Achieving the really big goals and dreams always involves breaking it down into do-able little steps. Assuming that you’ve picked a goal or dream that you really love working at, then most of the steps are a delight to take. No matter how much you love your dream and no matter how much you love your work, there are going to be tasks along the way that you really don’t want to do. Those pieces of work that we hate doing can be the very ones that sabotage our success. How do you stay motivated during those parts of the journey?
1) Reward yourself. Let’s say that I want to lose twenty pounds. That’s not too much, but it’s still going to involve more days of self discipline that I feel like doing. So, I reward myself with a little treat every time I drop five pounds. I get to have one of my favorite fattening meals at the end of each five pound loss. Then I go back to my diet. At the end, I get to go on a shopping spree to buy new clothes. Come up with a reward that you can use to motivate yourself.
2) Do it for love of someone else. My teenage son proposed a deal that works for both of us. I don’t smoke cigarettes and he doesn’t experiment with drugs. Every time one of us is about to give in to temptation, our love for each other stops us. I can’t light up knowing that he might start doing drugs because I broke our deal. He hates the idea of me dying of cancer, so he never touches any kinds of drugs offered to him by his peers. The love of someone else can motivate you to do what you otherwise might not be able to do for yourself.
3) Trade work with someone else. I’ve watched my kids perfect this style of motivation. My son will offer to scrub out the showers if my daughter will do the dishes for him. Hiring someone to do the work you don’t want to do is actually a form of trade. Barter or pay someone else to do it for you, so that you can continue moving forward with your dreams.
4) Truly consider quitting. I’m not telling you to quit, but to really think about it. If you’ve got a goal or dream that means a lot to you and you’ve already invested a large part of yourself into making it happen, then what would quitting feel like? Is avoiding the difficult or distasteful task worth giving up on your goals and dreams? The love of your long-term goal can motivate you not to quit.
5) Share the misery. This reminds me of friends in college getting together to study for an upcoming test. Having friends along can make the experience more festive then it would have been if you were doing it alone. Is there a way to team up with a friend so that the work is easier or at least more enjoyable?
6) Just get it over with. One of my all time favorite quotes about getting past your inner blocks was written by Stuart Wilde in his book The Quickening, “Cut the shit and do the thing.” Yeah it’s a bit rough, but we all know those stoic tough people who simply roll up their sleeves and dive in know matter how much they may hate the task before them. Take on a soldier’s mindset and just get to work doing the ugly parts so you can move on to the more rewarding parts of making your dreams a reality.
7) Get training or education. Quite often, we don’t like doing something because deep down we don’t think we know how or that we are talented enough. So, get the education, do the research, learn the necessary skills, or whatever else it is that you need to do to get ready for taking that next step. Once you’ve properly trained yourself, then you might even be enthusiastic about taking that next step.
8) Take a running start at it. Think of riding your bike uphill. It doesn’t take kids very long to figure out that the best way to get that bicycle to the top of the steep hill is to build up a lot of speed before you even get to the base of the hill. You then let that momentum help to propel you most of the way up. Heck, with enough of a running start you can sometimes make it all the way up without any major struggles. If there is a way to pace yourself and reschedule the not so fun parts of accomplishing your goals until after you’ve completed a bunch of the cool parts, then do so. The highs of your mini successes will help inspire you to push past the parts that you are avoiding.
9) Figure out a different way to do it. This is the supreme way to avoid doing the task all together. Be creative, be smart, think outside the box. Is there any way to make your dream come true without having to actually do the specific duty that you’re wanting to avoid? Sometimes you can find another way. Other times, just knowing that there is definitely no other path to your dreams other than the one before you is enough to motivate you to just buck up and get through it.
What’s most important is not how you keep yourself motivated but that you keep the long-term benefits of your goals in mind. If you focus too much on avoiding the uncomfortable parts of accomplishing your goals, then you won’t accomplish much. Find a way to keep going and remember that all things come with a price. Pay the price so you can get on with enjoying the dream.