It happens to all of us. We set intentions, we set goals, we talk about how much we want to get things done — but we don’t actually do anything. It doesn’t mean that you’re lazy or bad at prioritizing (skipping your workout to eat delicious, buttery pancakes?) – it comes down to the simple science of what actually motivates us. Sure, it takes thinking to plan what you want to get done, but in order to push yourself to see things through, emotion needs to be strongly involved in the process.
1. WHY do you want it?
Attach some emotional element to your goal by asking why you really want this. How is it going to change your life? How will it change how people perceive you? How does all that comes from achieving this goal make you FEEL? What else could you accomplish if you made this happen? These are key questions to ask yourself – you may even want to write down all of the answers and keep it as a reference for when you start to slack off again (which may be daily). Giving yourself very strong reasons to follow through and creating a vision for what you want that excites you will attach that emotion which is key to staying motivated.
2. Get rid of that shitty attitude
As Shawn Achor describes in his book The Happiness Advantage, “…doctors put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis show almost three times more intelligence and creativity than doctors in a neutral state, and they make accurate diagnoses 19 percent faster. Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56 percent. Students primed to feel happy before taking math achievement tests far outperform their neutral peers. It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive.”
Taking a note from Tony Robbins, when you are getting ready to start working towards your goal, it helps immensely to get into a peak physical state. It sounds crazy, but literally jump around – get your blood pumping. He likes using mantras – in his seminars you scream things like “I AM CAPABLE” – “I AM CONFIDENT” – “I AM POWERFUL”. Sounds pretty cheesy, but it truly does put you in a more positive state and prepares you to tackle whatever you need to do.
3. Scare yourself into action
A little fear can be a good source of motivation. Ask yourself the question: What is the cost (financial, social and emotional) of continuing to put this task off? Attaching emotional pain to continuing your procrastination is a great motivational tool. How will it feel to know in a year from now that you could be leading a happier or more successful life and did nothing? Who else are you letting down by not accomplishing your goals? For most of us, the fear of loss is actually much greater than the desire for gain – so use this to your advantage and really realize and contemplate all that will be lost by continuing to be complacent and lazy.
It may create short term pleasure to keep putting something off, but realize it ultimately leads to long term pain.
4. Find the friends who push you
The groups you associate with often determine the type of person you become. For people who want improved health, association with other healthy people is usually the strongest and most direct path of change. If you’re trying to excel at work, making it a priority to spend time with friends who are also motivated and achieving their goals will serve you well. It’s easy to hang out with friends who enable our bad behaviors and allow us to continue to slack off because they too have lower standards for themselves. Become aware of your social surroundings and search out those who you know will push you and influence you to better yourself and get things done.
Being aware of how our brains work and how to influence ourselves can help us to be more proactive with achieving our goals and the life that we want. Don’t let your slump continue one minute longer – excuses will always be there for you; opportunity will not.