Motivation is the key – or is it?

Is there something you have wanted to achieve for a long time, but haven’t been able to? I suspect it isn’t due to a lack of motivation, but a lack of a plan.

You could have all the motivation in the world, but if you don’t use it, where does it get you? Nowhere!

I know plenty of motivated people. They talk about what they are going to do “at a high level”; they have a vision. But when you ask them about the details (because the devil is in the detail), they don’t have a plan.

How will you get to where you want to be?

I recently sat down with one of my business coaching clients, who is an ultramarathon runner, and asked her how she prepares for a race.

Here’s what she does:

  • She starts backwards, meaning she starts with the race date in mind.
  • She schedules the week before her big race as a recovery week.
  • She goes through a continuous three-week cycle – an easy week, a moderate week and a hard week.
  • She writes her workouts in her diary, then checks that a hard week doesn’t clash with anything else, such as a birthday. If it does, she shifts things around in her diary so she doesn’t have to think about it later.
  • She always schedules in recovery, which she says is more important than the training!

See how much preparation she does before she even ties her shoelaces? Also notice that she schedules in rest and recovery.

Having a solid plan is key to her race preparation. Then, it’s simply a matter of being disciplined and sticking to her plan, rather than relying on motivation, which she knows waxes and wanes over time. There is so much detail in her plan; there’s no grey area. She has thought of everything, put it all in her diary, and identified obstacles before she gets to them.

I reckon all business and life goals are like this. Although we don’t have to plan our time down to the second, planning does play a critical role in our ability to achieve our goals. Successful people often say, “I never had a clear career plan,” but I reckon they at least had some goals they were driving towards.

What do you think? To plan or not to plan? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


I’m Emma, and I’m a business and executive coach who believes wholeheartedly in the potential of women. My coaching philosophy is simple- taking action leads to results- and I love working with women in business and in corporate roles to take their passion and drive and transform their professional and personal lives.

Be enthusiastic, optimistic and energetic, every day.

Em x

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Emma also has a podcast.