If you are in a rut, it’s critical to learn how to get and stay motivated in order to get the heck out of that ditch ASAP. Life is precious. Being motivated to move forward is what you were born to do.
I was recently forced to confront this issue myself. I wanted to try a new exercise program that a friend told me about. I hemmed and hawed for several days even though I knew this would be a great regimen to start. So even though I knew it would be good for me, I procrastinated.
Fortunately, I got mad as hell at myself and used the steps outlined below to get out of my easy chair and start working out. That’s why I wanted to share this with you.
And as you know, this issue goes beyond exercise. Being and staying motivated is the basic foundation of financial freedom and security. Without that internal push, it won’t matter what you know about money. Success is about taking the right action.
So what do you do when you need extra motivation when you are stuck in the mud?
1. Be Honest
Acknowledge that you are a few gallons short of a full tank. Don’t beat yourself up for being uninterested even though you know you “should” be engaged. Everyone gets stuck now and then. This is just your “now”. By acknowledging the truth, you’re well on your well to turning this episode into the “then”.
2. Bring in the Clones
Just for a few minutes imagine you have a clone of yourself. What would you want her to accomplish today? What do you want her to accomplish over the next week, month and year? Write down all the tasks you’d want your clone to accomplish as they come to your mind. Don’t filter.
Keep in mind that your every wish is your clone’s demand. It’s a lovely fantasy that will serve you well. This is basically your list of goals. Fortunately, you’ll identify them easily because while we’re in this dream state, you can create the list without considering the drudgery (that you make up) that is associated with each task.
3. Start Breaking Down
Before I pull you out of this wonderful imaginary life, prioritize your task list. From this page make another list pulling the top 3 most important items you need your clone to get working on. (Keep the entire list because you’re going to refer back to it after these top 3 items are complete).
Remember, up until this point, you haven’t left your couch. All you’ve done is to create a list. You haven’t even interrupted yourself from watching Law and Order re-runs – you ‘ve been making your lists during the commercials. It’s been pretty easy to get this far. Right?
Back to our steps. Break them down into simple actions that your clone can execute. For example, if your goal is to get out of debt, you might break down the steps to look like this:
- Why are you are in debt? Look at credit card statements and identify the problem.
- Set up a budget
- Get a budgeting software package like YNAB (You Need A Budget)
- Reduce interest expense on current debt
- Look for a part-time job.
Each of the steps above could be broken down further into mini-steps for your clone to get cracking on but you get the idea. Break each of your goals down to micro steps that you can hand to your clone so she’ll know exactly what to do.
4. Identify Your Obstacles/Excuses
Keep in mind that you still haven’t even broken a sweat but you’ve taken great strides. You’re already on step 4! Let’s keep going. At this point, your imaginary clone is no longer useful so we’ll send her back into the great ether.
Now is the time to be excruciatingly honest about all the reasons why you don’t want to take action on any of the steps you’ve identified.
What are your excuses – good and bad?
- You’ll miss watching TV
- You might mess up
- You aren’t sure about what to do
- You have more fun on Facebook
- Oprah is going to interview Jerry Springer and you don’t want to miss it
What are your excuses? Be completely honest. This step is tough but crucial. Nobody is going to see what you’ve written down so please be thorough.
5. Forecast What Happens if Nothing Changes
Think about what happens if you allow your excuses to direct your activities. What will you get out of it? What is the payoff? Write it down. There is a payoff to doing nothing (otherwise people would never procrastinate). What are your payoffs?
Now jot down the costs of “going with your excuse flow”. If you go that route, what does your life look like tomorrow, next week, next month and next year? It will look the same (or worse) than your life looks today. Am I right?
- You’ll still be broke – but maybe you won’t have a home or car.
- Your room will still be messy.
- You’ll still be 15 pounds overweight.
- You still won’t have the job you want.
The price is pretty high, isn’t it?
6. Write What You’d Do If You Were Motivated
Again, while still at rest, write down what you’d do if you were motivated. What are the 3 things you’d get done today if you were full of fire in your belly?
If you’ve gotten this far reading the post, I don’t think you need me to tell you what to do. You’re going to do those three items no matter what. You probably still don’t want to do anything but if my guess is right, you’re going to shut off the TV, get up from your couch and knock those three items out. Nothing is going to stop you. And tomorrow, you’re going to go back to step 3 and do it again with the next several items on your list. And you’re going to keep at it.
What you’ll find is that taking action, even when you aren’t motivated, motivates you. Taking action when you are motivated is actually easy. But taking the steps outlined above when you in a rut demonstrates true grit. That’s why I think it’s being superhuman. And don’t be mistaken. If you can do this and go against yourself (and I know you can) you have superhuman strength because most people won’t. And you can harness that power to accomplish great feats going forward. Booyah!
So even though you aren’t motivated, take action. Knock those three items down. Tell me how good you feel having done so. What other tips do you have for getting and staying motivated?