Tips on Motivating Yourself by JT ODonnell
For better or for worse, I'm a first-born kid with a Type A personality. I've always been focused on achieving goals. I've conditioned myself, as Nike says, to "just do it." Recently, I hit a motivation plateau. A couple of large personal and professional goals I set weren't tractioning. It was a scary feeling. I started having a crisis of confidence. Some serious negative self-talk creeped into my brain. I finally stopped and pondered, "Why are my normal motivational tactics failing me?"
I had become "unconsciously incompetent" at motivating myself.
I decided to go back to learning basics. Specifically, the 4 Stages of Competency. I soon realized I'd become "unconsciously incompetent" at motivating myself. Turns out, motivation is a skill you always need to improve. Similar to enhancing your physical conditioning using muscle confusion, if you want bigger results in achieving your goals, you must shake up your self-motivation tactics. The light bulb lit up. I needed to give my motivation a serious makeover.
I developed my very own customized "motivational cocktail."
Six months of serious commitment resulted in my determining a recipe for success. Like any good recipe, it's all about the ingredients, i.e., the information, tools, and resources. Quality and consistency are key, too. I put together a custom mix of motivation and made sure I had access to it 24/7. Why? Bigger goals require constant motivation. Fighting the fear, doubt, and scolding your brain throws at you all day (and, sometimes all night!) means having access to your "motivational cocktail" at any given moment. It's like an energy drink for fortifying yourself against the fatigue of negative self-talk. Here's the four-step process I used to get my motivation back on track:
Step 1: Find New Sources
I needed to identify people who were talking about motivation in a different way and offering fresh insights and perspective. I located resources that fell into one or more of the following categories:
•Storytelling--stories to help me visualize my ability to reach my goals
•Performance conditioning--systems and techniques to build better habits
•Inspiration--people who have had it far tougher than me and achieved even bigger goals
•Nurturing--positive, with an emphasis on gratitude, to keep me upbeat
I found some excellent people who provided a much-needed confidence boost. They include:
Alden Mills--a Navy SEAL who started a fitness company that almost failed. He wrote a book for his four kids on how to be Be Unstoppable.
Dr. Isaiah Hankel--a PhD who had a career crisis in the final stages of earning his degree. He is now an expert in Black Hole Focus for goal achievement.
Shane Niemeyer--a former junkie who went from being in jail to becoming an Ironman. Today, he is an executive coach, husband, and soon-to-be first-time dad.
There's a saying, "We are the company we keep." I had to surround myself with experts who could provide me with the above. Since I couldn't follow them around all day in person, I used their books, videos, and social media presence to immerse me in their motivational teachings.
Step 2: Carve Out Time Daily
I committed to making even better use of my time. I've always been an early-riser (5:30 a.m.), but I had been using that time of day to do things that weren't vital to my success. Now, I use the morning to focus exclusively on my goals. This includes mental conditioning, physical exercise, and a mindful review of my action plan. I've lost more than 20 pounds and ran my first half-marathon since implementing this approach. This has provided a huge source of energy and confidence to help me stay motivated.
Step 3: Create a Social Media Toolkit
I reprogrammed my Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts to focus on feeding me constant streams of motivational material. I'm always looking for more experts to follow who have approaches to motivation and success aligned with my goals. My social streams are filled with quotes, insights, accomplishments, and new information I can access instantly. When negative self-talk hits, I immediately jump on social media to knock it out. Great example: This video of Shia LaBeouf's motivational speech makes me laugh!
Step 4: Build a Support Team
This was the hardest part for me. While I love helping other people with their motivation (heck, it's what I do for a living), I'm guilty of not seeking help when I need it. It was time to admit I was struggling. I personally reached out to half a dozen people I respect and admire and explained my situation. These folks were amazingly generous with their guidance. It felt good to let out everything racing through my head. Better still, their objective observations provided many aha! moments. I was able to reprogram my view of why I wasn't succeeding. With a different story in my head, I got yet another enormous boost of confidence.
The process above has done wonders for my motivation. The goals I set are tractioning, and my mental and physical energy are much improved. I encourage you to build your own motivational cocktail, and see what new levels of achievement you can reach!
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.