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Last Updated on November 25, 2019

How to Jump on the Road To Success Today

How to Jump on the Road To Success Today

It was like being hit in the head with a sledge hammer as she turned the corner expecting a clear street dotted with tall trees and bird song, her face had a look of utter shock and horror, how could this have happened? How could she find herself here?

When you are someone that works hard to get what you want in life, how can it be that you find yourself on the wrong road? How can you tell you are on the wrong road and what can you do about it?

The person above was a recent client, although to be fair it could be anyone of thousands who I’ve helped in one way or another who suddenly as they divulge their inner most thoughts, feelings and desires realises with acute horror that this is the wrong road.

That realization that they had been working incredibly hard and it is going to get them no nearer their goals and ambitions. The person above had come to me to look at how they could work their way up their career ladder while growing their own business.

And the reason for the smack in the head the opposite of a Eureka moment was because they’d realized they’d spent the last 2 years working tirelessly, long days, with determination and passion on a goal that they didn’t really want.

Often you find that people are working in a direction thinking it will lead them to what they want when in actual fact they are getting no closer to the things that really matter like happiness, health, fun and time.

Let’s look at how you can identify the wrong road, what you can do to get off of it and how you can get yourself working in the direction you really want so you can have a life that makes you feel genuinely happy, successful and full of life.

So what are the signs that you are on the wrong road?

  • Your bank balance looks healthy and yet it fills you with no joy.
  • Your schedule is booked with new business and yet you dread the thought of every meeting and every minute of work.
  • You get home at the end of the day dispirited and wishing you were on holiday.
  • You can’t get the idea out of your head that other people have better lives.
  • You lean heavily on the wrong things in life – box sets, alcohol, gym fixes, chocolate or spending sprees to feel good.
  • You procrastinate even when deadlines loom and don’t feel a lot of guilt if you miss deadlines or make mistakes.
  • Your face smiles and says “I’m fine” when people ask you how you feel and yet your heart and mind can’t register your smile or any satisfaction in the conversation.

These (and many more) are all signs that life is not working for you, that you don’t feel like you are on the road to success; rather the road to purgatory, endlessly destined to feel negative emotions and like you need a good holiday far away from here.

So, how to jump on the road to success?

I want to take you on a metaphorical journey, share with you some ideas I know work (because they’ve helped so many of my clients) and some routes to success from my clients about the kind of results you too could get if you are ready to jump on the road to success today.

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1. Plan Your Journey

    Sometimes we can be too close to the problem to create solutions.

    Have you ever noticed you are a genius at fixing other people’s life dilemmas and yet you lay awake thinking “What the hell do I do now?” or “How do I get out of this? Or “How do I get where I want to go?”

    A good idea can be to pull away from what you are looking to achieve and think in a more metaphorical way. When we stay too close to our problems and in our own heads, it can be hard to think clearly. That is often because our minds get bogged down with the negative emotions that our mind is happy to play out like any series of Friends that is on a loop somewhere in the world.

    Our brains love to finish things for us; find yourself thinking 1 + 1? It’s hard not to conclude “2”. Therefore when you want to find a new road to success first of all stop travelling down this one for a moment to assess where you are and where you thought you were aiming to go.

    You wouldn’t get in the car and drive from Alaska to Argentina without some preparation, would you? (My friend is about to do this very journey on a motorbike and the planning has taken nearly a year!)

    Consider your own journey and can you say you put in the effort to appreciate:

    • Where are you going?
    • Are you prepared?
    • Have you planned your route?

    Think about a long journey and the things you would load up into your car. Food, water, good music, a phone, GPS, or map? What else would you take with you?

    A journey planned is far more likely to reach its destination. Don’t think of your own ambitions or goals in life (remember we can be too close to our problems to work out the best course of action) imagine a road trip and the items you would deem essential, now add what you would feel would make the journey more enjoyable?

    Now bring yourself back to the issues that you feel are in your way, did you really plan for this trip properly? What do you need to add or do to help you get where you want to go?

    2. Choose the Right Transport

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      Would you jump on the highway on a 3 year olds tricycle? No? Why not?

      It will move you forward, it has wheels, what’s the issue? Obvious right, it clearly is the wrong tool for the job. It would be dangerous, you could physically get squashed and it could take you an awful long time!

      A perfect example is the client who was looking to take on a big challenge and they’d made the mistake of treating their friends and family like their mentor or coach. A real mentor or coach is only on your agenda, that is tough for a family member or friend to do without a lot of training. The minute this client realized that these people had an vested interest and didn’t want this person to get hurt, they could see they needed a new coach.

      One that would listen, challenge and enable them to go for what they really wanted. Tools for the journey come in many guises, metaphorical and physical, would you say you are using the right ones?

      3. Don’t Follow Everyone Else

        If you get lost, you might find you can see everyone else taking the turning up ahead and think to yourself “that must be the best way to go.” And before you know it, you are on a country lane in the middle of nowhere!

        If you have planned what you want, you then need to stick to it. Just because other people are going in different directions that doesn’t mean it is right for you. It is so important to know who you are.

        I think one of the most powerful things I do with clients is enable them to appreciate the science of being who they are, knowing what matters to them, what makes them excited, passionate, angry, determined. If you don’t know your own values, desires and passions in life, it can be all too easy to find yourself heading down someone else’s definition of success.

        Another sign that you are following other people’s roads to success is that you are easily convinced to try something new. Trying new things is good for you and your success, however they are detrimental to your success if you can’t honestly justify that they fit into your own agenda and life plans.

        4. Stay in the Same Lane

          Have you ever been stuck in a traffic jam and found yourself switching from one lane to the other, only to discover that the new lane seems to be the slow lane and the one you were in is now faster?

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          Infuriating isn’t it?

          A study by The University of Toronto researchers Dr Donald Redelmeier and Dr Robert Tibshirani found that cars that constantly switch lanes actually spend more time being passed by other vehicles than they would overtaking them. And probably find themselves a lot more stressed by the journey too.

          Sometimes you have to accept that the route to success is going to have a slow day and stick with it. On those days it is worth checking you are doing the best you can and are on the right track.

          Are you working in the best possible way? Could it be more beneficial to slow down and take the time to research ideas or further your knowledge (something you can always do in the car on a long journey with a podcast) so that your patience is rewarded with a broader knowledge to achieve your success.

          Don’t be tempted to divert from where you want to go, a slow day is still getting you nearer your success.

          Remember sticking to your own path that is right for you will not always feel easy. Sometimes it is the people that dared to think differently and act differently that change the world. Your own path is far more likely to help you be one of the disrupters, innovators, and thought leaders.

          A slower day can also be a great opportunity to ask yourself these questions:

          • What can I visualize coming up ahead?
          • What obstacles may I find in the future?
          • What plans do I have to deal with those obstacles?
          • What have I just been through that I know has helped me to get to this stage?
          • What have I journeyed though that I can replicate in the future?

          Understanding the science of being you, what works, how you naturally deal with obstacles can be massively empowering and motivating.

          5. Swap Lanes

            “Whoa Mandie, you just told us to stay in the same lane. Now you are telling us to swap, make up your mind!” I hear you complain.

            Hear me out.

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            I’ve seen clients belligerently carrying on with a plan of action and slogging their guts out on stupidly long hours and they look completely emotionally destroyed and like they will never get what they want. I remember one client who was stacked with new clients, business was booming and they were great at their job, but they hated every minute of it.

            It was really tough to admit that this was not what they wanted after all. They clung on for dear life to a perception of reality that didn’t exist and was causing a lot of stress and even the risk of burnout. By accepting how much they hated their job, they were able to change lanes.

            The assumption had been that they’d “been lucky” and couldn’t replicate that level of success again, that their partner would be frustrated and annoyed with them; breaking down the barriers to honesty and enabling them to see what they really wanted and needed to have the guts to do literally changed their whole life.

            They even discovered the constant stomach troubles that plagued them disappeared too. That was a bonus they’d not expected! It takes guts to change lane and realise you were going the wrong way, don’t be hard on yourself and go it alone, who will you lean on to ensure you know you are doing the right thing and can help you to achieve it?

            6. Know That Floods Will Be Ahead

              Whether you are facing a road block, a diversion, blizzards or storms. On the journey to success, no one gets a clear ride all the time.

              I know someone that lost their premises and they were devastated. They had put so much time, effort, money and life into their big ambition only to lose the premises that would bring it all beautifully to life.

              As we worked together, you could see that that was so huge to them they could easily have given up and be knocked into a path of action that would never make them happy. Here’s what we did to help them keep going (and for the record they are now in far more awesome premises and one of the leading distributors for their company in the country!)

              1. Is this really what you want?
              2. What have you learned from this situation?
              3. What could you do? (Make this a massive long list of options, don’t narrow down to time restrictions, financial consideration, health implications or even skill set. At this stage, write every possible idea down for your brain to process and play with.)
              4. What do I know I can do to move forward?
              5. Who do I need to rely on?
              6. Who is my positivity and results vampire? (You know the person that says things like “I told you it wouldn’t work” and “it’s probably for the best” and “Maybe it just was never to be.” Keep negativity out of your life, it won’t help you.
              7. What is my plan of action?
              8. How will I know it is working?
              9. What time scale am I working to?

              Pick Your Road and Go for It

              I hope our metaphorical journey has helped you to visualize what you wish to achieve and given you some easy to action tools to make it happen. It does take confidence to go for it and find your true road to success; however, don’t turn out like the person that it took 7 years to come and see me.

              They’d considered it on numerous occasions and they’d always found a reason to keep plodding on hoping things would miraculously improve, it cost them their home, their marriage and their health before they really felt the pain and decided to re-write their future.

              Remember that no matter what road you wish to take in life, it is yours for the choosing. And if you don’t choose one, life has a way of throwing you on a road and you never know where you may end up!

              More About Achieving Success

              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

              More by this author

              Mandie Holgate

              Coach, International BEST Selling Author, Speaker & Blogger helping thousands around the world.

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              Last Updated on September 30, 2020

              Why Intrinsic Motivation Is So Powerful (And How to Find It)

              Why Intrinsic Motivation Is So Powerful (And How to Find It)

              Motivation is one of the main reasons we do things — take an action, go to work (and sometimes overwork ourselves), create goals, exercise our willpower. There are two main, universally agreed upon types of motivation — intrinsic motivation (also known as internal motivation) and extrinsic motivation (external motivation).

              The intrinsic kind is, by inference, when you do something because it’s internally fulfilling, interesting or enjoyable — without an expectation of a reward or recognition from others. Extrinsic motivation is driven by exactly the opposite — externalities, such as the promise of more money, a good grade, positive feedback, or a promotion.

              And of course, we all know about the big debate about money. It’s surely an external driver, but is it possible that it can sometimes make us enjoy what we do more? A meta-analysis that reviewed 120 years of research found a weak link between job satisfaction and money[1].

              And what’s more — there is some evidence to suggest that more money can actually have an adverse effect on your intrinsic motivation.

              Regardless of its type, motivation is still important to get you moving, to improve, excel, and put that extra effort when you feel like you don’t have a single drop of energy left to keep going.

              So, let’s see some of the best things you can do to keep the fire going, even when you’d rather just indulge in pleasant idleness.

              Why Intrinsic Motivation Tops Extrinsic Motivation

              “To be motivated means to be moved to do something.”[2]

              Generally speaking, we all need motivation.

              An avalanche of research, though, shows that when it comes to finding the lasting drive to “do something,” internal incentives are much more powerful than extrinsic rewards.

              Why? It’s simple.

              There is a great difference when you engage in something because “I want to,” as opposed to “I must.” Just think about the most obvious example there is: work.

              If you go to work every day, dragging your feet and dreading the day ahead of you, how much enjoyment will you get from your job? What about productivity and results? Quality of work?

              Yep, that’s right, you definitely won’t be topping the Employee of the Month list anytime soon.

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              The thing with external motivation is that it doesn’t last. It’s susceptible to something psychologists call Hedonic Adaptation[3]. It’s a fancy way of saying that external rewards are not a sustainable source of happiness and satisfaction.

              When you put in 100-hour weeks in order to get promoted, and you finally are, how long does your “high” last? The walking-on-a-cloud feelings wear off quickly, research tells us, making you want more. Therefore, you are stuck on a never-ending “hedonic treadmill,” i.e. you can progressively only become motivated by bigger and shinier things, just to find out that they don’t bring you the satisfaction you hoped for, when you finally get them.

              Or, as the journalist and author Oliver Burkeman wonderfully puts it[4]:

              “Write every day” won’t work unless you want to write. And no exercise regime will last long if you don’t at least slightly enjoy what you’re doing.

              If you want to find out more about the different types of motivation, take a look at this article: 9 Types of Motivation That Make It Possible to Reach Your Dreams

              Benefits of Intrinsic Motivation

              If you are still unconvinced that doing things solely for kudos and brownie points is not going to keep you going forever, nor make you like what you do, here is some additional proof:

              Studies tell us that intrinsic motivation is a generally stronger predictor of job performance over the long run than extrinsic motivation[5].

              One reason is that when we are internally driven to do something, we do it simply for the enjoyment of the activity. So, we keep going, day in and out, because we feel inspired, driven, happy, and satisfied with ourselves.

              Another reason has to do with the fact that increasing intrinsic motivation is intertwined with things such as higher purpose, contributing to a cause, or doing things for the sake of something bigger than ourselves or our own benefit. A famous study done by the organizational psychologist Adam Grant is case in point[6].

              By showing university fundraisers how the money donated by alumni can help financially struggling students to graduate from college, their productivity increased by 400% a week! The callers also showed an average increase of 142% in time spent on the phone and 171% increase in money raised.

              Internal motivation has been found to be very helpful when it comes to academia, too. Research confirms that the use of external motivators, such as praise, undermine students’ internal motivation, and, in the long-run, it results in “slower acquisition of skills and more errors in the learning process.”[7]

              In contrast, when children are internally driven, they are more involved in the task at hand, enjoy it more, and intentionally seek out challenges.

              Therefore, all the research seems to allude to one major revelation: intrinsic motivation is a must-have if you want to save yourself the drudgery we all sometimes feel when contemplating the things we should do or must do.

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              6 Ways to Enhance Your Intrinsic Motivation

              So, how does one get more of the good stuff — that is, how do you become internally motivated?

              There are many things you can do to become more driven. Here are the ones that top the list.

              1. Self-Efficacy

              The theory of self-efficacy was developed by the American-Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura in 1982[8]. Efficacy is our own belief in whether we can achieve the goals we set for ourselves. In other words, it’s whether we think we “got what it takes” to be successful at what we do[9].

              Find intrinsic motivation with self-efficacy.

                It’s not hard to see the link of self-efficacy to higher self-esteem, better performance, and, of course, enhanced motivation. People with high self-efficacy are more likely to put extra effort in what they do, to self-set more challenging goals, and be more driven to improve their skills[10].

                Therefore, the belief that we can accomplish something serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy — it motivates us to try harder to prove to ourselves that we can do it.

                You can learn more about self-efficacy in this article: What Is Self Efficacy and How to Improve Yours

                2. Link Your Actions to a Greater Purpose

                Finding your “why” in life is incredibly important. This means that you need to be clear with yourself on why you do what you do and what drives you. What is intrinsically rewarding for you? 

                And no matter how mundane a task may be, it can always be linked to something bigger and better. Psychologists call this “reframing your narrative.”

                Remember the famous story of John F. Kennedy visiting NASA in 1961? As it goes, he met a janitor there and asked him what he did at NASA. The answer was:

                “I’m helping to put a man on the Moon.”

                Inspirational, isn’t it?

                Re-phrasing how your actions can help others and leave a mark in the universe can be a powerful driver and a meaning-creator.

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                3. Volunteer

                Volunteering is a great way to give back to the world. It can also help boost your internal motivation by making you feel important in supporting the less fortunate, learning new skills, feeling good about yourself, or linking to some of your inner values, such as kindness and humanitarianism[11].

                When you remove any external reward expectations and do something for the pure joy and fulfilment of improving others’ lives, then you are truly intrinsically motivated.

                4. Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Like It” to Do Something

                A great piece in the Harvard Business Review points out that when we say things as “I can’t make myself go to the gym” or “I can’t get up early,” what we actually mean is that we don’t feel like it[12]. There is nothing that psychically prevents us from doing those things, apart from our laziness.

                But here’s the thing: You don’t have to “feel like it” in order to take action.

                Sometimes, it so happens that you may not want to do something in the beginning, but once you start, you get into the flow and find your intrinsic motivation.

                For instance, you don’t feel like going to the gym after a long day at work. Rather than debating in your head for hours “for and against” it, just go. Tell yourself that you will think about it later. Once in the gym, surrounded by similar souls, you suddenly won’t fee that tired or uninspired.

                Another way to overcome procrastination is to create routines and follow them. Once the habit sets in, suddenly getting up at 6 am for work or writing for an hour every day won’t be so dreadful.

                5. Self-Determination, or the CAR Model (As I Call It)

                The Self-Determination theory was created by two professors of psychology from the University of Rochester in the mid-80s—Richard Ryan and Edward Deci[13]. The theory is one of the most popular ones in the field of motivation[14]. It focuses on the different drivers behind our behavior—i.e. the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

                There are three main needs, the theory further states, that can help us meet our need for growth. These are also the things which Profs. Deci and Ryan believed to be the main ways to enhance our intrinsic motivation—Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness (CAR).

                If our jobs allow us to learn and grow, and if we have enough autonomy to do things our way and be creative, then we will be more driven to give our best, and our performance will soar. In addition, as humans are social beings, we also need to feel connected to others and respected.

                All of these sources of intrinsic motivation, separately and in combination, can become powerful instigators to keep us thriving, even when we feel uninspired and unmotivated .

                6. Tap Into a Deeper Reason

                Some interesting research done in 2016 sought answers to how high-performing employees remain driven when their company can’t or won’t engage in ways to motivate them—intrinsically or extrinsically[15].

                The study tracked workers in a Mexican factory, where they did exactly the same tasks every day, with virtually zero chances for learning new skills, developing professionally, or being promoted. Everyone was paid the same, regardless of performance. So there was no extrinsic motivation at all, other than keeping one’s job.

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                A third kind of motivation was then discovered, which scientists called “family motivation.” Workers who agreed more with statements such as “I care about supporting my family” or “It is important for me to do good for my family” were more energized and performed better, although they didn’t have any additional external or internal incentive to do so.

                The great thing about this kind of driver is that it’s independent of the company one works for or the situation. It taps into something even deeper—if you don’t want to do something for your own sake, then do it for the people you care for.

                And this is a powerful motive, as many can probably attest to this.

                Final Thoughts

                Frederick Herzberg, the American psychologist who developed what’s perhaps still today the most famous theory of motivation, in his renowned article from 1968 (which sold a modest 1.2 million reprints and it the most requested article from Harvard Business Review One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees? wrote:[16]

                “If I kick my dog, he will move. And when I want him to move again, what must I do? I must kick him again. Similarly, I can charge a person’s battery, and then recharge it, and recharge it again. But it is only when one has a generator of one’s own that we can talk about motivation. One then needs no outside stimulation. One wants to do it.”

                Herzberg further explains that the so-called “hygiene factors” (salary, job security, benefits, vacation time, work conditions) don’t lead to fulfillment, nor motivation. What does, though, are the “motivators”—challenging work, opportunities for growth, achievement, greater responsibility, recognition, the work itself.

                Herzberg realized it long ago…intrinsic motivation tips the scales when it comes to finding long-term happiness and satisfaction in everything we do, and to improving our overall well-being.

                In the end, the next time when you need to give yourself a bit of a kick to get something done, remember to link it to a goal bigger than yourself, and preferably one that has non-material benefit.

                And no, don’t say that you tried but it’s just impossible to find internal motivation. Remember the janitor at NASA?

                Because once you find your internal generator, you will be truly unstoppable.

                More Tips to Boost Motivation

                Featured photo credit: Juan Ramos via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Harvard Business Review: Does Money Really Affect Motivation? A Review of the Research
                [2] Contemporary Educational Psychology: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions
                [3] Scientific American: The Science of Lasting Happiness
                [4] The Guardian: Is the secret of productivity really just doing what you enjoy?
                [5] European Journal of Business and Management: Impact of Employee Motivation on Employee Performance
                [6] Adam Grant : Impact and the Art of Motivation Maintenance: The Effects of Contact With Beneficiaries on Persistence Behavior
                [7] Grand Valley State University: The Effect of Rewards and Motivation on Student Achievement
                [8] Encyclopedia Britannica: Albert Bandura
                [9] Pinterest: Self-Efficacy Theory
                [10] Educational Psychologist: Goal Setting and Self-Efficacy During Self-Regulated Learning
                [11] University of Minnesota: The Motivations to Volunteer: Theoretical and Practical Considerations
                [12] Harvard Business Review: How to Make Yourself Work When You Just Don’t Want To
                [13] Richard Ryan and Edward Deci: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions
                [14] Richard Ryan and Edward Deci: Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being
                [15] Nick Tasler: How some people stay motivated and energized at work—even when they don’t love their jobs
                [16] Harvard Business Review: One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?

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