When I started my business, I was met with skepticism and criticism from those closest to me.
“How are you going to save for retirement? I heard that 8 out of 10 businesses fail. This is temporary, right? Until you get a real job?”
Every comment from those well-meaning people eroded the confidence and motivation I had amassed after countless hours of research and preparation. I felt as though I was paddling upstream in a raging river—and no one was there to lend a hand.
But even though I was scared, I didn’t quit. Instead, I applied the 7 tactics below to stay motivated despite the critics:
1. Know your mission
I knew I wanted to be a marketing coach because I’m passionate about teaching and I’m fascinated by marketing. Every time the critics made me want to question my decision, I would think of my mission and remind myself that I was doing what I knew was right for me.
Clearly state what you want to accomplish and why. To stay motivated, your reasons must match your core values and passion. Then, write down your mission and post it near your computer where you will be able to see it during the tough times.
“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” – Mahatma Gandhi
2. Don’t justify your goal
I realized that the more I tried to explain why I was pursuing my goal, the less confident I felt about my ability to succeed, and the more my motivation suffered.
You’re not obligated to explain or justify your goal. Focus on how to achieve what you desire rather than on how to get external approval to pursue your mission.
3. Don’t reveal too much too soon
I was so excited about my new venture that I couldn’t resist sharing the good news with those around me. I quickly learned that I had made a mistake, because instead of receiving encouragement, I often received criticism.
The reality is that many people in your life will find fault with your goal, will warn you to “be careful,” or will share a story of someone who failed when trying to achieve a similar goal.
That’s a sure way to kill your motivation, especially when it hasn’t gathered enough positive momentum to withstand criticism.
In the beginning stages of your project, it’s best to write your ultimate goal in a private journal and keep your ideas to yourself. Let your confidence and motivation build up before you share the news.
4. Expand your social circle
I noticed that many of my friends and loved ones were being critical because their interests and backgrounds were opposite to mine. I decided to meet new people who would be more likely to relate to me, offer encouragement, and provide useful insights.
Seek the company of those who are most likely to support you. Attend networking meetings, join a mastermind group or connect with a mentor. Create a strong support network to tap into during your journey.
5. Spend time in solitude
As important as it was for me to meet new people, I found the answers to my biggest questions when I removed myself from the noise and spent time alone.
You don’t need to escape to a deserted island for a week. Even an hour away from technology and other people will allow you to achieve the peaceful state of mind you need to create a winning strategy. You’ll feel more motivated to go on when you become confident about your plan of action.
“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” – Albert Einstein
6. Find those who have succeeded achieving a similar goal to yours
The best antidote for the doomsday scenarios the critics describe to you is a story of triumph.
I found the top five players in my industry and followed their footsteps. I signed up for their training programs and modeled what they had done in their business. I placed my attention on the amazing results they had achieved. They became one of my main sources of motivation.
Today, make a list of 5 to 10 people who have achieved a similar goal to yours, and learn from them. Just like you, they were probably bombarded with criticism. But they made it, and so can you!
7. Celebrate small successes
I created a log of small wins, which I updated at the end of every week. I kept track of new software applications I had learned, people I had connected with, and training modules I had completed. Even cleaning my inbox made it to the list!
When my confidence and motivation wavered, I read the log, and realized how much I had already accomplished. This log became an instant motivation booster.
Keep track of your accomplishments—even those that seem insignificant. A small win might end up having a big impact on your success.
Criticism is one of the major motivation killers, but if you’re prepared, you won’t be a victim of the critics. Stay focused on the end goal and find joy in every step of the journey!
How do you stay motivated when people criticize you? 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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