You need more than motivation to achieve your goals.

Is Motivation All You Need To Achieve Goals? In Short, No.

In fact, you don’t need any at all.

I’m nearly finished going through the book, Goals by Zig Ziglar. I’m listening to the audio version which is essentially a series of his recorded seminars.

Why listen to a book on goal setting? Well, though I do my best to teach goal success to the highest degree possible, there are surely things I can be doing better. Hence, the reason I consume so much goal-related material.

Anyways, back to the book.


It only lasts so long

What’s great about this book is how motivational it is. Ziglar does a thorough job lifting you up, making you feel like you can take on the world. It’s very similar in that way to Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell; a book that I highly recommend to anyone dealing with a setback.

However, there is one critical thing I need to note.

Don’t worry though, it isn’t a criticism of Ziglar or Maxwell or anyone else that covers such topics – because their material is valuable. It’s a criticism of motivation itself. A criticism that is best explained through example…

You’re feeling good. Optimism and confidence abound.

And hoping to channel some of that positivity, you go ahead and set some goals for yourself. And then, you get to work.

But what happens at month three? What happens when you’re in the thick of month ten? Motivation only lasts so long. And if your entire strategy is based on “feeling like it,” you’ll surely quit as soon as you encounter an obstacle.



Flint won’t sustain

Motivation may serve as an initial spark, but it’s not what will keep the flame going. What keeps the flame going is the oxygen, is the wood, is the kindling. Not the flint that started the whole thing, but the systems you have in place to maintain the fire.

And that’s the problem with solely relying on motivation to help you achieve your goals.

Motivation fades.

Just talk to anyone that’s trying to lose weight and they’ll tell you how much more excited they were about doing cardio in week one compared to week eight. Yet there they are. Exercising. Day after day. It’s not because they’re motivated though.

It’s because they have a system in place to achieve their goals.


Try this out

You need a system. A process that you repeat for each goal you set. A specific checklist that you follow and that each goal adheres to. I have a process that I personally follow (you can learn more about that here) and I recommend that you create one for yourself as well.

What should that process look like?

Here are a few tips:

  • If you have multiple goals, you need to keep track of them on a weekly basis (at least). You can learn how to create a goal tracker here.
  • Additionally, you need to plan for them. You need to make a schedule for your days, incorporate your goals into that schedule, and then follow it. You can learn about how I plan out my week here.
  • Furthermore, you need to set goals within your control. That’s a longer conversation which you can read about here.


A row of flowers growing.


Start regardless of motivation

Motivation is great. And if you’re feeling inspired, be sure to capitalize on it. But the majority of the time you’re not going to be motivated to:

  • Read instead of watch Netflix
  • Or hike instead of nap
  • Or start a business instead of attending a happy hour

If you wait for motivation to strike, you’ll rarely start.

Look at me, for instance.

One of my goals right now is to do 50 one-arm kettlebell rows (50 reps per arm), four days a week. Am I always motivated to do them? No way! Especially while, speaking of fire, California is currently burning and has thus kept me inside; tired and feeling lethargic.

But I still do the rows.


No matter what

Part of that is because I know that some is better than none. But more so it’s because I have a system. I have my:

  • Goal
  • Plan
  • And means for tracking my progress

I don’t wait for motivation to strike. Instead, I know that right around 5:15 this afternoon, I’ll be doing my rows. There is no dread. There is no concern.

The rows will get done because I trust in my system.


Where your system may be broken

Consider your goals. Do you often skip a day due to lack of motivation? Do you find yourself not starting more than starting? If so, you have a systems problem, not an inspirational one.

Take a look at your system and determine where things are breaking down.

  • Is your goal something you actually care about?
  • Have you created a plan for your day? And have you stuck to it?
  • Are you tracking your progress on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?

Determine what’s not working and then fix it. Motivation is powerful, but it will not be the thing that helps you achieve your goals. For that, you need a system that yields success.

So start working on it.

*Learn my system for goal success right here.


Tell me: What’s the first change you’re going to make to your system?

Let me know! Leave a comment on this post, tweet at me, or feel free to send an email. I always respond.

Want to hear more from me?