Remember that resolution that you made back on January 1st? That goal that you were so committed to and so on-fire about back when the year seemed so new and full of promise? Well, it is now late February as I am typing this. How is that resolution coming along for you now that the long winter nights have set in and the bubbles from the New Year’s champagne have long since burst? Are you gutting it out and sticking to your guns? If so, good for you! Most resolutions made on January 1st have been unceremoniously abandoned by the second week in February, so if you are one of the stalwart few who are still hanging on to your goal–you deserve to stand up and take a bow (seriously–I think that you should absolutely stand up and take a bow…right now! Who cares if you are reading this on your iPhone at your local Panera?)
If however, you are like most people, your new year’s resolutions are now probably nothing more than a memory. A memory that you are embarrassed to recall because you can’t believe that it is only February and you’ve already called it quits. Don’t worry, you are not alone in your shame–there are LOTS of us who feel your pain.
Why does this happen to so many of us? How can we go from being so committed and excited about a goal to being so totally over it in less than two months time? Well, for most people the answer to that question boils down to one simple thing…motivation. We simply lose our motivation and once it is lost, motivation is something that is so, so difficult to resurrect.
Fortunately for us, there is no law that says that resolutions can only be made on January 1st. In fact, I think that February 29th is a perfectly fine day to set a new intention for your life and recommit to bettering yourself.
How then do we go about this job of goal setting without falling into the same traps that ensnared us before? How do we learn to re-motivate ourselves and maybe even more importantly, how do we maintain that motivation over time?
For me, this process of motivation manifestation is a four pronged approach that consists of dreaming, findng inspiration, renewing focus and celebrating milestones. Here’s how I break it down….
Max Your Motivation
1.) Dream BIG but start small. I have big dreams for my life. Dreams that are so big that when I look at them on the large scale, I easily get overwhelmed and begin to question my sanity. Don’t get me wrong–these dreams excite me and I feel compelled to continue striving for them, but they are BIG and I know that there is no chance in heck that I will ever accomplish these dreams if I continue to think about their enormity.
Big dreams that lie outside of our comfort zones are valuable because they energize us and get us excited about what the future might hold. However; breaking our big goals down into smaller, bite-size pieces is what will actually help us to move closer and closer to the goalposts. Starting small is what gets the ball rolling and allows us to gain momentum, thereby creating flow. Starting small will also help to keep you focused upon the immediate task at hand, rather than becoming overwhelmed and discouraged by the enormity of your dream
If you aren’t sure what small step to take toward your big dream, try starting with some research. By doing your homework and studying the ins and outs of your dream, you will be better able to manage your expectations and anticipate what setbacks might be encountered along the way. Then, once you’ve done your research, you can begin mapping out a step by step plan on how to reach your goal. This map will likely morph and change over time, but at the very least, it can provide you with a reasonable starting point and an idea as to what your first few steps toward your goal should be.
In order to best make this approach work for me, I have a vision board as well as a printed mind map hanging up in my office. These two pieces serve as a daily reminder of the BIG vision that I have for my life. On the other end of the spectrum, I also have weekly and daily to-do lists that help me to take one small, do-able step every single day towards my goals. This dual vision approach helps me to maintain the enthusiasm and energy around my big dream while also keeping me on-task and focused on the immediate steps that need to be taken.
2.) Keep yourself inspired. Even with FabYOUlously exciting goals and dreams to fuel us, there will still be days (and sometimes weeks & months) when things just seem hard. This “meantime” is when so many people give up.
In order to ensure that you are not one of the zillions who call it quits during this “messy middle” phase, it is vital that you learn to keep yourself inspired to move forward…even when it is difficult to do so. One of the most effective ways to do this is to get crystal clear on your “why”. That is, make sure that you have a very firm grasp on the underlying motivation that compels you to dream your dream. For example, while I love creating content and programs for FabYOUlous Life, it is my underlying why of wanting to help women “ditch the drab and find their FAB” that keeps me going when I face challenges that make me want to give up. It is remembering where I came from and understanding the struggles that I faced while rebuilding my life from rock bottom that compels me to want to help empower others to do the same. This why is a far greater motivating force than any hindrance that I could possibly encounter. If you aren’t 100% clear on what the why behind your dream is, click here for 15 Questions to Guide You to Your FabYOUlous Life Purpose.
Another way that I stay inspired is by surrounding myself with uplifting messages. I have motivational quotes on my walls (and on my computer & iPhone backgrounds) and I have my Kindle filled with great personal development books. I also have several uplifting podcasts that I am subscribed to so that I can listen to them on the go. (For a complete list of my favorite inspirational/motivational/personal development resources click here.) Rarely am I ever in a situation where I can’t easily connect myself to some form of uplifting content. This ability to get a mini motivational jump-start whenever I need one, is one of the most valuable weapons in my arsenal when it comes to maintaining forward momentum towards my big dreams.
Finally, I think that we can be our own best source of inspiration. You are FabYOUlous! You have done some pretty incredible things in your life and you have overcome so much to get where you are right now. Sure–you may have a ways to go when it comes to reaching your big goals but you’ve also come a long way. I have big plans for FabYOUlous Life and I have a loooong way to go before those plans come to fruition. However; when I look back to where I was a year ago, I am astounded at the difference that just one year has made. Keep track of your successes (I keep a daily “Ta-Da” list in addition to my To-Do list–you can download your own printable Ta-Da/To-Do list here) and celebrate them. When things start to get hard and you begin to wonder if you’ll ever meet your goals, pull out your Ta-Da list and be reminded of just how amazing you are and how far you’ve already come. It is also important to remember that you are your only competition. Don’t let yourself get sucked into games of comparison. Yes–there are people who are ahead of you, there will always be people ahead of you. Let them serve as an inspiration but do not let their success be a discouragement to you. There is plenty of opportunity available for all of us so don’t waste your time wishing that you could be like someone else. Instead, just work hard to be better than the person you were yesterday.
3.) Renew your focus EVERY SINGLE DAY. One of the biggest keys to reaching any goal is to keep that goal at the top of your mind. Write down your goals (or print them out in a pretty font on pretty paper) and the reasons that your goals are important to you. Post this list on your bathroom mirror, your office bulletin board or on your fridge…anywhere where you’ll see it every day. This constant reminder of your goal will help to renew your focus, max your motivation and reconfirm your commitment every time you see it.
While you take steps to focus your attention on your goals, it is also important that you eliminate negative distractions that would seek to siphon your time, energy and attention away from your goal. This means spending less time with negative, gossipy people and more time with positive, uplifting individuals who will help to support you as you pursue your dreams. It might also mean cutting down on your intake of negative news via the television, newspaper or internet. Why fill your mind with depressing, over sensationalized junk when there is so much positive and inspiring content out there waiting to be devoured? Again, click here for a list of my favorite inspirational/motivational/personal development resources)
As you renew your focus and recommit to your dream on a daily basis, your motivation will be supercharged if you also incorporate the practice of “acting as if”. Now, I’ll admit, when I first started practicing this, I felt a little silly and like I was being a fraud. However; the more I’ve begun “acting as if” in my life, the more I’ve discovered that it doesn’t take long before I’m no longer having to “act”. For example, I do not, by nature, tend to be a very disciplined individual. I’m fun and creative and outgoing…but NOT very disciplined. Unfortunately for me, becoming a success in almost any endeavor requires a good dose of self-discipline. So, I decided that even though I’m not a naturally self-disciplined individual, I am going to act like one. Rather than blowing all of my money on purses and lipstick, I am going to put some into savings and reap the benefit of compound interest. Rather than staying up all night long (which is my natual night-owl tendency) I am going to try to be asleep before midnight so that getting up for work the next morning doesn’t totally suck. Rather than frittering away my evenings playing Trivia Crack on my phone while watching Pretty Little Liars, I am going to sit at my computer and put together a blog post. None of these things came naturally to me at first, but the more I started to “act as if” the easier they became. Now–when it comes to doing these things, I find that I no longer need to “act” because these disciplines have become second nature to me (well okay…I still tend to stay up too late but I’ll keep working on it!)
4.) Reap the rewards. Turning your dream into reality will be its own reward but another key motivation booster is to reward yourself along the way as you move ever closer to your goals.
Maybe your goal is to write a book. If this is the case, you could make a deal with yourself and say, “when I finish this chapter, I am going to treat myself with a pedicure.” Breaking your big goal down into manageable chunks and then rewarding yourself with special treats at various milestones is a very effective way to maintain motivation for the long haul.
In my own life, I try my best to tackle my most challenging tasks first and then give myself a little treat when the hard tasks are completed. This works well for me because 1.) I like treats and 2.) I like the freeing feeling of having my most difficult tasks behind me. I’ve also found that doing the toughest chores first gives me a boost of self confidence that carries me through the rest of my tasks. It’s a win-win-win scenario.
An important thing to note when it comes to rewards is that things are not always going to turn out the way that we had planned. We will break our goal down into manageable chunks, set milestones and establish rewards–but then something will go haywire. Maybe we fall short on a monthly sales goal or our latest product launch turns out to be a dud. In these instances it can be very difficult for us to feel like celebrating with a reward. Despite our disappointment however; it is absolutely crucial that we maintain a proper perspective on failure. Rather than viewing failure as a fatal blow to our dreams, it is vital that we learn to view failure for what it really is–feedback. Whenever I feel as though I’ve failed at something, I like to recall this quote from Michael Jordan:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life–and that is why I succeed.”
Failure is never final. It is simply an opportunity for us to reassess, make adjustments and move forward with more data than we had before and that is definitely something worth celebrating.
Learning to manage and maintain your motivation levels as you work toward your most FabYOUlous life, really is the secret sauce that can ensure that you arrive at your intended destination. These tips aren’t magic and yet, if you apply them to your life and put them into practice on a consistent basis (like daily!) I guarantee that you WILL begin to see results.