It was a Saturday morning, sunny and relatively warm even though it was the middle of winter. Driving toward the highway, I reminded myself to rehearse my elevator pitch a few more times before that morning’s networking meeting.
But before I could rehearse my pitch, I spotted a “Going-Out-of-Business Sale” sign at one of my favorite shops. I sighed. Another business who had failed! I thought of the somber statistics I had read on several Internet sites: on average, 8 out of 10 businesses are doomed to fail. A chill settled in my gut.
What if my business became one of the losers? What I failed? And if I had such a high chance of failing, was it even worth it to spend my Saturday at a networking meeting? Why bother? That’s when I realized that the uncertainty of my future was putting my motivation—and confidence—at risk.
If you feel that your uncertain future might be hurting your motivation, you might benefit from these 5 steps:
1. Create a list of positive and negative scenarios
I wrote 5 possible scenarios, ranked from “Life Is Perfect” to “What a Nightmare!” My immediate reaction to the worst-case scenario was that the chances of it happening were ridiculously low, which made me feel safer.
You, too, might realize that a disaster scenario, while probable, is not the most likely to materialize. This encouraging realization will allow you to keep going with a much more positive mindset.
“See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.” – Dalai Lama
2. Write the possible consequences of each scenario
Listing all possible scenarios isn’t enough. I expanded my list by imagining what would happen if each of the 5 possible scenarios came true. This objective assessment was a powerful way to pinpoint potential obstacles to overcome in case of a least-desirable scenario. It was also a gauge of the delightful results I would realize if things went according to plan.
Start with the worst possible scenario and work your way up to the best. If you end this exercise by imagining the wonderful life that awaits you if you’re successful, you’ll spark positive momentum to skyrocket your motivation.
3. Devise a plan to avoid possible problems
Lack of foresight is one of the most common precursors of failure. Knowing this, I listed all the action steps I need to take to avoid the 2 worst case scenarios. Because I knew the problems that could potentially arise, I was in a great position to prepare for these challenges and avoid them altogether.
It’s your turn to be proactive. Create a comprehensive list of action steps you will follow to avoid possible issues in the future, and leave time in your schedule to execute these action steps. Seek outside help if you need it.
Being prepared will not only minimize your chances of failure, but will motivate you to keep working hard to achieve what you desire.
4. Create a worst-case scenario strategy
Having an exit strategy is a key to succeed in business—and in life. I asked myself, “What will I do if the worst happens?” I created a detailed “Plan B” that would also allow me to use my gifts and live my passion.
What would you do if things went wrong? Don’t focus on the unwanted results. Instead, place your attention of alternatives that would, in the end, also lead to fulfillment and satisfaction. Keep the end goal in mind but also keep an open mind.
This is a powerful exercise that will temper your feeling of uncertainty. You will feel safe and encouraged. You’ll know that a deviation from your original plan is not a failure. Instead, it’s an opportunity to explore a whole new set of possibilities.
5. List the times things worked out exactly the way you wanted them
To no avail, I tried to find a time in my life when my future was 100% predictable. That’s when it hit me. Life is never certain, and that’s what makes it exciting!
Remember that you have learned and grown as a person because of life’s endless surprises. Some of those surprises will be pleasant, and some will not. But in the end, you are who you are today as a result of your life experiences.
In a few words, certainty is an illusion. This is a profound realization that will help you look at the future without fear.
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” -Winston Churchill
Follow the 5 steps above to keep your motivation reserves healthy and plentiful, and continue taking daily, focused steps to design a successful and fulfilling life!