You only get one life. Whether you spend it achieving your dreams or coasting at work and then vegging out in front of the TV every night is up to you. But if you want to do more with your life, but don’t feel like you can reach your goals, there is hope.
1) Have goals that excite you: It’s surprising how many people have never sat down and thought about what they want out of life in the first place. If you don’t know where you’re going, any path may seem like it can take you there. So, the first key to getting motivated is figuring out what moves YOU. It might fire you up to own a new Mercedes-Benz, get a promotion, or just get into a shirt that’s currently too small to wear. Take a little time to figure out what gets you excited and makes you want to move.
2) Decide what you need to do on a daily or weekly basis to hit that goal: It’s not enough just to be “motivated.” You need to be figure out what you’re motivated TO DO. If you want to meet a girlfriend, what’s it going to take to make that happen? If you want to bench press 300 pounds, how are you going to get there? Take the time to write down the daily or weekly lifestyle changes you’ll need to reach your goal. Don’t feel like everything has to be perfect; just make your best guess and recognize that you’ll readjust as you get deeper into the project.
3) Start slowly: It usually takes 3-4 weeks to cement in a new habit. If you tear out of the gate like Usain Bolt and push yourself past your limits, you may have 3-4 great days and then just give up. On the other hand, if you take baby steps in the right direction and keep moving a little faster each week, not only are you much more likely to stick with it long enough to form a habit, you’ll build up to high levels of performance soon enough.
4) Chart your progress: As Peter Drucker has said, “What gets measured, gets managed.” How do you know that you’re making progress if you don’t have some way to measure it? Whether it’s a journal, a chart, a scale — you need some way to see that you are moving in the right direction. Just knowing that you’re going to have to see whether you succeed or fail for the day will spur you to move in the right direction.
5) Get some help: Human beings have an almost infinite capacity to rationalize our own failures. There are also times that we can become so used to our own behavior that we miss mistakes we’re making that almost everyone else can see. That’s where other people come in. Hire a life coach or a trainer. Tell people you trust what you want to do. Use a Fitbit to measure your daily activity. Sign up at a website like Fitlink. Ask someone more successful than you to act as a mentor. Just find some way to get that extra accountability and advice to get you over the hump.
6) Immerse yourself in motivation: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” — Zig Ziglar. Personally, I read affirmations twice a day, listen to an 8 minute long audio I made describing how I want to behave and the attributes I believe I should have, and just to the right of my desk, I have a dream board along with several quotes/lines of scripture that I find motivational. That’s in addition to the books I read, many of which are on psychology and business. Staying motivated is not a one day job; it’s an every day job.
7) Adjust: Over time, you may need to change a few things. Maybe you’ll need to work harder to speed up your progress or slow down because you can’t keep up with your workload. Maybe you’ll have to work harder to stay motivated or take time to reflect on the meaning and importance of what you’re doing. If you’re an over-achiever, you may need to take a vacation once in awhile to refresh, reload, and recoil. Perhaps you’ll realize that your original plan needs to be revised or that you need to shift your goal a bit. Being flexible enough to make those small adjustments will help insure your success over the long haul.