Whether you’re seeking the ambition to make a big career change, would like to change your current relationship status, or have just recently been thrust out into the adult world — everyone has trouble finding the burning fire to push toward something that deep down, you know needs to be a part of your life story. There’s no truly easy method to get those wheels turning. It’s different for everyone, each personality type requiring a mindset and plan of attack that suits them best.
Here’s a few good ones to sort through and try:
1. Find your why:
The practical side of the human brain will always find a way to get what it needs, if it has a strong enough reason why. Whatever your “why” is, if you’re not pushing toward what you want, you simply haven’t come to a firm conclusion about whether jumping over the hurdles that lay before you is really worth it. This is what allows pessimism and fear to halt us in our tracks.
2. Put on your Nike’s and just…
Do it! For crying out loud, you’re never going to go anywhere if you don’t put one foot in front of the other and running furiously toward anything and anything that can get you to the finish line. Paralysis by analysis is easier now than in any other time in human history. It’s easy to have a couple of drinks or whatever, and sit in front of the computer reading and fantasizing about something you’ve been looking toward (ie., dating, education, changing careers, starting a blog, etc.), only to go to bed and forget about it for awhile — rinse and repeat. Never to take action. Do something every day toward a goal you have, however small that “thing” might be.
3. Use the “Skinner approach”
While this won’t work for everyone, a good idea is to reward yourself when a set step or entire life’s goal is achieved. This requires throwing a life of excess out the window, depriving yourself of something you truly love to do (ie., eat junk food, drink alcohol, go dancing, own a car, etc.), in order to motivate yourself to push harder and longer to get what you want. Early behaviorist, B.F. Skinner, along with his contemporaries Ivan Pavlov and John Watson, extensively studied and proved that humans need both positive and negative stimuli to reinforce their behaviors. So reward yourself when you succeed, punish/deprive when you’re working toward something or encounter failure.
4. Find a nemesis or a hero
Sometimes we need jealousy, anger, downright hatred to get us moving toward something. Go to family, high school and college reunions. Spend time at your local pub or bingo hall and listen to all the immense success stories being told by the relatives of those you seek to despise. Find a nemesis and resolve to be better than them this time next year. Other times you need someone to look up to, who presumably has everything you want out of life (ie., perfect finances, beautiful spouse, two and a half kids, house in the swanky part of town, etc.) You can also mix nemesis’ and heros into the same person for a more potent motivator. Use a pic of Mark Cuban on your screensaver to remind you of how much you respect his billionaire status, while secretly and smugly hating all the good he has in his life and wanting to surpass his success.
5. Use a pattern-interrupt for negative thoughts
I’m kinda stealing this one from Tony Robbins, who I believe created this cool “technology” (as he calls his self-change methods). When doubt and negative self-talk enter your consciousness, you need to stop them in their tracks before they start to affect your overall mood — which can quickly hamper your drive. I make my own special variation of a game show buzzer in my head every time something negative enters my mind (sorry, but you’ll have to use your imagination as this noise can’t really be conveyed using text). Train your brain to shut down negative thought-patterns immediately upon hearing the noise. Shut down that offensive and oppressive “pop-up window” in your brain and keep smiling and envisioning your imminent success at whatever life-changing goal(s) you’re striving toward!
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Please do share your own comments or self-improvement tips in the comments section. If you like this post, take a moment to share it with someone you know. All it takes is one great idea to enact change!
Main image by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann