You remember the beginning. Back when you could see the change you wanted to make. You were wildly excited about the new you that was just around the corner.
Seems a little naive now. Now it’s getting hard. You think, maybe where I am is ok. I can circle back to this later when I have more time and energy. Plus you feel like you’re just plodding along, not really getting anywhere.
The end is not in sight, and you aren’t sure you’ll actually be able to make it there. You’re just flat out tired of having to drag yourself along when you aren’t even sure it’s worth it. We all face this when we try to start something new.
If you are doing anything outside of your comfort zone, you are likely to hit a wall. But getting through it doesn’t have to feel like you’re digging yourself out of prison with a spoon. Instead, it can feel like winning all the time, or a lot of the time anyway, even though getting to your actual goal may be a long way off. The key is to have little wins along the way.
Here’s 10 categories where you can find an easy win. Then you can let that momentum keep you headed towards your goals. Watch the video below!
1. Take it easy (productivity)
On your list of to-dos, there is a spectrum of stuff that is really hard that is super easy. Focus on the easy, quick stuff. Maybe it’s a quick reply to an email or paying that bill you’ve been meaning to pay. Doesn’t matter. Take the 20 seconds and do it.
2. Who you calling lazy? (fitness)
Everyone wants to be more fit. So take a step towards that goal and you get a win. No need to train for a marathon here, we are talking small, incremental wins, not big insurmountable things.
Do something that is slightly taxing, but nothing that sends you to the showers (for example, 5 pushups, 20 bodyweight squats, or 20 sit-ups)
3. Your body is a temple (health)
When you are in the depths of fighting tooth and nail to keep yourself headed towards your goals, you can pretty easily forget to make healthy choices. Plus you use up most of your willpower just trying to stick to your goals, so saying no to the cookie is that much harder.
Get a healthy win by taking a break from the continual flow of caffeinated liquids and have some regular old water. You know, the stuff literally every cell in your body needs. Chug a full glass. Then bask in the glory of doing something right for your body.
4. Put your mind to it (mental)
It can be overwhelming to manage the ever increasing to-do list in your head. Which often leads to just giving up or spinning your wheels on unimportant tasks so you feel like you are doing something. But the reality is, if you would take a moment, and give yourself, and your brain, a break so that you could make an intentional choice about what to do next, you would be far better off.
This win gives you that break. Stop what you are doing and take 5 deep belly breaths through your nose (or your mouth if your nose is stuffy). I’m not saying you will have the clarity of the Dalai Lama, but it will give you an opportunity to objectively look at what you are doing and decide whether you need to redirect your efforts or just keep plugging along.
5. Friends are forever (social)
When we really hit the doldrums of trying to keep momentum with our new change, we can feel isolated and lonely. And that makes it hard to keep going.
So go get an easy win that reminds you that you aren’t actually all alone. Go smile at someone and ask them how their day is going. That will remind you that you aren’t on an island, and that’s a big win that we all need periodically.
“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” – Phyllis Diller
6. You deserve a break today (leisure)
When you feel like you just want to quit, it might be that you just need to. You might need a break. A chance to catch your breath and recharge your batteries. So take a break. It’s a win if it’s intentional.
7. Blood is thicker than water (family)
Your family can suffer when you are in the nitty gritty of making a big change happen. It’s not good, but it’s pretty normal to take them for granted, spending your energy on pushing through, instead of showing them you appreciate them.
So send your mom, your dad, your spouse, your sibling, or your kid a text. Tell them you were thinking about them and that you love and appreciate them. That’s it. It’ll take less than a minute. And it will feel good. It will also make them feel good.
8. We only get one earth (sustainability)
Whether or not you are super concerned about climate change or the environment, just about everyone can agree that sustainability is a good thing.
Find something sitting around that can be recycled, and then put it in a recycling bin.
9. Pigsties aren’t a great place to work or live (cleanliness)
People say that a pretty good indication of whether you are mentally organized is to look at where you live and work.
That may or may not be true (or maybe I just don’t want to admit to the truth of it…), but when your workspace is messy, it adds an item to your already overwhelming to-do list (even if it’s just in the back of your head).
So clear yourself of that burden by tidying up your workspace. You will pretty much instantly feel like you have more control over things, including the pursuit of your goal.
“Belief in oneself is incredibly infectious. It generates momentum, the collective force of which far outweighs any kernel of self-doubt that may creep in.” – Aimee Mullins
This one is specific to you and the type of work you are doing. Ask yourself the following questions: First, what do you need to get done tomorrow to keep moving towards your goal. Second, what is the next thing you can do today to set yourself up to succeed tomorrow. Then do that.
Next time sticking to your goal feels like walking through quicksand, pick an easy win and make it happen. Let yourself enjoy the success. Instead of looking at the path to your goal as a long trek through the desert, look at it as a huge single-elimination tournament.
You need hundreds of wins to get to the championship, your ultimate goal. But, as you work your way through the bracket, you can celebrate each one of those wins, making the journey fun, instead of such a huge chore. So set up your bracket, give yourself smaller tasks as wins.
And when you feel stuck, turn to one of the easy wins above to get a little momentum and a pick me up. Then get back to it, and win the next one. Do that, and the bracket will fall away. Before you know it, you’ll be hoisting the trophy and celebrating your own personal championship.
Thank you for reading my article! What easy win have you celebrated lately?
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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