1) Seek Discomfort.
Something that luckily has been kind of ingrained in me from a young age. I grew up with a Dad who, whether he realised it or not, would push me towards things that I didn’t want to do & rarely let me quit. I think having that upbringing is what enables me to appreciate the significance of embracing discomfort as a means for growth.
As a species we're engrained to seek comfort. Understandably so. Our ancestors lives were under constant genuine threat - whether it be a predatory animal, neighboring tribes of human beings, or a lack of food & water. For them discomfort was the norm - so it only makes sense that we cling to any sense of comfort we find.
But, in modern life, most of us don’t encounter these same threats. We don’t live in fear of being eaten by lions & calories are more available than ever. We’ve become highly accustomed to our comfortable lives, much to our disadvantage.
If you want to unlock your real potential, embracing discomfort is the place to start. Begin viewing uncomfortable situations as opportunities for growth. Recognise that only when you feel out of your depth do you learn to adapt. The same way we have to push our body (the muscular system) to its limits in order to experience developments in strength & fitness, we have to push our minds to experience greater mental resilience.
How can you start seeking discomfort? A couple of ways. Position yourself in a new environment - explore somewhere you’ve never been before and/or try out a new sport or hobby (tough right now, I know). Perhaps more achievable is simply practicing unfamiliar habits - intermittent fasting, sugar detox, cold showers, meditation, technology detox. All of these will cause a degree of discomfort.
Sometimes actually doing what we know is good for us just requires some form of commitment.
You can do this in a couple of ways. First, make decisions ahead of time - outline your weekly schedule every Sunday. Pencil-in the things that you want to get done & be specific with the timings (at what time & for how long). Just
Another way of doing this is through investment. Greater investment typically leads to greater commitment - as you don’t want to lose out on the investment you’ve made. Invest in a coach, some equipment, or whatever it is you think might help generate a level of motivation & accountability.
Thirdly, you can create social pressure. Verbally commit to your decision by sharing it with others - whether that be on social media or just with family & close friends. This is where having a supportive network of people around you is invaluable; they can keep you accountable & if you’re really lucky, might even join you in whatever it is you’re doing.
3) Outline Your Macro-Vision.
One of the biggest causes of stress in my life is a lack of organisation & direction. If I don’t lay out what my goals are & then break those goals down into micro-steps, I find it impossible to get started, get frustrated at myself for doing nothing, become stressed as a result, and it just becomes a cycle.
There’s a few fundamental questions that I think we could all do with asking ourselves. Thinking about it, it’s actually crazy that these questions are never asked during our school years.
So, ask yourself the following:
- What are your values?
- What matters to you?
- What do you want for your: career, relationships, health (physical & mental), free time?
Once you’ve spent some time really thinking about these things & writing them down, the next step is to break down the steps needed to achieve them.
For instance, let’s say whilst doing this you realize that what’s important to you is family, experience, & travel. Yet, you’re currently living a life centered around materialistic gain (making money, buying things). That would probably be an indication that some form of change is needed. The steps needed to create that change might be a switch in career to allow you to devote more time to the things that matter to you.
4) Create Daily Checklists.
Finally, create daily accountability through daily checklists/to-do lists. Such a simple yet effective tool, and something that was a game-changer for me from a productivity standpoint. And it's not just me saying this - psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, at the Dominican University in California, led a study on goal-setting with nearly 270 participants. Turns out, you're 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.
So where do you start. First, invest in a journal or notebook. Then, literally just write down a handful of things that you want to get done each day. I’m talking work-related tasks, positive habits, routine activities. Everything. Tick these off as you get them done. You can even break down the bigger tasks into smaller sub-tasks or steps.
Doing this helps create mental clarity on what it is you want to get done, reduces anxiety & feelings of overwhelm, and provides positive feedback once we actually complete the tasks & tick them off.
I recently came across the Ivy Lee Method: At the end of every workday, choose six tasks to focus on tomorrow, order them in priority from 1-6, and then work on those tasks in priority order the next day until all six tasks are complete.
5) Just Get Started.
Several times during 2020, I was hit with the clarity that motivation is deeply unreliable. Some days I found myself fired up, clear headed, motivated. Others, not in the slightest.
After a handful of days of low motivation where I essentially sat around feeling sorry for myself, it eventually dawned on me that what I needed was to just get started. To do something. Nothing major, just a simple & easy task that even someone as unmotivated & apathetic as myself could complete.
What happened 99% of the time when I did that? Well, once I got going, I became immersed in the activity.
Here's the jist of what I'm saying here. Don't rely on inspiration to fuel your motivation & cause you to take action. You're human, meaning motivation isn't ever-present.
Instead, start to just take action in small ways. Do the thing of least resistance. And allow the process of getting started to be your motivational fuel.
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