If you aren’t accomplishing your goals and feeling unmotivated to complete tasks, the answer is pretty simple.
STOP IT. Stop wasting time.
OK, it isn’t that easy. Not even close. There are screens everywhere. Fun. Food, Entertainment. Sleep… a whole host of things we could do that are immediately enjoyable, comfortable or fun. Most often, these are the very things that keep us from accomplishing our life mission, from providing service to our communities, from reaching our dreams and goals. So, how do you do something unpleasant, that requires effort, that might be something you don’t know how to do, something you might doubt you will ever be able to do, that hurts, or that involves risk? How do you do these things in the face of or instead of things that are comfortable or enjoyable? It isn’t easy, but it is totally achievable through a few simple steps.
First, you need some perspective. You need to realize that your life isn’t guaranteed, you might not live to 100. You just don’t know what your life has in store, so if you want to learn, improve, serve, give back, achieve or succeed, it needs to start TODAY. That is all you really have. Studies have been done to look at the best predictor of where you will be in 5 or 10 years based on measurable factors today. You might not want to hear this, but it isn’t your intelligence, location, education…it is what you did today. Or yesterday. Maybe tomorrow. We are creatures of habit (and comfort). If you want to learn, start today. If you want to get fit, start today. If you want to give back, help today.
A very good, but difficult exercise is to write your eulogy. This helps bring your values to the forefront. What do you want to be known for? What are you good at? There will be gaps in what you want to say on this eulogy. Maybe accomplishments not achieved (yet). Maybe personal improvements you want to make. I know personally, there is much, much more I want to do. This exercise helps put in perspective the things that I have accomplished, the good that I have done and it also shines a light on where I want to grow, improve, and be better.
If you are really caught in a rut. If you really have difficulty seeing past your next party, game, social media update, then volunteer at hospice. First of all, it is one of the nicest and most meaningful things you can do as a person. Second, you will see firsthand what is important. You might get some gems of wisdom from those who have lived their lives and are now facing death. Talk about perspective. You can also help out homeless, children or anyone less advantaged than you for that matter. I guarantee it will change you – for the better.
Goals and Milestones
Distill out of this exercise what you want to achieve and what type of person you want to strive for. That is some big thinking there. Write it down. But don’t stop there. You need to ‘chunk it out’. Break those goals into milestones, the milestones into tasks and tasks into sub-tasks. This is a linear process, but it requires some thought. Order and prioritize these achievements and task. You can’t do it all at once. If you did the exercise properly and put in ‘stretch’ goals, they might take months or years, maybe even decades to accomplish.
This is a critical step.
Lists / projectize
You need to structure each day and each week. I am a big fan of checklists. I am also a big fan of tracking tasks in an app. I have used Basecamp and Teamwork for work and my own business/personal task and goal management. But by far, the most user friendly, visually appealing, and powerful app is ClickUp. You can add in a few of your immediate milestones and the ordered, prioritized tasks to get there. Monitor your progress. Tweak your plan based on reality. Besides getting things done on your ‘list’, ClickUp or those other apps are great for managing a reno, party planning, a wedding, a holiday, you name it. It comes with templates pre-configured for different activities and types of projects, so it can save you a lot of time and frustration.
Here is a link to ClickUp. You can use it on the free plan, but you might want to buy a paid plan. If you do, I may earn a commission. It isn’t the reason I am recommending it. For most people, the free plan will be perfect for home use.
OK, when projectizing and making list, here is a secret that more people need to follow.
Now, this is where you can cut yourself some slack
Only schedule half of your day toward task completion.
I don’t know what that looks like for you, but what do you absolutely want to get done today? What is your highest priority task? If you absolutely want to do a 30 min workout each day. Put that on there. If you are writing a book and absolutely want to get 2 pages written per day. Get those done by lunch.
One step at a time
So, you just accomplished something. Almost too easy. The tasks so attainable they almost make your head hurt, but you took a step.
It seems like a trick, but no, you just got sh*t done!!! Feel good about that. Do it again tomorrow and the next day. Identify as a person who gets sh*t done. A person with a mission and focus.
A person who thinks strategically AND puts in the work to get there. Reward yourself with something little. Post your list with things crossed off. Rewire your psyche to be a disciplined, achieving person. You might be surprised by how others positively interact with you now! You might surprise yourself with new goals and new opportunities that seem to be popping up. Heck, you might look back after a month or so at your milestones and goals and increase them.
The key is to make each task so doable, so small and so achievable, you don’t have an excuse to sit there and not do it. The backdrop of your long term strategy helps too. It helps as a beacon when you have setbacks, when you have days or weeks you revert back to your old ways. Really, the goal isn’t the goal. The goal is the striving, the effort, the perseverance, the discipline, the clawing your way to being a better person. That is where character, humility and true happiness and satisfaction come in.
Lastly (and this is something I am working on),
I am decent at motivating myself, planning, and getting things done. But I am terrible at stopping, reflecting, and enjoying each milestone or goal achieved. I cheat myself out of an opportunity to pause, reflect, and enjoy that moment. I cheat myself out of getting some positive feedback and fuel for the next leg of the journey. If you are like me, make it a habit to look down your list of accomplishments, look at your progress, and take in the goals or milestones you’ve achieved.
I hope you find these ideas helpful and feel free to share with anyone who might be interested. The price is right and I greatly appreciate your support.
Support yourself and amREADY by checking out the Resources page.
Feel free to follow on amREADY on Facebook and on Instagram where you will find some free evidence-based information to be healthier, happier, and more resilient. There’s some other things I share there too.
Subscribe to be notified of future blog posts and receive free info once in a while.