Staying Motivated

I spent about an hour recording takes for this video, but I wasn’t really happy with any of them. So this reminded me of a few years ago when I was trying to meet new people. I was going out with friends, or on my own chatting to a lot of people on the street, on the subway and in many different places. I was really trying to improve my social skills, to communicate honestly and become more confident. I wanted to get in contact with what I feel and learn how to honestly communicate that to others and see if there is resonance. Many times, even if I would go out and talk to many people I felt very discouraged. I had big goals and it was almost impossible for me to meet my expectations. Many times there just wasn’t a connection with anyone and sometimes I wasn’t even having very pleasant interactions. Thinking back I was trying to control variables that clearly were not in my control, and this was making me feel very discouraged and disempowered.

Then I learned a simple lessonthat really helped me. It was from a guy who was teaching social skills. His advice was simple: “If you want to get better at meeting new people – make the only requirement for your success that you are taking action.” So I made that a rule for myself. If I was not taking action then I was failing, but If I was taking action – then I was succeeding. By doing this I was beginning to focus on what I could control, instead of what I could not. This meant that if I was leaving the house, even though I felt shy, that was a success. If I saw someone that I found interesting or sympathic and I wanted to talk to them – and I got up the courage and did it – Success! No matter if that person liked me or didn’t, because that was ultimately out of my control. So my internal rule of success – taking action was fulfilled and this really motivated me. It put me back in the driver’s seat. It’s taking control of a process that I call “Success Cycle“. This basically means the fours steps Anthony Robbins defines as the definition, and the method for success. The four steps are:

  1. Clearly know what you want
  2. Take massive action
  3. Notice what’s working and what isn’t
  4. If it’s not working: Keep changing your approach until it does

Maybe you noticed that there is no “what if things don’t work out”. Because you keep at it until it does work. This is the cycle that gets you to your goal. You know where you are going, you are taking concrete steps, you are aware of what is getting you closer and what isn’t and: you stay flexible and adapt until you find a way. But this process only works if we are motivated! Our brain is designed to conserve energy. When it seems like we are not making any progress in something and our efforts feel futile for too long, then we can lose motivation altogether. Our brain says: “Hey, this is a waste of time! Let’s do something else..” But if we have a clear and achievable definition of what is success – then we can stay motivated. Even if we are on a plateau, a situation we are bound to face with more complex projects and goals. A plateau is a period of apparent stagnation (like a flat line). There is no visible progress at that moment. At these times things in the outside may simply have to align. Often there is a lot of crucial learning happening in these periods, which at the moment we don’t recognize because we are so focused on moving ahead. Using this rule of “Taking Acion Equals Success” is extremely valuable in maintaining your motivation, so we can continue to take action and take in feedback and learn. In my own life, once I changed this I went from going out thinking: “Oh.. now I have to chat to people.. and then somebody has to like me.. and then I have to meet somebody really cool… and then I have to master this area of my life” to “I’m leaving the house – it’s a success! Done… If I chat up people – that is a success.” I felt really motivated and this kept me going and I made much more progress than before.

The second thing that is helpful for staying in a “Cycle of Success” is managing comparisons. If we compare ourself with other people, sometimes it can be inspiring, but many times it is harmful for two reasons:

  1. Comparing ourself with others who are a lot better in a chosen area can feel daunting
  2. By looking at the “gap” we are not honoring the progress we have made so far

Maybe over the last two years you have made amazing progress in something. But if we just compare ourself with the outside then we are not honoring that. We only look at what is “still to be done” and fail to see what we have already achieved. What we can do instead is: We begin comparing ourself – with ourself. So we say: “Okay. Right now I’m not where I want to be in this area of my life. But: What about half a year ago? What about one year ago? What about two years ago?”. And you’ll look back and many times you’ll be surprised. You’ll think to yourself: “Wow. I really made progress in that area!”. You’ll feel proud of yourself. You can even pat yourself on the shoulder and say to yourself: “Great. Well done!”. This motivates you and really strengthens your self-confidence and motivation to keep going in the “Success Cycle”. Through the four steps of: Knowing what you want, taking action, noticing what’s working and what isn’t and changing your approach if things are not working, until you succeed. While taking action and learning you can encourage yourself by having clear and achievable standards for what is progress and what isn’t. You can condition yourself that: Taking action always equals success. This will motivate you greatly. It will give you power over your intrinsic motivation, instead of giving the power away to external circumstances or other people. Sometimes things just don’t align and we’re struggling. It’s important that we stay motivated through these periods of apparent stagnation (which is actually a period of learning), through the plateau, and then we actually achieve our goal. The breakthrough is coming right after the plateau! So if we stick in then we can also experience the breakthrough.

Coming back to the beginning of this video I apply the same process. Even after the last take I felt like none of the videos were perfect but: I planned the content, I’ve made the effort and went outside and recorded the videos. That’s a success. I pat myself on the shoulder. The second thing is that I compare myself with myself. Two years ago I remember that it was a big struggle to make a video. I felt so uncomfortable. I was trying to really “make it good” and act “proper” in front of the camera. I really couldn’t get myself across. These days I feel much more comfortable and I enjoy speaking to the camera. I made a lot of progress in that area. Of course there are other people who are doing things much better. But what helps me to keep going through this “Success Cycle” is to encourage myself and to motivate myself. This way I’ll be motivated again to record another video, to keep learning and taking action. And this way my skill-set and the results I can deliver improve. I definitely encourage you to try this in your own life. To see where you can clearly define what is success and what isn’t. “Taking action equals success” is a super-helpful mindset. It helped me so much. The second thing is comparing yourself with yourself so that you can honor the progress you have made so far. Staying aware that these two things help you to stay in this cycle of success of: Knowing what you want, taking action, noticing what’s working and what isn’t and to keep changing your approach, if things are not working, until they do work. This way you honor your progress so far and keep honoring the small steps you are taking. If you keep repeating this then you will get through the plateu and what comes after the plateau is the breakthrough. 

2 thoughts on “Staying Motivated

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