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The Art of How to Make Progress

The Art of How to Make Progress

Have you noticed how knowing how to make progress is one of those things that only seems massively important when you’re not making progress?

The stinger is that being able to get that feeling of making progress is so essential to motivating ourselves to keep going. Without it, we feel stuck and get frustrated very easily. We lose hope. We give up. We don’t see the point in trying, if we’re not going anywhere.

In fact, being able to make progress is essential to feeling like you’re living a kick-ass, meaningful life.

Without it, you will certainly slip into negative thinking, questioning what it’s all for, and why should you bother. Feeling stuck is just a natural consequence of not triggering that feeling of progress.

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The good news is you don’t have to light up the world to turn it all around (even though this is precisely what most movers and shakers try to do!)

If you’re a go-getter, I KNOW you’ve been there before.

How do I know?

Because this is a common problem experienced by people who have big dreams, and a desire to go out and set the world alight. It’s not something experienced by people without vision or ambition.

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Unraveling the Go-Getters’ ‘Stuckness’

I’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, and the most common block that talented people come up against is trying to do everything, all at once. Even if they don’t intend to actually do everything in one go, they still try to see that track they’re going to run on.

The way to overcome this is both simple and sophisticated.

Let me explain.

It’s simple in that you have to take the first obvious step forward to be able to make progress. Don’t try and make it complicated or too involved. Imagine you’re hitting a golf ball… you don’t want to be whacking it all around the course. Just put it as close to the hole as you possibly can.

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It’s also simple in that you need to know where you’re going and keep in mind that bigger outcome you’re shooting for. Paint that picture of where you want to get to in your mind’s eye: even if it’s something like finishing the paperwork clogging up your desk, or getting the kitchen cleared up. Visualize the end result – the task finished.

Right, now here’s where it gets sophisticated.

You need to keep your eye on both of these things at the same time: the end goal, and the simple, direct baby steps.

Take your eye off the baby steps, and you get mentally absorbed into a candy-land dream that will never materialist. Take your eye off the big picture, and you get trapped in the long grass of minutia.

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Every Journey Begins With A First Step

With that in mind, here is the step-by-step process to making effective progress quickly:

  1. Get clear on where you want to end up. See the end goal – and sure, plan this end result in lots of detail.
  2. Now chunk back and decide what is the most obvious first thing you need to do.
  3. Take the first obvious step, holding in mind the big picture, i.e. where you want to end up.
  4. When you’ve done that, take the next step.
  5. Only ever plan the next two or three steps down the way.

Between Minutia and Candy Land

The road to real, tangible, jaw-dropping, tummy-turning progress lies slap-bang between those two worlds. You need to walk with one foot in each, and divide your attention between each on a daily basis, to really take the straightest path to where you need to go.

It works beautifully if you have an idea of what you want to create and where you want to end up. Sure, you can imagine and visualize all the detail in that end result… but trying to map in the same detail *how* you’re going to get there is flat out going to mess you up.

Name Your Candy Land

I’m curious to see what you’re shooting for. Leave me a comment, and describe your big vision – that ultimate goal you’re going to work towards.

Movers and shakers make things happen by getting clear on where they’re going, and then using the process described above.

That’s it! Go ahead and leave a comment sharing your ultimate vision for what you want to create.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.

So how to stay motivated most of the time? Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want:

1. Find Your Good Reasons

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first but, if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.

Even when you set goals, there needs to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

  • A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
  • Personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way.
  • A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.
  • A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

2. Make It Fun

When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it.

Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!

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Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some. Yet many others love the idea!

They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.

Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!

A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How can I enjoy this task?
  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
  • How can I make this work the best part of my day?

As long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable, you will start to feel motivated.

Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing no matter how hard you try making it fun. You’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.

However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.

3. Change Your Approach And Don’t Give Up

When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach for the task.

You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

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That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common — if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal.

My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.

4. Recognize Your Progress

Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.

Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:

Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.

For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

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You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages, this information will have little meaning.

Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.

For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.

5. Reward Yourself

This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. This is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!

Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone.

Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.

For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.

For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself a dessert.

For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

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Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating but, take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.

The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.

Mix and Match

Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

Pick one of the techniques and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for the best results.

Just think about it: Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to helping you feel better; and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

Or, if you plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that, agree on rewarding yourself as you go; this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.

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Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

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