“The best way out is always through.”
Wise words, spoken throughout time by more than one poet and sage. I’ve been writing lately on the subject of motivation. It appears people are concerned about motivation and I can certainly see why. Often it is THE deciding factor in success or defeat. The “defeat” in this case means quitting. But motivation tends to start dying long before someone up and quits. Motivation must be cultivated and augmented on a continuous basis, both in others and oneself. Here are ten tips for doing so:
- Goals & Plans
Obviously you must have a clearly stated goal and a sound plan for getting there. You can’t expect to gauge you progress toward a destination without a clear idea of what that destination is. A plan should be broken down into finite, measurable steps. You should also have a clear concept as to which steps are done in a specific sequence and which are done simultaneously. When you feel your motivation draining, one of the things you can do is simply take it one step at a time. You can build self-confidence by getting small, doable steps completed – one small victory leading to the next.
- Total Immersion
Nothing worthwhile is accomplished with a half-hearted approach. Total immersion means you’re “all in” for better or worse, come hell or high water. Surround yourself in the culture of whatever it is you are doing. Go to networking events and the like in order to connect with like-minded individuals, people that share your passion and dreams. Also, you must recognize that you don’t know it all. Look upon yourself as a seeker of knowledge and a sponge for truth. Soak up useful information and keep alive the spark of enlightenment.
- Eliminate Distractions
Distractions come in many guises, shapes and sizes. And they come from within as well as without. In order to stay on track, it is necessary to either eliminate or ignore distractions. A distraction can be in a relatively inert form such as watching too much television or habitually surfing the internet. It can also be very aggressive such as compulsive gambling or a drinking problem. Assess what the distraction really is and if it should be ceased, remedied or ignored. Other distractions are the people who say you can’t do it. You don’t really need people telling you how it can’t be done. No one’s ever done it? Then you can be the first. Don’t let the naysayers influence you.
There are many parts to your life: You as an individual, your body, your interests and pursuits, your significant other, your family, your friends, your place of work, your clubs or teams, your community, your country, mankind, the environment, your religion or spiritual beliefs, and so on. Notice that these are YOU and YOUR. They all have something to do with YOU. They are YOURS. It is necessary to balance the elements that comprise life itself. When you only think about yourself and neglect everyone else, you will not be a happy person. When you are selfless with others but mistreat yourself, you will similarly impede your personal progress. The key is to ALIGN or BALANCE all of these parts. It’s not necessarily easy, but it is far easier in the long run than perpetuating an out-of-alignment or off balance situation. A good start is devoting time each day to each major component of your life: your health, your family, your job, your personal interests, etc. Do that and see how it helps you stay focused and prosper overall.
- Get Organized
You get organized not just for organization’s sake. You get organized for productivity. It’s very helpful to have a place for everything and everything in its place, but that does not replace possessing the necessary tools, knowing how to use them, and using them to produce something. Organizing with a purpose in mind gives you an orientation and an edge. Devote a certain amount of your time to organizing, but not all of it. Organization includes files (hard copy and computer), mail (letters and email), bills, finances, schedule, and anything you can use to enhance your business and life. It also includes getting rid of what you don’t need. Get truly organized and see how that affects your motivation and drive.
It’s pretty hard to keep going at something if you don’t believe in what you’re doing anymore. When you feel burned out, see if you lost sight of your original vision somewhere. Perhaps you veered off course and you need to right yourself onto the straight path. It is important to travel any road with your integrity intact. Professions, past and present, have had codes of conduct. The medical profession, military organizations, the samurai, knights of chivalry – all had codes of honor. Want to “stay on course”? Determine what path you should be following. We’ve all veered off course, some more wildly than others. But you can always make a new start. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you can always make a new start.
- Out of Sight = Out of Mind
I mentioned getting organized. That does not mean stuffing everything into a drawer or the dark recesses of your mind where they’ll be promptly forgotten. When things are out of sight, they tend to be out of mind as well. Post your goals and your plans on the wall. If you read an inspirational quote, print it and put it up where you’ll read it every day. It works the other way as well: You’ve received several urgent bills? Put those up on the bulletin board. You aren’t likely to forget them and they’ll provide motivation and necessity.
- Make it a Game
Ever play Capture the Flag? You probably did and it was probably one of the greatest joys of your childhood. Why was it so fun? The answer is that you were playing a game. I’ve brought up this point a number of times, and that is that you must make whatever you’re doing into a game. The basic theory is that a game has a playing field, at least one objective, freedoms and barriers. And those are the components of a game. Simple. But there are diverse ways to make a game interesting and rewarding. A few suggestions:
- When you accomplish something you set out to do, reward yourself.
- Don’t turn on the TV until you’ve completed several important tasks.
- Keep score! Measure your work with statistics, metrics, etc.
- Apply a strong work ethic not just to your job, but to anything you pursue.
- Get others into the spirit of the game by finding out what they consider fun and rewarding.
- Cultivate an atmosphere of competence and creativity.
9. Take Care of You
I mentioned earlier the subject of balance and there is more I could add to that. To feel driven and energized, you mustn’t neglect your body or yourself. Eat right. No need to get into a fad diet; just following the basics of nutrition is often enough. A lot of the foods in America are loaded with chemicals, additives, preservatives, and these weird and mysterious GMOs. When and if possible, try going organic and see if that gives you more verve and a better outlook. Exercise daily or at least regularly. The body will deteriorate if it is not worked and this shows up especially as we get older. If you have a drug or alcohol problem, GET HELP! I’m not just saying that because I operate several drug detox and rehab facilities. I’m saying that because it’s the right thing to say and do. Take care of YOU!
10. Challenge Yourself
When it seems too much, consider it a challenge. When you reach the other side, you emerge stronger. True, you could fail. Believe it or not you should be OK on failing. It doesn’t mean you have to fail. But you should be able to experience failure. When you can do this, you actually increase your chances of success. That is because you are not stuck on the idea of failure. When you “fail”, you just go at it again. Failure doesn’t even exist. It’s an illusion. You can try anything again. Some of the most successful people failed over and over again. The difference was that they never gave up. So whatever you’re up against, consider it a challenge.