Success never comes easy. No matter what your goal is, you can expect to face challenges as you pursue it.
It takes motivation to keep going when things get tough. This is why those who are the most motivated often become the most successful.
Here are 12 steps you can do daily to help you stay motivated when things get tough:
1. Display your goals on your wall
Put your goals in writing, and put them on a wall where you will see them often. On a whiteboard in your home or office (or both) is ideal. Review your goals every morning and every night, and glance at them as often as you can throughout the day. If you’re a visual person, you may find it effective to use pictures. For example, a picture of your dream car or a vacation destination you want to go to on. Remember, if your goals don’t excite you and challenge you, they probably aren’t big enough. It may be time to create some new ones.
2. Write down your priorities for the day first thing in the morning
One of the first things you should do every morning is sit down and make a list of the important activities you need to complete for the day. List them in order of priority, and then get started on the most important one first (especially if it’s the most difficult one). A huge mistake most people make is not managing their time and prioritizing their activities for the day. Instead, they spend the day responding to everything that is thrown at them. Instead of being proactive about what they need to accomplish, they become reactive to the needs of everyone else.
3. Listen to inspiring audio content
Throughout the day there are plenty of opportunities to listen to something positive. You can listen to something when you’re cooking, cleaning the house, driving your car, exercising at the gym, or jogging around your neighborhood, just to name a few. Download the audio version of some of your favorite books, or subscribe to a few podcasts about your favorite subjects. Listening to 30-60 minutes per day of educational or inspiring audio content will have a tremendous impact on your life and productivity in the long run.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar
4. Read before you go to sleep
A great way to unwind at the end of a long day is to read a few pages of something positive and educational before you go to sleep. Doing this also helps to take your mind off of any problems or challenges you encountered during the day. After you’ve read a few pages, take a few minutes to reflect on what you just learned, and think of at least one action step you can take immediately to better handle any issues or challenges you are currently dealing with.
5. Do not allow yourself to complain
At any given moment, you can have a positive attitude or a negative attitude. There isn’t much of a grey area in between the two. Refusing to allow yourself to complain will pretty much eliminate you ever having a negative attitude. This simple trick basically forces you to remain positive and optimistic. Whenever you catch yourself about to complain about something, stop yourself and think of something you’re grateful for instead.
6. Get an accountability partner
A daily or even a weekly call with a close friend or associate has proven to be an effective way to stay on track for many people. Keep it brief. The purpose of these calls is to check in and confirm that your partner is staying focused and is still on track to achieving whatever their goals are at the time. Whether it’s exercising regularly, prospecting for new business, working on a specific project, the purpose of the call is to hold them accountable to their commitments. You do it for them, and they do it for you. It works both ways.
7. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Want to know some of the secrets to happiness? Here they are: Don’t worry about things you can’t control. Don’t major in minor things. Choose your battles wisely. Don’t argue over small things. If something is truly important to you, give it your attention. If it’s not, let it go. Sometimes it’s more important to be happy than to be right.
8. Spend more time with positive people (and less time with negative ones)
Pay more attention to who you allow to be around you. Spend your time with people who are positive, and who encourage your success. Minimize the amount of time you spend with people who are constantly complaining or being negative. You can’t change negative people, but they will change you if you hang around them long enough.
“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” – George S. Patton
9. Recite positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are statements that you recite aloud. Create a list of positive statements that reflect the values, ideals, and beliefs you want to develop and/or uphold. Whenever you’re feeling frustrated or lacking confidence, take a moment to recite your affirmations. It may seem corny, but it works. Think of it as conditioning your mind for success.
10. Reward yourself for making progress
Never forget to reward yourself for making progress. Break your large goals into smaller milestones, and each time you accomplish one of those milestones, celebrate. It doesn’t have to be a big celebration, just make sure you do something. Every success (yes, even a small one) is worth celebrating. It is often a series of small successes that pave the way for the big ones. If you only celebrate the big ones, you may go prolonged periods of time without celebrating anything, and this can have a negative impact on your motivation. Incremental progress is still progress. Give yourself the recognition you deserve.
11. Look for the opportunity in every problem
Practice being the person who can find the hidden advantage in every seemingly negative situation. While everyone else focuses on the problem, stay focused on finding a solution. As Napoleon Hill once said: “Every failure, every adversity, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” Always look for the benefit.
“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” – Og Mandino
12. Know what you’re fighting for
The last hack for staying motivated through challenging times is to always know what you’re fighting for. Whenever you are faced with a challenge, your mind will demand a reason for your suffering. You better have a crystal clear response, because if you don’t, your mind will convince you to quit. We all have 2 voices in our head. One voice says “This is too hard. This is uncomfortable. I should quit.” The other says “Yes this is challenging, but it will be worth it. Keep going.” You need to give that second voice a reason to speak up. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Make a list of your reasons and never forget them.
Which hack keeps you motivated? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
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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