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Last Updated on January 20, 2021

How to Stay Focused on Your Goals When You Are Worn Out

How to Stay Focused on Your Goals When You Are Worn Out

We all have goals and dreams, but it can be difficult to stick with them. Each week, I hear from people who say things like, “I start with good intentions, but I can’t seem to maintain my consistency for a long period of time.” Or, they will say, “I struggle with mental endurance. I get started but I can’t seem to follow through and stay focused for very long.”

Don’t worry. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else. For example, I’ll start one project, work on it for a little bit, then lose focus and try something else. And then I’ll lose focus on my new goal and try something else. And on and on. When everything is said and done, I’ve stopped and started so many times that I never really made much progress.

Maybe you have felt this way too.

This problem reminds me of a lesson I learned one day…

The Myth of Passion and Motivation

On this particular day in the gym, there was a coach visiting who had worked with thousands of athletes over his long career, including some nationally-ranked athletes and Olympians. I had just finished my workout when I asked him, “What’s the difference between the best athletes and everyone else. What do the really successful people do that most people don’t?”

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He briefly mentioned the things that you might expect. Genetics. Luck. Talent. But then he said something I wasn’t expecting. “At some point,” he said, “it comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day and doing the same lifts over and over and over again.” That piece of advice surprised me because it’s a different way of thinking about work ethic.

Most of the time people talk about getting motivated and “amped up” to work on their goals. Whether it’s business or sports or art, you will commonly hear people say things like, “it all comes down to having enough passion.” As a result, I think many people get depressed when they lose focus or motivation because they think that successful people have some unstoppable passion and willpower that they seem to be missing. But that’s exactly the opposite of what this coach was saying.

Instead, he was saying that really successful people feel the same boredom and the same lack of motivation that everyone else feels. They don’t have some magic pill that makes them feel ready and inspired every day. But the difference is that the people who stick with their goals don’t let their emotions determine their actions. Top performers still find a way to show up, to work through the boredom, and to embrace the daily practice that is required to achieve their goals.

According to him, it’s this ability to do the work when it’s not easy that separates the top performers from everyone else. That’s the difference between professionals and amateurs.

Working When Work Isn’t Easy

Anyone can work hard when they feel motivated.

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When I was an athlete, I loved going to practice the week after a big win. Who wouldn’t? Your coach is happy, your teammates are pumped up, and you feel like you can beat anyone. As an entrepreneur, I love working when customers are rolling in and things are going well. Getting results has a way of propelling you forward.

But what about when you’re bored? What about when the work isn’t easy? What about when it feels like nobody is paying attention or you’re not getting the results you want? Are you willing to work through 10 years of silence?

It’s the ability to work when work isn’t easy that makes the difference.

It’s Not the Event, It’s the Process

All too often, we think our goals are all about the result. We see success as an event that can be achieved and completed.

Here are some common examples…

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  • Many people see health as an event: “If I just lose 20 pounds, then I’ll be in shape.”
  • Many people see entrepreneurship as an event: “If we could get our business featured in the New York Times, then we’d be set.”
  • Many people see art as an event: “If I could just get my work featured in a bigger gallery, then I’d have the credibility I need.”

Those are just a few of the many ways that we categorize success as a single event.

But if you look at the people who are consistently achieving their goals, you start to realize that it’s not the events or the results that make them different. It’s their commitment to the process. They fall in love with the daily practice, not the individual event.

What’s funny, of course, is that this focus on the process is what will allow you to enjoy the results anyway…

If you want to be a great writer, then having a best-selling book is wonderful. But the only way to reach that result is to fall in love with the process of writing.

If you want the world to know about your business, then it would be great to be featured in Forbes magazine. But the only way to reach that result is to fall in love with the process of marketing.

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If you want to be in the best shape of your life, then losing 20 pounds might be necessary. But the only way to reach that result is to fall in love with the process of eating healthy and exercising consistently.

If you want to become significantly better at anything, you have to fall in love with the process of doing it. You have to fall in love with building the identity of someone who does the work, rather than merely dreaming about the results that you want.

In other words…

Fall in love with boredom. Fall in love with repetition and practice. Fall in love with the process of what you do and let the results take care of themselves.

This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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James Clear

James Clear is the author of Atomic Habits. He shares self-improvement tips based on proven scientific research.

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Last Updated on May 6, 2021

How to Be More Assertive and Go After Your Goals

How to Be More Assertive and Go After Your Goals

Life can be tough sometimes, which is why we need to be tough sometimes, too. Learning how to be more assertive is a great way to tick off your tasks and go after your goals and dreams.

It’s not always easy being assertive, especially if you’re used to being a people-pleaser. You might fear that if you act assertively, you’ll be regarded as a demanding and unkind individual.

However, as I’ll show you in the next few minutes, you can be both assertive and kind-hearted. Most importantly, if you sincerely want to achieve your goals, then it’s essential that you call upon the power of assertiveness.

Having an assertive nature will help you overcome obstacles and reach your goals quicker than you may have imagined possible. Assertiveness is a core communication skill[1], one that allows you to stand up for your beliefs and to express yourself effectively.

Of course, there are other advantages to being assertive:

  • Earn other people’s respect
  • Boost your confidence and self-esteem
  • Create win-win situations
  • Gain more career satisfaction
  • Create open and honest relationships

At this point, you’re likely wondering what it takes to learn how to be more assertive. It will take some work on your part, but with a little effort, you can tackle this powerful skill.

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1. Be Direct

The first suggestion I have for you is based on the classic “less is more” philosophy of effective communication.

When it comes to being direct, you shouldn’t make accusations or cause the other person to feel guilty or wrong. There’s no need for long-winded explanations, which can be misleading or confusing for the recipient. Offer a simple answer that doesn’t go too deep into unnecessary thoughts and feelings.

Instead, get straight to your point as soon as you can. For example, instead of making excuses for why you can’t help a coworker on a project, simply say, “I’m really busy right now, so I can’t help with this. But please ask me again next time!” It’s direct, as well as kind, which makes both parties happy.

Being direct will also help you avoid procrastinating when it comes to offering someone an answer. Instead of waiting to say no, you’ll learn how to offer the no immediately. If you find you struggle with procrastination in this area, check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination.

2. Stay Calm

Another key component of learning how to be more assertive is having the confidence to keep your emotions in check when you need to convey something to someone. This helps in avoiding conflict while various points of view are being discussed.

The trick is to detach your emotions from the situation and think logically. This will help make it easier to come across as in control, and it will inevitably gain a more respectful response from the other party.

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3. Use “I” Statements

Make it a habit to use statements like “I feel ” or “I believe.” Avoid phrases like “you never” or “you always,” which put people on the defense immediately and can lead to poor communication and shutdowns.

“I” statements make you come off more confident and don’t make the other person feel as though you’re attacking them. In other words, state why you believe something rather than criticizing the other party’s viewpoint. 

4. Say “No” More Often

There is a great way to practice assertive behavior, which only requires you to utter a 2-letter word: no. 

By practicing saying no to things you cannot or don’t want to do, you’ll be exercising your assertiveness in a simple but effective way. You don’t need to feel that saying no is selfish; it’s simply a way to make sure you’re putting your energy toward things that matter to you.

5. Don’t Apologize 

Many people have the tendency to begin every potentially assertive statement with an apology. For example, you may say something like, “Sorry to bother you, but could you…” 

These come across as weak and passive — and certainly not assertive. 

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There’s a time and place for being apologetic (e.g., when you’ve accidentally knocked over someone’s drink), but when it comes to being assertive, don’t let an apologetic tone get in the way of what you want to say.

Studies have found that women are more likely to begin statements or requests with apologies[2]. This is because they have a lower threshold than men for what they consider offensive. This means that women need to be more aware of their tendency to do this, but men should also catch themselves before apologizing when it’s unnecessary.

6. Your Body Language Should Match Your Words 

When was the last time you paid attention to your body language and facial expressions?

If it’s been a while, then I suggest you keep a close eye on it in the next few days, particularly when it comes to talking to someone in person.

To come across as confident and assertive, your body language needs to match your words. For assertive people, this means not slumping your shoulders and avoiding eye contact. Instead, it means standing tall and erect, and looking directly in the person’s eyes.

This will serve two purposes. It will consciously and subconsciously impress the person and help them have faith in what you’re saying, and it will make you feel strong, assured, and confident.

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You can check out this TED talk from Amy Cuddy to learn more about how body language shapes the way we feel and speak:

The Bottom Line

Learning how to be more assertive comes down to the simple tips above. However, knowledge is useless without action. So, next time you need to make a request of someone or say no in order to make room for time to achieve your goals, put one of the above tips into practice.

Within a few weeks, you’ll notice you’ve become a stronger, more assertive, and more dynamic person. Furthermore, with these enhanced traits, you’ll find that reaching and exceeding your goals will become second nature to you.

More on How to Be More Assertive

Featured photo credit: Cytonn Photography via unsplash.com

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