Have you stayed on track with your New Year’s Resolutions? If not, you are in good company. Only 8% of people who set them achieve them. I would find this rather disheartening if, through my coaching practice, I hadn’t stumbled across a key difference between those who stay on track and those who don’t:
Goals driven by motivation
goals driven by meaning.
If you look up the definitions of these words, you will find that ‘meaning’ is much weightier than ‘motivation’. This is because unlike motivation, meaning, when tied to personal goals, is also tied to who we are. It is connected to our purpose, passions, and unique qualities. It arouses our sense of individual significance, our supernatural awareness, and our sense of what really matters.
It is also because of this tie to who we are that meaning triggers an emotional response in us. We get to experience feelings of aliveness, fulfillment, and worth as soon as we begin working towards a goal tied to meaning, not just after we have reached it. Motivation doesn’t generate these same emotions. We feel energized and satisfied only when we see progress or achieve certain results. That said, it can be quite difficult to stay on track when moving from A (setting a goal) to B (achieving it), especially when that track is slow, difficult, indirect, interrupted, unfulfilling, or just plain stinking boring. Let me demonstrate:
I’m going to be nicer to my husband
so that he will be nicer to me.
- Motivation: If I act a certain way, I believe that my husband will mirror it.
- Meaning: I value marriage on a very deep level, and I enjoy making people feel good. This is who I am. I desire to be nicer to my husband because it means I am being my best self. It may result in him being nicer to me, and I hope so. I am positive, however, that it will feel good to be my best and most authentic self in my home life.
I’ve set this goal before and, to be honest, treating my husband a certain way in order to get him to act a certain way doesn’t work for me. I don’t have excellent patience, I have about 6 hours of effort in me (not days, hours) after which, if I haven’t seen results, I’m done. My motivation is gone, and I end up resenting him, and this is definitely not the intended result.
If I take on this goal prompted by meaning, however, I immediately gain energy from the experience of expressing my authentic self in the world. Simultaneously, I feel calmness in my being, a settling that occurs when I am acting in alignment with who God made me to be. I also understand (as you will soon) that this feeds my self-esteem, which is important to me and keeps me going. And, no matter what my husband does or doesn’t do, whether the goal is fulfilled or not, I gain much from having tried to achieve it.
So try this out:
Q1. Where do you see the biggest differences between Motivation and Meaning (use bullets if you like)?
Q2. Think of a resolution or a goal that you would like to achieve but have struggled with. How can you infuse meaning into it? That is, how can you attach it to your understanding of
who you are?
Take a sheet of paper and at the top of it, write your goal or resolution. Underneath it, list the meaning driving that goal. Write or draw whatever speaks to your deepest self. Then, tape it on the fridge. You can also copy it and tape it on your bathroom mirror, by your bed, on your car dashboard, etc.
If you feel a bit stumped by Q2, don’t worry, I will give you lots of tools for uncovering who you are in upcoming posts.
Joy to you my Deep and Beautiful Sisters,