“The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win.” – Vince Lombardi
It is perhaps the most common, yet commonly overlooked reason why most of us do not reach our goals: lack of motivational staying power. We all start the year the same way. January 1st is packed full of energy, will power, and motivation that has us joyously hopeful when it comes to our careers, our health, and our family commitments. We then bore head-long into a whirlwind of activity in pursuit of these lofty goals that will make our existence a better one. But by February 15th, we are usually already seeing signs of slowing. That three times per week workout has already turned into once every other week. That business plan you worked on for an hour a day hasn’t been looked at for two weeks. The family time you set aside has already been sucked up by that new work project. And of course, that plan to eat right has been decimated by the attendance of two birthday parties with cake and food.
On January 1st, we are excited and shovel coal into the engine to make it hot and produce energy. But what we don’t regularly do is FIND A WAY TO KEEP THE COAL IN STOCK TO FUEL THE FIRE.
Document Your Goals
That New Years resolution should not just be “said”, it should be “written“. Writing it down makes it real, much more so than just verbalizing it. There is something magical about that “pen to paper” (or in today’s world, fingers to keyboard). Anyone who has achieved a great deal of success in their lives can tell you that it all started here. Documenting your short and long-term objectives serves as the core for structuring your day to achieve each of these. If your long term plan is to start a business, how much of your time per day or week will you spend on the business plan? On research? On networking? Laying out your goals helps you to visualize the endgame, making it tangible.
Big Picture Focus at the Start of the Day
Mike Tyson said it best: “Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth”. So you vowed to get up every morning and work out, or work on your new business plan. Well, when that alarm clock “hits you in the mouth” at 5:45 am, what then? When it is still dark outside, the floor is cold, and that pillow feels oh-so-nice, what is it that will get you out of bed every single day to meet the promise you made on January 1st? The big picture will! Remembering what it is all for will play the key role in lifting you out of bed and into action. Find an excellent book of quotes that contains your favorite motivational thoughts and place it bedside to lay your eyes on daily. Once you are up, start the day off with some reading that supports those goals. If you’re like me, a strong cup of French press coffee will be keeping you company when you do. Just be sure to “feed the beast” at the start of the day to provide fuel for the daily fight and give you the impetus to lead the roadblocks that will no doubt be in your way.
You Gotta Shoot BIG!!!
Whether you know it or not, small plans will never keep you motivated. Shoot for the moon, man! Now, the only small goals should be those that are part of the big picture. This, of course, makes sense. But if your overall encompassing goals are not challenging, then on that cold morning you’ll easily be able to reason that you can work on this tomorrow. “Tomorrow”? it is always going to be “tomorrow”, isn’t it? When your goal is a challenging one, you MUST get up. In essence, you want to be sufficiently scared to keep moving. Nothing wrong with a little fear to motivate you.
Weed Out the Negative Influences
It is bad enough that we have to battle on a daily basis the negative thoughts that creep into our own heads. The last thing we need to deal with are those same thoughts from others and the things we are exposed to. It is just the natural reaction of most people to be pragmatic and point out all the reasons you should not take a risk or make a push to change your circumstances. You can’t cut family, but if they are not supportive of your goals, don’t discuss it with them. Who needs the negative feedback? Your research has already exposed many of the potential pitfalls, so no need to think about them daily. Surround yourself with like-minded people who are going in the same direction and have the same goals.
Build a Physical Environment to Support Productivity and Positive Thought
Now, not everyone is the same, but I personally cannot think in clutter. Whatever environment helps to keep you focused, build that environment for yourself. Have a dedicated area for the work that you do, and surround it with the things that keep you going. Ensure your environment has the proper tools, such as a printer, scanner, shredder, file cabinet, and other things. Also, here is a good place to post up those goals where they are in plain view. I am a firm believer that environment plays a huge, HUGE role in how we view the world and ourselves, and can significantly affect your productivity and motivation.
Now, LIGHT THOSE FURNACES AND MAKE IT HAPPEN!