The most outstanding characteristic of successful people is the ability to set goals and take action to achieve them. Everyone can do both. Where many fall short is not in setting goals but taking the disciplined and sustained action needed for success.
Why??? Could it be people often go about tapping into the kind of deep motivation that will fuel the process from start to finish completely wrong? They muster up enthusiasm, will-power and determination and intensely focus on the “outside” stuff that must be controlled to produce desired outcomes.
While this may work for some people all the time, and all people some of the time, most people cannot sustain this and go the distance, and they repeatedly come up short. It’s like swimming upstream or running against the wind. So much energy is exerted yet eventually their enthusiasm peters-out and they are simply tired. What’s worse – not only is goal not met, but feelings of failure creep in to wreak havoc and leave them even less motivated than before.
Here are 6 strategies to boost motivation and jump start success today!
1. Create a crystal-clear vision: You must know what you really, really, really want and why you want it, or you cannot achieve it. First, think of a goal and imagine you already have it. Take a few moments to really let yourself experience what it will be like when you get there. Try to involve all 5 senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell). When you have a crystal-clear vision of what you want, you can begin to lean into that goal as if it has already been achieved and act the part.
For example: You want change careers and become a teacher.
- See yourself walking through crowded hallways to a classroom; visualize how your classroom will be set up;
- Hear the chatter of students quieting down as the bell rings. Hear yourself ask a probing question and engaging students in discussion.
- Feel the dust of dry erase marker on the whiteboard; the stack of papers you are collecting for review. Feel the sense of satisfaction you have when you see progress.
- Smell the fresh make-up and mix of perfumes from blossoming high school girls or the construction paper and glue for elementary students’ activities.
- Taste the coffee you’ll sip in your classroom while planning (I do not recommend imagining the awful cafeteria lunches that hopefully you’ll never have to eat 😊)
2. Know why you want it. Go at least 3 deep in asking yourself why. The answers can be extrinsic (money, schedule) or intrinsic (pride, satisfaction):
- Why do you want to teach? There’s a shortage of teachers and I like helping people.
- Why do you like helping others? I’m good at finding what makes people tick and it feels good to help them.
- What feels good about it? Deep connection with others it what makes me feel alive.
When you uncover your reason behind your reason, you are uncovering gold! Within the deeper reason is what your true motivation and passion are and identify a true purpose.
Ever notice how most people perform better under pressure? It’s because deadlines (or whatever is causing that pressure) give them a sense of purpose. That’s why people go on diets before big events, clean their house best before company arrives, save more money when they have something specific they want to buy. Acting deliberate and with a sense of purpose will keep you fired up, especially when the unexpected comes up.
3. Write your own eulogy: Yes, you read that correctly. As morbid as that sounds, many a great motivational speaker and writer suggest doing this. I have done it myself and must agree. None of us are here forever and beginning with the end in mind will help you to truly define what who you want to be and what you want to do.
Imagine those last few minutes where you are looking back on your life like you are watching a movie about yourself. What kind of person were you? What did you accomplish? What did you not accomplish that you wish you did? What is the one thing you will be most remembered for?
Using this insight, work backward. Make a plan that you can start today that will, over time, get your life aligned with to how you want the story to read. What is the smallest first step (see #4) you can take right now? What get’s in the way of you taking it? Are you afraid?
Everyone has some fear. You’re not human if you don’t. but fear shouldn’t run your life. Instead, run to what you fear, it’s never as bad as you imagine and on the other side of that fear is what you really want. Just the act of doing something you’re afraid of is empowering and creates confidence which is where success lives.
General George S. Patton is often quoted in saying “Fear kills more often than death!” You only die once, but fear kills you every time you give in to it!
4. Do one thing daily that is out of your comfort zone. If you want to lose 20 pounds but feel stuck, don’t lie to yourself in thinking if you can’t stick to the perfect diet and exercise routine, it’s not worth trying! Pass on one snack that you usually have or do just 5 minutes more exercise than your daily average.
Focusing on everything needed to reach the end goal is often overwhelming and leads to greater procrastination. Even the smallest step is a step and doing something small today will get you much closer to goal than thinking about big steps for weeks, months, or years without action. Give yourself credit for even the small victories, as feeling successful will create more energy and motivation to do more things that lead to success.
Don’t be a perfectionist. To some, perfectionism seems virtuous, but it can be self-sabotaging in so many ways. Perfectionists are almost never satisfied and
usually rob themselves of feeling joy with their accomplishments. Don’t let this be you.
Lastly, how you act is who you become. Doing one thing daily that is in line with your goal is how you become the person you want to be and achieve your goals.
5. Never be the smartest or most ambitious person you know. Surround yourself with winners:
People who are optimistic and positive thinkers are not only the most pleasant to be around, they are typically more creative, inspiring, and successful. When you’re looking for ideas and influences to keep you moving forward, you must draw on something bigger than yourself. Open yourself up to new ideas through other people who have what you want to achieve. Even if you don’t use their ideas, they may inspire your own creative genius. Have a friend or mentor or a life-coach who will help you come up with winning strategies and keep you honest and accountable. You must do it yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone.
If you’re surrounded by pessimists and cynics, you’re in a toxic environment and nothing extraordinary comes from toxicity. If you can’t lose them completely, keep a strong network of positive thinkers to help you stay on track.
6. Live in the NOW. It’s the only place real happiness can exist.
Yesterday is gone. Realistically, your memories of it are probably either full of guilt or nostalgia.
Tomorrow isn’t here. If you’re living in tomorrow, you’re either worrying about things you can’t control, or you could be confusing hope with discontent.
If you’re not happy NOW, you won’t be “when…” Hoping for something better means something is missing now and truth is when happiness depends on something outside of NOW, it only lasts for 20 minutes and then you’ll focus on the next think you need to be happy.
If you’re not happy now, try a gratitude list. No matter what life is handing you, if you’re sitting upright and reading this you likely have something to be grateful for. Read: Gratitude for Happiness.
These are just a handful of ways you can take control of your inner voice and get the motivation juices flowing. There are countless others, the key is finding what works for you. Wanting to achieve a goal is fruitless if youre not willing to make a change that includes action.
These strategies are ones I’ve learned over 30 years of passionately pursuing personal growth. In that time, I have read dozens of self-help books that have inspired core-level changes in my thinking. It’s not possible to credit every book and author that may have influenced this post but I’d like to shout out big thanks to Dr. Joe Vitali, Steve Covey, Steve Chandler, Tom Hoobyar, Susan Sanders and Tom Dotz, whose written works truly are the motivation behind this post.
If you’re still not sure if coaching is right for you, take our quiz, it’s under a minute!