Everyone has dreams. Yet, very few people actually set out on the path to achieving those dreams. There are many reasons why dreamers don’t turn their dreams into reality. Some are lazy, while others let fear become their greatest enemy. The biggest deterrent of success is a lack of motivation. Even those people that are serious about achieving their goals tend to give up simply because they can’t find the motivation to keep going.
No path to success is ever simple. As soon as you decide to chase your dream, life puts hundreds of obstacles in your way. Every hurdle seems to knock the motivation right out of you. So how do winners find a way to keep going? Why do some people seem like their motivation never wavers?
The truth is that motivation is like fire. A little push, in the right wind, can carry it a long way. But if you let it sit and ignore it, it will eventually die out. For those people ready to chase their dreams and looking for that extra push, here are a few simple ways to motivate yourselves…
1. Set Goals
Everyone always talks about setting goals, but few people understand what goal setting means. Dreams and goals are two different things. The capital-D “Dream” is the end. It is that point in the future, where you close your eyes and see yourself standing one day. Goals are the tangible milestones on the way to that dream. Like navigators in the sea, successful people chart a map to reach their Dreams.
When setting off on a new path, make sure you set up short-term (small), mid-term (medium) and long-term (large) goals. You may choose to write these goals down. Even if you don’t write them down, do not ever forget them. The goals can be daily goals or monthly or so on. A good method of setting goals for yourself is to work your way back from your Dream to your large goals and from the large goals back to smaller goals.
Here’s how this works:
John is a first-year university student who wants to be become a successful lawyer someday (The Dream)
- John realizes that the essential steps towards achieving that dream are getting an undergraduate degree, a law degree, and good work experience (The Large Goals)
- John knows that in order to achieve the large goals, he will have to do well in his classes and build his resume with volunteer experience (The Medium Goals)
- John decides that today he will study for two hours and send out applications for ten different volunteer positions (The Small Goals)
Mapping your success is difficult, but essential for success. Have you ever stared at a distant object for a long time? You will notice that everything else surrounding you begins to blur. This is the problem with Dreams. Many people become obsessed with their Dreams, such that they become dreamers and nothing more. No marathoner starts off his career by running 26 miles. A good marathoner is someone who at some point was a great 2 mile runner. Similarly, for all of life’s dreams, you have to map out your path and achieve the goals along the way to get to your destination.
There may be some people reading this article and wondering how sitting down to write out your goals is a “simple” way to motivate yourself. Don’t knock it till you try it. As soon as you begin the exercise of writing down your goals, you will feel yourself getting anxious to set off on your journey. This is the first push you needed. The second step will just push you further.
Once you have a list of your goals, try and achieve them. The small goals can be as small as possible. But make it your mission to take at least one step, no matter how small, towards your Dream every single day. At the beginning of the day, think about your Dream and your large goals. Tell yourself that every small step will be a step toward that direction. At the end of that day, forget about the Dream and the big goals. Forget about what you didn’t do. Instead, pat yourself on the back for what you did accomplish. Make those small wins count.
There will come a time on your journey, when nothing will seem to be going in your favour. In that moment, it will be smallest victories that will keep you going. And the smallest victories will help you find a detour back to your bigger goals.
In baseball, whenever power hitters start slumping, good hitting coaches will tell them to slow things down.
Instead of obsessing with their inability to hit homeruns, coaches tell them to focus on smaller goals. They tell the hitters to take extra batting practice. The hitters begin to focus on smaller hits. They look for a good pitch to hit for a single, rather than the perfect pitch to hit out of the park. Once they start to get on base, they also get more comfortable, more confident and eventually start hitting with power again.
3. Find YOUR Comfort Zone
Everyone has their own method of doing things. Some people are early-risers, while others work best at night. Some like to work around other people, while others work best away from distractions. Find what works for you and make it work for you.
You can read a hundred books on motivation and success but following other people’s paths won’t necessarily get you to where you want to go. If you find something works better for you, then do it. Find that place where you work best and make that your comfort zone.
For example, if you are working out with someone who can lift more than you, you may find them pushing you too hard. You can do six reps of 120 pound weights but they keep telling you to try for the 150, which you can barely lift. You may find their over-motivation actually feels like it’s deflating your motivation. If you are comfortable with the 120, then do the 120.
The flipside of this is the comfort zone trap. Don’t get stuck in that zone. Otherwise, you will never be able to move on to your next goal. The comfort zone should not be a stagnant place. You should be willing to constantly move forward. Every day should be an attempt to inch out of that zone and move toward uncharted territory.
4. Motivational Stimuli
Find things that motivate you and exploit them. Surround yourself with people who encourage you and give you positive feedback. Constructive criticism is good, but only when it comes from a trusted source, and ONLY when it is constructive. Don’t care about people who critique just because they can. Listen to those people who have your best interest at heart. A bit of healthy competition is key. If you can find yourself a sparring partner, then succeed by motivating each other. Try to outdo each other but in a friendly way. If you can’t find someone to compete with make up a rival. If you see someone at the gym who can lift more than you, then tell yourself that you will make it your goal to lift as much as them. If you do follow this method of competition, just try and be subtle. You are trying to motivate yourself, not trying to showing anyone up.
Motivation can come from a variety of sources. Sometimes, it’s just an inspiring quote. Other times, it’s the right kind of music. Here’s a list of some songs we find motivational (http://www.cavemag.com/top-10-motivational-songs-of-all-time/).
The key is to surround yourself with positive energy. No matter the stimulus, make sure it’s something that makes you want to succeed and achieve that small goal.
When the going gets tough, it is easy to give up. One failure just leads to another failure. It seems like all odds are stacked up against you and you can’t seem to do anything to get out of the funk. At times like these, it is important to tell yourself and to realize that failure is a step toward success. If you let it be. If you see failure as failure, then that is all it will be. However, if you decide to move forward from each failure, you will soon realize that failure can be the most powerful motivator.
Do yourself a favor and watch Michael Jordan’s retirement speech. The best basketball player and one of the best athletes of all time talks about how getting overlooked by his high school basketball coach motivated him to prove the coach and everyone else wrong. It is was one of the first driving forces that led him to excel as an athlete.
Great athletes and successful businessman learn to embrace failure along the way and wear it like a chip on their shoulder. Every doubt and every critique turns into a healthy grudge. Try and remember everyone you met along the way that told you couldn’t do something and make it your mission to prove them wrong. Remember that girl who wouldn’t even talk to you because you were too scrawny? Tell yourself that she will regret how she ignored you once you reach your workout goals.
Always learn from your mistakes and failures. Understand why you ended up in that situation and how you can do things differently in the future. Once you learn to turn failure into a motivator, you will truly be well on your path to success.
6. Get Moving
The day is wasting away and you have done nothing to start on your path to success. It is time to get off your ass and get moving. Remember, every small step toward your smallest goals is one step closer to achieving your Dream.