Even if you pursue your dream with the most passionate intent, at times you’re going to lose motivation. Things don’t come together as fast as you’d like, projects stall, you’re working crazy hard not knowing if what you’re doing is laying the foundation for success or paving the path towards your own destruction.
It’s when moving forward becomes a slog and you’d rather go lie on a lounge chair on a beach that these four mind shifts can help keep you motivated:
1. Remember your bigger why
Every big dream starts with a why. You started making your dream into a reality because it serves a bigger purpose. Was bringing this dream to life going to give you a greater sense of freedom, allow you to travel more, let you help people achieve their dreams or live healthier?
So much is thrown at us as we build our dreams: business and personal opportunities, logistical setbacks, feeling buried in the details. Whenever you’re overwhelmed by any of these, it’s important to step back and remember your bigger why.
Then ask yourself: is what I’m struggling with ultimately going to allow me to achieve my greater why? The answer in most all cases should be a resounding yes, and that yes can be the thing that keeps you going in tough times.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
2. Let your values drive you
Many times people give up on something because they realize what they were after wasn’t really their dream, it was someone else’s. In conjunction with your why, you have to get in touch with your needs, which aren’t necessarily the same as your wants.
Paying attention to what you value in your inner life (peace, contentment, satisfaction, fulfillment, etc.) helps lead you to making those values real in your outer life (lifestyle, relationships, financial success, etc.) Your needs are a reflection of your deeply held values and taking time to understand how your values align with your greater why is important in making sure your dream is truly yours.
3. Think about what you want
How often do you meet someone who can tell you what they don’t want instead of what they do want? You may know you don’t want x, y, and z but instead of dwelling on the negative, take time to figure out how to explain things in terms of what you do want. Focusing on what you don’t want has a way of making those exact things show up in your life.
So it’s important to shift your mindset into a more positive state and understand what you do want instead. Knowing what you want also helps you create a clearer vision in your mind. Once you have that vision you can talk about it to friends, family, and even potential investors with passion, confidence, and excitement, all of which will keep your forward momentum going.
“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude” – Oprah Winfrey
4. Learn to switch gears
On the road to building and living your big dream, it’s important to learn when you’re running a sprint race vs. a marathon. Thinking you need to work insane hours all day every day is a recipe for burnout, discouragement, and apathy.
Not only must you learn that stepping back and evaluating the big picture is a valuable skill you must also learn how to use that skill to tell you when to switch between going full our and easing off the gas. Your dream doesn’t do anyone, including yourself, any good if you’re too sick, exhausted, or depressing to bring it to life, even if it takes a long time to reach the finish line.
Staying in the game for the long haul takes a perseverance, patience, faith, and a deep understanding of why you’re trying to bring your dream to life. Your ability to stay motivated, even in the midst of resistance and discouragement, is crucial for you to make your dream a reality.
What tips and tricks do you use to stay 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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