Hard times had obviously struck paralysed former Australian NRL player Alex McKinnon, when he lay on the ground of the stadium not able to feel his legs.
In the wake of his devastating neck injury he suffered in 2014, those hard times compounded when he learned that this was going to be a long-term scenario. But Alex has an unbreakable resilience, an inner drive that can power him though the hardest of times. And I can see where he gets it: his fiercely ambitious and quietly humble old man.
Alex has been working fervently to make the best of his personal situation. He works at maintaining his positive mindset, and works his body as hard as he can. This is not just to keep busy. This man has a goal. He is working toward walking again, and he’ll get there if hard work can do it.
The thing that really struck me like a bolt of lightning was when Alex’s dad, Scott, was talking about how hard Alex was working at the gym and how diligent he was with his rehabilitation. He quoted “The secret to success is to be ready when your opportunity comes”.
Wow. That’s it, isn’t it?!
In coaching circles, we talk about certitude. An absolute certainty or conviction that something is the case. Imagine if you acted with the certainty that you would achieve your goals. Whether it is to surpass your professional targets or achieve an education certificate or to walk again. The thing is that if you have certitude of achieving a particular thing, then you act accordingly. Simply put, you DO the things that will make it so.
“The secret to success is to be ready when your opportunity comes” – Benjamin Disraeli
It is no coincidence that the people that sit on their butts dreaming, remain dreamers. The people that take action are the people who enact their dreams. Your life and your potential is fully and absolutely in your hands. This moment NOW is an opportunity to move forward with the certainty of a powerful future.
The big question is how do you acquire the certitude of success? Taking action when one is confident of a successful outcome is not a great difficulty. However, persevering through our own fears and doubts is significantly more challenging. In fact, I would make the bold statement that more often than not, that is why people fail. They stop trying because they lack the certitude of success and allow their fears and doubts to engulf them.
There are 3 things you can do to acquire the certitude of your success for any given goal:
1. Find inspiration in evidence
Many of us have these preconceived notions that people who have become massively successful in business and life are somehow different to us. That they are more intelligent, more talented, more privileged, or just ‘luckier’. This usually isn’t the case.
Go and feed your brain with biographies of successful people and books written by entrepreneurs. You soon start seeing a pattern forming, that these are just normal, regular, average people who simply followed a process to arrive at their success. A process that is entirely replicable. This confirms in your brain that success is possible.
2. Have a foolproof plan
Many people these days would say they set goals, but these ‘goals’ largely consist of sitting down once a year, writing down a wish list, then feeling guilt and disappointment three months later when the realisation hits that they’ve entirely fallen off the wagon. Don’t do that. Instead, put some real work into your plan.
Identify the major steps of your goal and break it right down to the daily, weekly, monthly actions that will have you arrive at your goal. Your plan should include strategies for how you keep yourself accountable and how to overcome challenges. This gives you total confidence that the plan will work (if you should just put it into practice).
3. Foster belief through visualization and affirmation
Most people are comfortable with the concept of problem versus solution focused. If you focus on the problem, all you find are problems, whereas if you focus on the solution, your brain is wired to take on a problem solving function. What interests me is how much people devalue the power of visualization and affirmation. These mental processes make your brain seek solutions. Through visualization you are using your mind to create a detailed tangible vision of what you want to achieve. This makes your goal real in your mind. Through affirmations you are taking control of what you say to yourself so that your thoughts result in emotions and behaviors that empower you to win. This effectively means that you use your brain in a way which brings about what you would like to have happen. It gives you the belief that YOU can make it work.
The certitude that one’s success is imminent is not a sign of egotism or cockiness. It is the self-belief and confidence of oneself and in the strategy employed that is a vital ingredient in the recipe for success. Alex McKinnon has a sense of certitude in gaining control over his body again because he has seen personal stories of this happening, he is doing the work to ready himself for the opportunity, and he can see it, feel it, and taste it in his mind.
There is truth behind the saying that “If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it”. Belief is the power behind action, and action is what leads to results. So before you embark on your next goal, create the certitude of success in your mind. When you see the outcome you want as a tangible truth that is within your power to create, it will be so.
Thank you for reading my article! I would love to hear 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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