How do you stay motivated when things get tough? How do you get re-motivated when things seem to slow down and stop? Where do you find drive when you lose yours?
These are all great questions, and if we had the answers down perfectly no one would have any issues at all with successfully achieving dreams and goals in life. If you are looking for a magic pill, then you should stop reading here and spend your time on something that will fit your fantasy. I can, however, give you some tips that I have found helpful. Let’s face it, the hardest thing to do is to get started on something. Especially if we are afraid we might fail. Or, if we have spent a long time working on a project without reaching our goal, and the end seems so close, yet so far away. How many of us have reached a point in a project where we stagnate? We either run out of energy, resources, inspiration, motivation, or perspective/vision.
So what are the keys to keep us going? Well, let’s dive in. I warn you, though, that it will require a good deal of mental work and commitment. Those are the first two keys, but they play themselves out in several ways.
Why? This is the top of the list. You have to ask yourself this question a lot. Why does it matter if I complete this project? Why does it matter if I get up early, or complete this paper, or any number of other things? This should be used to help you gain perspective and get a big picture view. If your why for writing a paper and turning it in on time is to get a good grade, it may not be a big enough reason to push you into getting it done. Go bigger. Why are you in school in the first place? Why do you work for this company? If you are here just to exist, then you will have little to no motivation of any kind. If you can’t remember why you are doing something, take some time to rediscover your why, or to find one! Always know your why.
How far have you come? This is hard for a lot of people. It’s hard for me. If you look ahead at what you have left to do to achieve your why, your goal, your end result, it can be discouraging. Seeing things you have never done before can be scary or intimidating. On the other hand, if you look back at how far you have come, at all the things you did for the first time and either succeeded at or learned from, you will realize that, in fact, you are AWESOME!! If you are discouraged about where you are, you have already made progress. At the very least, you have recognized the need for change. And this is the first step toward achieving success in whatever version it comes for you!
Who are you accountable to? Do you have someone who will help you when you need it, who will encourage you when you’re down, who will kick you in the seat of your pants when you’re lazy? We all have those times when we need someone outside of our situation who can help us regain our perspective. This person is the kind of person who is there because it matters to them what happens to us. They are vested in our success. This person can come in many forms; it can be a spouse, a good friend, a paid coach or mentor. It must, however, be someone who will be able to objectively encourage you, teach you, push you, and celebrate success with you. It is very hard to do everything by yourself. It’s so important to have someone who will be there when you are worn out and all the people around you, or your “friends” are not supporting your growth toward something better. In the coaching and professional world this role is typically referred to as an accountability partner. Call it what you like, but find one. This is probably one of the most important parts of success when trying to complete anything significant.
What is holding you back? Figure this out. What is getting you down? Are you making a big deal out of something in your head because it’s a new experience? Are you not sure what your next steps are? Are you afraid of what people will think if you complete your project or don’t meet someone else’s expectations of your life? I can say from experience that most roadblocks are mental. I am not in any way saying that they are not real to you. I have had many mental roadblocks. I refer to them as “mental monsters.” My mental monsters usually involve something I am not sure how to do, so I put it off, and then it grows. It goes from something that I don’t know how to do to something I now feel guilty about how I’m letting it hold me back. It literally becomes bigger in my mind than it actually is. It becomes a mental MONSTER! The obvious thing for me to say here is that the best ammo against these monsters is to do just do the thing that is stopping you. If that were easy, though, we wouldn’t have this paragraph in this article. So what do you do with those monsters? You eradicate them from your life by just doing it. But let me help you cheat a little. It doesn’t mean you failed if you have to get help. I get help to complete things all the time! Between my coach and my wife, who works as my right hand, I get a lot of help for things that are difficult, or that are not in my skillset. Henry Ford didn’t become the success he was by building every car himself. The Wright brothers used a lot of ideas and research from others while trying to solve the problem of flight. Presidents of companies have boards of advisors. That should tell you something about success. It is okay to get help and to use the resources around you. Give yourself a break, and kill your monsters. Last but not least, ignore what others think. If you have already determined that what you are doing is your path, and that it aligns with your values and what you want to achieve, you can’t help what others will think. There will always be people who will tell you you’re wrong. Always. If you are a failure, people will tell you. If you’re a success, people will be jealous. So ignore the naysayers and be successful. The only time you should listen is if they have something truly helpful, caring, or constructive to say.
Where is all this getting you? This is kind of tied into your why. Why are you doing what you’re doing? But in addition you need to ask yourself what you are gaining. If you are looking to have “made it,” you may never arrive. Success is a very subjective term and only in rare cases is it a destination. Usually it’s a journey. Think about it; how many wealthy people stop working the moment that are financially set? How many actors stop acting once they have been in one big movie? How many authors stop writing as soon as they get a bestseller? Most of us would consider people like this successful. But did they arrive, or have they created a lifestyle? Stop and consider if what you are doing right now is going to get you something better in the future. Are the hours you are putting into school, work, a relationship going to benefit you or anyone else eventually? Or is the stress, overtime, hard classes, tough issues in a relationship, indefinite, in the hopes that if you do it long enough you will somehow arrive at the city of “Made It.” You shouldn’t be afraid to make huge investments in things that mean something, but only if there is an end in mind. If you spend all your time not loving your life, then there is no point. Ask yourself what will change for you in the future. This is really just a smaller picture of your why. That good grade on your paper may help you get a scholarship to help pay for school. Your why is the reason you’re going to school, but things that you do may gain you benefit or advantage as you go.
These concepts can be a lot to put into practice, but remember this. If you are having trouble getting up in the morning, seeing the point in giving life everything you have, or finding the motivation to finish what you have started, you are not the only, nor the first person. The fact that it matters to you whether or not you are stuck or moving forward puts you way ahead of the crowd, and if you ask yourself these questions, chances are that you will find some answers to help you. What is critical is that you don’t stay stuck. You are capable of much more than you realize. Own your progress! Do something! Be better!