Thursday, April 14, 2016

About Motivation And A Bit Of Inspiration

Since the beginning of my blog a few years back, it has been my motivation to share and help others reach their own individual goals, through examples of what can be accomplished if you just manage to stay focused, all the while reaching my own and learning through the process.

I have pushed myself, physically and mentally, far beyond any limits I thought I had, I have worked through it all in ways I never thought I was capable of. And no, I have no intentions of stopping any time soon. The process has required a lot of digging down and pushing myself way beyond a perceived comfort zone.

What is motivation? The process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. In other words, how we do what we do.

From personal experience, I have defined fifteen ways to stay motivated. I'd like to share that with you...

1. Set a Goal. You have to know what you want, you have to know where you're going. Without this information, you cannot plot your course. As Lewis Carroll said: "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

2. Make sure your goal is a SMART goal. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Specific). Much has been written about this, for a reason. This is a must. your goal must be as Specific as possible. "I will run a Half Marathon in December 2016". You have to be able to measure, not only your final accomplishment, but your progress along the way. Break down the goal in small bites you can wrap your arms around. "I will run a 5k by September 2016. I will run a 10k by October 2016. I will run a 15k by November 2016". Is this goal of yours something you can see yourself "really" Achieving? or this is this more of the "it sure would be nice if I could do this" type of thing? And along those lines, is what you're asking yourself to do, Realistic? Do you have the time required to train for such a goal? Can you run the miles needed to train your body to reach this goal? Would it be better for you to change the Time to a more realistic future time? I use the example of running a half marathon but this can be adapted to any and all goals. Always state your goal in a "I will" format.

3. This goal has to be YOUR OWN goal, and you have to have a clear and concise (brief but comprehensive) reason as to "why" you're doing this. While in the process of working towards your goal, you will need to remember your "why". This will help you push through those tough times when you need a little extra motivation. If you chose a goal because it's something that someone else has either convinced you to do, or something someone else expects you to do, it will not work.

4. Hang Around Friends with Similar Goals. Most people love encouragement. You will find this in large quantities if you hang around a circle of friends that share a similar vision and goals as you do. You will encourage each other, you will push each other through tough times and you will totally enjoy the journey together. Find a pal. Or two. Be warned, however... Your goals and that of your pals may change as you go along. You may find that your mission is now different than that of those around you. Don't be afraid to find new pals. I'm not telling you to dump the old ones, just telling you to adapt.

5. Follow Blogs that Relate to your Goals. The blogsphere is full of folks willing to share their experiences. If you need advise as to the process, there's plenty. If you need help with motivation, there's lots out there. Whatever you're looking for, there's someone out there writing about it. Better yet, start your own blog as my friend Alison did, "runningmama2016". A couple of others I would recommend are written by good friends as well... Scott's "Running, Rants and Randomness" and Alan's "Alan's Training Blog". You cannot help but get inspired and motivated by any or all of these three.

6. Follow a Plan. But be very flexible. An airplane leaving from New York en-route to Los Angeles does have a course heading that it follows, but on the average, said airplane will actually be off course 95% of its flight. The success of the flight hinges on the ability of the pilot and the airplane's computers to get back on course each and every time its deviates.

7. Keep Journals and Track Progress. What gets measured gets improved. If you don't keep track of how you're doing, you will not know how you're doing. Pretty simple but point is so missed by many. I love to write. What I post on my blog is less than 20% of what I write. I not only journal my training and racing progress (public), but I journal my mental progress as well (private). This has also been tremendously helpful in my professional life. I journal lots.

8. Take Compliments and used them for Inspiration. And learn to be complimentary as well. When someone, anyone, notices your progress and takes the time to mention it, be thankful. I have found one of my biggest motivators is to be very complimentary. But your compliments must be sincere. Don't compliment just to compliment and in hopes to get a compliment back. These are meaningless and soon they will lose all value. Compliments from the heart are priceless.

9. Accept that 90% of your success depends on your mindset. "If your mind can conceive it and your heart can believe it, then you can achieve it." No one succeeds by accident. You first have to believe; believe in yourself, believe in your mission, believe in your "why".

10. Feed your mind with Inspiration and Motivation Daily. Every motivational guru tells you this: "You are, or you will become, what goes into your mind." It doesn't take much. Again, change your habits. What do you listen to while in the car? I for one, listen to books on Audible. No, not all the time, but most of the time. I also have Sirius XM and refuse to listen to "talk radio" or "News Channels" or any station that has any kind of "commentary". 100% music, and as my grandson likes to say: "Papa has music from last century in his car" or "how come your music doesn't have any words?"

11. Remove all (or as much as possible) negativity from your world. Impossible! you say. This WILL require a lot of work and perseverance, but it IS possible. Identify those issues that seem to steer you down the wrong path. This includes negative people; they will suck the living daylight out of you.  I have very little tolerance for negativity. I have no use for it. I will give someone a very short leash. Very, very short. The pity train does not come through here. Brutal and Harsh? Maybe. But Oh so very effective.

13. Never Compare Your Goals to that of Others.Everyone is traveling a different journey. Sure, some of you may have similar goals as your peer, but everyone's path to success is different. One of the great motivation killers is to compare your progress to that of others. You have no idea where they are, where they've been or where they're going. Stay on point with your progress, encourage others to work on theirs and be inspired but not deflated by what others do, or don't do. My goals are not any bigger, any loftier or any more impressive than yours. My goals are mine for where I am. Yours are yours for where you are.

13. Tell Yourself every single day that "you got this". Once again and at the risk of being redundant and repetitive... You will not get what you want if you don't honestly believe you can. If in doubt, repeat after me: "I got this."

14. Work Hard Everyday. Do at least ONE thing that will get you closer to your goal. Wake up tomorrow and ask yourself: "What can I do today to get me ONE step closer to my goal?". A young man was asked to move a mountain from one location to another. Not overwhelmed by the size of the task he started moving rocks. Each day he moved just one. Slowly he began to see progress. The original mountain was becoming smaller, the new mountain was becoming bigger. Before he knew it, his task was complete. So, what can you do today to get you closer to your goal?

15. Never, Never, Never, EVER Give Up. Most of our goals are not reached because we quit. Often we quit right before we reach our goal. You never know how close you are.

Please realize that nothing you do, no steps you take, no plans or goals you aspire to achieve, will ever have a chance unless you first accept full responsibility for yourself and for everything that happens to you. There's no magic pill, no knight in shining armor. No one will come to your rescue. Only those that work hard will be rewarded. There are issues and challenges in everyone's life, and here's some more brutal honesty: There are excuses and there are results. Which one are you working on?

So, what do you do to keep yourself motivated and on track? Do you have any simple tricks that perhaps you'd like to share? Please leave them in the comments below.

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