The Secret to Goal Motivation (It’s Not Just Pushing Harder)  

Here's what I've learned about goal motivation and endurance: it's all about pacing yourself. In running terms, effective goal setting about making time for both the heavy sprints and the easy walks.

If you want to successfully accomplish goals, you must learn how to use rest and replenishment to fuel endurance and motivation.

What? That wasn’t what you were expecting? I know. Let me show you how this counterintuitive mindset can bring you long term success in your goal planning.

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Why Endurance & Motivation Aren't About Pushing Harder

I have a slight confession to make: When it comes to making changes in my life, I am a bulldozer.

I mean it. If left to my own devices, I would find whatever thing I wanted to change about my very imperfect life and pursue it at breakneck speed with little regard for anyone or anything else.

Perhaps that sounds like a nice trait to have? Yes, my bulldozer side can come in handy when I have to plow through the end of a 5K, or on those days when I think I’m going to lose my mind if I have to teach that math problem one… more… time.

The problem with being a bulldozer is that you run out of steam really quickly. Endurance is one of the first things to go.

I’ve seen this pattern over and over in my life. While it’s great to passionately pursue something, endurance is the critical element of sustainable change. And where does endurance come from? A steady stream of intrinsic motivation.

But motivation is more than just the ability to push harder. While lasting motivation can require increased intensity at times, regular ongoing motivation is fueled by continual realistic thinking (in other words, acceptance) along with plenty of rest and replenishment.

All too often, effective goal setting requires that we make changes mid-stream to meet the changing conditions. And the truth is that we can't stay alert to small shifts (and stay motivated to keep plugging away at the goals) without regular rest and replenishment.

How Rest Fuels Ongoing Motivation & Endurance

Rest allows us to stop and assess where we are. Rest gives us the ability to make decisions from a wise, well-informed mindset instead of a knee-jerk mindset.

Rest doesn’t distract us from the goal but gives us enough space to breathe so that we can make wise adjustments to the goal.

Rest gives room for grace to appear and edges out driving perfectionism (which can keep us from ever feeling successful in our goal setting).

Rest is a opportunity for refreshment along the way (and helps us find joy and celebration in the journey instead of just the finish line.

In short, rest can help us avoid several common goal setting mistakes, and can make goal setting much more enjoyable and realistic.

Our Perfect Example of How Rest Fuels Motivation and Endurance

How did Jesus handle the stress and changes of a growing ministry? Luke 5:15-16 (NLT) states:

“But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”

There’s an urgency here—things were happening fast and furious! And if I was in this situation, I know I would have been tempted to work harder. I would not have thought that rest was the answer to meeting the needs of the people.

I would have rationalized myself into more activity. How about you?

I would have thought,  “I don’t have time to rest! Isn’t this an opportunity to meet even bigger goals?” And while we know that Jesus perfectly met all the needs of his people during His earthly ministry (He was God incarnate, after all), His human side also know when He needed to step back and seek replenishment. Wow, we have so much to learn, don't we?

This story also reminds me of Jesus’ advice to Mary and Martha. Both were handed huge tasks, and yet, Jesus shared that Mary discovered the best course to successfully (and sanely) meet her goals.

Jesus suggested that Mary seek replenishment with Him first so that she could most effectively meet her goals. You can read the story here in Luke 10:38-42.

3 Ways to Add Rest to Your Goal Setting 

1) Add margin to your goals (and your life).

Maybe rest means adding continual margin into your life (if so, have I got a great book for you!).

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded LivesMargin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives

I love how Margin details simple, small ways to work rest into our already over-paced lives. Margin isn't a book about goal setting, but it sure is a great accompaniment to those who want to set realistic goals and have a balanced, healthy life along the way.

Peace, stillness and space in our schedules are essential aspects of sanity, whether we’re pursuing new goals or not. And when we’re under the stress of lifestyle changes (a new diet or exercise regimen, for example), we need that room to breathe (and to process) more than ever.

That's why I highly recommend this book! Get it here.

2) Get daily endurance and motivation from God himself.

One of my greatest sources of rest is my daily quiet time. I have found that by simply reading and studying the Bible each day I am able to connect to God's purposes and plans for me (which fuels me up on those days when I really need extra motivation and endurance to meet goals).

I would encourage you to make this part of your daily routine (here's how to make a quiet time a habit). I teach a simple 5-step Bible study method here that many find helpful (you can even download a free bookmark). Or, consider reading one of these devotionals and women's studies for helpful guidance through God's word on a specific topic.

3) Schedule time each week to breathe (and rest).

This is similar to the first suggestion I gave to include margin in your life. However, I encourage you to take the concept of margin one step further by including scheduled time each week to track your progress in a journal and to listen to new direction from Him.

That's what Sundays are about in my house. We turn off the electronics and play outside. We enjoy quiet moments by ourselves for contemplation. We take naps. We stop the crazy pace and just breathe.

All of these demonstrate why rest is an integral part of goal setting.

Powerful Bible Verses on Rest for Goal Motivation

  • God knows how to replenish us so He can accomplish His plans for us (Psalm 23:3)
  • His guiding hand sustains, restores and provides endurance (Isaiah 58:11)
  • God’s ways provide invaluable insight and wisdom along the journey (Psalm 19:7-8)
  • Protecting our soul through rest encourages a positive outcome (Proverbs 4:23)

Other Must-Read Posts on Goal Setting and Rest

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