One of the most important tools I use when coaching is also one of the more subjective. It’s a 1-to-10 scale. A question I ask prospects during an initial consultation is, “On a scale of 1-10, how important is the achievement of your goal?”

Often, I’ll receive a nine or ten in response. This is good.

What’s also good is that I’ve come to recognize one man’s (or woman’s) ten is another man’s six.

Why? Well, early in my career, I questioned clients’ tens. The video didn’t match the audio. They’d say they really wanted to achieve X, but their actions did everything but reflect that.

But the more time I spend working with clients, and the more I look at my own behaviors, I’m realizing that how we behave has as much to do with urgency as it does importance.

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey has something called the 4 Quadrants.

Quadrant 1 is Urgent and Important. Think Crises.

Quadrant 2 is Important but Not Urgent. Think planning, improving, educating, and recognizing new opportunities when available.

Quadrant 3 is Not Important but Urgent. Think busy but typically not productive, e.g., constantly reading emails, answering calls and texts as they come in, etc.

Quadrant 4 is the Not Important and Not Urgent. Think about things that waste your time, e.g., surfing, scrolling, streaming, etc.

Mr. Covey says that people spend 90% percent of their time in Q1 and the rest in Q4. You wanna spend more of your time in Q2 . . . unless you wanna accomplish less of what’s important.

Enter your health and fitness.

Your health and fitness goal doesn’t lack importance but urgency.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.”

Sometimes urgency “graciously” presents itself.

  • Recently divorced/looking for a significant other/fear that significant other has found another
  • Impending wedding
  • Loss of a loved one due to poor health
  • A health “scare”
  • Physical pain

But what if you have not experienced any of these? Again, your health and fitness goals are no less important; it’s just that there’s no “organic” sense of urgency.

So, how can you create a sense of urgency that will help you finally achieve your goal?

1. Know your “Why”

Author Simon Sinek has made a killing off this. And for good reason—it works.

Often when I meet with a prospect, they share their what. Admittedly, I ask them what it is they want to achieve. But then I ask why?

Me: “What is it you want to achieve?”

Prospect: “I want to lose weight and get stronger.”

Me: “Why do you want to lose weight and get stronger?

(After some digging . . .)

Prospect: “I will be more engaged in the present activity with my kids and less concerned with how I look.”

People often voice a lack of motivation as their reason for not acting. Motivation is in the meaning. If there’s no meaning, no “why” behind your goal, why achieve it? There’s no urgency.

2. Think about the consequences of inaction

The consequences of inaction may just be the opposite of what it is you do want to achieve. Goals can help you move toward something you want to achieve (“approach” goals), but they most certainly can move you away from something you want to avoid (“avoidance” goals).

Me: “What is it you want to achieve?”

Prospect: “I want to lose weight and get stronger”

Me: “Why do you want to lose weight and get stronger?

Prospect (Approach): “I will be more engaged in the present activity with my kids and less concerned with how I look.”

Prospect (Avoidance): “I don’t want my son to be embarrassed by how I look and move like I was by my dad.”

The only reason I want a son embarrassed by his dad is because of his jokes.

3. Set a deadline

Maybe you can relate to this. During my scholastic career, I would often put off an assignment till the last minute. I would then justify my procrastination by proclaiming, “I work better under pressure!” I didn’t work better under pressure; I simply worked. By having a deadline [set by the professor], I had to get the work done or face the consequences.

Although your goal will take longer than a few weeks, which is how much time I typically had to submit assignments, don’t push it out too far. If it’s too far into the future, you’ll lose what it is you’re after—a sense of urgency. Keep it at less than a year. Come to think of it; a semester’s a pretty good length of time.

4. Have someone hold you accountable

Even with these steps in place, you can still NOT act. That’s where the importance of accountability comes into play.

Have you ever set a goal for yourself, fallen short, yet brushed it off like it was no big deal because only you knew about it?

I often hear people say they expect more from themselves than anyone else. This may be true, yes. But from my experience, people are also the most gracious to themselves.

Now, I’m not suggesting you enlist the services of someone who won’t extend you any grace when you fail to do what it is you said you’d do. But there’s something “magical” about having someone else know what it is you want to achieve and then lovingly and graciously holding your feet to the fire.

I don’t know which one of these four will best help you create urgency. Heck, it might not be any one of these. But if you find yourself standing still or stuck in an unproductive cycle, you gotta do something. Because “either you have a sense of urgency today, or a [continued] sense of regret tomorrow.

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