Post No.: 0316
You cannot just tell a person to do something and expect them to do it – they must feel deep inside that they personally want it. So you’ve got to think of what’s in it for them? Therefore when motivating yourself, you’ve got to know clearly what’s in it for you? Your goal doesn’t need to be about money or fame – it could be something deeper or meaningful like to make a positive difference to the world, to correct an injustice or to connect with other people more. There must be a state that you’re not satisfied with and desire to change. With some things, we shouldn’t be content with them because they need improving. Something must be done – and you can do it!
Motivation means ‘to stimulate towards action’ via a pull towards a future goal and/or a push from a current position. Any intentional movement towards any direction benefits from a clear destination or goal, and it has to be where you really want to be. Motivation is also about personal change (e.g. to work differently, to perform better). And the motivation to change is stronger if you can associate the change with a positive and fun experience rather than one of anxiety or stress. View change as more the beginning of something rather than the end of something. There may be risks but we must speculate to accumulate, and doing nothing is likely a risk too.
You could maybe try the ‘perfect day’ exercise – ask yourself and write down what your perfect day looks like? Where are you and who are you with? What are you doing? This might reveal that your real goals aren’t really about getting rich and famous just because you want to beat others at it in a game of social comparisons. We can sometimes be caught up in other people’s goals. This exercise will reveal what you really want – not what you say or think you want (e.g. is it to succeed in your career or is it something else? And can they both work together or do they conflict?) Maybe put a picture prompt of yourself being successful with your true goal on your wall? Make this vision seem vivid and concrete to aid the visualisation of your eventual success.
Visualisation has its limitations though and the benefits have been somewhat over-extrapolated, from visualising something like scoring a goal or try just before taking a kick, to visualising far off successes like ‘lifting the trophy’ where the steps to get there are far more complex and opaque. For the latter kind of goals, it can just leave people dreaming rather than making those dreams come true. So we’ve got to break such far-off goals down into smaller concrete and realistic steps, then work step-by-step, day-by-day, to make them real. Where visualisation works – it’s really about visualising the path or process towards a goal, rather than the destination.
In general, we like doing the activities we’re good at doing, but of course if we always avoid the things we’re not good at doing then we’ll never become good at doing them. And we tend to take care of the things we love, as well as love the things we need to or do take care of – thus sometimes the key is to build yourself some self-confidence first before you’ll become motivated to look after something like your physical health and body, rather than be stuck in a limbo where you don’t care about your body because you don’t love it, or don’t love your body because you don’t take care of it.
Think the right way then act the right way. Be the driver not a passenger. The intellect decides the ends but it is the will that provides the means and therefore the crucial movements towards meeting these ends. Where there is a will there is often a way.
However, willpower, inspiration and other emotional factors become less reliable in the mid to long term – establishing practical routines that produce quantifiable progress towards your goal every day (even just small steps forwards) are more reliable. So focus mainly on the practical process (e.g. the planning, the preparing of the environment, the removing of temptations or obstacles that’ll lead you astray or get in the way, the schedule, and the contingencies if some days don’t go to plan, which it occasionally will) rather than on the emotional inspirations. Internal motivation and enthusiasm are important but they tend to be high at the beginning of a project, then dip during the middle, but rise again once the end is in sight (if we manage to reach this point). The tough middle period is when most people start to give up.
Especially during the tough moments, it can help to make a conscious effort to remind yourself of your past successes. Keep your eye on the prize – yet mainly on the ball i.e. the present moment. Play to ‘win’ rather than to ‘not lose’ – albeit failure is on the path to achievement so be adventurous and experimental. Don’t ever mind risking failure in your attempts towards success. No worthwhile achievement can occur unless you expose yourself to the risk of failure so go for it! It’s really about picking yourself up again every time you fall because falling is normal for everyone (even though most people prefer to boast about their successes and keep their failures quiet!) Most successful people have failed before. I don’t think there is a single top sportsperson who has never lost before, for instance.
Indeed, not trying should be classed as a failure, or worse because the result is the same except we didn’t gain the learning experience. So all winners only get there because they weren’t afraid of losing and for trying and persisting. Who cares what others think? If they cannot empathise then they’re the ones who’ve never aimed big (e.g. some people who’ve never started a business before can be so arrogant and judgemental about people who have but failed). They’ve already lost but they just don’t realise it. People who don’t try will go down in history the same as the losers i.e. they don’t get written into history at all! So people can either try to preserve their ‘100% no loss streak’ and thus their self-concept of not being a ‘loser’ but also their ‘100% no win streak’ too for not trying – or people can risk failure and try and try again, for they might eventually win one day.
At the very least one will learn something that will help one to succeed in another situation or attempt. New experiences and situations open your mind too. There’s no embarrassment in failing as long as you can pick yourself up again and learn from any mistakes. Sometimes you need to concentrate on the bigger picture of the challenge, not on the smaller self-conscious picture of yourself. And sometimes you only need to win once, so as long as you haven’t either cheated or gambled too big (which you shouldn’t) and lost too big, you can try and try again. Woof!
Well whatever your goal is, be clear about why you are aiming for that goal. Make sure you are doing it for yourself too and it fits into your personal core beliefs and values. Your goals are worthwhile only if it betters yourself and/or others in any little way. Make sure you have no conflicts of goals – write down a hierarchical list of your goals to check for any conflicts. Make sure your main goal is really on top of your list of priorities and compromise on your secondary desires – we can sometimes want too much at once that our attention is divided and diluted between goals and this increases the risk of failing in all of them rather than succeeding in all of them.
Get information, education, training, and research your subject to be an expert on it. Plan it (lots of businesses fail within the first couple of years because of a lack of a business plan). Get the resources you need to implement your plan (physical, mental, time, personnel, etc., and internal as well as external, resources). Get the support of friends, family or others if you can. Don’t be alone – share with others who also share your vision too. You’ll be better able to carry each other through with a shared fluffy experience. Making your ambitions, plan and progress public may also increase your motivation to see them through.
Look up to a role model who has already done what you are trying to do, especially with regards to overcoming any obstacles. Be brave and don’t worry about embarrassing yourself if you have a genuine desire to learn – ask for advice from those who have attained the goal you seek.
Set specific goals, sub-goals and deadlines – set a timetable for achieving your (bite-size) sub-goals that’ll all add up and lead towards completing your overall goal. Make your goal-attainment strategy part of your daily routine – make it a routine or habit that you don’t have to think much about to do (e.g. fit tasks into a specific time every day and get into a rhythm). Primarily focus on the present but understand the future consequences of all your present day actions. Focus on the solutions rather than on the problem. And don’t worry about how far you have to go, as every step completed will be one step closer to achieving your goal.
Track your progress, obtain feedback and adjust your strategy and performance if necessary to raise your game – constantly seek timely feedback in order to improve and progress. Criticism is an opportunity to improve so encourage constructive feedback. If you think you are perfect already then you certainly aren’t!
Do plan and give yourself regular breaks too – you’ve got to stay happy and healthy overall along your journey as well as at your proposed destination. It’s no good for you to feel miserable, tired and chronically stressed, as then it’s not going to be worth it for your health or life.
Know yourself, know your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Knowing what’s causing you resistance will mean that you can develop strategies to overcome them. Learn from the stumbles – investigate what went wrong and see them as learning opportunities, then get right back on track with an updated plan, and execute it. Once more, it’s not about whether you get knocked down or not, it’s about how you pick yourself back up again.
Finally, don’t get complacent, especially if you win. A plan has to be flexible and adaptable with the evolving circumstances. If things are going well then consider setting higher targets and execute that; although don’t be blinded by ambition and do know when enough is enough because there are other important things in life to attend to too (e.g. your family).
Woof. The main keys are planning, courage, confidence (without overconfidence) and persistence, a freedom from inferiority/embarrassment, adaptability, the practical integration of your life with your goals (setting up the environment and daily routine to make the habits you want more easily achievable), and goals that are personally meaningful enough to drive you to really want them (such as those that give you the eudaimonic pleasure explained in Post No.: 0314)!