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Three Strategies to Achieve your 2020 Goals

Many of us made New Year's resolutions at the beginning of 2020. Some of us may still feel motivated and focused on attaining these goals, while others may have strong intentions to act but feel stuck. Some of us may have even forgotten what our goals were. In this post, we outline strategies to help you stay motivated. We hope to cheer you on if you are already on your desired path, or to help you get on it.

To ignite our inspiration, we reached out to our Social & Networking Event Chair Rachel Zapp, who is the Senior Manager, Annual Giving, at the Canadian Cancer Society, to share some of the strategies that fuel her with motivation. Below is what Rachel shared with us:

"I like to share my personal and professional goals with others. That way, I feel more accountable. It's also nice to have regular check-ins to discuss my progress and share any accomplishments or challenges I'm experiencing. If and when I feel overwhelmed, I often take a break and turn to self-care to rest and recharge." -Rachel Zapp

Thank you, Rachel!

What strategies do you use? Next, let's dive in to reflect on your processes, strengths, and values that help you attain your goals. Let's look at three strategies that you can shape and tailor to meet your needs.

Susan Fowler, author of Master Your Motivation: Three Scientific Truths for Achieving Your Goals, details three strategies that can help you reclaim your discipline and willpower: Choice, Connection, and Competence. According to Fowler, these strategies create the motivation, described as the energy to act, that propels us to a state of thriving. We explore Fowler's concepts of Choice, Connection, and Competence below:

Creating choice

Our need to perceive that we have options emerges from a desire for mastery and control. When we recognize that we do not have an opportunity in a matter, we are more likely to give up. Upon entering this state of mind, achieving our goals becomes more challenging than when we believe we have options. This concept of creating choice reminded me of self-efficacy, which speaks to our belief in our capacity to act and produce our desired results (Bandura, 1977). Self-efficacy reflects our perspective that we have options to execute control over our actions. Thus, perceiving that we have choice contributes to our motivation to engage in intentional activity toward attaining our goals.

Reflection #1

Think about one of your goals right now.

From the beginning, you have chosen to create this goal. Take a moment to reflect on the following questions:

  • What was the intention behind setting this goal for yourself?

  • How does this goal align with your values?

  • What would it mean for you to achieve this goal?

  • How confident do you feel in your capacity to achieve this goal?

  • Are there any concrete actions you could take to increase your confidence in your capacity to achieve this goal (e.g., the information you need to obtain; a skill you need to learn; a conversation that would give you clarity)?

  • Are you identifying blocks/challenges, what are they?

  • How have you gotten through past blocks/challenges in the past?

  • What is one small step you can take toward creating options for yourself to help you move closer toward your goal?

Of course, even with choices, we sometimes face certain limitations. Some limitations are rigid, while others are more flexible. Within what we can control, two ways of creating choice and perceive options when we are faced with more rigid limitations include using our creativity to think outside of the box and setting healthy boundaries. If you want to learn more about setting healthy boundaries, check out this video.

Creating connection

Creating authentic and genuine connections can fuel our motivation. Imagine achieving goals in a world that consisted only of you – it'd be challenging to maintain your drive! Your motivation can be compromised without the opportunity to share what you care and feel passionate about with others. This may mean that you have close people in your life who you work with to keep each other accountable. It could also be that you have close people in your life who you feel excited to share your progress and achievements.

Perhaps what drives you is your passion for helping others in a variety of ways, or that you want to improve your own life so that you can be more present to deepen your relationship with yourself and those around you. You could feel excited to be creating a product or a service that makes a difference in other people's lives. Sometimes it may feel like your goal does not include others at all, but you can find inspiration from others who have achieved similar goals; that sense of connection fuels you with energy and motivation. There are so many ways to create connections and to build a sense of meaning and belonging as the social beings that we are. Pursuing goals that align with our values and allow us to contribute to a larger picture, in our unique ways, is a huge motivator.

Reflection #2

Consider the community of people you have around you, especially in the environment in which you are working towards your goals.

  • Who is in this community, and what is your relationship with them?Family, for instance, is in closer proximity than the audience you are creating a product for.

  • How can you leverage your relationship with them to propel you towards your goals further?

  • Have they achieved this in the past?

  • Can they offer insight into where you can improve?

  • How can you strengthen your connections?

Creating competence

Think about something that you excel at now, that you did not know at some point in your life. Do you remember how good it felt to finally be able to get down that skill hill without falling? Or to learn how to play a sport, learn a new language, or drive a car? Maybe becoming good at a specific aspect of your job took a lot of time and effort? The feeling of being competent can give us a tremendous sense of positivity.

Feeling competent can fuel our motivation as it increases our confidence, creates a sense of growth, and remind us that we can do it. The key is to celebrate the process of growth toward our goal. Celebrating small and significant achievements and recognizing how we are progressing can make a huge difference.

Reflection #3

  • How has feeling a sense of connection in your life play a role in the achievements that you have accomplished so far?

  • What are three personal strengths and resources that you can employ to help you attain your goal?

  • Write down your most significant accomplishment and think about the following:

  • What was the process of accomplishing this achievement?

  • How did you acquire and practice the skills needed to attain your accomplishment?

  • What lessons did you learn from this experience that you can apply to your current goal?

  • Have you broken your goal down into more manageable action items and smaller goals?

  • How will you celebrate your next step towards one of your smaller goals?

  • How will you celebrate your next significant accomplishment?

By: Alejandra Botia, M.A., RCC

Communications Coordinator & Mentorship Co-Chair | Women In Leadership Vancouver

Counselling Psychology Doctoral Student | The University of British Columbia

She/ her/ hers

Edited by: Hasti Riahi

Volunteer | Women In Leadership Vancouver


Fowler, S., & O'Reilly for Higher Education. (2019).

Master your motivation: Three scientific truths for achieving your goals. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W.H. Freeman.

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