“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain
Following on from my previous blog about making New Year’s resolution a reality I thought it would be useful to share my knowledge around the importance of motivation in the pursuit of achieving goals.
One of the biggest challenges in achieving any goal, whether it is related to productivity, changing a habit, or exercising, is finding the motivation to keep going and not giving up!
If you can keep moving positively towards a goal for long enough, you’ll almost always get there eventually. It just takes time, patience, and motivation.
Motivation is the key, but it’s not always easy, day in and day out, to find that drive to keep going when the going gets tough.
What follows is a 2 part guide to motivation. It’s based on what I’ve learned over the last twenty years as a coach helping people achieve their goals and habit changes.
Part 1 looks at the importance of understanding your motivation to get you started- what is your why?
Part 2 looks at what we need to do to keep going when that motivation starts to dwindle.
It hasn’t always been plain sailing. Along the way there’s been success and failure that has taught me so much. So hopefully by sharing with you what I’ve learnt it will save you a lot of trial and error.
How Motivation Works
Before getting into specifics, it’s valuable to examine what motivation is, what it does, and how it works.
Motivation is what drives you toward a goal. It’s what keeps you going when things get tough.
There may be times, for example, when you don’t feel like getting up early, and in those times you may seriously just want to sleep in. Yet if you have a reason to want to get up early you’ll always find a way to jump up out of bed with excitement.
So the best motivation is connecting to something you truly want. What excites you? What are you passionate about and why?
This is the critical first step before you do anything else.
There is only so long that you can tolerate trying to motivate yourself to do something you don’t like to do. However, if you find ways to really want to do something, you can sustain your effort for much, much longer.
5 Simple Ways to Get Your Motivation started
A good start builds momentum that can sustain you for a long period. If you start out right, you have a much better chance of succeeding.
Here are some tips for when you are starting out:
1. Start small. Don’t start out big! – It’s a remedy for disaster.
Start out with an incredibly easy goal, and then grow from there. If you want to exercise, for example, you may be thinking that you have to do intense workouts 5 days a week.
Don’t do it! — Instead, do small, tiny, baby steps. Just do 20 minutes of exercise every other day. It sounds like nothing, but it works.
Commit to the 20 minutes of exercise for around 10-14 days. You may want to do more, but just stick to the 20 minutes. It’s so easy, you can’t fail.
Do it at the same time each day. It could be a run, a bike ride, a swim or some body weight exercises. Once you’ve done 20 minutes every second day over 10-14 days, increase it to 30 minutes, and stick with that for another 2 weeks.
2. One goal. Too many people start with too many goals all at once. This tends to sap energy and motivation. It’s probably the most common mistake that people make. You cannot maintain energy and focus (the two most important things in accomplishing a goal) if you are trying to do two or more goals all at once. It’s not possible.
You have to choose one goal, for now, and focus on it completely. It sounds hard but I speak from experience. You can always do your other goals when you’ve accomplished your One Goal.
3. Examine your motivation. Know your reasons. Give them some thought … and write them down.
It’s not enough to think it would be cool to achieve something. It has to be something you’re passionate about, something you’re super excited about, something you want deeply. Make sure that your goal meets this criteria, or you won’t stick with it for long.
4. Commit publicly. None of us likes to fail or look bad in front of others. We will go the extra mile to do something we’ve said publicly.
You don’t have to commit to your goal in your daily newspaper, but you can do it with friends and family and co-workers. Hold yourself accountable. Commit to giving progress updates to everyone every week or so.
5. Print it out, post it up. Print out your goal in big words. Make your goal just a few words long, (”Exercise 20 mins.”), and post it up on your wall or refrigerator. Post it at home and work. Put it on your computer desktop. You want to have big reminders about your goal, to keep your focus and keep your excitement going. A picture of your goal (like a model with abs, for example) also helps.
Take Home Message
The 5 tips above give you a good starting platform to maximise your motivation before you commence your journey on any goal.
Part 2 will offers what I know about sustaining motivation when we struggle to stay on track towards a goal.
Any questions feel free to drop me a line!