Do you know that feeling?
That urge calling you to do better. To establish firm goals and go after each in a predestined, unfaltering and decisive manner.
But something holds you back.
You can’t quite put your finger on it, yet something inside you is stopping you from manifesting the greatest version of yourself.
And while working out this problem, life is passing you by.
But it isn’t your fault.
Schools, parents, and peers don’t teach you the inner workings of the mind — the device responsible for your most spectacular successes and ugliest failures.
You see, most often than not, the way you think about things is the root cause of your unhappiness.
The biggest liar in the world
Your mind is undoubtedly brilliant. Though it has a dark side.
Whispering in your ear, moment after moment, telling you things you wouldn’t even tolerate from your worst enemy.
It can behave like a paranoid schizophrenic, convincing you that everyone is out to get you, you’re not good enough and you must change who you are to fit in.
To top it off, all the proof is there of your inadequacy. You find it difficult to connect with people, you’re in a job that sucks and you keep making silly mistakes over and over again. Sure signs of failure.
There comes a point when you can no longer separate yourself from these “truths” – you are one with your beliefs. That’s when you stop trying to make meaningful change in your life.
But listening to your mind is like living with a liar. The internal chatter becomes so overpowering, it’s almost impossible to recognize that thoughts are only words the mind strings together at any given moment.
The good news? It’s never too late to cut through the fog, flip your unhelpful beliefs and create a life of success.
“If one can only see things according to one’s own belief system, one is destined to become virtually deaf, dumb and blind.” – Robert Anton Wilson
Canny ways to uncover your limiting beliefs:
- What’s your body telling you? What thoughts go through your mind when you have tension in your stomach? Your mind and body are connected, and even when your mind blinds you, your body will be a better place to look for answers. I had stomach pains for many years, but I accepted them as part of being anxious most of the time. Had I listened to my stomach earlier, I could’ve explored the reasons behind the constant churning.
- What do you avoid? Things that you’re afraid to do can point to your stubborn, unhelpful beliefs. I don’t mean you have to jump off a bridge with a rope attached to your legs if you’re terrified of heights – though you could try that too. What I’m saying is that you habitually stop doing things you think are hard. Maybe you’re asked to give a presentation and your immediate reaction is to refuse it. Go in and explore why you reject this. Often what you most avoid is what you should be doing to progress.
- Who offends you and why? People who hurt you can act like a mirror giving a glimpse into underlying beliefs you hold tight. Your friends will rarely point out your blind spots. I’m not suggesting the offenders are right; instead, think of those as areas where you can make improvements in your attitude. It doesn’t help you to be angry and bottle up emotions against someone else. These emotions can indicate that you need to ease up some feelings when someone says the wrong thing to you. Your anger won’t hurt them. It only harms you.
- Can you stare at a wall … and do nothing? Most people are unable to do it for long (unless they’re experienced monks). I guarantee, even before 10 seconds pass your mind will jump into as many different ideas, worries and concerns. Which is an ideal opportunity for taking note of the chain of thoughts your mind created in that short time. And most of those sub-conscious thoughts will have an unpleasant undertone as studies have shown, because that’s the way minds work. So don’t be surprised of what you uncover.
The art of taming unhelpful beliefs:
So you now have some ideas about what those negative beliefs are, but how do you get rid of them? You don’t actually have to. It’s enough to turn the volume down on them to lessen their power over you.
- Say, “Hello.” Receive your negative thoughts, beliefs and feelings with open arms instead of fighting them. Acceptance does not equal defeat. It’s more like a friendly acknowledgement. Once you’re better at recognizing your thoughts and beliefs, you can give them a little nod, as if to say, “Yes, I can see you’re there.” But they don’t have to bother you.
- Don’t take them seriously. You can try not taking negative blabber seriously. Since laughter is the best form of medicine, do what it takes to ridicule them. Repeat troubling phrases in your head in a funny voice (Yoda is my favorite). Or try recording your most intrusive phrase, like “I’m not good enough” for about five minutes to a recording device. Then re-listen – if you can bear it for that long, you’ll understand that these are merely harmless words repeated over and over again.
- Join a community. Find a support group (online or off) – the type of people whom you aspire to be. They’ll soon make you realize that your most precious beliefs could be just fantasies. They’ve been through where you are now and know the shortcuts to overcoming your problems. They’ll inspire you and show you how to thrive in your skin. There’s no easier way to grow than by taking advantage of the power of an experienced group.
“Limits, like fear, is often an illusion” – Michael Jordan
Transforming the noise into action
Your mind will always try and trip you up, no matter how self-developed you are. That’s the nature of minds.
But you can outsmart it by staying one step ahead and understanding its workings.
Every day, you have oodles of chances to acquaint yourself with the real meaning behind your sub-conscious thoughts.
Knowing how to catch the unhelpful chatter and turn them into a source of power will help you fling into the orbit of change and onto a rich life that’s worth living.
And there isn’t a more ideal day than today – so you’d better get started.
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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