On paper, your goals seem like a must. You want that successful business, you want to inspire others, you want to get on stage and wow the audience or you might even want to write a New York Times Best Selling Book.
Most of us do none of this. We set our goals like the ones mentioned and then consistently fall short.
Then there are the outliers who do achieve these audacious goals.
An example of an outlier I learned last week was a lady named Michaela Alexis. Like me, she’s crippled with a fear of public speaking. What inspired me was that recently she spoke in front of thousands of people.
The last time she tried this, she failed badly and forgot what she was going to say. The speech she gave was mostly a wash of F ups and an overwhelming sense of fear.
As Michaela faced the stage again, with Gary Vaynerchuk speaking after her, she was crippled by her fear. Despite her fear she went out on the stage and gave her talk to thousands of people.
She even filmed how nervous she was before the event. You can tell that as easy as she made it look, the behind the scenes showed the truth: she was scared out of her mind and full of fear.
On the day of her talk, she nearly stayed in bed and didn’t achieve her primary goal of becoming great at public speaking.
The choice is ours.
“We can either stay in bed where it’s comfortable, warm and there are no critics to judge us, or we can face the world and push beyond our limits”
Each of us has this same choice and most of us make the wrong one or we tell ourselves “I’ll start tomorrow.”
Tomorrow never comes. We keep dreaming about our goals but we rarely try to execute on them. Now I’m not saying we always hide from these big scary goals, but what I’ve experienced is we don’t execute on our goals enough.
Doing something like public speaking once a year or twice a year won’t crank up the dial enough on your results.
Michaela has shown that the fastest way to achieve our big goals is to be relentless. She’s done that by going on stage several times in a short-period.
Most of all, it takes courage.
“You stay in your warm bed and never execute because you lack courage”
We’re not born with courage though. We develop it.
Courage is a muscle that must be exercised every week. Doing the reps any less than a weekly commitment will see your vision, and ultimately your goals, become too far into the distance. To stay on the right track, you’ve got to gain leverage on yourself.
What I’ve learned is that courage is really nothing more than doing the small tasks that form part of your goals. In other words, courage is taking action without being attached to the result.
The moment you focus too hard on the result you’re trying to achieve, you get lost in your own thoughts. Gaining leverage on yourself and having courage starts with scheduling tasks in your calendar. Once something is locked in your calendar, you gain leverage on yourself.
None of us want to let others down and by putting things in your calendar, you make time for being courageous. The good news is you can always retreat to your bed if on the day of taking action you can’t proceed.
What I’ve found though is that you won’t. Once it’s locked in, there’s a very good chance you’re going to execute. Having things in your diary helps to activate your auto-pilot mode. The moment you can use autopilot mode when you require courage is when your circumstances start to change.
Rising up to the challenge.
After moments of courage, the progress you see towards your goals will make it all worth it. Seeing Michaela Alexis witness this firsthand, and sharing it on LinkedIn after her speech last week, made that very idea sink in.
The difference between staying in bed – your metaphorical comfort zone – and crushing your goals is rising up to the challenge in front of you. It’s looking the audience in the eye and telling them you got this. You were born to do this!
All of us get to face these challenges and many of us opt out. Rising up is about finding the hidden courage within yourself to take action when logically it doesn’t make sense.
It’s about using the nerves you’re feeling towards your advantage. It’s about taking your adversities and turning them into weapons of mass destruction.
Seeing Michaela Alexis look physically sick, nervous, fearful and like she was about to die taught me so much. It’s not often that we get to lift the cover on someone like her who has so much influence, to see what actual courage looks like. The behind the scenes look at all the people you admire will show several similarities to Michaela.
Everything looks easy on video and what you don’t see is the courage that success takes. Each of us is burdened with our own flavor of challenges and overcoming them using courage is how we rise up, get what we want, and cross off those goals that give meaning to our lives.
Purpose, vision, entrepreneurship, personal development and anything else you can think of means nothing unless you have the courage to execute.
You can hide in the comfort of your bed or get out there and dance in front of dragons while the tree’s around you burn bright, and your mind is silenced from all the overthinking.
The choice is yours.
Will you choose courage or comfort?
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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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