Do you remember the day you decided you were sick of your ordinary life? You wanted so much more and it was time to make a change. This time you were going to make it happen.
Was it starting a side hustle?
Or finally getting into shape?
Maybe it was learning a new language, something you’ve wanted to do for so long.
Whatever it was, you were raring to go.
And you did!
You started off great.
You were showing up faithfully and taking action.
You were on a roll.
But it wasn’t long before you slipped up.
That happens! One time isn’t that big a deal.
But that one time became two and three, then way more.
Before you knew it you’d gone way off track.
Your inconsistency eventually led you to where you are now.
Back where you started with your goal waving at you way way in the distance.
‘How did you end up here again?’ you wonder.
Now, let’s be honest.
How often have you not shown up to get things done because: ‘you just weren’t in the mood’?
How often has procrastination kept you from working on what you need to?
How often have distractions stolen your focus?
Why is it that some days you show up and get things done while on others you just can’t muster the energy to do anything?
You’re making this one big mistake!
The big mistake you’re making
You may have the best of intentions and you’re probably convinced at the time that the outcome will be different but you keep falling into the same trap. The result is that you can’t produce the consistency you need, for long enough, to achieve those big goals.
You’re relying on motivation.
The problem with motivation
Let me start by saying that motivation is a wonderful thing. It’s that burst of energy you feel when you take those first steps towards your dream. It’s fueled by excitement and enthusiasm when you contemplate making a change or achieving a goal. It gives you a much needed boost when you need to take action and makes taking action so much easier.
Motivation is great.
The problem is it just doesn’t last.
Motivation comes and goes. There’ll be days when you’re tired, feeling down or dealing with other challenges. There’ll be times when you’re distracted by so much going on in your life that showing up to do the work feels like a chore. You’ve probably had days when you just didn’t feel like it, when you just couldn’t get excited about doing the hard yards required.
Motivation is unreliable.
So how do you make sure that you show up every day to take action regardless of how you feel?
You do this instead.
A simple 3-part recipe for success
Motivation is a great bonus but to make progress you really don’t need it. Success hinges on these three things.
1. The Power of a Plan
‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.’ Benjamin Franklin.
A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that over 90% of people who created a plan by recording when and where they would exercise each week ended up following through. This was compared to 35% who didn’t and relied on reading motivational material to get them exercising.
This is just one of a number of studies but it highlights that by simply writing down a plan of when and where a desired behaviour is going to happen you are much more likely to stick to your goals.
When you fail to plan you are relying on motivation and strength of will to push you to take action but as we’ve highlighted before, these can be so inconsistent. In contrast, by planning out what you want to do, when and where you are going to do it and writing it all down you are making it real.
If you’ve been making plans but keeping them in your head now is the time to get out your notebook, a calendar, it really doesn’t matter. Being able to write it down is all you need.
So don’t leave showing up to chance. Give your mind something to focus on every day and reduce the likelihood of procrastination and distraction getting in your way.
The bottom line: being ‘in the mood’ will make it easier but when you have a plan and stick to it, you don’t need to be motivated.
2. Hack your environment
‘People who seem to stick to good habits with ease are often benefiting from an environment that makes those behaviors easier.’ James Clear
Did you ever realise that the environment you put yourself in can determine the actions you take? That includes the positive and the negative. Do you want to spend your time on the activities that move you forward? Then make it easier to do the things that will drive you towards your goals and harder to do the things that don’t.
As Clear suggests, ‘Adjust your environment so that the number of steps between you and the desired behavior is less than before’. In other words, design your environment to make it hard to say no to the right actions.
The bottom line: If you set up your environment correctly it will compel the behaviours you want to cultivate.
3. The Desire Factor
‘Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.’ Napoleon Hill.
You may have a plan, you may even set up your environment to make it easier for you to do the right activities but there is one thing that will ultimately determine whether you stick with any goal over the long term.
It’s your answer to this question:
‘ Why do you want it?’
What are your reasons for going for that goal or having that dream in the first place? What drives you to keep showing up? Does it excite you? Is it really what you want and not what someone else says you should? Are you doing it because you want to and not because you think you should?
The answers to these questions will impact your ability to achieve your goals, especially the big ones. Without a compelling enough reason you won’t have the discipline to stick with it over the long run.
Because here’s what a burning desire can do.
- It will help you get out of bed in the morning when you don’t feel like it.
- It will pull you back on track when you stray.
- It will fuel you to stay behind and keep working when everyone else has gone home.
- It will push you beyond your limits because it is that important to you.
- It will help you to get up when you get knocked down.
- It will keep you going when obstacles get in your way.
That desire will push you to make sacrifices because you want it that badly.
So knowing your why and having one that drives you to succeed is essential.
The bottom line: without a compelling enough why, you won’t stick with anything in the long run.
Stop leaving success to chance
You now know that consistency comes down to three things: planning, environment and desire. But how do you put them into practice? Maybe this example from my own life will help to illustrate.
It was 7:00 am on a cold, grey Thursday morning. I was meant to have my usual glass of water in the morning and then jump on the treadmill for a much needed run.
What happened instead?
I took one look out the window and lay back to snuggle into bed. Of course I slept through the time for my workout and felt so annoyed and disappointed with myself when I finally got out of bed. The result was I felt tired and sluggish and the rest of my day went downhill from there.
Now contrast that with the next day.
Same time, same weather, same intention of going for a run.
This time, however, I had that glass of water and then jumped on the treadmill. An hour later and I was feeling pumped. The endorphins were flowing and I felt energised. I went to work with a buzz not to mention the thrill of knowing that I had done what I set out to do. I had a great day.
Now on the face of it, the two situations were exactly the same, yet the outcomes were so different.
Why was I able to jump on that treadmill on Friday yet couldn’t muster the energy to get out of bed on Thursday?
You see, that Thursday I made a crucial error. As much as I wanted to exercise (and I did) I was relying on how I felt that morning to drive me onto that treadmill. Let’s just say once I looked out the window and felt the cold I just didn’t feel like it. My motivation to work out was zero, much more pleasurable to stay snuggled up in bed.
On Friday I didn’t feel like it either but I didn’t rely on my feelings to get me through. I had set myself up for success instead.
Planning: I had made a note in my calendar and set an alarm on my phone to wake me up for my workout ‘appointment’.
Environment: I had laid out my workout gear at the foot of my bed the night before so that it was the first thing I saw when I woke up. As soon as I got up I got dressed.
Desire: When the grey clouds and cold threatened to intervene, I visualised how I’d feel when I completed the workout. Instead of being lured by my warm bed I focused on why I was working out in the first place. I reminded myself of how horrible I felt the day before when I did not do my workout.
With planning, the right environment and a compelling reason behind me I had set up the conditions that would (if not guarantee) maximise my chances of doing that workout.
The result? By 7:15 am I was on that treadmill.
Take charge of your life right now
Success can be yours too.
The life of your dreams is within your reach.
But you have to reach out and take it.
Are you sick and tired of failure?
Are you ready to finally follow through on your goals?
Use the 3-part formula described above and watch success flow into your life.
Forget about motivation and take charge of your life.
Start right now!