We are creatures of habit. Unfortunately most people never decide how they want to live. As a result they get taken wherever the wind blows.
But not Addicted2Success readers, you want more. You live consciously. You decide how you want to live and what you want to have. You build the habits conducive to the good life.
Aristotle famously said:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”.
Unfortunately, most people never set goals, or challenge themselves. Year after year on December 31st whilst jacked up on alcohol, in the midst of self-pity they decide to set some new year’s resolutions. Their excitement may last for a few days, or even two weeks, however, because the resolution was formed on alcohol and emotion they rarely see this through.
How do I know? Because I was one of those frustrated individuals on every January the 15th. I decided 9 years ago to no longer be flimsy about my approach to life. I realised that if you don’t consciously choose the direction of your life, you will most likely go with your emotions. This is the last thing you want to do. Success will rarely come on this path.
When you decide the life you want, you start to think about your daily, seemingly unimportant actions. To the onlooker what you are doing seems irrelevant and redundant; you know that those conscious daily actions will become habits.
Your habits will naturally draw your dream life into existence. Leaving that onlooker dumfounded.
“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so masterful at all.” – Michelangelo
Habits and the examined life is something I treasure greatly. About 10 years ago I was, well, a bit of a no-hoper. I was failing school, university was a no go and I lacked any kind of direction. That was until I read my first personal development book. 100s of books later, I’m now my own best-selling personal development author.
It wasn’t just knowledge that awakened me to my greatness. It was the action that succeeded it, that truly made the difference. I started doing 30 day challenges. With the sole purpose of building good, constructive habits that put me on course for the life I knew I was capable of.
In 30 days you can remove a vice or learn a new skill. The time frame holds you accountable to see the challenge through. The main benefit I found from challenging myself was the increase in discipline. Where I was disciplining one area of my life, all the other areas of my life became more structured and productive because I was motivated from honing my mind.
Over the last 10 years I’ve done various challenges such as quit meat, stopped consuming sugary drinks, started writing a book an hour a day and quit masturbating (it was hard – pun intended).
You really can use this simple tool to improve your life drastically. Before you get started ask yourself some questions like:
- What area of my life can I improve?
- What could I give up that would make me happier/healthier?
- What would excite me for 30 days?
From your answers you should have an idea where you want to start.
I have failed many times, so let me give you 5 tips to help you successfully complete your first 30 day challenge.
1. Know your success criteria
If you don’t know where you’re going you won’t know when you get there. By clearly defining your outcome and what you need to do (or don’t do) daily, you will be setting yourself up for success.
When I first started doing the challenges I would have a loose idea but never clearly define it. This caused many slip-ups, especially when I was quitting sugary drinks.
2. Nothing wrong with failing
Yep, it’s true. There is absolutely nothing wrong with failing a challenge. Mistakes happen, what matters is you learn from it and start again. Try not to leave it too long before you start the 30 days again, maximum of 3 days.
Life has a funny habit of getting in the way. Then it’s 2 months later and we never started again. See through what you committed to completing, after all there was a reason you started.
3. Visualise yourself succeeding
Let’s say you are doing 5am wake ups for the 30 days. For a night owl this is an unbelievably hard challenge – I know I’ve done it. What helped me was visualising myself hearing the alarm clock, waking up (and being happy about it) and getting straight out of bed to make a coffee. You can do this daily, weekly or once. The more frequent you do it, the more impact it will have.
When we visualise a better future we are creating a neural pathway in our brain. This pathway will trick your mind into accepting this as truth.
4. Do one challenge at a time
It’s easy to get carried away. I’m still struggling to keep to one at a time. Now I just want change, hopefully you will too. If that’s the case it’s easy to want to do multiple challenges at once. The issue here is that we only have a finite amount of will power each day.
Some of these challenges can be very trying. To start with just pick one that will enrich your life.
Then after your first challenge, consider picking two that compliment each other if you have the desire to do more than one.
5. Reward yourself
It’s important to reward yourself. You may get disheartened at times throughout the challenge. Energy is low, will power fading and you are starting to forget why you even began.
It’s important to reward yourself each week with something that is meaningful to you. That may be your favourite meal, a hot bath or drinking with your buddies.
Most of my good habits that are building success in my life right now have come from doing these 30 day challenges.
By challenging yourself you will increase your motivation levels, clarity for your goals and be building success habits that will propel you towards your dreams.
So many people in life don’t try or at best set New Year’s resolutions, but you’re different.
Challenge yourself, I dare you!
New Years Resolution – Learning Better Habits
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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