How to stay motivated. Part 1

Once you’ve set yourself some great goals, how do you keep yourself buzzing with the enthusiasm you need to reach them?

By definition a goal is going to be at least a bit beyond your current reach and here’s a major argument in favour of having interim goals. If you’re aiming for something 5 years ahead, there’ll be times when it all seems just too far away and too much effort.

When you’ve broken it down into smaller steps, you can feel that you’re making progress as you tick each one off the list and this keeps you motivated for the next step. But what if you don’t reach the point you wanted?

One thing to keep very firmly in mind is this: there’s no such thing as failure. Repeat after me: there’s no such thing as failure. And say it like you mean it! In fact, say it till you mean it!

It’s something that I find causes a fair few raised eyebrows and shocked stares. Otherwise intelligent people look at me as if I’ve lost my grip on reality. But, they say, of course there’s failure – you can’t just pretend that things don’t go wrong. Well, I’m not pretending. There’s getting a result you didn’t expect or didn’t want, maybe, but unless you stop there and don’t try again, how can you call that failure? You know more than you did before. If nothing else, you’ve learned another way not to do it and you may have discovered some other useful ideas as well.

And remember how important positive self-talk is. Don’t look at your result and tell yourself what a mess you made of it. Look at it and ask what do I know now that will help me next time? There’s a story I like of a middle manager in a big American company who made a mistake that cost the company $8 million. He went to his boss and said “I expect you’d like me to resign.” “ Resign?!” said his boss, horrified, “it’s just cost me $8 million to train you!”

So if you’re thinking of giving up because you didn’t get the result you wanted ask yourself what it’s cost you in time/money/emotion and if you really want to throw all that investment away. Make sure that you’ve wrung every last drop of learning and benefit from the experience.

As another great way of staying motivated, I’d encourage you to find someone to be your buddy. It’s a system that’s increasingly used these days to help people familiarise themselves with new, potentially daunting situations. New kids at school for example or someone starting a new job will often be given a buddy to support them.

Who do you know who can do a bit of hand-holding or a bit of cheerleading? Who can lend a sympathetic ear and maybe also give you the occasional “You can do this!” kick up the backside? Who will listen as you sketch out your ideas and give you constructive feedback?

Pick carefully. You need someone you trust of course and preferably someone not directly involved in or affected by what you’re doing. You also need someone who doesn’t cap all your revelations with stories of their own, far more traumatic experiences!

Next time, my favourite way to help yourself stay motivated – although I have to warn you, you may kick a bit when you hear what it is.

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