To Achieve Your Goals, Define the Consequence of Not Reaching Them

Our greatest glory is not in never failing but in rising every time we fall.-Confucius

The psychologist Sigmund Freud observed that the human mind is consciously and subconsciously motivated by two forces: the need to avoid pain and the need to gain pleasure. Pain is often more immediate than pleasure, so we may become more concerned with avoiding pain and, in general, develop a preference towards avoidance.

For this reason it is important to define with clarity the consequences of not achieving your goal, something many people forget to do.

Put another way, what is the pain that will result from not achieving your goal? As you define these consequences, you will be motivated to avoid this pain and to focus on your goal, especially if you have also clearly outlined the benefits of achieving it.

I have used as an example for outlining the steps to achieve your goals, my audacious goal to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, at 19340 feet, one of the world’s seven tallest peaks. I set a clear timeframe to reach this goal in 1.5 years because of a three week school break in January 2005 that my daughter would have to undertake the trek with me. My measurement of success was to get to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro without endangering my life or those in the group. I defined 10 compelling reasons why I was undertaking the climb and printed these out and kept them with me to review at all times. I defined the key benefits I would gain by reaching my goal.

Now in Step 6 I defined the consequences of not achieving my goals. The key consequence of my not achieving my goal would have been my inability to motivate others to take on huge challenges. This was particularly important since I wanted to inspire students to climb this mountain, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Your Next Step: To achieve your goals define the Consequences of Not Achieving Your Goal.

List as many reasons as possible in as much detail as you can. Your reasons should be as emotional as possible because even if we think of ourselves as practical we are still very often driven by emotion and we might as well use that as a strategy for our benefit.