Motivation & Goals – Podcast Episode 3

Why do goals matter? How can we choose our goals and make sure that we reach them? This episode of the podcast looks at how we can set goals that tie in with our motivators and needs. Then we look at how we can achieve those goals more easily and keep on track towards things that will make us more fulfilled and happier. Having goals can bring a stronger sense of purpose and meaning to all that we do. Motivation & goals can help us connect with our businesses and careers more deeply.

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You may also be interested in our article on reaching our goals.

Needs –> Motivation & Goals

Below is a representation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as discussed in this episode. Our needs drive our motivation & goals.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs diagram - a framework for motivation & goals

Not sure what your key motivators are? Try our motivators quiz.

Transcript - Motivation & Goals

Welcome to the Focused Professional podcast. This is episode three, and I’m Joe Lenton. Last time, we had a look at how personality can affect how we do business. We had a look at some of the different personality types that there can be – introverts and extroverts being the obvious one – but there are other things that can manifest themselves differently depending on our personality. And we had a brief look at how this can affect how we do business. So, certain activities that might be more in line with our personality than others and that might therefore make doing business more enjoyable, more natural, and enable us to be perhaps a little bit more authentic when we’re with people because we’re being our natural selves.

This time we’re going to look at the topic of motivation in terms of goals. We’ve looked at motivators a little before, but this time we’re going to look at motivation and goals together, thinking about how we set goals, what the purpose of setting goals might be, and how we can make sure that we achieve them.

Now, when we think about motivation, this is something which is often coming from our point of need. So for example, if we’re hungry, then we can end up thinking about and acting towards getting something to deal with our hunger. And there are various different types of needs that we can have. One common way of laying these out is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And there’s all sorts of different types of needs in there, from what are classified as the more basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, to what you might think of perhaps as some of the higher needs that you can only then go on to think about once you’ve met your basic needs. And these can be things like creativity, self-esteem, respect from others and respecting others and looking after them.

Now, when we’re first starting out in business, we tend to get caught up in the basic needs. We need enough money to provide ourselves with food, water, shelter, and so on. It’s that basic level of existence, those needs that we are trying to meet. Our motivation is going to be very much on meeting those needs, especially if we are going hungry or risk being kicked out of our accommodation. We need the money. We motivate ourselves very strongly to be able to look after those basic needs.

But when we start to go beyond that, once we’ve got to a point where our business is relatively stable, we’ve got everything that we need in terms of the basics of life, there are other needs that we can have, and these can be in different proportions for different people. We don’t all have exactly the same need for creativity or self-esteem, respect from others, and so on. As we’ve seen from the motivators that we’ve looked at before, we can have ones that are our more natural needs, are more natural motivators who stand out in importance for us a little bit more than the various others do. So if we’ve got some of our basic needs met, it’s time to be thinking about are we meeting some of our other needs as well? Are we aware of what those other needs are? As I say, these needs are not equal for everybody, which is why it can be helpful to try and identify the most important ones for us. And – not quite on the same level as food and water – but if we neglect these needs, we’re still going to lack a sense of fulfilment. It’s not that it’s a threat to life necessarily, but it can be a threat to our mental health.

It can be a threat to us being as happy and fulfilled as we might want to be. So, when we identify our key motivators, we’re beginning to identify some of our key needs. Some of these, perhaps what we might think of as slightly higher needs, higher up the scale of needs above the basics of food and water and shelter. And once we can identify these needs, we can then begin to formulate goals. These motivators can show us what our core goals, what the big goals in our life could be. They might not give us a very, very specific answer about something like the precise business we might want to work with or whatever, but it will give us a direction towards something that’s going to be more fulfilling for us.

So for example, if we identified creativity as being a core motivator for us, as one of our higher-level needs, we can set as a goal to have more opportunities to be creative in our business. We can set goals that are related to how we might want to express that creativity. And that gives us a pathway that we can start to head with our day-to-day activities, a path that we can start to tread down by working on various different aspects of our business, various different aspects of how we think about ourselves, and funnel everything towards what we know is going to help motivate us, what we know is going to help us and keep us happier because we know that these are our key needs, key motivators.

It’s our core goals to try and meet them. And well, what’s the point in a way in having goals? Can’t we just go through life without them? Is it really necessary? Well, yes, of course, we can go through life without them. That’s absolutely fine. But it can be quite a different experience if we create goals and meet those goals, achieve those goals. The sense of achievement we can get can be much greater than if we just happen to randomly stumble on something.

Think about if you were to go to the supermarket and say, okay, I’d really like to have a top quality meal. Perhaps I’ve got a recipe that will give me a Michelin star style main course meal. I could make a list, go around the supermarket, tick off the various items on my list knowing that I’m closer towards finishing it, getting everything on my list, going home and then following the recipe, and with a bit of luck, I might end up with a good quality meal. Well, I’m improving my chances by doing that at any rate. If, on the other hand, I put on a blindfold and ran around the supermarket just occasionally stopping to pick something up that I wasn’t sure what it was or what it was for, then the chances are I may not have quite such an enjoyable meal at the the other end of it.

I might get lucky. Absolutely. I could pick up something I really like, but I might not. Having goals helps to give us a track, a path to follow towards things that we know are going to help us to feel like we’re having a more fulfilled life and feeling happier. Goals in some ways are not essential. We can live without them. But in other ways, if we want to live purposefully, if we want to really achieve certain things, then goals are the way to go. The important thing is as well that if our goals are coming from our core motivation, then it’s much easier to keep going.

It’s much easier to push yourself beyond obstacles. It’s much easier to keep motivating yourself to get up each day and plod one foot in front of the other when you know you’re doing this because there’s something at the other end that you want and need. And this means as well with setting goals, the idea is that we set our goals, the goals that matter for us, because it’s about our sense of fulfil and our needs. And these are not necessarily the same as societies or the same as other photographers or the same as your next door neighbours or your best friends.

Our goals might be unique for our own sense of fulfilment. So, that is why I think it’s worthwhile identifying our sense of motivation, identifying the needs that we have, and working towards those by creating goals. So how do we get there? How do we reach our goals? Well, some goals are just too big a jump to get there in one go. And if we think that we can do that in one go, we’re basically just relying on luck. Now, we don’t want to do that. So what do we do?

We break it down into smaller goals, into a set of targets. We create a plan, a bit like our shopping list from the analogy earlier. We can set out targets for short term, medium term, and long term. Because if we can feel like we’re achieving something on a day-to-day basis, and then on a week-by-week basis, and then on a month-by-month basis, it makes it a lot easier to keep going towards those longer term bigger goals that can otherwise seem a long way off. So we can challenge ourselves in small ways. It might be writing just one email. It might be having a rejig of something on our website.

And sometimes these admin type tasks, when we don’t have a goal, when we don’t have a direction, can seem a bit pointless. They can feel a bit empty. But once we have a direction we’re heading in, and once we can see how it leads us to a bigger goal and a bigger one and a bigger one, each thing that we do has that much more meaning and purpose for us. Photocopying a sheet of paper if you’re working in an enormous multinational company, might feel, well, pretty mundane and pointless. But when you can see how that contributes to what you need to do that day to reach your goal for that day, the goals for that week, and so on and so forth, it’s much easier to have that sense of purpose about what we’re doing.

So, we break down our big goals into smaller ones. We create pathways that we can see where we can do things that would help lead us in the right direction for where we want to get to. We can build momentum by doing this. By achieving lots of small ones, we can feel positive that we’re going to achieve bigger ones. And this is not just a random idea.

You may have heard of the term marginal gains. Now, this became particularly well known for Team Sky, the cycling team, which went from almost nothing to suddenly having riders winning the Tour de France. How did they do that? They did that with a process called marginal gains, which basically means looking at lots of different areas one by one and looking for small tweaks, small improvements, little goals, little targets, and achieving those. And the more of those you do, the more of the small goals you meet, the more of the small targets that are reached, the bigger the overall momentum, the bigger the overall movement becomes.

You suddenly find you’re making a large amount of progress through lots of small actions rather than feeling like you’ve got a huge obstacle to climb over and do it all in one go. They found that it gave them great success in their cycling, just finding lots of little places where they can just tweak things, just move forward a little bit. And I suggest that that’s what we need to do as well with our businesses. With our goals can seem too big sometimes or what we want to achieve can seem too far away.

Well, let’s find a step in the right direction. Anything that can help us start talking to the right people, anything that can help start moving our skills in the right direction for what we might need. All these little marginal gains can help bring a large amount of movement to take us towards our goals. And of course, it won’t be easy. We will have to persevere. And this is easier, as I said, when we know what our goals are and why we’re doing something.

When we’ve got purpose, perseverance becomes much easier because then we’ve also got hope, hope for our goal that we want to achieve. Now, we might need to change some of our goals, some of our targets. We might need to give up on some of our targets at times, but we don’t want to do so too easily. When we’ve got a bigger goal to aim for, it helps us to persevere and to keep making progress towards where we want to be, even if it’s quite hard.

There may be times, of course, though, when we recognise that actually something is not contributing as positively as we might want it to, or perhaps something we thought was an essential step turns out not to be. That’s fine. We can put that to one side. But having goals also helps us to prioritise what we do. If we’ve got a day where we’ve got a loose end, we’re not sure what we want to do, we think, well, I probably should do something for the business, but I don’t know what, our goals and our smaller goals can help us to prioritise, to find small tasks that we can use as marginal gains to move forwards. They can help us to prioritise when we’ve got several options to choose from. Which is going to be the most productive, which is going to take us towards our goal, and which might take us potentially away from it or off at a tangent?

Our goals may need to change as we go along. Our circumstances might change, meaning that our needs in various ways change. Perhaps we no longer have a business that provides for all our basic needs, and we need to go back to being motivated to get those needs met. The needs of food, drink, shelter, that might have to happen at some point if things for some reason go wrong. But in the main, we want to be in touch with our overall sense of direction that we want to be taking things and pushing through the difficulties as much as we can towards that happier life which is achieving our goals.

Our motivation can change how we think about our work. Something mundane can have purpose. Goals and progress can change how we think about our work. When we can see ourselves moving forward, when we can see that we’re not where we were six months ago, that we’ve come to a new place because we’ve been doing all these little things, that can really help to keep us going.

We can gain happiness by meeting more of our needs. Our work can become a greater source of happiness for us. I would very much suggest, and this is something which I keep working on for myself, working out what your goals are, but also working out what small things you can do to progress towards them, the little things that can help keep you on track, the little marginal gains day by day. Thank you for listening. I’m Joe Lenton, and this is the Focused Professional Podcast.


© Focused Professional, 2024

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