A recent conversation with some very interesting and successful people made us think about what the consequences of the absence of progress would be. Demotivation is the obvious one. However, they all pointed out that even the smallest of victories makes it possible for them to go on and achieve the bigger objective.
And right then we had our “light-bulb” moment. Apparently, we had almost instinctively managed to build in “GoalBuddy” something fundamentally positive and constructive. This is the same thing we were hearing from those successful people. Namely, to constantly see and appreciate the minor advances to continue with greater faith and drive. Today we will show you how to use our system so that even the smaller everyday acts become ultimately a good thing for us.
“Do what you gotta do!”… And what if nothing came out of it?
Have you ever experienced something like this… You give your best and you still end up running into a wall?
Ivan went through exactly that in his very first attempts towards a healthier lifestyle. He wasn’t fully convinced when his gym instructor suggested a custom made nutrient and fitness programs.
Four brutal workouts per week plus a strict diet were meant to shed off all of the extra pounds. The stakes were high and therefore he took on the challenge almost fanatically.
A few months passed and all Ivan got in return for his efforts was a complete physical and mental exhaustion. Eventually, he quit – the gym as well as the hope that physical exercise will do him any good.
It’s the same story when the lack of visible results would push anyone to give up on their higher aspirations.
You can’t maintain high enthusiasm for too long if the outcome is far from the expected.
There is another side to this.
It’s a matter of time
Sometimes the product of our work is so negligible that it is almost impossible to be recognized as such. It might be there, day after day, but when the aim is grand and far away, this is not enough for us.
In order to give our efforts the deserved recognition, we need the right attitude. But we also have to employ an effective system for goal setting which includes a way of recording our progress.
Here’s how you can stay driven.
“Tricks” to use on a daily base
No matter what our dream might be, the truth is that working on it is a matter of daily effort. And if we were to soldier on that’s where our resolve is being born and the tiniest bits of success must be sought out.
There are several helpful points here:
# 1 Gratitude for the small victories
Some caution is advisable here. Let’s not confuse this with the general gratitude that we are alive and well. Rather it’s about looking at what we’ve achieved and not letting it gone unnoticed. Every single step is vital for our confidence.
Ivan and his daughter, for example, have this very nice “ritual”. Each evening they share the accomplishments of the day passed. These might not necessarily be spectacular. Anything is good enough as long as there were a problem and a subsequent solution. Over time, these seemingly trivial acknowledgments will build into the great feeling of conviction and resolve.
# 2 Keeping in mind what’s been done
For years Niki has been using David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” system to synchronize the various tasks and to-do lists that are residing on separate devices. The one feature he liked most seems to be very much like our rule of thumb for reviewing goals. It is the option “Remind me to complete the daily review”. It allows you to go over everything accomplished for the given day.
Niki considers this to be quite helpful. Without it, he would be greatly bothered by the fact he didn’t finish all that he had planned for the day. While nowadays he can appreciate the fact that, for example, he did almost 20 out of the two dozen or so items on his to-do list. It’s undeniable how crucial is to have a mechanism to soberly evaluate everything we do on a daily basis.
# 3 Motivation by the “Why” question and with the help of visualization
In our system, the answer to why we want something underpins the foundation of any vision. This is what saves the day when we feel frustrated and can’t see any meaningful progress. Instead, we are reminded of the reasons why it is worth going on and what makes our objective truly valuable to us.
In the case that you don’t have anything in the past that can bring you up then you should look for inspiration in the future.
The best way to do this is by visualization. When you imagine your dream fulfilled you unlock the power of positive feelings which you badly need when things are not going your way.
If you aren’t quite ready for such a full-fledged visualization, you can do as Ivan does. Every morning and for just a minute you can imagine the end of the day when you’ve done all you wanted. That would be a very good start indeed!
“Tricks” for the week
One of the key strategies here is to break down each goal into smaller steps.
We’ve found that everything goes smoother when we kick off Monday with a small victory. It can set the course for the rest of the next few days so that we keep the momentum as well as the initiative. The next two ideas are all about a win early in the week.
# 4 Wrapping up several things quickly and right away
For Niki, Mondays are to get organize and make some tangible progress. If he manages to mark off the easiest stuff on his to-do list then the psychological pressure is mostly removed.
What’s more – you are hitting the ground running. The idea here is that energy for the most important task may come from working on other things. In these instances, the good approach is to clear what is stopping you from decisively moving forward.
# 5 “Ripping off the band-aid”
The opposite approach, which we often use, is to start the week with the hardest objective. This might be the one that is the most consequential and without which everything else may very well look irrelevant.
Get at least one task done on Monday. This will generate enough energy to last you throughout the week.
The two approaches are not mutually exclusive. It’s entirely up to you to judge which one would do most for you. You either get the smaller things done first or you can start with the major one. The important thing is to make your choice by deliberately analyzing the pros and cons.
The other strategy is breaking the big objective (vision/dream) into quarterly ones, or what we call 90-day goals.
The logic behind this timeframe is sound. On the one hand, the period is long enough to register progress. On the other hand, it is short enough so that we do not lose focus or get off-course.
But that’s not all that’s worth knowing here. It’s been clearly shown that our enthusiasm takes a sizable dip in around the three-month mark. This is the best time to go over and evaluate what’s been achieved so far. It’s an opportunity to get renewed energy so that you can continue forward.
There are two other ideas on how to fully utilize the minor victories of the quarterly period.
# 6 Motivation through “distribution”
90 days is a relatively long period and you can do a lot. Let’s say you’ve set three objectives. Here is what we would suggest – don’t wait for the last moment to start acting. In our experience, the best way is to allocate them per month. For example, January is to aim at a health-related goal, February – personal finances, and March will be dedicated to a family goal. This will allow you to focus on the important aspects of your life instead of trying to excel at multi-tasking.
The other plus here is that you can start registering results right away and thus enjoy a good measure of peace of mind that things are going according to plan.
# 7 Motivation through a quarterly review
The main thing is not just to get things done, but to learn how to get better at it.
That’s why at the end of the period we go back to analyze what has worked out well for us. This is the perfect time to either further build on our success or to change direction if we went off-course.
Going through this process must be done with the help of our Goal Buddy. We both have to do our “homework”, i.e. the exercise to generate confidence out of our past successes. Little else will be as productive as this.
It’s all in our hands
Going back in time, we started sharing our system aiming at changing some sad statistics… According to these, more than 90% of people give up only after just a couple of weeks.
We have found that anything could be done when you divide it into shorter intermediate steps. We will be able to “recharge” ourselves in between these. And we can look back to see how far we have come, and move with confidence that we are on the right track.
Motivation always comes from within. One source is the strong reasons for our endeavors. The other is the capacity to be grateful for any result regardless of its magnitude. As long as we are taken forward in the direction of our dream it is well worth going on.