“I’d like to… I want to… I wish I would…”
Sometimes it can feel like our fleeting ambition to accomplish great things and our “motivation” to take action are two parallel, non-intersecting lines. We have a vision of what we want, we just lack the consistent, focused, motivation it takes to get it.
“If I only had more self- discipline…”
“If I only had more willpower…”
“If I could only be more motivated!”
Self-discipline, willpower and motivation. We have grown to believe that these are magical powers held by the blessed few. We often wait in vain, hoping to “catch” these superpowers, like a cold, so we can make our lives extraordinary.
It’s time to stop waiting around.
In the real world, self discipline, willpower and even the notion of “motivation” are just like magical powers—an illusion. They are buzzwords created to give us an “out” when we fail to prioritize effectively.
It’s much easier to say, “I don’t have the self discipline to ____________.” than to say, “______________ is not a priority in my life.”
If you want to give yourself a kick in the you-know-what and start living the life you deserve, it’s time to quit using these buzzwords as excuses.
Here are three powerful ways to motivate yourself to start living extraordinary right now.
1. Redefine “Motivation”
Start embracing motivation as “the necessity to act.” When you wake up early, get dressed, feed yourself and your family, and go to work, do you do that because you are so “motivated”?
We do these things because we believe they are a necessity based on our beliefs and values, and the needs we have associated with these beliefs and values. We want a job, our health, our family’s health, a home, etc. For various reasons, we hold these in a high order in our value structure. Our consistent action to attain and retain these things becomes reflexive.
In his bestselling book, Start with WHY, Simon Sinek, a leadership and management expert, talks about linking our ambitions to our values and beliefs to create tremendous, consistent action. This is the formula that has created successful conquests, businesses and innovations around the world.
Consider something in your life you have been waiting for the “willpower” to accomplish. Maybe it’s changing a behavior. Maybe it’s taking action on a dream.
Where does this “something” fit into your value system? Take out a pen and start writing: “This is a necessity to me because I believe _________________.” How would taking action on this affect the aspects of your life you deem important? What happens to those things if you don’t take action?
Conversely, try writing: “This is NOT a necessity to me because I believe ____________________.” Allow distraction to enter this self-dialogue. Let the excuses flow without judgment. Be truthful with yourself. Write down the thought process in your moments of weakness. “I need a break,” “I’m tired,” “I don’t have time,” etc.
Now post these two opposing notions somewhere that you can consistently see them. You may need to rewrite these on a regular basis as you become clearer on the link between your ambitions, your values and your need to act.
Once something moves from ambition to need, action is a reflex.
2. Ready, Fire, Aim
It’s easy to live under “paralysis by analysis.” We think and plan, think and plan, and then think and plan some more. While thoughtful planning is important for success, this process can often leave us with a million reasons to feel fearful, apprehensive and inept.
The result? All thinking and planning—no action.
Fitness industry leader Todd Durkin often uses a battle cry shared with him by his mentor, renowned life coach Ali Brown: “Ready, fire, aim!”
Sometimes we have to move past the fear, apprehension and feeling of ineptness brought on by constant planning to literally create the need to act. This is a way we can use our innate, emotional impulsiveness to accomplish extraordinary things.
Consider the laundry list of things you often have to do the day before you go on vacation. Regardless of the differences between the length of the list and your limited time, the important stuff gets done before you step out the door. Likewise, think back to finals week in school—the demands may have seemed impossible, but somehow you got it done.
In these situations, you ignited action by creating a non-negotiable endpoint and then figured out how to get there. Ready, fire, aim.
Consider something you have wanted to do, but have failed to take any meaningful action on, yielding to the never-ending planning and rationalization process. How could you create a non-negotiable endpoint, and then figure out how to make it happen? Here are some examples:
- Trying to lose weight? Schedule a non-refundable photo shoot in your swimsuit six weeks from now.
- Want to learn a new skill? Sign up for a class at a local college where you will be graded.
- Want to write a book? Send an Evite to at least 20 people for a “rough draft” launch party 12 weeks from now.
Notice how these all require public acknowledgement and an investment of some sort. Public acknowledgement holds us accountable to our reputations and legacies. These are things we all innately hold high on our list of values as humans.
Consider how you could “fire” today on something you have been waiting until you’re “ready” to do. Create a non-negotiable endpoint, and then aim your energy at making it happen.
3. Supercharge Your Environment
Legendary motivational speaker Jim Rohn suggests, “You're the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Who do you aspire to be? How do you want to be defined? Do your social circles reflect this? Does your social support system bring you closer to your version of an extraordinary life, or are they a source of distraction and justified victimhood?
The environment we place ourselves in has a tremendous bearing on our sense of reality. It continually reinforces our beliefs, whether these beliefs are proactive or detractive in our lives.
This impact of environment extends beyond your social circle. Are the places you spend most of your time designed to help you act in line with your ambitions and values, or are they full of distractions? Quite often, we go out of our way, spend money and sacrifice much of our time for these distractions.
While there are “softer” facets of life outside of ambition and action, it’s important to ask yourself how big of a role your self-imposed distractions play in preventing you from living extraordinary.
Grab a pen and paper right now. It’s time to stop daydreaming. To live an extraordinary life in line with your values and beliefs, you have an OBLIGATION to take action on your dreams.
Self- discipline, motivation and willpower become reflexive when we direct our energy toward the need to act. Act with purpose and make your intention known to the world. You will figure out how to make it happen when you create an environment for success.
“I want to,” “I’d like to” and “I’m going to” will give you hope.
“I did” turns that hope into an extraordinary life.
Ready. Set. GO!