How to Stay Motivated and Stick to Your Goals
Here's everything you wanted to know about motivation but didn't know who to ask: the basics of motivating yourself
I would like to start by sharing a small excerpt from an incredibly riveting book, which reveals how powerful the human spirit is, even when opposed by extreme elements. This quote, which illustrates how intense desire can help us forge through unbelievable obstacles, comes from Into Thin Air...
When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996, he hadn't slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin his long, dangerous descent from 29,028 feet, twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly toward the top. No one had noticed that the sky had begun to fill with clouds. Six hours later and 3,000 feet lower, in 70-knot winds and blinding snow, Krakauer collapsed in his tent, freezing, hallucinating from exhaustion and hypoxia, but safe. The following morning, he learned that six of his fellow climbers hadn't made it back to their camp and were desperately struggling for their lives. When the storm finally passed, five of them would be dead, and the sixth so horribly frostbitten that his right hand would have to be amputated.
I've often wondered what must go through a person's head during such a challenging event. In fact, I even wonder whether a person in this type of tragic circumstance feels like giving up altogether. Or, is this even a choice, given their internal desire?
What's inside people like this that drives them to continue on? What propels them to dig so deep into their souls they simply cannot (or will not) see failure as an option? What is the internal driving force that motivates them to reach their ultimate goals?
Over the years, I've come to realize my strengths and weaknesses. Thankfully, one of my primary strengths is the drive, determination, and perseverance I have to continuously outdo myself. To become a better, smarter person. A better Father. Brother. Son. Husband. And on the top of my list is my desire for improved health and physical appearance. For some reason, I adopted this mindset from a very early age—right after my parents divorced.
Was it vanity? I don't think so. Pride is more like it.
As I've continued to try to better myself as a person, I've always striven to learn more and more about the mental aspects of motivation. Motivation is, in some ways, like the match to a fire. It's akin to the spark in a car engine cylinder. I've studied its uses and drawbacks in both ordinary and extraordinarily successful people for years. So by now, I'd like to think I know a great deal about human mental performance. But like all things in life, we remain students for as long as we are open to learning.
If there's one thing I've learned for sure, though: motivation almost never lasts, whereas inspiration can serve as a long-term guide to your ultimate goal.
Nonetheless, I've also become aware of the fact that without motivation, there would be no action or the slightest movement in the direction toward any particular set of goals. So, as you can plainly see, motivation is as important as inspiration. We just need to understand how to use it more thoughtfully.
But what happens when, after starting a new diet, workout program, or transformation quest, our motivation wanes? ...what happens when, for some unknown reason, we're not noticing the type of progress we were expecting? Or worse, we stop seeing any progress at all? How do we reignite the fire?
These are all excellent questions. Ones I've worked hard to answer.
So please allow me to share with you the most powerful strategies I've used to keep myself (and others) on the right path... regardless of the situations encountered along the way—to help you reach your goals of a new, healthier, stronger, more muscular body.
Increase Your Confidence
Sometimes the accomplishment of our goals might seem so overwhelming, the immediate temptation is to give up before we even start—which diminishes our self-confidence even further.
Success Strategy #1: MEASURE YOUR PROGRESS. This way, you will never, at any time, lack a sense of accomplishment, and more powerfully, you will be building your confidence with each and every step. You see, we can't gain confidence until we begin to take action, which in effect builds our confidence. Yet, we don't want to take action until our confidence levels are raised sufficiently, and we feel certain about our new endeavour. See the dilemma here?
I know this sounds crazy…but, what if I told you that you can gain your confidence, little-by-little, by taking action on your transformation goals and measuring your progress, one step at a time.
You see, ultimately, our level of confidence is increased only when we do something tangible that can be measured for progress. Take, for example, the intimidating obstacle of viewing your entire transformation goal as needing to be achieved in a giant, single step. That's paralyzing, isn't it?
That's why, to gain your confidence, you must break your transformation goal down into measurable increments or steps. Something on a weekly basis works great. For example, if you wanted to lose 12% body fat within 12 weeks, then you could realistically set your increments for 1% of body fat reduction per week. This way, you don't have to focus on the whole transformation goal at any given time, nor do you notice all that you have not yet accomplished to date. Instead, you can focus on the smaller, manageable steps ahead, and celebrate each accomplishment along the way. This gives you a tremendous sense of control, forward motion, and achievement. And builds your confidence, each step of the way.
I promise, by the time you are nearing the end of your first couple of weeks of your transformation program, despite the ups and downs in progress, you will begin to feel more confident. You will stretch your "comfort zone" and do something more than you originally thought you were capable of doing. You will be utterly determined to advance one more step and another, and so on, and make the effort to complete your transformation program and build your very best body.
Suddenly, as the fear dissipates, you will discover your newfound confidence. And best of all, you will have achieved what you once thought was impossible—one step at a time.
As the late Eleanor Roosevelt said, "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." When you do, notice how your confidence soars, every time!
Success Strategy #1: MEASURE YOUR PROGRESS. The path to the transformation success you desire, which appears to be out of reach, is accomplished only through measuring your progress, one step at a time. This way, you will never, at any time, lack a sense of accomplishment, and more powerfully, you will be building your confidence with each and every step.
Set SMART Goals
Goals come from having a clear vision of what you want. Knowing that you want to build your very best body is a great start, but you need something more than that—a statement so compelling it literally pulls you, like a magnet, in the direction of its achievement.
So you say you're not certain how to set effective goals? Well, don't worry, everyone starts off this way...merely stating they want to get into better shape or have a slimmer waist. And these statements might be as good as it gets for them.
But to really set effective transformation goals and ensure you'll reach them, you're going to have to learn what I call the SMART technique in goal setting to pave your way to sure success.
Success Strategy #2: TRANSFORM YOUR FITNESS GOALS
Using the S.M.A.R.T. technique will ensure you've set an effective and commanding goal and compel you to achieve it. Not only will this technique enable you to set the most effective commanding goals, it will help focus your efforts on exactly what you want to achieve.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
(S)pecific—you must be specific about what you want to achieve, creating your goal in the present tense…that means using "I am (in the process of…)" to start your goal statement.
(M)easurable—how do you measure "better shape" or a "slimmer waist?" You can't. Therefore, you must ensure your progress can be measured by scaling your goal to a specific number (e.g., 10% body fat, a 33-inch waist, or a size 6).
(A)ction-oriented—you must be able to create an action list of things you must do to achieve success (this is similar to a to-do list, only it pertains directly to the achievement of your goal).
(R)ealistic—make certain your goal is realistic, that it stretches you but is something you can achieve, given your expectations and timeframe.
(T)ime-conscience—this is where we harness the power of a deadline. Nothing becomes important to us unless we set a deadline on it. A date forces us to give it a priority and set positive pressure on us to achieve it.
Success Strategy #2: TRANSFORM YOUR FITNESS GOALS. Using the S.M.A.R.T. technique will ensure you've set an effective and commanding goal—and will not only clarify your path to success but will compel you to achieve it.
Find Your Source of Motivation (through Inspiration!)
So you need a little source of motivation in your life—something to get you out of bed in the morning and carry you through the day—something to feverishly motivate you through to the end to meet your transformation goals? Well, what if I told you there is a direct relationship between motivation and inspiration, and sources of each of these are all around you, all of the time.
Success Strategy #3: FIND AN INSPIRATION
Discover your source for inspiration, someone who has turned their body and life from ordinary to extraordinary.You see, motivation is something we feel, deep inside, that compels us to move toward our goals—it's usually a quick burst, in the moment so to speak, and can fade in an instant as well.
On the other hand, inspiration is more enduring. Inspiration is derived from sources all around us—personal heroes who energize and inspire you because of the level of success they have achieved, for example. These sources of inspiration can be used to motivate us daily and keep us on track because they too had to break through the same barriers, persevere through similar shortcomings, and overcome equal challenges.
One way to continually "see" what you want to become is to find a picture of someone's physique you would most like to emulate (probably in your favourite fitness magazine), cut it out, and hang it someplace where you're likely to see it over and over again throughout the day. You might even jot down your reasons for wanting to achieve this goal.
This process allows you to physically see the body you want to achieve—pointing your subconscious toward the realization of your future body. This constant source of inspiration is a reminder of who you want to become and where you are going. They can lift you to a higher place by allowing you to reveal an inner strength that goes beyond results and goals.
Success Strategy #3: FIND AN INSPIRATION. Discover your source for inspiration, someone who has turned their body and life from ordinary to extraordinary. The personal trials our heroes, friends, and other individuals have endured reaching their transformation success can provide us with a powerful source of inspiration and lessons for our own quest for improvement.
Some Final Thoughts...
Remember, no path to building a better body is a straight line. Life doesn't work that way. But I've often noted that we move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts, and we can overcome those barriers if we decide to face them head-on and transform their power. If this is true, then only by committing to turning these obstacles into powerful success strategies will you begin to create lasting results in your body and achieve your transformation goals.
So the next time you're trekking up Mount Everest, or more likely, you're working out to achieve a new, better body... tap into your source of inspiration using these simple guidelines and strategies. I guarantee you can't go wrong following this approach—I've seen it work for many, many others in their quest to build better bodies and improve their lives.
Check out my Coaching Website www.goalsuccesscoach.com