During long-term learning and development courses, it can be very easy to lose motivation to achieve your personal and professional outcomes, especially if the end result seems so far away. But there are activities you can do to help you remain motivated and achieve your desired goals.
I recently set myself the personal challenge of learning to run and in this blog I explore how to remain motivated to achieve your long-term goals. While it may be running focused, the same principles apply to learning.
Setting the Challenge
I set myself the challenge of running 5km. You may think to yourself that everyone can naturally run and therefore it is not something you need to learn. But believe me when I say it is definitely something I didn’t know how to do properly. Over the period of a 10-week course, I set out to slowly build up my stamina to reach the heady heights of a 5km.
What I found was that there were definite stages of this journey. I started with a high amount off motivation and excitement of the challenge ahead. I was diligent and always did my ‘homework’ runs. I was already dreaming about the end of the challenge and how good it would feel to get there.
This is typically how the start of a new programme feels like. It becomes the new great thing! Everything else is temporarily forgotten about and all your time and energy is spent on implementing what you have learnt. I call this the ideas phase, where you will throw lots of ideas at the different things and visualise what the end product will look like.
The Real Work
Once the initial excitement has passed and the real hard work begins, you have to dig deep to keep motivated. With all the running that I was doing I found it easy to ‘drop’ one of the runs I had to do every week, citing I was too busy with other things to fit it in. Doubt was creeping in and I began to think I couldn’t achieve the end goal.
Eventually I found myself revisiting my original inspiration on why I wanted to do this course. At this point I had two options. I could either quit or set myself a slightly amended challenge of completing this task despite the pain and boredom I was feeling.
This is exactly how learning should be approached. There are always going to be obstacles to implementing your new ideas and obstacles that you may need to overcome, so we may need to slightly readjust the end goal and ensure we achieve it. If the stakeholders involved In your learning agree, then a few tweaks here and there should be seen as still successfully achieving the desired outcomes.
What have I accomplished?
My final run was exactly how the final stage of learning can be. Has the work I have done been good enough? Will my stakeholders be happy? Will I be able to implement the things I have learnt and prove to be a success?
In my case I was hoping for a cheering crowd at the end, telling me I had done a great job!
So, both the running course and the learning have now been completed and we have achieved what we had set out to do.
I acknowledge and accept it was a bumpy journey and not always very easy, but no journey is easy when it’s your own goal you need to achieve.
I’m reflecting today on how these last 10 weeks have changed me and what I have learnt. I know now personally I am stronger than I thought! I have put into practice the power of positive thinking (especially on those dark, lonely runs in the rain!). But I have also taken away some learns for the next time I set myself a personal challenge.
The review stage of any learning event is super important to ensure we continue to develop. Take ownership for the review and question what I could do differently next time. Ownership here is extremely important to avoid negative thoughts about how others have affected the journey. Only you can control how you will achieve things moving forward.
Learning through an OnTrack Programme is quite like the experience that Angela had with her running. We work with you and your business to create an end goal and plan on how your learning will help you reach this goal – we are also available to keep you motivated throughout as well!