While it can be daunting to decide on a goal, think it through, and make your plans, it is even more difficult to keep working toward that goal day-after-day. Regardless of the goal you set, it is up to you to put in the work necessary to get there. Sometimes there are others there to cheer you on and support you on your journey, but when it comes to motivation all the on and off switches are on the inside. You have to keep going, you have to decide it’s worth it and you have to get through the obstacles. Or you can stop. The choice is yours no matter who is in your corner fighting for you.
Here’s the thing, and this is important, the road will be rough. There will be ups and downs and days when you wonder why you started and whether it is worth it. That is all part of the process. The re-thinking that occurs as you go along can help you continue.
I have 5 sons and they often watch inspirational movies to motivate them to get up and get going. For example, they will watch Grid Iron Gang or Remember the Titans just before football season. For me, it helps to look back at how far I’ve come. I don’t want the previous effort to be for nothing, so a glance back helps me to move forward. I will also look ahead, and remind myself how close I am to the goal and that will help me continue.
Think about what works for you. You need to know your feeders. Are your motivators typically internal or external? If they are external, you will likely struggle more than if you have internal motivators because you have little or no control over external motivators. Things outside of you can come and go or change over time. The best and most effective motivation is within you. You have to want it so much that the drops to the bottom don’t leave you deflated.
Your self-talk must contain enough oomph! to get you back up, recharged and ready to go. Here are some things to try during the tough times:
Remember and revisit your successes. What did you do that made you feel energized and eager to achieve your goal? Think about things that not only made you want to do it, but that brought you to life, things that revived your original drive and ambition. What is it that ignites you not only with goal attainment but at other times in your life as well? Pay attention to the things that energize you because that is where your strengths are. Feed off of them and find your spark!
Eliminate self-defeating thoughts. Yes, you will have times when fear of failure creeps in. You will have times when you believe you cannot take another step. While it is okay to rethink and revamp goals, letting your doubts take over is counterproductive. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.” So then, if you tell yourself you will fail you very likely will.
Break the habit of negative self-talk and when you realize that your doubts are bigger and scarier than your dreams step back and look at the big picture. Think about why you started, how many small goals you have already accomplished and what the payoff will be when you reach the big goal.
Ask the right questions. When your drive starts to diminish ask yourself if your goal is, indeed, feasible. Go back and look at why you started, what you expected along the way and whether your thinking was realistic. Asking the right questions looks like this: “Is my goal feasible?” rather than: “Why am I even bothering?”
The right questions are pro-active:
- “What can I do now?”
- “Things aren’t going as planned – what are my choices?”
- “What are the things [that are in my control] that will get me back on track?”
- “Do I still want this; is it still right for me?”
Follow the right star. Another way to say this is: Hold yourself to an appropriate standard. If you are an author attempting to get published, don’t think you’ll jump from never being published to being Stephen King. Your standards should be high but achievable. Incidentally, Stephen King is a great standard to hold yourself to, but read about his life and hold yourself to his early years. Like everyone, he started where he was to get where he is, and his start was at, or near, the bottom [as far as being a published author].
If you hit a roadblock, revamp! It was a lot of work to create your goals and the methods you would use to achieve them so revising them can seem like an outrageous idea. But if you hit a wall look back over your goals and if they are the problem, revamp! You created your goals and you can recreate them. (I encourage you to not use this option as a way to avoid doing the actual work. The revamping itself can become a roadblock so proceed with caution.)
Give yourself time. Sometimes sliding backwards can occur because you are trying to do too much too soon. One of the trainers at my gym occasionally reminds me to not be greedy. That is, if I am trying to increase the amount of weight I can lift the urge is often to want to jump by 20 pounds. When talking about a maximum lift, adding 20 pounds can be a big jump [for me]. My trainer reminds me, “Don’t be greedy – work up in smaller increments.” Sometimes I can work up to the 20-pound addition I want by moving up five pounds at a time. It is the same for you, just take the next small step rather than trying to take one big step.
And keep this in mind: “People will never know how long it took you to do something, they will only know how well it was done.” Never sacrifice quality to meet a deadline. I understand that “time is money,” but if you are cutting corners to save time, you are creating a weak link. Give yourself time to do it right.
Use all the ingredients and add a few of your own. Yes, each of these tips matter. EACH of them. Applying one won’t be enough and applying all of them might be too much. Make sure to use all of the ingredients you need to get the best result that you can.
Have you seen the TV series Chopped? Chefs are given an odd assortment of ingredients and instructed to make an appetizer, main course or dessert in a designated amount of time. The chefs also have access to a number of other ingredients. They are then judged by a panel of chefs based on their creativity, taste, how they implemented the ingredients and their presentation of their dish. Using this model, keep in mind all the ingredients you have at your disposal but use only those that will enhance your performance and make you stand out.
Talking won’t get you there. You have to actually do something. If you are spending all your time reading about how to set and achieve goals, how to write a business plan or how to get fit you will become knowledgeable but not necessarily successful. The key is to act; to keep moving; to put in the work. Look at your goal sheet; look over your plan. Are you on track? How much are you accomplishing each week? Make sure you are doing something tangible at least once a week.
Progress, not perfection, is the point here. You don’t have to be perfect but your progress should be steady and consistent. Take the next step, and then the next and the next. Remember that sometimes progress means slowing down, taking some time to let your progress speak to you about what is working and what is not. Listen to your own effort – what is it telling you?
Write your own story. There are countless success stories out there, but this is your moment to shine – give it everything you’ve got! Be creative, follow your own rhythm, go out on a limb! Everyone finds success and motivation in a manner that is unique to them. You have something important to offer – trust that and write your own story.
Your story might not be as exciting as someone else’s, you might not have a best seller or a movie made from your story, but it will be yours; you will own it and you will deserve it! Those other stories are not your concern, they have already been written. The world needs new stories – let yours be among them.
Climbing a mountain is not easy. The better prepared you are the more likely you are to reach the summit. Think through what will motivate you to push through when things go awry. Try some of my suggestions; twist them around until they fit your purposes, add other advice that is sound and then: Onward and upward!