Staying Motivated

Staying motivated can be difficult when you faced with overwhelming challenges. By equipping yourself with a plan of action you will be prepared to push forward when you face discouragement.

On LL&L I shared a few motivation trips that help with getting and staying motivated. In this article I want to share a little more about those tips so that you know how to use them effectively. The first tip is to erase the word try from your vocabulary. Using the word try gives you the option to fail. I use the word try as an excuse when I feel insecure about my abilities, when I don't want to act, or when I want of kill off hope so that I won't be disappointed later. Try means "I will do what is comfortable as long as I feel like it before I give up". When you remove the word "try" from your vocabulary, failure is no longer an option. Instead by saying that you will do "____", your integrity is on the line and because you've committed to doing whatever it takes to accomplish that goal.

When you remove "try" from your vocabulary it forces you to think before you speak. We are often guilty of saying "Yes" things we don't want to, or have time to do. Some people are great and asking others for what they want, a great skill to have. Another great skill is the ability to say "No" and to accept it with others say "No". I hate asking others for help but I sometimes feel uncomfortable saying no to people. When I go by my feelings I have a tendency to become overwhelmed because I tell people yes a lot but I don't ask for help when I need it; that is a set up for failure. When you commit to goals that you dislike, aren't in line with your values, or leave you feeling anxious it is very difficult to put you heart into it. You will put forth a weak effort if you even try at all.

Before you committing to a new goal, make sure that it is something that you really, really, really want. I'm sure you can think of a many things that you don't enjoy but that need to get done. Maybe you don't love mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, going to work, or pushing yourself during a workout. Those activities are steps towards achieving things you want or need: you mow the law because you want tohave nice place to call home, you take out the trash because you want to live in a clean and healthy environment, you do the dishes because you want to eat good food off of clean plates, you go to work because you want to provide a good life for your family, and you workout so that you want to look good and live a long and healthy life. Once a step becomes a habit you don't have to motivate yourself first, it beocmes reflexive, but when you are trying to develop new habits you need to spend time asking yourself, "What's my motivation?"

Here's a great exercise to get to the heart of why you want what you want. First write down your new goal in a notebook or a journal. For every goal you write down you will ask yourself why you really, really, really want it. When you write down that answer ask yourself why regarding the new response. Repeat the last step three times or until you have a very motivating reason for completing your goal. If you want an example of this exercise please check out my article titled, "The Five Whys". When you complete the exercise you should have a compelling reason; if not, reexamine that goal and ask yourself if you really want something else.

When you finish articulating your motivation it's time to move onto creating an environment for success. Looking at a successful sports team you see a lot of elements: supportive and faithful fans, energetic and creative cheerleaders, strong and talented player, a smart and dedicated team leader, a tough but inspirational coach and trainers, an intelligent and strategist as a GM and a rich and ambitious owner. Every once a while there is a player that outshines most in talent and ability but no one wins championships on their own. The harder the goal the more important it is to build a team of supporters, mentors and cheerleaders. From your team you will receive resources, expertise, and encouragement that you can not give yourself. If you are an independent person that's okay, you can be your own source of support, knowledge and encouragement, just know that it will take more time and effort to go it alone. But the bigger and brighter you support group, the bigger and brighter your dreams will be.

That brings me to my final point; create a vision. Creating goals is a great start but nothing can top dreams. Spend time daydreaming or meditating on what it will be like when you achieve you goals. Creating and focusing on your vision will inspire you and help you to connect with your creativity. You will be able to come up with creative solutions to problems that arise and add necessary steps that you may not have recognized before. A great way to help you design a clear picture of what you want is to create a vision board. Buy a cork board and cut out pictures and words from a magazine of what your life will look like when you obtain your goals. When you finish a vision board, hang it where you will see it every day.

Working towards your goals should not feel like drudgery but should be a fun and fulfilling experience. Implement these steps the next time you decide to add a new goal, or anytime you need new inspiration.

I was granted permission by ann.pister to use the photo above. Dancing with the moon. [explore!] can be found on Flickr.

The Five Whys

Apparently asking, "Why?" over and over is not just for annoying four-year-olds. The Five Whys is the Japanese philosophy of asking why five times to find the direct sources of your problems. Recognizing and accepting one's problems in the right spirit is imperative to beginning the process of healing. While some problems are evidently unimportant, others need to be faced in their totality. It often becomes a habit with people to push away problems that seem insurmountable, forgetting that they will reappear, maybe in a more destructive form.

Every problem involving human interactions stems from one or more root causes. Committing to clearly identifying and dealing with the core issues is the first step in problem solving. Repeatedly asking the question "Why?" peels away superficial layers of the "problem" and reveals the root causes. Although this technique is called the "Five Whys," you may ask the question fewer than or more than five times before you reach the root. The Five Whys was created for a team setting but can be used alone when dealing with personal problems.

The Five Whys works at getting to the heart of your desires as well. When setting new goals, I ask myself, "Why do I really want this?" It's a great way to make sure that what you want is not just a Band-Aid for a deeper problem. Using the Five Whys on a regular basis will give you a fresh perspective and help you gain a more optimistic view of your problems as well as lessen your need for material things by establishing your values and priorities. Paring the "Five Whys" with goal setting will give you a powerful motivator that will keep you encouraged to stay positive and to work hard during difficult times.

How To Complete The Five Whys

1. Write down one specific problem.
2. Ask why the problem happens and write the answer.
3. If that answer doesn't identify the root cause of the problem ask why again and write that answer down.
4. Return to step 3 until you/your team feels confident that the problem's root cause is identified.

Five Whys Examples

Problem Statement: On the way home from work and your car stops in the middle of the road.

1. Why did your car stop?
- Because it ran out of gas.
2. Why did it run out of gas?
- Because I forgot to stop at a gas station on my way to work.
3. Why did you forget to stop at a gas station this morning?
- Because I over slept and I was running late.
4. Why did you oversleep?
- Because I was up late watching TV.
5. Why were you up late watching TV?
- Work is stressful. I need to relax first or I won't be able to fall asleep.

Mastering The Five Whys

Bill Wilson of writes that a major disadvantage of The Five Whys is that if you make a mistake answering just one "why" question, your entire analysis gets thrown off. If you want to avoid this problem, try modifying the questioning process as follows. Once you've finished your initial line of questioning, go back to your answer for the first "why" and ask some other questions.

  1. What proof do I have that this cause exists? (Is it concrete? Is it measurable?)
  2. What proof do I have that this cause could lead to the stated effect? (Am I merely asserting causation?)
  3. What proof do I have that this cause actually contributed to the problem I'm looking at? (Even given that it exists and could lead to this problem, how do I know it wasn't actually something else?)
  4. Is anything else needed, along with this cause, for the stated effect to occur? (Is it self-sufficient? Is something needed to help it along?)
  5. Can anything else, besides this cause, lead to the stated effect? (Are there alternative explanations that fit better? What other risks are there?)

"If you don't ask the right questions, you don't get the right answers. A question asked in the right way often points to its own answer. Asking questions is the ABC of diagnosis. Only the inquiring mind solves problems." -- Edward Hodnet

Related Links:


Determine The Root Cause: 5 Whys

Five Whys