Remember all the times every week that you think to yourself what the hell am I doing on this planet? Why am I here? These thoughts surround all of us, and we spend most of our time pondering what’s next and what our purpose is.
Guess what? These are the same thoughts that we all have; even the successful billionaires who we think have it all – they don’t by the way. Our lives are supposed to be an uncertain mess, and we aren’t supposed to have any clue why we are here.
Uncertainty is where all the fun is because if you knew every episode that was going to occur in the TV series that is your life, you’d get bored pretty quickly.
My own uncertainty
I’m about to embark on the journey of a lifetime and head over to my teenage fantasy destination: America. The so-called land of the free and happy where capitalism dominates and everyone is supposed to be living the American dream.
So far, from what I read on Tripadvisor, there are a lot more problems in the USA than the spectacular, picturesque postcards are showing me. Side note: does anyone remember getting a postcard? Man, I can still remember my grandparents sending me a postcard when they would go to Queensland every year.
I thought postcards were so cool when I was a kid, and I kept them in a photo album (another ancient, outdated artifact). Now, we get high definition photos emailed to us or posted on Instagram, and we spit at our computer screens if there is so much as one blemish on someone’s skin (I’m ranting again).
Back to uncertainty – as I embark on this trip to the USA to meet all of the tech giants that have become bigger than the manufacturers like Sony that we used to worship, I think about how I have no idea what I’m doing. This trip feels like the right thing for me but who knows in the end.
“Sometimes we have to follow our heart regardless of where it may lead us”
At the same time, I’m contemplating about a special someone who may become a girlfriend at some point in the future. Will I mess up again and am I even going to be able to find happiness?
Again, who knows. Your guess is as good as mine. All we can do is embrace the uncertainty and allow it to guide us in a direction that has fulfillment somewhere along the journey. As all of these thoughts buzz around my head, I think about my blogging and my public speaking.
Is anyone even listening and am I even the right guy to be doing this? Uncertainty rears its head again, and the only conclusion I’ve come to is that we must follow our passion no matter what. I know I’m at least inspiring ten people, and that has to be good enough to begin with.
It’s easy to race ahead and want to inspire a million people from day one but success doesn’t work like that my friends, and we all know that at some conscious level. Success starts with one small step, and just one follower admiring what you do.
If you only follow your passion to impress or influence other people, then you are heading for a whole lot of pain. You’ve got to impress yourself first and foremost before worrying about anyone else. If nothing more, if you can impress yourself and be happy with what you are achieving, that may even be enough.
Avoid the temptation to become and overnight success because there is no such thing. No one can be certain of anything least of all you and the dream that you hold. I hope that one day I can stand on stage and deliver a speech that moves the nation.
Right now, I’m still at the start of the journey and learning the basics. Maybe I’m meant to do this, or maybe I’m not. What I’ve learned is to have faith in the process, and if it doesn’t work out then at least I have the strategies, knowledge, and people I met along the way.
Practice being uncertain
The way to become best friends with uncertainty is to practice. It sounds self-explanatory people, and that’s because it is. Every day, try and do something that is uncomfortable. Maybe it’s hanging around people you don’t know or helping out at a local homeless shelter.
For me, I find traveling the world, and public speaking put me in states where I have no idea what the outcome will be. The awesome thing about travel for me is that I choose destinations I have never been to before, and I try not to plan too far ahead.
All these fools who plan every minute of their trip using an online planner are crazy. Go with the flow, relax, and travel at your own pace, and do the activities that feel right to you on the day. I’ve found that when I plan too far ahead, I bring back my old best friend called anxiety.
The friend that nearly made me lose it all, and that I finally conquered through personal development. Pull the pole out of your ass and ask yourself are you pushing the boundaries regularly? Are you truly taking it to the next level and breaking your own patterns?
I think of it like this: corporates are trying to become like startups and disrupt themselves. This trend is something you can use in your life to reach the same outcome.
“Twice a year, disrupt your thought patterns and go freakin a-wall”
Listen to music you’ve never heard, watch a film with nudity if you’ve always watched things that are prim and proper, change the way you dress, travel the world, talk to someone who’s not your type, read a fiction book if you always read non- fiction, shake things up guys.
I’ve done this recently by reading Harry Potter, and I never read books about wizards or magic. If that wasn’t enough, I changed my look and added some more swag. Then, I spoke to some people at work that I never speak to and ate a bunch of food like Pho (strange name) that I never eat.
When you are not disrupting your life regularly, you get the opposite effect of uncertainty: certainty. You need both to live a balanced life and an unbalanced life, but too much certainty will make you bored as bat sS@&^!
Time for an exercise
Uncertainty is a practice, and there are so many ways to master the art of being bold, and being fearless. Joel Brown gave me an idea the other day for an exercise that I want you all to try. Tim Ferriss has also taken up this challenge recently as well.
I want you to get your butt off the couch, and try for the next 21 days, making a Vlog (video blog) every single day. That’s right; pull out your smartphone with its HD camera and record your thoughts, some advice, or how you’re feeling and post it on social media for everyone to see.
The reason why this exercise is fantastic is because it forces you to come up with new ideas every day and embrace being uncertain. Without any scripts or preparation, I want you to make a video. You can begin with having multiple takes and then cutting them up, but after the first two weeks, I want you to record a video for a minimum of five minutes without stopping.
By doing this, you will become reunited with flow states. The state of flow and uncertainty go hand in hand. When you’re in flow, you stop thinking about the words that are coming out of your mouth and you dig deep inside yourself to bring out those golden nuggets that are linked to your passion.
After writing this post, I came across a man who is known on the internet as the “30-year-old ninja.” This man was a teacher is the US and decided to give everything up and follow his heart. Since he was a child, he dreamed of becoming a ninja.
In an act that might seem a little crazy, he quit his job, sold his things, and moved to Japan to become a ninja. Through this experience, he looked uncertainty in the face and said: “Screw you, I’m following my heart, and I don’t care where it takes me!”
No longer did this man want to live his boring life and accept that where he had gotten to, was as far down the road to success as he could get. As I watched his ninja classes that are shown in the video, I saw a man who lived with purpose, and you could see the passion in his eyes.
Taking risks and doing things that seem bizarre to your family and friends is the way to live your life. When everyone thinks you’re crazy, then you’re probably somewhere near where you need to be to embrace uncertainty, and live your own hero’s journey into self-discovery and finding your passion.
How are you going to embrace uncertainty? Let me know on my website timdenning.net or my Facebook.
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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