Sinek’s TED speech, “Start with Why.” Asking the why question helps us focus on the true meaning of the project.

    I’ve been working on a couple of e-book projects over the last six months and I reached a similar impasse. My material just wasn’t working. My main book was one on goal setting and I was using the acronym STRONG. I had brainstormed the subject with my editor and  came up with words for each of the letters. As I did the outline, I had two problems. The first was the fact that the domain, stronggoals.com was not available. The second was the material just didn’t flow. I tried substitutions and moving things around, but the outline just fell apart. The more I tried, the worse it got.

    The job suddenly seemed impossible.

    That word rattled around in my head day after day.

    All of a sudden, I had an impossible goal.

    It was then, right then, that I realized that most of the major goals in my life seemed impossible at one time or the other.

    So, I decided to start with… Impossible.

    I wrote the word down on a card and put it on the desk in front of me.

    Then I wrote down the key tenets that have helped me over the years. I put them on cards and started moving them around.

    Within minutes I had a new word and a new acronym…

    IMPACT

    I decided that if this was truly the word I should use, that Impactgoals.com would be available.

    It was…

    I realized one thing quickly…

    If you start with impossible, everything else is easier.

    My first e-book went to the editor yesterday. When I finished the last word, I realized… this is the first step. The IMPACT book is next.

    When you start with Impossible… IMPACT happens!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Thanks for sharing the TED speech.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is an awesome story, John. Thanks for sharing it in such detail. If you haven’t already, that should be a blog post!

    • http://twitter.com/Blair_Howell Blair Howell

      Thanks for the inspiration and approach John.  I will check out the TED speech.  All the best on your ebooks.  Cheers!

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Thanks for the ‘What’s at stake’ observations and insights. I totally agree. I sometimes forget this myself, work slows down and is overwhelmed by other less valuable activities. So I ask, ‘What’s the purpose behind this thing?’, and it gets me going. Your idea of breaking down the internal motivations behind the big picture makes a lot of sense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dukes.damon.d Damon D. Dukes

    mine is going to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to work on my Masters

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Good school. And good goal!

    • Rachel Lance

      Damon, have you worked on the Internal Motivations for your goal? A master’s degree is a great goal, but a huge investment! Really put that one through the paces and then hold tight to those motivations on the long road!

  • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

    “You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s that part of every journey when you aren’t sure you have what it takes to finish but you are too far along to quit. ”

    Talking about “hitting the nail on the head”! I was supposed to finish my MA five years ago, and yet here I am, scrambling to take more classes to make up for those which are expiring with each turn of the calendar page. My final project remains untouched. The research is done; I’ve “just” got to do the writing. But day after day, I don’t.

    I’ve allowed my resentment over the delays and my loathing of the you’re-late-you’re-late pressure to eclipse my original “why.” And I’ve not taken the time to discover what new “why”(s) may have emerged in the last half decade.

    Thank you for a timely nudge toward practical reflection today!

    • Jim Martin

      Cheri,  I appreciate the way you focused on this particular statement.  When I read these two sentences in this post, I thought “I certainly do know what you are talking about!”  I suspect many of us do.

      I wish you well as you reflect upon your journey toward this degree.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for owning it, Cheri. I just heard Suze Orman say, “You’ve got to face it to erase it.” I loved what that implies. The past is gone; you can’t do a thing about it. But your whole future is in front of you. Thanks.

      • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

        I love the Orman quote! Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/SQ1Leader Mason Conrad Stanley

    This post is a great share! I’m hoping to start my own business this year and in about 18 weeks my wife and I will have our first child, my why is HUGE! Thank you for sharing your insight!

    • Jim Martin

      Mason,
      I wish you the very business as you start your own business and as you start your life of parenting a child.  

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Mason, congrats on the first child.  Blessings on your new business. 

  • http://www.thegiftofmondays.com/ colleen laquay urbaniuk

    i’ve used my own form of Internal Motivation for another area of my life. i always feel the need to do everything for everyone. i’m an enabler at heart. and i used to justify it by thinking i just like to help, when the total truth was sometimes i did it just for recognition. by helping everyone with everything i was finding myself overwhelmed all the time. then i started asking myself what my true motivation for helping each cause was. if it was to truly help and benefit them, i did it. if it was really more to benefit my ego, i didn’t. thanks for another great post!!!

    • Jim Martin

      Colleen, it can be a very good discipline to examine what exactly is driving us to do what we are doing or are considering doing.  As you suggest, that may say something about what is happening inside of us and how that is linking to behaviors.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Amazing self-awareness, Colleen. Thank you for sharing that. I’m convicted!

  • Rob Sorbo

    I’m good at making a list of Whys, but I’m not good at using that list to sustain motivation.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’ve been in that scenario a time or two, Rob. Two thoughts: (1) If the why’s aren’t compelling, perhaps they aren’t the real “why’s.” OR (2) If after further consideration you can’t come up with any compelling why’s, maybe the goal needs to be altered. For example, if I have the goal of exercising more, I can easily put together a list of good “why’s.” But that still may not motivate me to get off my tail and move! Instead, maybe my goal should be to get fresh air every day or run a race in 6 months. Those goals, although with hopefully the same end result as my original, might carry more internal motivation for me.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Just a thought, Rob … maybe your list doesn’t really connect with your real desires. “Ought to” and “want to” are two different things.

      • Rob Sorbo

        Great point…I think I do mostly work with Ought To. 

  • Kkrolen

    I’m going to implement the Internal Motivations with my nine-year old!  Maybe he’ll find some of his own reasons for doing well in school!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great idea!

  • http://www.dmessner.com David Messner

    Excellent insights… just what I need for today.

    What is at stake? I and a group of leaders have been formulating a conference around the idea of training local pastors and leaders to do compassion ministry in the local church (www.greaterthingsarecoming.com). This has been the most challenging project of my life. Though we are gaining huge momentum and favor, everyday is a battle to get everything done well and on time. 

    I so connected with the part of wanting to give up because that is exactly where I have been many times throughout this process. I know what I am doing is right and good, therefore I press on. We are just over 40 days out and reconnecting with the “why” behind this effort really does give me the courage and strength to find my “way.” 

    Thanks again!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      David, don’t give up! You can do this!

  • Francarona

    Good post, Michael.  I have also been blogging about goals this month.  I really like the addition of the Internal Motivation piece.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    Although I intuitively know my motivations for major goals, I don’t think I’ve ever written them down. Great advice. In fact, recently my husband and I took in three children in addition to our own three. We could literally be “in the middle of the story” for years. Writing down our motivations for doing this and what’s at stake will be critical as we forge ahead.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Writing them down is especially good prep, knowing that, sooner or later, you will hit the middle of the story. Then you can go through a kind of vertigo where you don’t know which is u and which is down. The written list can be a sort of map.

    • Jim Martin

      I was thinking something similar as I read your comment, Michele.  While I do write down my goals, I have not ever written down my motivations for these goals.  I am seeing now how valuable this might be.

  • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

    Congratulations, Michael!

    Great story, great result.  We have found this EXACT same phenomenon as we interview people in our 22:35 Champions Study of elite military and pro athletes.  

    They sustained incredibly rigorous habits for 10+ years because they had a compelling “why”.  “To represent our country as an Olympian” is more likely to get you back into the pool than “to swim the 100m in xx seconds”.

    We advise all clients who are developing their action plans to start with a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) *and* a BHOW…a Big Hairy Outrageous WHY.

    Make today great, Travis

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love the BHOW idea! Excellent.

      • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

        Credit to former US Navy SEAL, Len Same in Colorado.  He actually calls it a Big Hilarious Outrageous Why.  I appreciate the levity, but still see it as something pretty ‘hairy’!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Travis, you provided me much needed ammunition for an upcoming blog post with BHOW. Great comment.

  • Anonymous

    Michael,  you are spot on with getting clear about “what’s at stake.”  While I was training for the Olympics  I learned a valuable little mind hack that is very useful.  Let me quickly explain it:  Which is easier, to  guard against someone taking a million dollars out of your hand, or trying to raise a million dollars?  The way we are wired, it’s easier and we are more motivated to protect something we cherish than to achieve something we’ve never done.  The key to significant accomplishment is to  translate your future desired outcome into  your present day approach to doing life.  The  fear of loss is powerful.  We naturally leverage this kind of fear when we translate our desired outcomes into what we will be taken away from us if we don’t follow through.  This is the raw essence of drive!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing that insight. Excellent.

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Byron! Just wanted to say “hi!” Good seeing you here on the site!

  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

    Here’s the zinger you said so well, so meant for me: “That part of every journey when you aren’t sure you have what it takes to finish but you are too far along to quit.” VERY well put! Awesome article, Michael, one of your best posts. I look forward to the book!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Chris. There’s a “middle” to every project, isn’t there?

  • http://livinginthereign.wordpress.com/ Mac Dumcum

    Thanks for this post Mr. Hyatt.  As one who is determined to carry out a set of goals this year, I believe the information you shared will really help to keep me going.  You are a blessing!!

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Thanks for being part of the community here at MH, Mac!

  • http://twitter.com/averageus Lon Hetrick

    Thanks Mike! S.M.A.R.T. goals = good sense. Careful planning = good sense. Internal Motivations = an opportunity to learn/grow in the exercise of wisdom. It would be great if you could write a follow up post on choosing goals, making plans, and examining motives wisely.

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Thanks for getting S.M.A.R.T. with Michael! I’m sure a post like the one you’re suggesting is in the works. Better yet, what if you wrote one yourself and posted a link to it in the comments for us all to enjoy? Thanks Lon!

      • http://twitter.com/averageus Lon Hetrick

        I accept the challenge. Thanks :)

      • http://twitter.com/averageus Lon Hetrick

        I see you’re a Bethel Grad. I took two courses there to complete my MATS from Gordon-Conwell (1992). Will follow you on Twitter.

    • Rachel Lance

      Hey Lon, great idea for a new post – I always look forward to what Michael has to say about goals! Have you read Michael’s work on creating your life plan?Check out these two posts on goals from last year & see if they help:

      http://michaelhyatt.com/how-to-make-new-year%E2%80%99s-resolutions-stick.html  https://michaelhyatt.com/5-reasons-why-you-should-commit-your-goals-to-writing.html

      • http://twitter.com/averageus Lon Hetrick

        Yes – I think so, and I’ve got his ebook on Creating Your Personal Life Plan. I was first introduced to the concept years ago at my church: Perimeter Church, Johns Creek, GA.

  • Crystal Davis

    Thanks Michael… you’ve served so many with this simple yet powerful blog post.  As an entrepreneur, my internal motivation is a significant catalyst for everything that I do… but I’m a  mentor/coach so it is naturally a part of who I am and I am well trained in how to connect internal motivation (which is really a deeper passion within) to be, do, and have more impact in the areas that really matter to us as individuals. That’s the only thing I see most people won’t necessarily conclude from your article. It is true that it’s internal motivation … but that it has to be connected to an inner wellspring of their live’s purpose, passion, and a crystal clear vision of what that looks like for them… which is why most of us need a mentor/coach to help us throught he goal setting and achievement process. :-) 

    • Jim Martin

      Crystal, thanks so much for adding to this conversation.  I like the image of an inner wellspring that then connects to our internal motivations.

  • clig

    Do you know what I love most about your blog?  It’s truly not only the motivational and clear direction you provide. It’s also your humility and honesty.  So often a person of your stature would not be caught admitting to their “human component” and slip-ups as you do. But it’s precisely from those things that you gain insight — so that we might too — and also what makes you an “authentic” leader in my mind.  God bless you for that!

    • Jim Martin

      Clig, I very much agree with what you said in your post about Michael’s writing.  Some of the posts that have been most meaningful to me are those in which Michael discusses his own slip-ups and mistakes.

    • Ronnie

      Great post and I so agree with Clig! 
      Thanks so much for teaching us through your teachable moments!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for that encouragement!

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com Eric S. Mueller

    Thanks, Michael. That actually addressed a goal issue I’ve always had: should I even chase this goal? I write quite a few goals, but don’t seem to care about them for long.

    I need to start making Internal Motivations part of my goal setting. 

    Do you use any specific system for tracking your goals? Paper, Evernote, etc?

    Also, an external site increases your load time. When I visit your site, my browser seems to spend a long time waiting for “static.nrelate.com” to load before the rest of the page loads. 

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Eric, it looks like static.nrelate.com is a plugin Michael is using on his site. It helps find related posts to the topic he is writing about. We’ll see if we can look into it.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I have forwarded it to my developer. Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have been doing it in Nozbe, but I just found another system more specific to goals. It’s called LifeTick. I don’t know enough yet to comment, but I like what I see so far.

      • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com Eric S. Mueller

        I have a free Nozbe account, but I haven’t done much with it. 

        A service that popped up recently is Trello (www.trello.com). I’ve thought about trying to use it for life planning and goal setting.

  • Bonnie Clark

    It sounds like you have described where your purpose intersects your passion – and combining the two can make a person unstoppable!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Bonnie, I agree. It creates a powerful force to be reckoned with.

  • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

    I couldn’t agree more with this idea!  I’m a believer in working to discover your why for living and activating it with goal setting.  I believe there’s great strength in understanding your why overall and then answering why for each goal you set to activate it.  If we all did this, God’s kingdom would look mighty different. 

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Great post Michael! The picture made me laugh as I realized it was part of “Let me explain… What’s at stake?” That is catchy!

    What’s at stake for my most important goal is actually creating a functioning platform. It would allow me to expand my influence, pursue new opportunities, and live a life that is more fulfilling.

  • V.V. Denman

    Thanks for another great post. My goal for 2012 is to finish that darn book already. Well, finish it again, really. And do it MORE BETTER this time. I hadn’t thought to consider my motivations, but what a logical idea. This list should give me a jump start in those not-so-productive lapses. My motivations are:
    1. To help other Christians, especially those who are bitter from past hurts inflicted by the church.2. To prove to myself and others that I can do this.3. To pursue publication; then write another book.4. To make (even a tiny bit) of money.5. To entertain.6. To broaden my influence so I can help more Christian women.7. To become more experienced so I can give advice  and encouragement to other authors.8. To have a great time and accept the joy offered by God.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      V.V., I like your first motivation. There have been quite a few people hurt by the church and it would be great to have a book that addresses that issue.

      • http://vvdenman.com/ V.V. Denman

        Thanks, Joe. I was stuck in the middle for a while. The church is the antagonist, but I hadn’t had them “save the cat.” As a reader, I like to sympathize with the antagonist on some level . . . especially when it’s the church. :) Now I’m working out a more balanced plot. (And the writing’s easier because of it.) Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Rachel Lance

      Great motivations! Now post them everywhere and finish that darn book already!

      • http://vvdenman.com/ V.V. Denman

        Exactly! Thanks, Rachel.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    What is at stake? Going into another year regretting I didn’t do something. I don’t plan to do that with 2013. This year I’m going forward. forward. forward. 

    Thanks for the motivation. Do you plan to share how you write out your action plan? 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m actually thinking about doing a series on Goal-Setting. Thanks.

  • http://katiemcmanners.blogspot.com/ KatieMc

    Yes, yes, yes. When I sought to overhaul my physical health, my coach asked me to discover “my big why.” It’s time for me to discover “what’s at stake” as I face some new decisions. Thanks, Michael, for your service!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Good luck Katie! You’ll do great as long as you’re doing it for the right reasons.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Sounds like a great coach! May I ask, what did you determine was your “big why”? Diet and exercise are very important to me. Just curious what you nailed down as your primary motivation.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Great input today!   My goals are mapped out into my Life Plan.  I’ve taken where I am, and where I want to be in each category and mapped out steps, strategies and motivations for how and why to get there.  Then, I’ve taken each of these, and broken them down further into quarterly action plans (goals).  This not only helps me accomplish my goals, but also gives me the opportunity to review my progress more frequently and see progress as it occurs, giving me the encouragement I need to stay motivated.

    Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/WilliamJSpencer William J Spencer IV

    This is great because it causes me to be serious about completion of my projects.  I have been working on my platform now I must finish my proposal and get a contract

  • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

     The Internal Motivations principle is powerful! Though I didn’t name it like that, I found this principle of immense help at certain specific situations in my life when I was confused or felt like quitting. 

    Interestingly, I learned this tip from the Scriptures. Check this out: “…looking unto Jesus, …who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…” (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV). The joy of bringing salvation to the whole human race and doing His Father’s will (Christ’s ‘internal motivation) energized Him to endure and despise the shame and suffering of the cross!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      What a great scripture reference for this post!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great example, Joe. Thanks!

  • Tweberfree

    My goal is to become as motivated as you are and then to force myself follow through until it becomes a habit as it once was!! There was a time that I woke up each morning rarin’ to go, and with energy to boot. I look forward to reclaiming that energy and follow-through and using it in ways that will help make the world a better place, beginning with my own life and family. Thank you for your insight.

  • Holger Kühn

    Thank’s a lot Michael for this post. I should have known this 5 years before, when I was fighting through my PhD thesis. It felt exactly that way, not knowing what it takes to finish but too far along to quit. My only motivation was then for some times along the way to accomplish “something” in life.
    How would you deal with a failure, I mean, missing your goal? What would it have done to you, to quit writing this book and give the money back?
    For me, dealing with the failure seemed to be the bigger issue, but that is for sure not that kind of motivation you wrote about in your blogg…

  • Priscilla

    Thanks for this post! The internal motivation part is one that I have not seen or heard of before. I guess it was assumed that one knew why one wanted to reach a particular goal. Writing out the “why” is also a good way to determine if this goal is still worth pursuing, or if I have changed directions and should be pursuing a different goal.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great point, Priscilla. The “why” is a good temperature gauge for reevaluation.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    “When I rediscovered my why, I found my way.” Boy, that’ll let some sunshine peek through on a dark writing day.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Isn’t that a great sentence? By the way, with regards to your “dark writing day,” is there any other kind? ;-) Hang in there and whatever you do, don’t stop writing. The light shines through when you’re stubborn enough not to give up.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        Oh, there are some good days (mostly in retrospect). I heard Jerry Jenkins last week on a webinar say that he didn’t enjoy writing. He enjoyed finishing. Thanks for the “bright” comment. It did make me laugh.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          I heard JJ say the same thing once ‹ made me feel MUCH better. A couple months ago I also heard another prominent writer/speaker say he never like writing, but he loved being called a writer. ;)

          • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

            How true!

        • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

          LOL!  So with you on the “dark writing day” and “some good days (mostly in retrospect.)”

          I don’t enjoy writing. I enjoy having written!

  • Anonymous

    Great post, Michael!

    You don’t know how encouraging it is to me, just to hear of your struggles with motivation and follow through, on a specific project.

    It’s nice to know that the motivational experts have to listen to their own advice.

    I’m also looking forward to reading your new book.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m like the old preacher who said, “I just preach to myself. If others want to listen in, that’s fine.” ;-)

  • Jennifer@SurprisingJoy

    This is helpful, Mike. It seems his kind of thinking would also help weed out time-wasting ideas that aren’t really worth the investment of time or energy–the distractions. Thanks for the post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Babich/100002993676826 Jane Babich

    What is at stake? For me everything.  My top 2012 goal is to live healthy.  Without that I will not be able (really I will not be) to attempt or complete my other goals. In past years my goals were about accomplishing… now it is about fulfilling. And the first on my list is Me. Thanks for the reminder that “what is at stake” if not realized;can take your goal from you.

  • http://recreationalwordslinger.wordpress.com/ Tessa

    My most important goal is to lose twenty pounds. What’s at stake is that I will feel more comfortable in my own skin. I will be healthier and have a more enjoyable life. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Michael, for another excellent and helpful post. 

  • http://www.alvalyn.com/ Alvalyn Lundgren

    I can see how writing down the why behind the goal will really make a difference in my follow through. I have let some things get in the way of realizing bigger goals and gotten bogged down. Thank you for the renewed motivation.

  • http://profinitydevelopment.com/ Dr Ryan Hosley

    My most important goal is to achieve my business goals.  My internal motivation: I have six children who I look in the eye everday and tell them I am fighting for the success of our  business.  They need to know that dad is man of integrity and will finish what I start.  If I don’t do finish what I start how could I ever expect that much of them.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Now that’s what I call some internal motivation! Best of luck to you this year and blessings to you and your family. 

  • Michelle

    Thanks!  I especially appreciated the link back to “the middle of the story”.  I had forgotten about that post, but really needed it today.  Most folks around me seem to be buzzing on New Year’s resolutions but I’m smack dab in middle-land (meh).

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I know where you are coming from. Did you take a look at those internal motivators that got you started on your journey? Even if you didn’t write them down when you began, thinking about it how them might help you find the heart and soul you had when you began.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Interestingly, I had lunch with Don Miller today. He was the one I quoted in that piece. We both talked about how we were in the middle of various stories in our lives. I have to credit him for the concept. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Micheal, 

    Great post.  Motivation is very important and you certainly are highly motivated.  

    Is that the real issue though? Here are two thoughts…

    Time
    When you created the goal for the book project was time allotted on your daily schedule? 

    You mentioned that you got busier with speaking engagements then you expected, which take time to prepare for, travel and conduct.  This means that time was taken from somewhere else. Thus, speaking become the top time priority. 
    Would turning down some of those speaking engagements (to leave time to work on the book) have been an option? Or, possibly changing the date of your goal and the time allocation to when you were not busy speaking?

    Positive Feedback
    In another vein, speaking is very self-satisfying, you get instant feedback on whether you are having an impact; people clap, make eye contact, use non-verbal communication and come up to you immediately afterwards to thank you. You feel good and want to do it again, allocating time and resources to it.

    Writing a book on the other hand is a lonely task with practically no feedback during the process on whether we are doing well or not.  No eye contact, no non-verbal communication, just us and the computer. Since it is really not that much fun we are always willing to do something else in it’s place. 

    Perhaps if we provided ourselves with more positive feedback during the writing process we would be more inclined to spend more time doing it,  just like with these posts, where we get instant (positive?) feedback :)

    My 2c worth…

    ~eric

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Great thoughts. Thanks for the comment Eric. I can speak for myself on this one, and I think you are spot on. There are things that I love doing more than others.

      In the middle of completing big projects, I know that my head is easily turned by tasks and projects that can be completed more quickly (instant gratification), but at what cost?

      This is happens on a micro level everyday. I think Michael’s point is still essential in combating this problem. If we keep what is at stake always before us, we are more likely to execute. All actions will be weighed against the value of what we have set our hands to do.

      • Anonymous


        If we keep what is at stake always before us, we are more likely to execute. ‘

        Thanks Jason,  we need to constantly evaluate our actions against our objectives.

        This is the question that I ask myself every day/every few hours; Am I working on my top priority or something else? Am I reactive or proactive? Have I scheduled time for the most important things in my life/work?

        Some folks businesses are by there very reactive by nature, making it even harder to work on the important/long term projects.  

        ~eric

      • Anonymous

        Here is a link to the priority model that I use. This came from my Information Technology service management days…

        http://strategic-concepts.blogspot.com/2012/01/four-factory-priority-model.html 

        • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

          Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

      Great point about more/instant positive feedback. I was blown away when I attended a “Learning and the Brain” conference and heard about the failure-filled, highly-complicated nature of the video games my students play. Yet they devote intense time and attention because of the instant feedback they receive.

      • Anonymous

        The game people are experts are managing behavior, primarily through instant feedback. I am working on a project right now, http://www.abeo.us, that is leveraging the theory behind this. The buzzword is gamification.

        ~eric

        • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

          “gamification” — something new to explore! Signed up for your beta site…looking forward to learning more!

          • Anonymous

            Cool, following you on twitter, @_eric_langley

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep, you are no doubt right on both counts. I have so much to learn. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/burlw Burl Walker

    It is always important to have clear concise goals rather than just wishes or vague ideas!

  • Patty

    Cu do’s to everyone because it wasn’t just Mike’s blog but all the encouraging words and language that follows. 
    I decided to join a gym this year. I did not write it down on paper but feel that this would be a good starting point since I just started today. My motivation was to be happy with who I am no matter where I am in my physical being and to become a stronger warrior for Christ. I have longed for a day of feeling good about what I can accomplish.  I am going to try and apply SMART right here without getting too wordy.

    *Exercise in a gym format is a great way to get out of the house and be surrounded with like minded people who are all striving to reach the same goals.
    *Many of my family members have started to get on the weight loss and healthy eating program so I wanted to be along side them through their journeys
    *I need to keep my blood sugar levels down since I was creeping up the diabetes ladder to success. (JK) 2 relatives with diabetes does not weigh in my favor.
    *I want to be a good leader and part of being in that leadership role is showing confidence in who I am and helping others to grow to be leaders as well.

    That is all I can think of for now. It was only my first day today so I am really inspired. The pain of the workout has not fully kicked in but I feel it coming on. 

    • Rachel Lance

      You’re on the right track, Patty, and you’ll never regret taking strides to get healthy. Go for it!

  • Pingback: Monday Morning Observations « StoryDriven | by Jason Salamun

  • http://www.livesimplylove.com/ Merritt

    I love this. So very helpful, especially in connection with a TED video I watched this morning: 
    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

    Usually I KNOW my internal motivation but I often have trouble allowing it to move me in the midst of difficult times. What’s at stake? Mostly, I think it’s my heart. Will I stay connected to the Why, or will I get caught up in the What?

    Thanks so much for encouraging me today!  

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

      Had the pleasure to meet Sinek recently and listen to the same talk in person. It was such a joy.  On goals, even when we know why we’re doing something, we lose sight of it for a myriad of reasons and then we begin to doubt our ability to achieve it.  Simply put, our mindset changes from “growth” and focused on putting forth the effort necessary to achieve it to “fixed” and one focused on achieving it in a flawless fashion, judgment (even of ourself) if we don’t achieve it and questioning our ability to even do it.  When we get there, our chances of achievement drastically decrease because it becomes more about self preservation than goal accomplishment.  We all do this in life but the key is to recognize when we do it and learn to shift our mindset back to one of growth and effort.  Then we’ll get back on track. 

    • Jim Martin

      Thanks Merritt for the link to the video.  Will be sure to watch this one.

    • http://henryfiallo.wordpress.com/ Enrique Fiallo

      Just watched the Sinek TED Talk, and I agree. The WHY is directly related to the Internal Motivation, which you can then use as the External Motivation for others, to draw hem to you and to your message. This also makes sense to me from the Tribal Leadership, Dave Logan, et al, Noble Cause perspective, ( 
      http://www.triballeadership.net/authors) and from Dan Pink’s Purpose perspective (
      http://www.danpink.com/drive). Thanks for the Sinek citation. I really like what he presents and had not seen this one. Great stuff!

    • Rachel Lance

      Glad you’re encouraged! I totally agree with you that although I know my motivators, it’s easy to lose sight of them. I’ve seen several other commenters resonate with the physical act of writing the motivators down – I’ll be rewriting my 2012 goal sheet to include those motivators for reference when the road gets long!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000045950823 Carla Marvin

    Thank you for this excellent post!  I always have my local writers group make goal posters at the first meeting in January, listing out specific goals with specific deadlines for what they wish to achieve during the year. They then place these posters in their favorite writing spot or wherever they will see them the most often, so that they are reminded of them frequently.  This year I have added motivation by promising them rewards for goals accomplished in each quarter (a certificate) and a special reward for accomplishing their longer-term goals by Dec. 
    Now, with this new information at hand, I can help them even more! 

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      It seems like you share with others as a built-in approach to learning yourself. What a great way to learn…teach!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this.  At this point in my life (I’m 54), I’m realizing that it isn’t enough to know how to do something–or even to be good at it–but first and foremost, one must truly WANT to do it.  It recalls for me the legend in which Socrates said to Plato, after holding his head under water: “When you desire my knowledge like you desired that breath of air, then you shall have it”.

  • http://frugalportland.com/ kathleen

    I think it’s also really important that it’s your why, not someone else’s.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      You’re right Kathleen. If it’s not your reason, you’re not going to care enough about it to complete the goal. Make it personal and important to you and you will go for it.

  • http://www.failuresneverfinal.com Colleen (FNF)

    Wonderful motivation on a Monday morning.  Today is going to be a great day!  Reading the post was wonderful (thank you, AGAIN, Michael) but reading through the comments was equally motivating.  What a great group of readers!  Think I’m going to need to take up running (actually, honestly, it is something that God has been nudging me on anyway. . . but its winter in Chicago . . . yuck!) because of all the great stuff the early comments said about its benefits!

    While I may not start running yet, I am planning to tweak my goals to include my “whats at stake” this week!  ;-)

    • Jim Martin

      Colleen,
      I feel much the same as I read through the comments.  A number of these comments today have really helped me think through the points that Michael is making in this post.

    • Rachel Lance

      Great comments, indeed! I’m always amazed at the conversations to be found in this community. Whenever I dread winters in Chicago I think of my family in Alaska – yesterday they got 12″ of snow! It’s supposed to be beautiful tomorrow – get out there!

      • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

        Alaska? Always wanted to go! it sounds soooooo amazing! I heard it can get could though? true? rumor?

        • Rachel Lance

          I always recommend everyone go…first in the summer & then when you think you want to move there, go back in the winter! When I was there over Christmas it was below 0 most days & we went snow machining despite the car thermometer reading -27. Yes it gets cold & snow lasts October to April, but the mountains, ocean, outdoor lifestyle, the restaurants, the people…nothing like home sweet home! Let me know if you ever get to go, I’ll get you the inside scoop!

  • http://twitter.com/MuchClearer Sean Sankey

    Purpose, purpose, purpose. If every consultant, leader, manager, entrepreneur, creative could just get the absolute importance of being crystal clear about purpose it would make such a difference to the endeavours that individuals and teams make. Michael calls it Internal Motivations here – fine, the language isn’t what matters so much – they key is asking (and answering!) the “Why” question. 

    Awesome reminder of a vital idea, Michael… and told with vulnerability and authenticity. Thanks as ever for sharing.   

    • Jim Martin

      Sean, you’ve made a great point here about the importance of knowing and articulating the purpose for what we are doing.  Reminds me of a couple of projects I have that really need more time spent asking the “why” question.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome, Sean. Thanks for commenting.

  • http://www.cookthisgetlaid.com/ Mona Holmes

    I’m really happy to see that I’ve already done this for my own healthy eating project/blog. It’s the list I refer back to when I’m too tired, busy or uninspired to write/promote/create something new.  I refer to this list and am easily reminded that I’m up to a very big game.

    Thank you for your incredible and thoughtful words. They make an enormous difference for me.

    • Jim Martin

      Mona, it is great to hear how this process has been helpful to you in your healthy eating project/blog.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this post. It seems to be true of projects and even character development that we need internal motivation to change or grow. This was helpful to me, since I’m stalled on a project of my own at the moment. I need to go back and work through my motivations as well. 

    • Jim Martin

      Matt, wish you the best as you work through your motivations regarding your stalled post.  I thought the same thing about a particular project that I am working on.

  • http://jeffwaskowiak.wordpress.com/ Jeff Waskowiak

    Ahhh the “what’s at stake” question is terrific.  These same thoughts are applicable to a whole host of projects outside of platform building.  Whenever something cuts to the heart of the matter…that’s when things get interesting.  I’ll remember these wise words as I work on several things I want to accomplish in 2012.

    • Jim Martin

      Jeff, you said it well!  You are so right.  When we get to the heart of the matter that is often when things do get really interesting.

  • Mike

    This is goal setting gold. Well done I live my life helping others set goals and this really is brilliant

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    As a family we have a goal to save up a certain amount of money this year so that next year we can move onto phase two of our dreams and move to Hawaii. If we don’t save enough, we’ll have to suffer through another Wisconsin winter (not so much this year). Week two and we’re on track, 50 more weeks to go!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Sounds like you’re moving towards the goal Kimanzi! And the goal sounds quite nice.

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        Pushing ahead brother, great post today on your website, I really enjoyed it!

  • http://henryfiallo.wordpress.com/ Enrique Fiallo

    What a timely post Michael. I use the SMART approach, however, I had never even considered documenting my Internal Motivations. I have a goal to complete a book proposal that I am working on, by end of this month, and then to submit it to publishers and/or literary agents, and I am making decent progress, but I do at times find myself getting bogged down. I can see how outlining my Internal Motivations for this and future goals will help me to break through the “freeze”when I bog down, and get them done. Now all I have to work through is the FEAR and DOUBT! Thanks very much.  

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      It sounds like your goals are well documented and measured.  If you don’t mind sharing, what are your internal motivations for the book project?

      • http://henryfiallo.wordpress.com/ Enrique Fiallo

        Thanks for the comments John. This is what I came up with for Internal Motivations:
        GOALWrite a book proposal and submit it to prospective
        publishers and/or literary agents in that have an affinity with my topic and target
        audience.

        INTERNAL MOTIVATIONS

        ·        - I want to give the benefit of my experiences to future
        potential leaders to help them avoid the pitfalls that I could not

        ·        - I want to make a difference in the way
        executives lead their companies and their people

        ·        - I want to develop a substantive body of work in
        the area of deliberate and ethical leadership that allows me to speak on this
        topic to a wide audience

        ·        - I want to affirm my authority as having
        something of great value to share with existing and future leaders

        ·        - I want to prove to myself that I can author a
        book, and can write, blog, speak, lecture and give leadership seminars for a
        living

        • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

          Enrique,
          these are FANTASTIC internal motivations. #4 is my favorite– I love that you are challenging yourself! Keep up the great work!

          • http://henryfiallo.wordpress.com/ Enrique Fiallo

            Thank you Barry. Wayne Gretzky said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          This is an excellent list, Enrique. Well done!

          • http://henryfiallo.wordpress.com/ Enrique Fiallo

            Thanks Michael.

        • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

          Enrique, I agree with the others … this is a great list! You have found the “missing ingredient” to goal planning that Michael was talking about in the post. Thanks for sharing it!

          • http://henryfiallo.wordpress.com/ Enrique Fiallo

            I suppose they were in there all the time. Michael showed me how to get them out in the open so that they inspire and self-motivate. That is the most effective kind of motivation, SELF MOTIVATION. Thanks again. I learn something valuable every time I read this blog!

  • Kari Scare

    Internal motivation plays a huge part in achieving goals. Because I am an internally-motivated person by nature, I tend to achieve goals pretty regularly. When I don’t, that’s usually because I failed to find something internally to drive me. This was a good reminder to always be in touch with my motivation for achieving something. Vanity and pride are not good motivations, and those are the two that usually lead to my downfall with a goal.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Great thoughts, Kari!  Vanity and pride are not only bad motivators, they are time-consuming distractions!

  • http://ketywriter3c60.prosite.com/ Ket

    Thanks! A bunch! I will write about the results in a couple of months. Cheers.

  • Lhirst

    Thanks, Michael. I teach a class on Personal Development Planning. This makes two items from you I have passed along: the book and this blog. Thanks for your generous spirit!

  • http://www.SpencerMcDonald.net Spencer McDonald

    I love the idea of internal motivations to keep you moving on your goals. This are key to prompting you along. They give you a reason to engage and take massive action.

    In my own writings on life planning and goals I talk about “anchors.” Anchors are the things that tend to keep you focused. They are things like affirmations, mentors and coaches, good books, blogs, articles, and of course king of them all… your personal why for going after your goals or dreams in life. 

    Thanks again Michael. Another wonderful reminder for us to move forward even if it is failing forward by utilizing these motivations or anchors. 

    • Jim Martin

      Spencer, I really like the idea of “anchors” to help keep you focused.  I appreciate you listing some examples in your comment.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Spencer,
      I really love the imagery of “anchors.”
      they keep us from drifting
      they buoy us in storms
      but our anchor has to be the rite size too, right? too little won’t do a thing… to big and your stuck because you can’t lift it!
      Spencer, that’s great stuff! Thanks for your input!

  • http://kevinklau.com Kevin Lau

    I find this post very inspiring. . . A great way to start the new year. We are more motivated when something is at stake. . .

    • Jim Martin

      Kevin, so true, we are more motivated when believe that what we want to do matters and that something really is at stake.

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    One of the things I enjoyed about this post was learning that even a successful, previously published author experiences fear, doubt, despair and considers quitting during the process.

    The difference between you, and the unsuccessful, unpublished author who is also a talented writer may be the ability to push through those feelings to refocus, refresh and fight through.

    Congratulations, and I look forward to your book.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Kelly,
      I am with you! It was really encouraging to hear that even Michael struggles with some of the same things that we—mere mortals— struggle with. And, yes, some of the success of talented writers is the ability to push through “resistance”(Pressfield) Probably has something to do with his “achiever” strength. I need to borrow some of his achiever! ha.

      • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

        “Do the Work” rocked my world.

        • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

          Jason, I know, right? So simple and so convicting at the same time!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have gone through these emotions on every book I have written. I even go through a mini-version of it before I speak. I think it is something akin to labor pains!

  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

    Perfect timing…again! I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve been so stuck in launching my radio show into Phase III -creating income. Phase I – idea. Done. Phase II. Launch Hope101.net. Done. Phase III – creating income – STUCK !

    Coming back to my Internal Motivation is the push I need to get out of the muck.
    I will achieve this goal because:
      -  I want to be a financial blessing to others in need.
     -   I want to bless my husband for blessing me by allowing me to follow my dreams.
     -   I want to help people around the world find HOPE by providing inspirational content.
      -  I  want to help others who have a voice of Hope BE Hope around the world.
      -  I want to create products that help and inspire others.
     -   I want to take my speaking platform to a new level and reach more people w/ hope.
    -    I want to hire people to help me.
     -   I want to build a better and more use friendly website.
     -   I want to have more time (drop my part-time $9 hr. job) to write and promote my book.

    Thanks – I needed this! Be blessed!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent list, Lori. Good for you!

      • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

        I tried to reconcile this with Jeff Goins’ recent post on living your best year without setting goals. I think where the two ideas intersect is the “Why”. You don’t need to spell out your goals as long as you have a clear idea of who you are and why you are doing what you are doing at the moment. It changes the perspective from “I’ll be happy when I complete my goal,” to “I have to meet these criteria because it’s who I am!”

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    My Maturity and Development is at stake if I don’t achieve my goals this year. Definitely needing God for these big ones!

  • http://www.usemeplz.com/ Usemeplz

    Reading comments is amost so interesting as reading the post:)  As for me, while planning and creating my goals, I always try to find the pros and cons of my goal, and after creating such list I begin to overcome all negative sides. And than it is much easier for me to get success in it.

  • http://twitter.com/slidingstairs Kristy O’Neal

    I completed this exercise yesterday after reading this post, and found it extremely helpful! I have to be honest, I wondered at first if it was unnecessary – after all, I set the goals so of course I knew why I wanted to achieve them. However, I found it a great exercise – to really think through why I had chosen each goal in the first place, and to re-evaluate and clarify the values that are most important to me. Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/asparagusguy Neal Ely

    I like the statement, “when I rediscovered my why, I found my way.” I have to remind myself of my “why” each night before I go to bed and set my alarm for 5:00 AM to get up and train for my upcoming April half marathon.  I think anytime we make a well thought out decision or set a goal, it’s important to stay focused on why we set the goal or made the decision, to make sure we accomplish the goal and stay true to our decision. 

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    Being a present, active, and loving husband and father is at stake. I want to be the kind of man my wife can follow and that my son can look up to. 

  • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

    Wow Michael. This post hits home at just the right time. Our team is struggling to complete a project and hitting snags along the way due to technology, third party services, and even moving goalposts. We need to remember just why we’re doing this project at all, to keep ourselves motivated to press on. “After all,” as our boss would say, “If this were easy, then ANYONE could do it!”

  • Pingback: Choosing Goals Wisely « Average Us

  • http://twitter.com/averageus Lon Hetrick

    In response to Justin Wise’s suggestion, here’s my follow up post on “Choosing Goals Wisely” http://wp.me/pMUrU-Fz

  • Pingback: 19 days of rain : Dark clouds, big plans and daily habits « MuchClearer

  • http://www.davidashleyonline.com/ David Ashley

    You said in this post, “In 2005 I set out to build my own platform…” What are some of the steps you took towards reaching this goal? Was your actual goal more specific (i.e. x amount of subscribers by a certain date)? And what was at stake if you didn’t reach it?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I detail the steps in my new book, which will be out in May. When I started, I didn’t really have a goal, other than to blog three times a week. It would have been helpful, if I had gone into that detail.

      • http://www.davidashleyonline.com/ David Ashley

        Awesome! I can’t wait to read it!!

  • Pingback: ROW80 Wednesday Check-In « 4 Out The Door

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    Reconnecting with the reasons why you want to do something in the first place is critical. Just like the Israelites who were rebuilding the Jerusalem Wall under Nehemiah’s leadership, we can also lose sight of why we do what we do halfway.

    I myself almost did this with my first book – getting into this “Why Bother” kind of attitude. The hound of heaven kept haunting me with the reason why I felt called to write it in the first place: to help other parents having difficulty launching their young adult children. Last week, my agent has sent the book proposal to the publishers. At least I am one step toward the right direction after I overcame the internal dialogue.

  • Pingback: Recommended Reading :: Eternity Vendors | Christian Store Directory

  • Tim Blankenship

    Thanks for sharing. It’s always encouraging to see the experts share in their stories when life happens and goals aren’t met. I always assume, because someone is an expert, that they have disciplines down to an art and they never miss on a goal. Great encouragement to keep going.

  • Pingback: Grandiose Goals « a glass beaker with a star inside

  • Pingback: The Difference a Little Extra Effort Makes | Michael Hyatt

  • Patricia Sherrett-Gonzalez

    Interesting food for thought and application. It surely does give me a new perspective on how I approach things. Thank you.

  • Pingback: The Difference a Little Extra Effort Makes – link » Dan In Focus

  • http://www.wordoflifehawaii.com/ Wally Matanza

    WOW!  Thank you for that wisdom and sound advice!  I am in the exact predicament right now.  I just couldn’t move forward for some reason even though I had a clear goal and well laid out action plan.  Thank you for posting!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      It’s great that this post helped, Wally! Isn’t it amazing what a big difference can be made with a relatively small adjustment?

  • Pingback: yyjworks.com » Epilogue – Last words on ‘platform’ (well, for the moment)

  • Pingback: The January 2012 10 : Links Roundup - The Faughn Family of Four | The Faughn Family of Four

  • Pingback: What’s at Stake If You Don’t Succeed? | Michael Hyatt

  • Pingback: Light from A Burning Bush « Doug Pettit

  • Pingback: The Why Behind The What

  • Pingback: 5 Things to Remember When Doing Something Creative | The Faughn Family of Four

  • Pingback: Some Career Advice On What Hinders Your Promotion At Work | Ioana Lazarov

  • Pingback: why focus is vital to productivity (and how you can achieve it). — strategic simplicity

  • Pingback: 5 Keys to Überness in 2013 | Irrefutable Success

  • Pingback: How to Choose Goals Wisely « Average Us

  • Pingback: Q1 CheckUp – Beyond the Dream | Valorie Pope

  • Wesley Wiley

    Excellent post Michael! I’m writing the “free offer” for my blog’s email signup and ran across this post while researching smart goals. Very insightful! Maybe they should be called SMARTI goals as the internal motivation is just as (if not more) important than the other five characteristics.