Many of us have discovered that an important step in improving our quality of life, is to set goals and taking aligned and inspired action to achieve them. However bringing those well thought out goals to life can be quite challenging. am yet to hear of a successful business guru, gold medal athlete or first class student get to their pinnacle without set backs, procrastination or loss of motivation. What sets them apart from their counter parts, is that they never gave up on their goals, did not lose faith in their abilities and remained sharp and focused. Sometimes they have to break those old habits and interrupt those patterns that throw them off balance.
Ask me, I know this too well. When I was pursuing my PhD, I got to a point where I could find the simplest and the hardest excuse as to why I was unable to complete my dissertation. Who would ever read it? I had passed my courses anyway, so why did I need to write this book? Who even cared about what I wrote? Was it even up to standard? I was raised in a culture where reading and writing extensively were not a big deal. There is this common saying that goes something like “If you want to hide something from a black person, put it in a book.” I seriously started to buy into this false theory. I had read hundreds of books and articles during my Masters and Doctoral program and all these writers did was to debunk each other’s theories and come up with their own. So what would my contribution be? I was so demotivated it wasn’t even funny! I procrastinated, prayed that a fairy god mother would appear and finish that book for me! She never appeared! The only thing that I kept going back to was my “why”. That took my attention from the how, which is what is usually placed at the forefront of academia.
The why in life can be simply summed up in one word “VISION” and this is achieved by setting those tangible goals, or the “what.” Achieving goals is a skill that can be learned. You can learn organization skills, shift your mindset, conquer blocks to kick out procrastination and lack of motivation. there are numerous ways you can put yourself in a better position to conquer your goals. In this article I share some ways I dealt with these two monsters- procrastination and demotivation. I still use these today when I get behind on my projects. Motivation isn’t found, it is made, lets make it happen for you!
1. MAKE SURE YOUR VISION IS POWERFUL.
Your vision is like a destination. If you have ever travelled anywhere you know that you need clarity of where you are going. When I travel to my home country, Uganda, I know which airport I am flying out of but most importantly, my final destination better be Uganda. Even the flight attendant at the check-in desk asks for your final destination. Having a vision for your life gives you permission to guide your life with purpose. There are different types of vision statements, and I take my clients on a deeper journey with creating this, including creating vision activations and vision boards
2. SET BIG GOALS
Before you set your goals, it is important to connect with your heart’s desire, so your goals are heart-based. They should be BIG. Broad and balanced, Inspirational and General. I know, I know…we’ve all heard of the smart goals but trust me on this…it makes sense…eventually. Your goals should be so big that they suck you in. Have you ever heard of a little child sharing what they will be when they grow up? They describe being in a care for example, they make all the sounds a car makes, they turn that steering wheel with gusto and exaggeration, and what do the adults do? They laugh saying to the child that the reality is different. And this is how dreams start to die and goals fail.
Keep your goals BROAD and with as much detail as possible. This makes your goal so vivid in your mind that it literally comes to life. If its a house you want to build, visualize the location, the shape, walk through each room, touch each material, feel that texture etc. This way you will be INSPIRED to go for that which you saw in your minds eye. That image is difficult to crush! Keep the goal GENERAL and in the present as well, for example, “I am healthy, vibrant and spiritually connected”. So what happens with these goals is that all your action steps, lead to these BIG goals.
3. CREATE REWARD SYSTEMS
Srike a deal with yourself where you reward yourself with something fun to do once a task or goal is successfully completed. This reward can range from a favorite drink, or meal, to a trip to an exotic place. This keeps you motivated to pursue your goal within a set time-frame. I do this a lot even for simple actions like writing this blog post. I will reward myself with a kindle book I have wanted for awhile.
4. PLACE ACTIVATORS AROUND YOU
Activators are items that motivate you and can act as triggers or reminders for you to remain focused on a task at hand or goal. You can leave messages for yourself around the house. They can be mantras, affirmations stickies, inspiration quotes, or just encouraging notes in various places around the house.
My daughter leaves notes near light switches, around the houses and even on my car dash board on the passenger side where she normally sits. I use dry erase markers to write affirmations and inspiring messages on my bedroom and bathroom mirrors. These motivate and uplift me and help me start my day on a positive note, especially because they are connected to what my vision is. I also keep various objects around the house that act as triggers and activators to remind me of my goals. My family members might not even know what these mean, but I do!
5. VALUE YOUR SLEEP BUT DON’T HIT SNOOZE!
Know your body chronotype eg are you a Lark (early to bed and early to rise) or are you a Night Owl (late to bed and late to rise)? Knowing your body demands will help you ensure that you get a full healthy 8 hours of sleep. In this video I describe some of the best tips to wind down. To be honest, whether you are a lark or an owl, you can borrow those tips and use them to help you get a good and sufficient sleep. Before you sleep, set the intention of how you want your day to go when you wake up.
When its time to wake up, please don’t hit that snooze button! Don’t start your day by stealing back five or ten more minutes. Those extra minutes just kill your motivation. Remember how you start your day determines how it goes. You cannot start off by procrastinating about waking up and starting your day. These tips might help you to be motivated to start your day.
6. PRACTICE POSITIVE SELF TALK ALL DAY
This practice should start as soon as you wake up. When your alarm goes off in the morning, instead of grumbling and hitting the snooze button, craft a few positive self talk statements and place these by your bedside. These are like activations. Have various statements to take you through the day when you are tempted to give up on a task, to push you through the final pieces of a project, to motivate you to start on a difficult task, to take you through a bad traffic jam, or to even support you through an inevitable but unpleasant phone call. Make sure these self talk statements are affirming, such as “I can do this!”
7. KEEP A REGULAR SCHEDULE OR ROUTINE
Like positive self talk, it is imperative that you remain motivated throughout the day. So planning your day, anticipating what could happen to potentially interrupt your day, keeping a schedule and aim to stick by it, will keep you on track and still stay productive during the day. Once you see results, you will have momentum to keep you focused and motivated to achieve your goals and vision.
Having a routine from morning routines complete with meditations, journaling, gratitude sessions, and scheduled meal times, with the right kinds of foods will ensure you receive adequate nutrition. Knowing what to expect and knowing that once it’s done what comes next will help you make it through your day. Changes in your routine can make it difficult to think clearly and have a productive day. However, doing the same general activities in the same order can help you get going. I struggle with finding time to go to the gym as regularly as I would want to. So I have my hand weights and a yoga mat at work for the between task exercise.
8. FITNESS AND EXERCISE
Taking a morning walk or at another tie during the day, making time to go to the gym especially first thing in the morning, increases your motivation for the rest of the day. Regular exercise improves your blood flow and keeps you from feeling sleepy or lethargic throughout your day. Make time between tasks to do some stretches to improve blood flow and alertness.
9. FOCUS ON ONE ACTIVITY AT A TIME
It is believed that only a very small percentage (2%?) of people are actually multitaskers. And Most of us are definitely not, even though we claim to be. Single tasking ensures presence and consciousness, awareness, concentration and attentiveness. Multitasking actually reduces productivity which lowers motivation. Thinking about everything you have to do, lowers your energy levels. So focus on what you have to do. This preserves your mental energy. An effective way to break your work up is to chunk it up into 20 power minutes in which you focus on the task at hand then take a 2-5 min break. You can do a quick breathing meditation during this break, or simply stretch, power dance or grab a snack! This will help to maximize your concentration. It is important to notice when you are falling into the multitasking trap and bring your awareness back to the task at hand.
A to-do list is great, but a to-don’t list is even better. This helps you notice what distracts you and alerts you when you digress.
10. KEEP MOVING, DON’T STOP!
Once you get moving, don’t stop. When you feel like slowing down or stopping, or even giving upkeep pushing through and force yourself to keep going. Make sure it counts! Maintaining your momentum increases your productivity chances and you will most likely finish what you started out to accomplish in the first place. Don’t postpone anything. That’s a sign of procrastination and it will ultimately leave a lot of unwanted tasks sitting on the back burner and destroy your dreams and goals.
Persevere through whatever life throws in your direction. Track your progress by focusing on the small details of the bigger goals. Smaller goals are more attainable and keep you motivated. When you conquer them you can move on to the next step.
Get support from others. Those around you can be great resources when it comes to finding your motivation. For example an accountability buddy to help you stay focussed and keep you motivated. Sometimes family members can be that support system you need.
Take breaks to clear your mind and ab=void overwhelm. Remove yourself from the task, find a quiet space, take deep belly breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Allow your mind to relax and be clear from any stressors that might be present. A clear mind will provide you with the fresh perspective that you need to help you stay motivated and productive.
Listen to up beat music. Music improves the mood and especially upbeat and positive music can help you get going when you have low motivation. Find upbeat music that you like and play it when you lack energy and motivation.