How to stay motivated with those New Year’s resolutions?
We have reached the end of the first month in the new year and so it should be a moment where we all check-in and see how we are going with our New Year’s resolutions and our goals and plans for the year ahead. This article is about how to make sure you stay motivated to push ahead and keep a focused plan for achieving your goals this year. Ironically, I had made a commitment to publish one new article every Friday in 2020 to share tips and knowledge as a motivational speaker in Sydney and I am already 3 weeks behind. But, conveniently, this brings me to my first point:
1. If you want to succeed, celebrate every little victory and be kind to yourself if you slip behind.
The year started off well enough; I revamped my website and had lined up my blog topics. Then life happened. One week, I got caught running an urgent hearing. Another week, I had a family crisis. I wanted to produce quality content, but there was a sense of real and genuine urgency that drew me to other things. A younger and more impetuous version of myself would have been furious at my lack of commitment to the blog and would have thrown the whole thing away because I failed to do it perfectly. The older me has started to realise how silly that attitude is.
Let me begin with a statement that has been of great value to me: Life will get in the way of your plans. This becomes truer as you take on larger and more complex challenges. This means that from time to time, even with the best intentions and the best plans, you will not be able to successfully work towards your objectives.
This is okay!
It is perfectly okay for a person to make rational choices and sometimes those choices mean that you need to take your eyes off the future to focus on the present. If you can’t make a start because life has demanded all of your attention—take a breath and refocus. Things must be dealt with in order of importance.
2. When you write down your goals, they can become plans.
If you aren’t in a state of crisis, but you aren’t moving forward, it might be because you are finding it hard to start or to find the next step. This is where goal setting and objective planning comes into play.
Everybody has dreams. Fewer still have goals. Even less people have plans. The difference is in the amount of specificity that you have put into your goal. You need specifics if you want to see results. Without them, you are always going to have difficulty making it to the higher levels of success.
Let’s break this down further. A dream is a large, broad objective with zero planning behind it. Think “I want to be famous”, “I want to be rich”. Dreams are good things to have, but they need direction.
Drilling down from dreams, you have goals. If your dream is to be rich, an example might be “I want to earn a million dollars in 2020”. In my case, it’s “I want to help other people stay motivated using my experience as a motivational speaker in Sydney”.
Finally, you make plans. Plans are the ways you will achieve your goal. E.g. “To earn a million dollars, I plan to build three separate businesses with the following cash flow objectives. I will need to balance the cash flow objectives with growth goals by doing XYZ”.
When you start to break your dream down, it will seem insane the amount of work that will be required to achieve it. That is because a good dream will take work and it will require planning. So start by taking the time to properly break your dreams into goals and your goals into plans. You will know you have a good plan when you’ve reached the step in your plan that gives you an actionable and meaningful step forward in the right direction.
3. Good plans need good dedication and great plans need great dedication.
I can’t stress how important it is to have a plan. It would not be an exaggeration to say that planning totally changed my life.
For some people, planning comes naturally. I don’t have that gift. For me, it has always been a chore and a challenge to try to think about what the next step towards my dreams should be. I would jump from problem to problem with a hope of eventually figuring it all out. Things went okay. However, when I started to focus on my plans and objectives, and most importantly, when I wrote them down, the magic started to happen.
I think the reason for this is simple: achieving success is difficult and requires a commitment to excellence that means that you need to show up and give it 100% all of the time. It also requires you to learn the discipline of separating the necessary from the unnecessary, as an inability to do this will result in you fooling yourself into thinking that you are making progress when you are, in fact, dealing with the minutiae of life.
Life will have crises that demand our attention, but it will also have pointless noise that exists to convince us that we are moving the dial forward. That is why it is so important that we actually take the time to consult our plan and see that it is moving us in the right direction. A good plan will require a good deal from you, a great plan will require a great deal from you and so on and so forth. However, the people who plan and make a path are the only ones who stand a chance of achieving their dreams.
4. Perfection is the enemy of success.
Many times I have not wanted to start a project for fear that it would not meet some imagery standard in my own head. I have spent weeks procrastinating, looking for the perfect opening or imagery or other point that would lead to the perfect piece of work. I expected too much from myself and so was unwilling to even try to go forward if it wouldn’t have been the best thing possible.
This attitude is one of the deadliest mistakes to success that exists. Let’s start by turning this idea on its head.
Have you ever experienced perfection? Something that is so good that it could not stand to be improved in any way? I haven’t seen it in the physical world and I certainly have never produced it.
Have I experienced things of an outstanding or excellent quality? Yes, I have. Have I produced anything of any outstanding or excellent quality? Yes, I have. Were these things ever the first draft? No! Of course not.
One of my proudest moments was presenting as a speaker at the TedX stage and giving my talk on the art of saying sorry. Being chosen was one of the most humbling moments in my life and I prepared incessantly for my seven minutes on stage. It would not be an exaggeration to say that well over 100 hours of time went into polishing that speech and making it sound as good as can be.
Even though I look back and am proud, I can’t help but feel I could have done some things better.
If you allow the voice in your head to say that unless something is going to be perfect don’t even bother to start, then you have lost. Instead, listen to the voice that says, “Let’s give this a try. Even if we suck, we can try it again until we get it”. That is the voice that will lead to greatness.
5. Not every minute has to be delayed gratification.
Only now in my middle adulthood has it dawned on me that the purpose of life is not simply to struggle from one goal to the next. Of course, you should do this. However, from time to time, it is just as important to take a moment to think about how far you’ve come and be proud of yourself.
I remember walking out of Court one day after a bad hearing. The day could not have gone worse and I recall that as I charged down the street, I thought that it was a terrible decision to become a lawyer. Later that day, for reasons unknown, a photo from my university days popped up on my computer. It was weird because I could instantly relate to the emotions that I felt when that photo was taken and how badly I wanted to pass those exams and earn the privilege to represent people in Court.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that on my quest to being a motivational speaker that I would become a TedX Speaker in Sydney.
The thing I complained about today was something I could only dream about yesterday.
So, as you chase your New Year’s resolutions with a passion and try to achieve the next thing on your list. Remember to take a moment to reflect on how far you’ve come. If you aren’t where you need to be, that’s okay. Even if you have gone backwards a few steps, you would have learnt lessons that will equip you for the next time you chase your dreams.
It’s okay to be okay.
Till next time,