Ever had that feeling of doubt that just pops into your mind when you need to think most clearly? Or that niggly voice that keeps whispering that you’re not good enough, or that you really don’t know what you’re doing, especially when you really need to stay motivated?
Or you might be making fantastic progress, until you start to question yourself making it a bit more challenging to get going again. If so, you’re definitely not alone. We’ve probably all been there at some point or another and although it might not be something that we openly talk about in public, it’s definitely happening behind the scenes.
Even Maya Angelou said – “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”
So how do you stop self doubt from crippling your motivation? Here are 5 ways to stop the self doubt:
1. Keep a diary
It’s easy to forget all the great stuff that you do, especially if you’re in the habit of finishing one thing and just going onto the next – so have a go at keeping a diary. It’s a great way to reflect on all the things that you did great and what went well in a particular project or activity. It’s also a nice way of blowing your own trumpet – especially if blowing your own trumpet doesn’t come naturally to you.
“The only person who can pull me down is myself, and I’m not going to let myself pull me down anymore.” – C. JoyBell C.
2. Try not to compare yourself to others
This is often easier said than done especially in todays world of social media. It’s not hard to get caught up in thinking that everyone else is doing better than you. Unfortunately this is a habit that needs practice to break, but a great way to do this is to genuinely wish others well, and go back to focus on what you’re doing. You never know what’s going on behind the scenes anyway, and comparing yourself to them is doing no-one any favours. So keep working on your own journey.
3. Surround yourself with cheerleaders
The people you hang around with are so important, so make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive people. The cheerleaders of the world. The people who really do want to see you succeed and do well. Yes we all have friends (or family) that are negative so rather than cutting them out completely, just don’t see them when you need a pep talk.
4. Get some me time
Time for you is so important. This could be a time slot once a week where you focus on your development, planning or reflection. Or it could be a hobby that you want to pursue to give you some time out. Either way, giving your brain a break is a great way to keep yourself on track.
“No matter how challenging things get, never stop believing in yourself. Self-doubt is nothing but a highway to failure.” – Edmond Mbiaka
5. Talk about it
Finally, talking about how you feel can work wonders. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It doesn’t mean that the niggly feeling is true, and it doesn’t mean that you should stop what you’re doing. Instead by sharing how you feel with friends and colleagues you might be surprise at how many people are in the same place, and together you can boost each other along.
What ways have you used to stop self-doubt from crippling your motivation?
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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