We set goals for ourselves, have big plans, can feel the success, the excitement is there, we’re off and running to a good start and then it all slowly peters out. Now the frustration sets in and we begin to tell ourselves we can’t succeed.
You can succeed! All you need is a better action plan. Staying motivated is partly the secret to reaching our goals. No matter what our goals are or how detailed we make them, if we can’t find the motivation to take consistent action, success will be difficult. However, if we can stay motivated and push through the tough times, breaking those bad habits that hold us back, well, anything is possible.
Multiple research studies have shown that many entrepreneurs will average a 3 – 5% failure rate for every success. But, they didn’t give up. They pushed through their weaknesses and eventually succeeded. That took motivation on their part. Without the same motivation, that they had, we get stuck in neutral, and then become filled with regret, anxiety and fear.
Below are some strategies that will help you to keep your motivation going so that you can achieve your goals.
1. No Distractions
This seems obvious but most of us feel that having our cell phone nearby, the Internet or a tv/radio running in the room won’t cause a problem but that’s far from the case. Shut everything off! There is no urgent need to check Twitter or Facebook for the latest happenings! If it’s on and nearby you will do that. Keep it all off.
2. Find a new Location
Don’t work where familiar distractions will thwart your effort to work. Go to a coffee shop, the library, the conference room at your work or a table at the park. By moving to a different location there is nothing handy for you to grab, read, or turn on as a way to escape your work.
3. Don’t Procrastinate
This isn’t an easy one. People tend to put off what they don’t want to do.
Try the 15-minute rule. Use your smartphone or smart watch (the one I told you earlier to keep off – ha!) and set the timer for 15 minutes. Tell yourself that you’ll work at your task for those 15 minutes with no distractions. Then you can take a break. In most cases, you will go beyond the 15 minutes and stay with what you are working on. The most difficult part is getting started.
4. Break it down and make a To-Do list
Take your big project and cut in down into smaller chunks. Then put small to-do items on a list. When we look at the enormity of our project it can be overwhelming. So take a small portion of it and put it on a list to get done that day. Make sure it’s doable for that day. Every small piece you get completed moves you closer to your goal.
5. Create a Weekly Action Plan
Schedule time in your appointment book to work on your project - just as you would schedule a meeting. Break your project down in small increments and plan time over the week to work on it. If we don’t plan ahead we tend to whittle the day away by telling ourselves we’ll get to it later. Pick a time, schedule it, and then attend your own meeting of getting your work done. Know that the meeting time has an end and when you reach your ending time feel free to move away from your work area and go for a walk. Remember, you have scheduled another meeting with yourself in a day or two, which you can get back to working on your goal.
6. Dispel your Fears
There are over 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts that run through our minds in a given day, according to The National Science Foundation. We’re unaware of most of those thoughts as they take place in the subconscious mind. But, a large portion of our thoughts is fear-based. What if this happens? Or what if that happens? What will I do if this occurs? What if I lose my job?
We ask ourselves fear-based questions without even consciously being aware of it. For that reason, if we want to get and stay motivated, we have to dispel our fears.
Write down all of your fears and why you’re afraid of those things. Then, create an excuse explaining why each of those reasons isn’t true. Think about past experiences where you’ve pulled through or accomplished something you didn’t think was possible. Focus on your successes of the past! There’s real power to bringing the subconscious fears into the conscious and dispelling them.
7. Visualize your Future
Once you have your goals, you can get and stay motivated by visualizing your future. What will life be like when you achieve your goals? Where will you live? What will you do for work? What will you enjoy in your free time? What places will you travel to? Spend some time visualizing your future by writing out a detailed description of how life will be like when you achieve your long-term goals.
8. Find a Mentor
A great way to avoid losing motivation is to find a mentor. Mentors can help us in so many ways. And while there’s no one specific way to find a mentor, you should certainly get out there and locate one that can help push you and inspire you to achieve your dreams.
Whether it’s a successful businessperson that you meet through a friend, or someone in your family, find someone who can help coach you along.
Keep in mind that success won’t be easy no matter what. It’s easy to lose motivation for anyone. But turning to a mentor can help to bring all that hard work you’re doing into perspective.
9. Channel the Little Engine That Could
A person’s drive is often based on what she believes about her abilities, not on how objectively talented she is, according to research by Albert Bandura, a professor of psychology at Stanford University. His work has shown that people who have perceived self-efficacy (that is, the belief that they can accomplish what they set out to do) perform better than those who don’t.
“Self-efficacy beliefs provide the foundation for human motivation, well-being, and personal accomplishment. This is because unless people believe that their actions can produce the outcomes they desire, they have little incentive to act or to persevere in the face of difficulties. Much empirical evidence now supports Bandura’s contention that self-efficacy beliefs touch virtually every aspect of people’s lives—whether they think productively, self-debilitatingly, pessimistically or optimistically; how well they motivate themselves and persevere in the face of adversities; their vulnerability to stress and depression, and the life choices they make.” (Pajares, 2002)
10. Be Consistent
It’s important to be consistent with your work, "take consistent action every single day." This means that even if you're totally not in the mood, do one small proactive thing that will move you towards your ultimate goal — even if it's just a Tweet.
Staying motivated is absolutely within your reach — it's often just about keeping your end goal in mind and breaking down the larger end result into manageable smaller steps. Remember — you can do it!
Liz Birch is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who provides services in her office in Tustin, CA. Her areas of expertise are in communications, relationships, marriage strengthening, stress reduction, depression, trauma, anxiety, anger, personal growth, and ptsd (civilian and military). She can be reached via LizBirchTherapist.com, email at LizBirchMFT@gmail.com, or by calling 714-614-0612.
I'm a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who works with individuals, couples and families. I hope I inspire you to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. You might be surprised what you discover.