How to Bullet Proof Your Motivation, One Step at a Time

Kimberly Sheldahl
7 min readMay 5, 2020


Picture By: Kim Sheldahl

Do you long to be in a different situation? Do you want to achieve a goal that seems out of reach? Maybe you want to focus on your health but increasing exercise and eating better is a pipe dream. You’ve tried those things so many times and continue to fail. Is the problem a lack of will power? Is the problem a lack of discipline or do you lack the motivation to achieve your goals? You may want to open your own business, but you don’t know where to start. You wonder what you should do. You question if anyone would want to purchase your goods or services? How could you make a business work for you and not burn out in the process?

Life seems to send us on an achievement adventure. We reach one goal, only to set another goal a little higher than the first. There is nothing wrong with ambition and there certainly isn’t anything wrong with setting goals. We simply need to set realistic goals; goals that matter to us and goals that can be measured. We are all transformed by reaching goals and that transformation starts early in our lives. We learn to walk, talk, run and debate. We go to elementary school, middle school, high school and college. Each achievement tees us up for yet another goal.

As we continue to reach one goal after another, we often lose sight of the lessons we can learn from both success and failure. Each transformational stage required our focus, attention, diligence, hard work, resilience and bullet proof motivation. Goal transformation moves us into new and different directions, each requiring significant change. So, how do we effectively navigate that change?

Sean Young, PhD and Executive Director of the University of California Institute for Prediction Technology and the author of Stick with It: A Scientifically Proven Process for Changing Your Life — for Good shares his scientific approach. In his book, he shares strategies for taking control over our own behavior and making the life changes we desire last for good in his book. Dr. Young outlines a method for lasting change, the type of change that will help you Bullet Proof your Motivation.

He uses SCIENCE both literally and figuratively to make his points. His book is not only science backed, but he uses the word SCIENCE to outline a definitive, step by step approach to achieving lasting change.

Let’s start by discussing his step ladder approach.

Picture By: Kim Sheldahl

Think about what step ladders are used for. I’m vertically challenged, aka, petite in statue, so I became very good at climbing on counters at an early age. I must admit that I still hoist my leg on top of the counter to reach my top cabinets. I’ll also admit that I probably should pull out the step ladder that’s only two to three steps away.

I painted this picture for you because I wanted you to visualize yourself, reaching and climbing towards your goals. The goals that sit high in your cabinets. If you’re hoisting our proverbial body, you are using your physical strength and flexibility, but you’re also placing yourself in a precarious situation. You’re climbing alone, trying to go up, without a real plan.

Using a step ladder isn’t fool proof but it’s safer and more reliable. The step ladder needs to be sturdy, strong enough to hold your weight, and proven to withstand its purpose.

That’s what Sean’s SCIENCE method does. It withstands the weight of change and helps you understand the first step towards the change you desire.

Step Ladders — The “S” in SCIENCE

There are 3 Rungs to the Ladder and the climb to change.

Steps, Goals and Dreams

First Rung: Steps

Steps are small tasks that you complete when working towards your goal. Example:

Goal: Clean out the closet

§ Week 1 — Go through all your slacks, pants, jeans, etc.

§ Week 2 — Go through all your tops, shirts, etc.

§ Week 3 — Go through all your shoes

You might also create mini tasks within each larger task. For example, you would need to think about sorting. What will you donate to charity? What clothing will you discard? How will you decide what to keep?

Goal: Get a new job

Week 1 — Spend time focusing on what you really want from a new job.

Questions you might ask:

. Do you want to be your own agent?

. Do you long to be more in charge of your destiny?

. Do you want to work with a small, mid-sized or larger company?

. Do you want to work full time, part time or remotely?

Week 2 — Revise and update your resume. Get a trusted friend or mentor provide constructive feedback.

Week 3 — Develop a networking plan.

. Consider the number of times/weeks you’ll network.

. What methods will you use?

. Face to Face

. Social Media

When you break down a goal into segments, those smaller segments are much easier to achieve. Those segmented tasks help you reach milestones and each milestone gets you one step closer to your goal.


Goals are either short term or long term. In my previous examples I deliberately used examples of each. A short- term goal might look like the cleaning out your closet plan. Short term goals are achievable over a shorter period, generally less than 3 months.

A long-term goal, on the other hand, is just that, long term. It takes more time to achieve, typically more than 3 months. We often dedicate ourselves to long- term goals because they align with our vision and value system. Since that’s the case, we need to bullet proof our motivation in order to achieve those important goals. We need protect, motivation, because the more time it takes to achieve a goal, the more likely we’ll encounter obstacles. And navigating those obstacles are critical to our success.

Let’s revisit looking for a new job, the longer- term goal.

You could live in a place where opportunity is great, but competition is high. You may have the reverse happen. You may have education and skills that aren’t in high demand with little opportunity to use those skill sets.

You may want to transition to a “new line” of work. You know what you want, but you aren’t sure how to get there. Your progress may be impacted by other high priorities. While you are looking for a new job or planning your transition, much of your energy is absorbed by your current job.

The obstacles are seemingly endless. What’s the plan and what’s the backup plan?

Dreams are greater than Goals

Dreams require energy, devotion, commitment, GRIT, resilience, but most of all continued motivation. A dream takes much longer than 3 months.

Dr. Young uses the example of becoming a doctor which obviously takes longer than 3 months.

Other Dreams:

Saving money for an extravagant vacation

Building a custom home

Becoming a champion ___________ (fill in the blank)

Building a tribe

Building a business

Becoming a master chef, artist, pianist

You know what your dreams are, but how will you or how do you stay motivated to achieve them?

The Recap:

Picture By: Kim Sheldahl [Sinisa Maric, Gordon Johnson, Clkr Free-Pixabay]


A part of the work required to get a job done. A segment moving towards a goal.


Short Term Goals –

1. Establish segmented tasks to achieve milestones, e.g. clean out the closet.

2. Short term goals can generally be achieved in less than 3 months.

Long Term Goals –

1. Established segmented tasks to achieve milestones, e.g. find a new job example.

2. Long term goal can typically be achieved in more than 3 months.


Take much longer than 3 months and are made up of a series of goals, both short and long term.


1. Break goals down into bite-sized tasks.

2. Schedule the tasks.

3. Commit to the schedule.

4. Assess and Track. Are you sticking to the plan?

5. If you falter, get back up and re-evaluate those tasks.

a. Are they reasonable and achievable?

b. Did a legitimate priority surface?

c. Are you procrastinating?

d. Do you really want to achieve this goal?

e. Does the goal align with your vision and values?

Reflective questioning provides a sound foundation for honing into what’s important to you. Checking off the task box for the sake of finishing a task is not what’s important. It’s valuable to know what you want and understand why putting in the effort is worth the sweat.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series where I’ll share more tips on achieving your goals through bullet proofed motivation.

About the Author: Kimberly Sheldahl is a former executive, turned Kolbe Certified ™ Consultant who is also an Integrative Health Coach. She is passionate about the integration of productivity and well-being. She is the host of BOOM Baby BOOM, a T.V. show/podcast which will begin airing on Transformation TV in April. She is the #1 Best Selling Author of Hack Into OZ, Get the Most Out of Life, available on Amazon. Her course, IMPACT will also be released later this month. The modules include science backed data on building happiness, self-belief (efficacy), self-control (regulation), building habits, and staying motivated. Sign up for notification of IMPACT’s release here:



Kimberly Sheldahl

Chief Priority Strategist |Practical Priorities™ | Certified, Predictive Index ™ & Kolbe™ | Full Focus Planner Certified Pro™|Health Coach