Even the most motivated people in the world can lack motivation at times. And sometimes we can get into such a rut that even thinking about positive changes is too much to ask. But what if I told you it’s not hopeless? What if I told you there were proven steps, backed up by science that could help you overcome procrastination and make positive progress in your life. Well, in this post I will do exactly that.
What most people don’t understand about motivation is that it is a process. Just like learning the guitar, it takes time, repetition and discipline. The good news is that anybody… Even people with crippling self-doubt and laziness, can stop procrastinating and overcome their lack of motivation to reach their goals. To quote Rocky:
The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!
Many of us feel overwhelmed, apathetic, or just plain lazy at times. The good news is that many of the most successful people in the world have found themselves in a similar situation and bounced back. Did you know that there was a time when even the great Tony Robbins was 30 pounds overweight and spending his days watching soap operas continuously?
Exactly… It’s never too late to become the person you could of been.
I’m going to help you make these positive changes in your life by showing you how to harness your own motivation to get things done. By the end of these 5 simple steps you will have the tools to overcome any barrier to motivation.
1. Get Clear On One Goal
Whenever I’ve found myself in a slump I’ve realized it’s because I am overwhelmed; I’m trying to do too much at once. This not only drains my focus and willpower but creates procrastination urges. It’s critical that you focus on one goal, the one action the you’ve been putting off; but if you followed through with, would change your quality of life drastically.
Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to read more? Do you want to wake up earlier?
Step 1 Action – Get your goal clear, in writing, and as specific as possible. For example: I will lose 20 pounds by August 10th 2016.
2. Get Leverage
Leverage is quite simply the fuel behind your motivation, it’s your “why”. Humans are wired to avoid pain and move towards pleasure. This is why you can have dozens of delicious gin and tonics and then as soon as you drink too many and become sick, you never drink it again. Whenever we are trying to get motivated for change, we are experiencing short term pain in order to gain long term change that increases our quality of life.
In order to overcome the short term pain, there must be no other option but change, it should be emotional and stubborn. Only when we manufacture the necessary leverage in our minds for change is when it sticks. Get angry, get upset, think about what eating unhealthy food is costing you long term, say “never again”… There should be tremendous pain to not taking action now.
Step 2 Action – Find out your leverage points of pain and pleasure and connect them to your goal in writing.
3. Set Up Your Routine To Success
Whenever setting goals it’s important to realize that there are forces other than motivation at work. Below is the habit cycle, by breaking down your daily actions into this loop you will be able to make the cycle work in your favor, rather than it trapping you to your current habits. It’s important to note that routines in the loop don’t have to be big to reinforce it, start small. Once the habit is formed it’s much easier to increase the action.
For example: wake up 10 minutes earlier every week or do 2 minutes of exercise every day at a specific time, which leads to even greater action once the habit is formed.
Step 3 action – Input your chosen goal into the habit cycle and break down the behaviour into Reminder, Routine & Reward. Then create small things you can do every day to create the habit, as well as reminders and rewards.
4. Create Accountability
In Cialdini’s classic book, Influence, he talks about how humans are wired to be consistent with their actions and how this is used in advertising and marketing to get more sales. The good news is that you can use this irrational human trigger to help you reach your goals. A great example is Marathons. My friend ran the London marathon. He wasn’t a seasoned athlete and probably hadn’t undergone anything as physically intense as a marathon in his life. Now, if he hadn’t told anyone he was doing it, or didn’t use any methods of accountability, I’m not sure he would have completed it. But he did a lot of things which made it almost impossible not to follow through. Firstly, he ran for a charity and asked friends to donate. He posted a lot on Facebook about his progress and training. He got an app which scheduled training for him. He found himself a training buddy. All this accountability helped him complete the marathon.
Step 4 Action – Tell people about your goal, tell them I will give you £20 if I don’t lose X weight by X date and sign it, post it on Facebook. Find online / offline communities to join.
5. Remember Why You Started
It’s so easy to fall off the bandwagon of your initial motivation, that’s why it’s so important to remember why you started. Use a couple of “reminding phrases” (Healthy food, Happy Mind) or Mantras to repeat, and put them in places where you can see them late at night and early in the morning. You can go a step further and record a video of yourself talking to your future self about your motivations for changing and why you should keep going when things get tough.
Step 5 Action – Write down your mantras and record a video to help remind you why you started.