Keeping focused on the endgame

With the New Year, tradition states we set a new goal for the future.

Are you one of the many who has set an ambitious long-term goal, are working hard to achieve it — yet with each passing day find your ability to keep focus on the endgame and maintain the level of necessary motivation to overcome each challenge has fizzled out?

Losing motivation and focus is a common occurrence as our priorities shift and we realize the individual activities needed to accomplish our goal seems daunting and tedious as we begin our quest. Later, it appears restrictive as we encounter challenges and obstacles — and find ways around them — and, just near the finish line, when the goal seems achievable we feel exhausted and fizzle out from all our past efforts.

These feelings cause us to make choices: We choose to give up the goal, or rediscover the motivation and commitment to slowly progress toward the finish line and achieve our goal.

Through the process of mental contrasting we can strengthen our motivation as well as our commitment relatively easily in three distinct steps and keep our focus where it should have been all along on achieving the endgame.

Step 1: Envision the endgame goal

Motivational speakers and religious leaders state in order to achieve a goal we must first envision it. In this first stage, you will perform a detailed review of the future goal imagined becoming a reality — and what your future life is like with the endgame goal achieved.

During envisioning, give thought to current and future financial security needs to achieve the goal. Consider writing a plan detailing how you will obtain the next promotion at work or, speak with a financial adviser regarding the ability of your retirement nest egg to meet current and longer-term goals.

The world is truly an oyster with your name on it, if you have the discipline to go after it, so explore every option even those which at first blush might not seem realistic. Ask yourself, is it time to consider a career change to become closer to the desired future venue, can blending either more work or more fun into an established career create more balance and enjoyment in life. As you envision options, explore short and intermediate-term goals, challenges, even obstacles that could distract your focus.

Whatever the goal, take time to contrast how your future life looks and feels to what your life is today. What will you do with your time, previously spent each day at the office? A few weeks of rest seem like nirvana today as does a walk each day along the beach — a wish come true — but are rest or walks built in or even allowable with your goal?

Step 2: Reflecting on current reality

To strengthen personal resolve and commitment gain an understanding of the motivation for the goal. Why is my long-term goal a tropical vacation home? To escape? To relive a previously flawless anniversary vacation, etc.? Is something missing in my current reality?

This will be awkward as we sort through our mental closets and give thought to what and who surround us in our lives today, and who or what surrounds us in our imagined future. This step is not for the faint of heart or those not self-aware. However, the benefit of self-understanding of who we are — what makes us tick — and what our true motivations are for the future, is priceless.

Step 3: Considering the contrast between current reality and the future goal

The final step to mental contrasting is comparing our lives today with what we believe our lives will be once we achieve our goal. This last step often leads to the unveiling of the true motivation to achieve and remain focused on achieving our endgame.

Reflecting and contrasting our lives today with tomorrow provides insights that will uncover and provide time to recognize and overcome challenges standing in the way of goal achievement, provide us with the motivation and commitment to face challenges head-on.

The answer to the puzzle of how to overcome future challenges is to think through the potential obstacles ahead of time, so we are mentally prepared and less impacted by our emotions felt when the obstacle arises, allowing us to commit brainpower and energy to overcome them.

Achieving personal and professional goals

The blueprint we build through mental contrasting allows us to keep our focus on the endgame — and to achieve it. Mental contrasting gives us the time to anticipate in our hearts and minds what the endgame will be — as well as identify our true motivation for it.

Happy New Year 2023 and to the achievement of everyone’s endgame.