“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
It is easy to get caught up in the supposed urgency of a situation. You start thinking, “I must get this done NOW or else.” But there are few times when you must do a task NOW. More often than not, it is a matter of making a good decision about when to do it.
Let’s say you discover that you have put about 5,000 miles on your car since your last oil change. You need to schedule an oil change. But you don’t need to do so this minute. The car won’t stop running right away. You have some time.
You know that it is a good idea to change your oil to keep your vehicle running as efficiently as possible. But the oil change is not so urgent that you must drop everything and run off to your neighborhood service station.
Keeping your car’s engine running properly is your motivation to change the oil regularly. By working this task into your schedule, your car will run smoothly, the engine will last longer, you won’t have to buy a new car for several years. If you didn’t have that motivation, you might push that non-urgent task to the bottom of your to-do list. You might even forget about it. It becomes non-urgent and non-important.
Your long-term goals are “non-urgent,” just like that oil change. But, like that oil change, they are important. You just need to find a way to motivate yourself to add those goal-setting tasks to your schedule and take action to complete them.
Here are five Motivation Keys you can use to activate your “completion mentality” and unlock the door to success:
KEY #1: KNOW WHY YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE THIS GOAL
Ask yourself about the “whys” behind your goals. Perhaps you are a runner and your goal is to win the next Boston Marathon. Why do you want to accomplish this goal? Is it the health benefits of getting into shape? Is it the possibility of meeting new people? Or do you simply want to be able to say you participated? No matter what your motivation, you still have to endure months of disciplined, rigorous training.
But picking the right motivation is crucial to whether you actually follow through. If your motivation is to get into shape, for instance, you might find it difficult to push past the point of “being in shape.” After all, you’ll be fit as a fiddle long before you are actually ready to compete. If you hit a snag – maybe a week of being sick with a cold – it will be easy to fall behind on that goal. “I’m already fit,” you might think. “Why push myself to train for a marathon when I’m already in shape?”
KEY #2: HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS
A personal sense of accomplishment is very motivating in and of itself.
About two years ago, I set out to get a private pilot’s license. Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of taking off into a clear blue sky. Once I turned that dream into a goal, I achieved it in eight months.
I do not come from an aeronautical or engineering background, so learning this new skill was incredibly challenging for me. However, I was highly motivated by my own personal expectations. And once I became a licensed private pilot, I was even more motivated to continue the process. (In flying we say, “Once you have your private pilot’s license, you now have a license to LEARN flying.”)
Challenges make us define our commitments and implement a “do what it takes” attitude. Stretching yourself expands your horizons.
I obtained my private pilot’s license after about 100 hours. I now have over 450 hours under my belt that include too many joyful memories to share in this message. Suffice it to say that none of those memories would have been possible had I not started with lessons… had I not kept going and going… and going. The simple desire to accomplish this lifelong goal was huge motivation for me, and it powered me forward.
Don’t underestimate the power of expectations. You have your own expectations of what you can accomplish. Plus, you have the combined expectations of your teachers, parents, friends, clients, employers, and colleagues. Research has shown that most people live up to these expectations. A sales manager who sets a higher standard than her counterpart will likely see greater production from her sales team than if she sets a lower standard. In other words, our motivation to meet the expectations of others – and those we have for ourselves – propels us to succeed.
KEY #3: KEEP UP A “CAN DO” ATTITUDE
Whatever you aspire to do, you must believe that you can do it. In reality, the bigger your goal, the bigger the obstacles you will face along the way. Having faith in yourself and your abilities is the key to success.
When you have a defeatist “I can’t do this” attitude, your negative expectations become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sure, you may not be able to accomplish your goal right this second. But remind yourself that every goal is a journey, with many steps along the way.
Fear and negativity limit your imagination and ability to “look outside the box.” Inspire and motivate yourself by maintaining a ” can do” attitude.
KEY #4: TAKE A LOOK AT THE LARGER PICTURE
Winning a sales contest or receiving a bonus is an incentive to achieve … but only in the short term. The key to sustaining your progress over the long haul is to have a larger picture of what you want to accomplish.
Let’s say your 2008 health goal is to lose 10 pounds. But that’s only a short-term, one-year goal. Your “larger picture” goal may be to keep healthy so you can live longer, which will allow you to spend more time with your spouse, children, and grandchildren. To travel the world like you always wanted to… to live out your retirement without heart problems or diabetes.
Focusing on the “larger picture” will get you over the inevitable low points you’ll encounter on your path to success.
KEY #5: TAKE ACTION
Only YOU can decide to be motivated. Nobody else has that power. Accomplishing your goals begins with your decision to take action. Yes, fear and lack of confidence can creep into your mindset. And, yes, those things can extinguish your motivation. Toss them out. Choose to be positive. Then take action. You’ll find that taking even a single small step toward accomplishing a goal will motivate you to take the next step.
You may be scared, but push on ahead into that joint venture or new job and see where it takes you. What’s the worst that can happen?
6 Motivating Questions to Ask Yourself
As you work toward your goals, ask yourself:
- Am I willing to challenge myself to reach this goal?
- Can I leverage my “ordinary” skills into extraordinary results?
- Do I know the “bigger picture” of what I want to achieve with this goal?
- Am I clear on why I want to accomplish this goal?
- Will I choose a “can do” attitude while pursuing this goal?
- Can I dig a little deeper to make this goal happen?
Answer these questions honestly and make a commitment to take action. This will put the “oil” in your motivational engine that will sustain your journey to success.[Ed. Note: Robert L. Cox is the creator of The Billionaire Way and is the “voice” of ETR’s Total Success Achievement Program . Get weekly motivational messages and twice-monthly teleseminars full of proven advice to help you stay on track with your goals and push past any obstacles in your path.]