You’ve got goals you want to succeed in. You’ve got complex challenges standing in your way. So do I. Here are some of the tools I have discovered and developed that motivate me to succeed. They have been a massive help to me in achieving goals, conquering life’s many obstacles, and (occasionally) surviving its sick sense of humor.
1. Be Flexible
There’s an old military saying, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” While a bit cynical, there’s a motivational sentiment there. Having a plan is great, but plans are often made in a vacuum, free of the twists and turns life will inevitably put us through.
When circumstances change, and the initial plan no longer fits, a brittle plan will break, and you’ll be stuck where you are. But a flexible strategy, with an adaptive attitude, can adjust to meet the current situation. Plans like these keep us moving forward. So don’t get too hung up on the initial version of your plan. Instead, identify what you need to know to get started, be ready to adapt, and you’ll be unstoppable.
2. Deconstruct the Problem
What’s the biggest obstacle in your way right now? The one thing that, if it could disappear at a snap of the fingers, would create the most space for you to go after your goal? Challenges like these can seem vast and overwhelming, and there’s a reason for that. The most difficult obstacles usually aren’t monoliths. Instead, they are often a series of smaller challenges stacked on top of each other wearing a trench coat.
Try this: imagine your problem as a brick wall blocking your path to the life you want. Rather than repeatedly crashing into the wall hoping for it to crumble, ask yourself how to remove one brick from that wall — just one. Solve an isolated piece of the problem. And then another. And after a while, well, you’ve probably played Jenga before; I’m sure you know how this goes.
3. Focus On the One Thing That Comes Next
Maybe you’re one step ahead of me; you’ve already deconstructed the challenge ahead of you. Now, instead of one big problem, you have a thousand small ones to solve.
The difference is we can solve small problems. We can even solve lots of small problems. You’ve probably already done it dozens of times today. Just not simultaneously. Focus — one brick at a time. There’ll be time for the others.
4. Consider All Your Options
While focus is essential for keeping steady and not getting overwhelmed, focus in excess can turn into tunnel vision. And that’s no good. Because when you have tunnel vision, you may hyper-fixate on unimportant things.
So what’s the difference between productive focus and dogged tunnel vision on something keeping you stuck? Movement. If you’re moving forward on a task that is still serving the high-level plan, that’s great. Dial in your focus on it and keep going. But if you’re trying and not going anywhere, look around. There’s usually another way forward.
5. Growth is Rarely Linear
People who bear the title of “overnight success” rarely appreciate it, and for a good reason. When it’s your own story, it’s a lot easier to see the years of learning, struggle, and persistence that eventually led to the one moment when everything started to come together. Outside observers then point to that moment as if it fell from the sky.
Growth is rarely linear. Don’t let that discourage you. If you still believe in your end goal, and you’re still getting the work done, then don’t worry so much about the results along the way. You could be just a few small steps short of a breakthrough, but you’ll never know until you get there. The only way to find out is to keep taking those small steps.
6. Take a Beat
As far as motivational tips for success go, this is one of the toughest. It’s tricky because it’s a bit counterintuitive. When you’re pushing and pushing without moving forward, sometimes the best way to get ahead is to stop moving. If you’re running yourself ragged, I admire your persistence, but you may be doing yourself a disservice.
Rest is a good thing, and we all need to take breaks to charge up. That’s why giving your mind and body a few minutes to relax and decompress can change the entire equation. Taking a moment to rest is a gift to yourself, not just right now, but when you get back up and start moving again.
7. Tap Into Your Support Systems
Some challenges are too big or, at the very least, horrendously inefficient to face by ourselves. Looking to others for support is not a weakness; it’s the opposite. Don’t be afraid to let others, be they professionals, friends, or loved ones, lend a hand.
We all have a unique soup of experience, skills, and strengths. So a task that feels near-impossible to you alone could melt away with the right support network. And apart from specific skills or advantages, sometimes many hands do make light work. Plus, personal accountability can be a superpower.
We’re all better off when we welcome the support of others.
8. Talk Yourself Forward, Not Back
What is the story you’ve been telling yourself about your current project? Does it focus on the struggles, the annoyances, and the lack of visible progress? Or does it focus on the small wins, the personal growth, and your vision of where it can go? Because let me tell you that the story you tell yourself matters more than a lot.
Where you put your attention, there goes your energy. So if you want to find ten terrible things about the thing you’re working on, I’m sure you can find them. The same goes for the ten reasons it’s the greatest thing to happen in your life. Whichever you choose sets the framework for your subconscious mind.
If I hired you at a lousy job and told you, “the pay is terrible, our company makes nothing useful, and we’ll be bankrupt within the month,” you wouldn’t put much effort into the company’s success. Consider it your first day working for yourself at You, Inc. Tell yourself the story of the accomplishments you’ve made so far, what you’re working on now, and the success ahead, and then watch it become a reality.
9. Assess the Situation: What Do You Know, What Do You Need?
Sometimes when I’m trying to reach a significant milestone on one of my goals or wipe out a big problem that’s getting in my way, it can get pretty overwhelming. I have a million ideas, worries, and solutions swirling around in my head, and it’s enough to gunk up all the machinery and leave me feeling totally stuck.
When this happens, I find it helpful to take a quick step back and sort out all these swirling thoughts. Assess the situation. Asking yourself the right questions can be one of your best friends for personal growth. Try asking yourself some of these:
- What exactly am I trying to accomplish right now?
- What are the obstacles I’m facing?
- How can I remove those obstacles?
- Do I have everything I need, or is there something missing?
Break down the problem into clear, simple parts. Scary, intimidating things become much less frightening when you shine a light on them and see them clearly for what they are.
10. Use the Tools You Have
Above, we discussed tunnel vision and how laser-focusing on a single objective can allow other opportunities to slip by. Well, this is true for the task you’re working on and the tools and methods you use to get it done.
You are a walking basket full of skills, knowledge, abilities, and expertise that you can use to accomplish whatever you aim for. So if your current approach isn’t getting you where you want to be, and you’re sure you’re working on the right thing, take a look at your inventory and see what other tools you have up your sleeves to get it done.
11. Get Back Up
I have, at least once, cited Jason Vorhees as a potentially inspirational figure. But, regardless of what this says about my mental well-being, think about it for a second. There have been 12 movies in the Friday the 13th series (why they never made one more with the title Friday the 13th: the 13th, we’ll never know). And out of those 12 movies, 11 were about schemes to stop Jason. Each time, a new group of teenagers band together and fight to crush Jason’s dreams as if their lives depend on it.
But I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if he doesn’t get up, every time, and just keep killin’ them — er, it. Killin’ it, I mean. From time to time, we all feel a little like Jason, like we’re living through a story designed to stop us from living our best life. Do you think Jason gave up after the fourth movie just because it was subtitled The Final Chapter? Nope, he tuned out the haters and made eight more movies. What about the ninth installment, The Final Friday? Did he quit then? Nope, three more films. Jason doesn’t give up until he is satisfied, and neither should we.
12. Commit – Go All In, Stop Looking Back
Are you sabotaging your success by constantly looking over your shoulder? It’s tough to overstate the damage that we can do to ourselves with negative self-talk. Unfortunately, continually keeping failure or quitting as an available option may be holding you back from bringing your full self to bear on your challenges.
When you want something, and I mean really, honestly believe it’s the right thing for you, go all in. Commit yourself to achieving that goal, and don’t look back. Of course, you don’t have to go out of your way to burn bridges, but stop treating backing out as one of your main options. If you want it, go for it, and don’t hold back.
13. Push Past Your Limits
Personal growth is just that – growth. Meaning that with every milestone you reach, every foe you face, and every struggle through which you persevere, you become more. You become stronger and wiser. In so doing, you become more of yourself. The challenges you face today are only possible because of how far you’ve come.
Keep growing. Keep learning and struggling. Stay hungry. Don’t stop here; start collecting your own motivational tips for success! With each adventure, you expand what you’re capable of and create new possibilities for a future you. Every time you push past your limits, your world opens wider and wider until there’s nothing you can’t do.