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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When you start working for yourself, you quickly realise that one of the biggest problems you face isn’t the job itself. Maintaining your motivation poses a potentially huge difficulty. Much of that difficulty stems from working alone, rather than in a traditional office setting. There is also the challenge of staying focused on the task at hand. With no boss or supervisor looking over your shoulder, social media can distract or cat videos interrupt you.
But the greatest problem by far is a simple lack of motivation. There doesn’t seem to be a pressing need to finish this project right now, making it far too easy to put it off until later. Left unchecked, a lack of motivation can cripple the work you are trying to accomplish. Over the past few years I’ve developed a few go-to tactics to improve my lone working motivation.
Here are some of the tools I’ve used to stay motivated and on-task.
These first few tips focus on using different tweaks in your personal work schedule to provide some variety and maintain your focus.
1. Include short breaks
My eye doctor once told me that for every 20 minutes of staring at a computer screen, you should look away and focus on something across the room for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a chance to reset. Do something similar with the rest of your body; don’t just look across the room, walk, jog, or run across the room. Give your body a break, and try to reset your thoughts. If you don’t have the discipline to take regular breaks, use an app to remind you.
2. Block out an afternoon for social activities and networking
Set aside one afternoon a week for your social life. Friday afternoon works best for me. If you feel guilty about not working, think of it as a chance to network. Either way, be sure to spend this section of time with other people. Socialise and network.
3. View your personal schedule as your work schedule
A 9-to-5 job requires getting up every morning, preparing for the day, leaving the house, and commuting to your workplace. In other words, it requires going to work. You want to recreate the same rhythm at home. You may not actually need to leave your house in order to work, but try to stick with the schedule. Filling the old job timeslot with your new work helps to keep you motivated – you can’t clock out early!
These next few tips are little things you can do to trick yourself into staying focused!
This tip may sound cliché, but try listening to an upbeat song loudly whenever you feel unmotivated. It’s a simple trick, but a surprisingly effective one!
2. Have somewhere else to work for a change of scenery
When procrastination sets in, sometimes a quick change of scenery is all you need. If you work at home, going to your favourite café can be a huge help. Other freelancers I know have even gone so far as to hire office space outside the home, and rotate between the two to help stay on-task.
3. Love what you do
This is arguably the most critical point on the whole list. If you don’t love what you do, it will be hard to keep yourself motivated – particularly long-term. Sure, you may be able to push on through sheer force of will for a while, but sooner or later you’ll lose motivation entirely. Do something you genuinely enjoy, and you’ll find it much easier to stick with it for the long haul.
These last few tips are Industry-related!
1. Make sure you have fun projects
Not all of your work projects will be fun, but fight to make at least a couple of them fun. These might even be personal side projects, not particularly related to your main job. Or they might be in the same general field, but not your specific focus.
2. Attend industry events a couple of times a year
Nearly every imaginable industry has an organising body of some kind. Find the local branch, and use it to keep tabs on industry-related events. Attend some seminars, network, and maybe even glean some new tips and tricks from industry insiders.
3. Schedule at least one call a week to learn something within your industry
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These tips worked for me, hopefully, some of them will help you out as well. Above all, strive to enjoy what you do, stick to a “work schedule,” and look for opportunities for constant self-improvement. With those ideas in mind, you’ll find staying motivated much easier to do alone or in a group!
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