Find a Mantra
"We are what repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
Aristotle said that, and I think he's on to something. My first tip is to find or create a mantra or slogan that spurs you to action. My uncle, a veteran marathon runner well into his 70's had a mantra he used whenever a race got tough, "It's against my religion to walk downhill." The first race (only 12 miles, not a marathon, I confess) he and I did together, he shared that nugget of wisdom with me, and I use it to this day.
What mantra might work for you? Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
- Time is precious; I use mine wisely.
- Life is short; I do what I love!
- If it supports my vision, I do it.
- I take the next right step.
Why is this goal important? What changes do you hope to see in your internal and external worlds because you've achieved it? What about it resonates with you and makes your heart beat a little faster?
Focusing on why we want to do something can help us stay on track
when the how seems a little murky. So, when the road gets a little bumpy, don't get derailed. Focus on why what you have to offer the world is needed, why it's going to be a success, and how you'll feel when it is. This shift can take just minutes and help propel us to the next right step.
"Well behaved women rarely make history." ~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
I think we can go ahead and apply this to men, too. And by taking risks, I don't just mean regarding a specific project. A mentor of mine once told me that her New Year's resolution was to say, "yes," to whatever life offered her that year (good or bad). How she symbolized this level of surrender was to fall backwards out of a plane while skydiving. She didn't have a specific goal in mind other than saying yes, but imagine the energetic this set up in her psyche.
How can you flex your risk-taking muscle? Learn something new! Is there a cooking or dance class you've been meaning to take, or an
instrument or language you've been wanting to learn? Reinforcing your willingness to step outside our comfort zone means when it's time to take a risk that really matters--on what might make your dream a reality--it will be easier to go for it. In the meantime, you'll be enjoying your new skill!
What inspires us tends to be personal, but I can tell you that what works for me is reading inspiring quotes, reading about people who have succeeded in the same field I'm in, and watching videos on Ted.com. Here's on of my favorites, by Steve Jobs:
When I wanted to get my first novel, Gateway up on Amazon, it was by planning a party where I promised to hand out copies of the novel that kept me going no matter what. And I mean no matter what. Not wanting to be humiliated is a big motivational tool for me, and as the deadline approached there was more than one sleepless night spent writing and editing. It was worth it though, and come party time, the novel was finished, and after a few weeks of formatting, it was up on Amazon.
Whether you commit to a large audience or just one person, make sure that person will hold your feet to the fire. If committing to a large goal--say finishing a novel--is too big, choose smaller, more manageable goals. If you want to lose weight, maybe you'll commit to keeping a food diary. If you're trying to finish a screenplay, maybe you commit to having an outline by a certain date. If you want to run a marathon, you might commit to signing up for a running group. Which brings me to the next tip:
We are social creatures--even semi-loners like me. These days there is a community for pretty much everything under the sun. Want to meet new people with similar interests? Try Meetup.com. Want to publish to Amazon? Try the Kindle Boards. Need to lose weight? DailyBurn.com has an active and supportive community. Nothing is created in a vacuum, not even you--so find some like-minded people to help support you as you make your vision a reality.
These are just a few ideas to help you get and stay motivated. What works for you?