Many of you will know that your motivation levels can, if you let them, fluctuate with the changing circumstances in your life. Maybe the people you’re living with have little aspiration, you’ve had to move back home after living independently at university, and feel like you’re taking a few steps back, or your friends aren’t as supportive as you’d like them to be. It’s so easy for us to look ever closely at our own disadvantages in life, that we begin slipping into the victim mind-set.
But this only takes us on a downward spiral.
With the defeatist mind-set it cultivates, it makes us question: Why even begin if I’m already so far behind?
Hundreds of life coaches, authors and inspirational speakers will have their own tips on how to stay motivated, though, if you could narrow these down to several, here’s the pieces of advice I’m set on absorbing for 2019.
Divide your goal into short stretches and create in-between targets (and rewards!). Giving yourself little incentives along the journey will help you with sustaining your will-power. Possibly one of the greatest personal development coaches and motivational speakers, Tony Robbins, stated that: “A major source of stress in our lives comes from the feeling that we have an impossible number of things to do. If you take on a project and try to do the whole thing all at once, you’re going to be overwhelmed.” Why overload yourself? It’s not efficient. Tackle your mountains one mole-hill at a time.
This, yes you guessed it, is called “chunking”.
Chip away at your project in a series of achievable steps. Have you ever wondered why ticking boxes on our to-do list bring us so much joy? Well, Neuroscience explains that each little victory triggers the reward centre in the brain, flooding it with the feel-good chemical, dopamine. Unsurprisingly, this makes us more inclined to repeatedly focus our attention on set activities. Try this technique perhaps, when working on a passion project, or organising your folders.
Get clear on why you want to reach this goal.
With so many distractions, much busyness and plenty of noise, it can be incredibly difficult to stay focused on a goal. Think about what meaning achieving a certain goal will bring into your life. Will sticking at your passion project enable you to eventually work solely in a sector that you love? Will doing those 100 press-ups every night, no more, no less, help you reach your end goal of feeling healthy and happy? If you have a deeper reason for pursuing a goal, it’s more likely you’ll persevere in seeing it through – even when your motivation levels begin to flag.
See it, smell it, feel it. Some of the greatest athletes and most successful business people swear by this technique. If you can imagine the process, complete with all of it’s nitty-gritty details, the more likely it’ll be that you take the challenges in your stride. The screwed-up concentration face you’ll adopt as you knuckle down to complete a record several job applications in one sitting; the way your breathing will sound as you conquer that hill near your house, or the sensation of sweat dripping from your face as you cross the finish line. If you can envision yourself going through a trial – avoiding the knocks and blows – you’re more likely to make it a reality.
So, dreamers, keep dreaming.
Have a plan, but be open to adaptation.
So what if your strategy doesn’t seem to be working straight away? Maybe there’s a few little tweaks you can make on it to make it more efficient, more effective. If you can sense that your plan isn’t working out quite the way you hoped it would, don’t throw in the towel. It’s all about trial and error. As the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.
Take a look at the grand scheme of things.
Why should you keep doing what you’re doing? Let’s take a moment to absorb the words of the renowned Jew, Mr Rabbi Hillel: “If not you, then who? If not now, when?” You’ll find it tougher to slacken up the treadmill, when you recognise that you’ll only have to put in more work further down the line, if you want to be effective, that is.
Figure out how you’re going to cope with flagging motivation.
Accept it. At some point down the line you’re going to get fed-up, tired or plain bored of pursuing that goal of yours. You’ll need to get your spirits lifted somehow. One way you can do this is by thinking of all those that have had to endure so much more than you to reach their target. Take the suffragettes, the people in Auschwitz, or African-Americans before the banning of slavery. God forbid, you ever go through suffering as profound. Nevertheless, it might be worth glancing back as these experiences to put your journey into perspective. Step away from self-pity. Realising that your struggles are not as bad as you may think, will help you keep moving forward with an extra spring in your step.
Don’t be afraid of seeking support.
It’s a powerful thing, announcing your plans to the world. It’s the reason why people get married in the public-eye. The inherent value that resides in sharing your plan, resides in the fact that openly expressing your intentions can help you to stay accountable to the goal you set for yourself. Though make sure you’re ultra-picky about who you share this with. You’ll need a crowd that you know will cheer you on when your voice begins to waver, not drag you down.
Keep reminding yourself of all the reasons for carrying on.
Steve Jobs, the American business magnate and interviewer, encapsulates this excellently. On one occasion he expressed to an interviewer: “I think most people that are able to make a sustained contribution over time — rather than just a peak — are very internally driven. You have to be. Because, in the ebb and tide of people’s opinions and of fads, there are going to be times when you are criticised, and criticism’s very difficult. And so when you’re criticised, you learn to pull back a little and listen to your own drummer. And to some extent, that isolates you from the praise, if you eventually get it, too. The praise becomes a little less important to you and the criticism becomes a little less important to you, in the same measure. And you become more internally driven.”
Anyone disagree with these as being top tips? What are your top tricks for staying motivated? Feel free to comment below!