Go for a walk. Jump up and down. Run into the middle of the street (no, don’t do that.)
It’s been said a million times, so this makes it 1,000,001. When we move, we feel better, think better, and do better. If you want to get something done, start moving.
Break It Down, Again and Again
Everyone says break down your goal. I’m different. I say, Break down your goal, and then break it down again! (I know, I’m a wizard with this stuff.)
Goals are about change and change is scary. So people hesitate, forget, and move on. But not if you make the step forward small enough. In that case, the discomfort is lowered to an acceptable level and you actually do it. So break it down, again and again.
Never Wait for Permission
If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll remember that I gave you permission to do whatever you wanted to do a few weeks ago. So this one is for the new readers…or the old ones with terrible memories.
People want someone, somewhere, to say it’s okay. They need reassurance that their ideas aren’t ridiculous. Do they really need it? Of course not, but they feel they do. So they wait for someone to give permission, and waiting is the enemy of progress.
Just in case you’re one of the waiters, here you go: I grant you permission to go forth with your crazy idea and have a wonderful time doing it.
Do It for Me (or Someone Else)
People like people. Not all people, of course, but we’re social creatures. We need companionship, conversation, connection. Let’s be terrible humans and use this to our advantage.
If you aren’t changing for you, do it for someone else. Think about how a better you will help you mom or dad, your husband or wife, your son or daughter. What will your success bring into their lives? (An example to follow? Security? A happier you?)
Get Around the Right People
The old adage: If you want to be rich, hang out with rich people. (Insert your goal in place of ‘rich,’ and the adage is all yours.)
When you spend time with people who have what you want–as opposed to merely reading about them–you can’t help but pick up a little of their mojo. You see how they think, how they interact with people, how they work through problems, how they respond to chaos. In essence, how they do what they do.
And when you do what they do, you get what they got.
Avoid the Wrong People
Franklin said it best: He that lieth down with Dogs, shall rise up with Fleas. In other words, the tip above works just as well in reverse. If you spend time with the wrong people, they’ll rub off on you.
We are genetically programmed to fit in. Otherwise, we’d be kicked out of the tribe and starve. So when good people are part of a bad group, they are motivated to join in and be accepted as one of the gang (which explains why gangs are so powerful). Avoid this risk. If your circle of friends includes people doing things you don’t want to do, make a change. Create some distance. Or run.
Mess with Your Routine
Routine is a killer…of hopes, dreams, and spontaneous dance sessions. It’s like a sopping wet blanket draped on us at all hours of the day; we drag ourselves, zombie-like, from one routine to the next. We’re not really living, just dragging.
You need to break out of this.
Do something different. Instead of coming home and flopping onto the couch, come home and flop onto your bike. Instead of hopping on Facebook at the start of the day, donate to a charity online. Instead of doing what you always do, do something different.
Never Wait for the Idea
Are you waiting for the idea to hit you? To punch you square in the nose, maybe sometime next month? Reality check: it won’t.
Whether it’s your life purpose or just a new hobby, people sit around and wait for the right idea to strike. “I’m not sure what I want. It’ll come sooner or later.” Bet on later.
You have to do things if you want to figure out what’s right for you. Join clubs. Read books. Meet people. Do, do do. Then you’ll know, for certain, which things are for you and which are for someone else.
Do One Thing
I’m working on a new book for you. Well, it’s an updated version of an old book. And it’s not just for you, but for everyone in our little community. (But mainly for you.)
This project is part of a long list of things I need to get done. As such, it’s not getting the attention it needs. What I need to do, and what you need to do with whatever you have to accomplish, is focus on finishing one thing. Not dabbling in dozens. Just one.
Push aside e-mail. Push aside television. Push aside all the little things that eat away at your time like a hungry caterpillar on a sunny day. Focus on getting one thing done, from start to finish. Then, when it’s complete, you can move on. But not until it’s done.
(I’ll take this advice in a moment, but if I followed it now the post would be over already.)
What is the Worst Thing?
What’s the absolute worst thing that will happen if you go for it and screw up? At first it might seem as though dreadful things will occur. The stock market will crash. Your car will explode. We’ll discover the moon isn’t made of cheese.
But, when you look at the facts, you quickly realize the worst case isn’t actually that bad.
Your life won’t be over if no one likes your novel. You won’t risk everything if you take that trip to Australia. You won’t pass out if you give that presentation to the board.
What is the Worst Thing? (Part 2)
Same question, different idea.
What’s the worst thing that will happen if you wimp out and give up before you even begin? Think bad, really bad. The more horrifying you make this picture, the more driven you’ll be to make sure it never happens.
(A smoker shouldn’t imagine wasting hoards of money or having trouble finishing a walk up the stairs; he should imagine leaving behind a family shattered, a loved one taken by cancer too soon.)
What is the Best Thing?
What is the absolute best thing that is going to happen when you finally reach your goal? As with the tip above, the bigger you make this possibility, the more motivational juice it will have.
Tips within a Tip: When you have your idea, write it down on paper and put it in a place you’ll see often. Then find pictures to represent that idea. If you want to be a philosophy professor, for example, you might find a picture of a cavernous lecture room. This image will automatically bring to mind the joy you’ll feel as you walk into your own classroom, dozens of seats filled with smiling faces eager to learn. (Hey, it’s your vision, so you can fudge the facts a little.)
New, New, New
Do something you’ve never done before.
I know it’s cheesy–and I’m no fan of cheese–but the idea has some merit. If you aim high, you’ll make some pretty incredible things happen. Here’s why:
We aren’t excited about easy tasks. Tie your shoes today? Do a happy dance when finished? I didn’t think so. (If you did…well, congrats.) What excites us are true challenges. We love to be pushed, to overcome, to be victorious in the face of untold obstacles. It’s part of our chemistry.
We also love big ideas. They inspire. They fill our heads with hope. They motivate.
So think big.
Choose a date on which to finish or your idea is as good as dead.
As a species, we can generate excuses faster than anything on earth. I’m flabbergasted at how quickly people churn out an endless stream of reasons why they can’t do something about their goals. Yes, flabbergasted.
We’re geniuses at rationalizing, so we have to be on guard against our own crafty selves. Deadlines are one way to do that. Put a concrete date on an idea and the wishy-washy concept becomes a real thing.
Instead of digging up excuses for procrastination, your brain looks for ways to finish the work by the end date.
Not Ready? Do It Anyway!
It doesn’t have to be perfect. This one idea could change your life forever.
Smart people from every walk of life run into this: they have an idea, learn about said idea, and, then, they learn a little more. Then a little more. Then a little more…then a little more.
It’s the good ol’ paralysis by analysis.
They put off actually doing the real work because learning about it is so much more comfortable. No real progress is made, but it sure feels like they’re doing something. They just keep learning, waiting for the moment when they know everything, when their plans are guaranteed to work flawlessly.
No more. Good enough is good enough. That video you want to put on your blog that has bad lighting? Get it up. That script you want to show your friends but has a few holes in the story? Show them. That dance routine you want to try out at the place where they do dance routines? Just dance.
The most important thing is to do it. You can fix it, tweak it, change it, scrap it later. But nothing happens until you put your idea in action. No more waiting, no more studying. Do it.
Realize (Part 1)
You know that thing you really want to do?
No, not that one. The other one.
Someone else has already done it. Realize that means you can do it too.
Realize (Part 2)
You have the opportunity right now. You can finish reading this post (all the way to the end!) and do something about your goals or ideas. That’s right now. Tomorrow…next week…next month? Who knows.
There are no promises. Realize that what you see today might not be there tomorrow.
I suggest acting when you can. (That’s right now, but not until you’re done reading.)
Realize (Part 3)
Realize the plateau you hit may not be a sign to quit. It might be the dip, Seth Godin’s term for the hard part of the process that divides those who can’t hack it from those who stand above the crowd as truly special, as rare.
Having said that, sometimes it’s not only okay to quit, it’s the best possible choice.
When you know you’re heading down the wrong path–and not just a difficult stretch that challenges you–get out. There’s no sense in sticking with a goal that isn’t right for you, just as there’s no sense in reading a bad book to the end (though I feel that tug every time).
Life is too short.
Quit when it’s wrong, stick when it’s right.
Don’t do it by yourself. Find people who know more than you do. Reach out. Get help.
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Now it’s your turn. What’s your most effective motivation tip? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll get this conversation rolling.