You’ve taken advice to start a new habit or set a new goal from someone that seems important and knowledgeable. But, most, if not all, of the time you fell short.
Even though it sounded like good and reasonable advice at the time, when it came to doing it, you either just didn’t, or you found some reason to rationalize not doing it. Either way, nothing inside you said, “no, I’m doing this.”
The reason it didn’t work is because if our motivation to do things comes from an outside source, the moment that outside source isn’t there any more (which is likely most of the time), we aren’t going to keep doing whatever it is we were trying to do.
So to make sure we actually stick to the plan, we have to be able to motivate ourselves, we can’t outsource motivation and hope to succeed. Getting the idea from an outside source is great, but to follow through, you have to internalize the motivation.
Here is 5 ways you can drive yourself to success:
1. What is your “because” clause?
If you don’t want your goals to slip into the abyss of “I’ll get to it when I have more time and energy” you have to understand why you have the goals you have.Meaning, there has to be a “because” clause at the end of declaration that you are going to achieve your goal.
For example: I am going to meditate for 15 minutes every morning because I want to have more clarity, focus, and presence.
If you don’t have “because” clause, you won’t be clear on why you are doing something. So, pushing yourself to keep going when it isn’t new and exciting, will be virtually impossible. Why torture yourself by slogging through the hard parts if you don’t even know why you are doing it.
Your “because” should be pretty easy to identify. Just ask yourself, what impact are you looking for in your life as a result of your goal? The answer should not be that you complete the goal. You have to figure you why you want to achieve your goal. Then, the motivation is the because clause in the sentence.
2. Give yourself only two options, succeed or fail
You don’t like to fail. I don’t either. It’s why we find it so hard to start something new, it means we might fail. It also creates a tendency in us to rationalize stopping or procrastinating when things get hard and it feels like we might fail. It is a seductive thing. We are very good at rationalizing why quitting is ok and why it is different than failing.
So, you have to guard against yourself. The best way to do that is to put yourself in a position that you can’t quit without failing. To do that you have to commit to what you are doing in a way that the only thing you can do is either do it, or fail.
Here’s how, and it works with whatever you are doing. Tell people what you are going to do. Tell them your “because” clause. And tell them you will not quit for any reason until you’ve done it. Tell people you respect, people whose opinion matters to it. Maybe it’s your spouse, your friends, your parents, or your colleagues. And then ask that person to follow-up with you regularly to check your progress.
This isn’t easy, but it is ridiculously effective. If you really want to push yourself, put yourself out there in a way that either you get the job done or you let down people you respect. You’ll be impressed at how hard you will work to make it happen.
3. The big picture isn’t that important. Focus on the small one
A huge reason we often lose motivation is that our goal feels so far away. If our goals are big and powerful, there’s probably a sizable gap from where we are to where we want to be. After we lose the buzz of getting started, covering that gap can feel impossible.
But in reality, that gap is just a bunch of small steps strung together. Each one of which you can absolutely do. And after you’ve done one, and then another, and then another, eventually you look up and you are nearly there. The key is to keep moving. In order to keep moving, you have to take those small steps.
So, how do you see a bunch of little doable steps instead of a uncoverable gap? I’m sure you’ve heard, break up your goal into smaller goals, six weeks, two weeks, one week. That’s good advice, but I’ve always found it really hard to follow.
Instead, I find telling myself that each day I have to spend 2 minutes doing something to take a little step towards my goal. If I get in 2 minutes, the day is a success and I feel good about things.
You’ll find if you just commit to the two minutes, you’ll often get more in. Two really is enough. It keeps you in touch with the goal, it creates and keeps momentum. You don’t have to sit down and create a year long plan with 52 week-long bench marks.
You just have to take two minutes and do something that moves the ball forward. You can do that every day. When you do, let yourself feel the success, don’t worry about how much you get done, it doesn’t matter. It only matters that you do it.
4. Can you see it? Touch it? Feel it?
After we set our sights on some audacious goal, if we want to stay motivated to complete that goal, we have to believe it is possible. As you may know, our brains are bad at telling reality from fiction. That’s why The Blair Witch Project freaked me out for quite a while after I learned it didn’t really happened. I knew it wasn’t real, but my mind saw it and there wasn’t anything my intellect could do about it.
You can hijack the same mechanism horror movies have been hijacking for decades. If you vividly picture yourself completing your goal, your brain will believe you can do it because it has already seen it, even though you just forced your brain to picture it.
It’s easy to do. I find, right before I go to sleep to be a good time. I’m always lying in a quiet dark place, so it’s perfect for visualizing things. Picture your success, what it feels like, sounds like, and if it has a smell or taste, add that in. The more senses you can get involved, the better. Then drift off to sleep knowing you’ve made that success a little easier as a result.
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” – Marcus Aurelius
5. Visualize failure
Sometimes I need a little kick in the pants. You probably do too. Visualizing your success is important to getting yourself to believe you can actually achieve whatever you have set out to achieve. But on the days when you don’t even feel like spending the two minutes I discussed above, and we all have them, negative visualization is the trick you need.
You visualize what your life looks like in a month, year, or five years if you quit and fail to achieve your goal (the time is relative to the goal you have, pick the time frame you expected to complete your goal if you stick to it). Really visualize it.
Now, because you obviously want to succeed, having a clear picture of failure will push you to take the two minutes and do something that pushes you forward and guarantees you don’t fail today.
You’ll act so you make sure what you just visualized never comes to fruition. After you take that action, and this is critical, congratulate yourself and picture your success and how you took yet another step toward it. Don’t let the negative image sit on your brain.
What luck, you are absolutely in control of your own success
You are going to be the biggest reason you succeed. No one talks to you more than you talk to yourself. No one has more control over how you spend your day. Take advantage of the position you have as the person in charge of your life. When you have a goal you want to achieve, use the five strategies above to push yourself towards that success.
Thanks for reading my article! What things do you do that help find the inner motivation to push you?
8 Things You Can Do Right Now to Get Your Motivation Back
Welcome to our new normal. A time in our lives that a year ago we certainly didn’t see coming that most of us probably wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves; but here we are. As the days away from each other carry on and more and more bad news comes our way, it’s easy to lose your motivation and waste energy doing things that aren’t helpful like worrying and fighting with people on the internet instead.
Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to the Washington Post. While many of us had routines set up to deal with stress in the past, the stress we are facing during this time is unlike anything we’ve experienced before. It’s easy to find yourself in a downward spiral, and that’s the most challenging time to stop the momentum and turn things around. If that’s the case, keep it simple and start to reach for little things to help you feel better and climb your way out.
Here’s a reminder of a few simple things you can do right now to start getting positive momentum going your way:
1. Find someone who was in a similar place and made it to the other side
Whether you’ve been unmotivated to workout, eat healthy, make sales calls or simply do anything, you can find someone who has been there and made it to the other side. Look up some great TED talks, go on YouTube and look up people that motivate you, google them to find their websites. There are short speeches and much longer talks all over the internet, you just need to find someone who you relate to that speaks to you.
2. Do something that you love
When we’re unmotivated, it’s easy to get out of the habit of doing what we love. Sometimes just getting out of bed or away from the tv feels like a chore. Think back to a time in your life when you felt great – what were you doing? What do you absolutely love to do that if you had the time, you would do all day and not realize any time had passed at all?
Figure out a way to do whatever that is, or a modified version of it if it is something that you aren’t able to do at the present time. Spending time doing what you love will get your mind off of anything that is wrong and allow you to find inspiration.
3. Don’t overcomplicate it
Keep it simple. When we’re stuck in a rut, we’ll give ourselves every excuse to not do something. Say you’ve gained some weight; you might tell yourself you need to find the perfect trainer and wait until you have time to cook your meals from scratch each night before you do anything else. Stop trying to overcomplicate it and keep it simple by finding one thing you can do right now, however small that may be. You don’t have to wait until the timing is perfect and the stars align for you to start moving in the direction you want to go.
4. Get up and get moving
This is probably the last thing you want to do right now, but once you are up and moving, your blood will start flowing. The hardest part is getting started. Day one, get up and do anything to get moving. This is the hardest day if you haven’t in a while because getting up is really the hardest part. Day two, do a little more. Once you start, you’ll build momentum and get back in the habit.
5. Reset your focus
It’s so easy for worry to set in and for our minds to wander to places of what we can’t control. This is not motivating or helpful and we always have a choice to redirect our attention. There is always something we can do right where we are, so bring your focus to the solution instead of the problem and figure out the next step of what you can do.
One step at a time. Step one, take your attention away from what you can’t control and what you can’t do. Step two, ask yourself questions like “What can I do?” and see what comes to mind. Follow through with the answers you find.
6. Listen to your favorite music
Not much can lift our spirits and put us into a positive vibration more than our favorite music. Feel free to sing along. Find a song that pumps you up and make that your theme song. Put it on anytime you feel down or unmotivated.
7. Expand your knowledge
“In times of change, the learners will inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Quote by Eric Hoffer. In times of change, there is great loss but also great opportunity. Continually learning opens you to new opportunities and leads you to paths you may not have otherwise found.
If you’re already a meditator and got away from it, take some time to come back to it. If you’ve never tried, it can be as easy as setting a timer for five minutes (or less, feel free to start with one or two minutes) and focusing on your breath. Listen to the inhalations and exhalations. Silently say to yourself “in” as you inhale and “out” as you exhale. Even taking a few minutes to do this can help you to calm down and allow your mind to refocus.
When we’re unmotivated, our momentum starts moving in the other direction. Slow down that momentum by trying one of the ideas above. Once you’ve slowed down the momentum, get it moving in the right direction and you’ll be well on your way.
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How many times have you enthusiastically started a weight loss program, started a weight training or aerobics program, or started learning a foreign language, only to stop after a short while? How many times have you tried to make changes in your life, to study a certain subject or to start a certain project, but failed for lack of motivation? (more…)
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