Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Motivation. It's not what you think.

Have you ever listened to a "motivational speaker?"  They can be pretty exciting.  By the time they've finished speaking it's pretty normal to feel as if  you can do anything!  Filled with excitement and enthusiasm you decide to make major changes in your life.  From the way you approach your career to the energy you invest in your relationships, everything is going to change.  Stepping out bravely, you institute grand and sweeping plans to dramatically change and improve your life.  And then, something happens.  After a month, a week or maybe even later the same day, the motivation begins to fade.  The enthusiasm dampens and the will to change seems to just...disappear.  Which leads me to my belief that motivational speakers are a "dime a dozen"...and worth almost that much.  Just to be clear, there are some very talented speakers who talk about the same things as motivational speakers, but who are not motivational speakers themselves. Instead, they are men and women who have, often through hard experience, found what works and are eager to educate others about it.  For these people I have nothing but admiration and respect.  Jim Rohn was a good example of a gifted speaker who was far more than merely "motivational."

One problem with motivation, and motivational speakers, is that motivation cannot be truly given to someone. While it's true that people are motivated by different things, the motivation to change must ultimately come from the person who is trying to change.  A speaker can excite you, move you and temporarily share his or her emotion with you.  Those feelings are only temporary.  You can't borrow them permanently.  Instead you have to find your own.  After all, your reasons for changing your life, or some part of it, are yours.  No one should be as interested (or as excited) about those reasons as you.  If you're waiting to find the right person to motivate you to change, you could be waiting your entire lifetime.  Jim Rohn put it this way: "Don't wait for someone to motivate you.  What if he doesn't show up?"

Secondly, it's a mistake to confuse motivation with commitment.  Motivation may be "why" we change, but commitment is what keeps us doing what we have to do during those periods when the excitement isn't there and when we feel like giving up.  While it's vital to keep in mind why we've started down the road to change, it's equally important to be committed to the process, especially when it's appealing to quit.  Motivation can be thrilling, exciting and emotionally charged.  Commitment is strong, solid and tough.

Finally, motivation and education go hand in hand.  In fact, motivation without education is pretty worthless. It's education that gives my motivation direction.  It's education that teaches me not only how to change, but what to change and that change is even possible.  If I don't know that I need to change, that I can change and what to change, all my motivation and excitement are meaningless.  Jim Rohn, again:

  • "Life change does not begin with inspiration.  Life change begins with education."
  • "Motivation alone is not enough.  If you have an idiot and motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot."
If you want to change your life, you can.  If you want to make things better for you and those you love, you can.  Get the knowledge you need.  Find your reason and drive to change and then go make it happen.

Change your mind...change your life

Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

3 Steps to Greater Focus

We hear a lot about focus.  "If you want to succeed you need laser-like focus" is a pretty common comment, often from those who are trying to help.  That sounds good, but how do you get this "laser-like focus?"  Once you get it, how do you keep it?  There are a few steps that will help you achieve greater focus.

  1. You get focus by changing your perspective.  Far too many people have the "can't see the forest for the trees" syndrome.  While it's often important to attend to the many details of life, they can easily grab most or all of your attention.  Periodically, it's important to step back and take a good long look at the big picture. In practical terms, this means revisiting your dream sheet (you do have a dream sheet, don't you?).  Is there anything you want to add?  Anything you want to remove because the idea doesn't thrill you anymore?  It also means double checking your values.  Have any of them changed?  Are your values and dreams congruent?  This process gives a big picture perspective.
  2. You get focus by being crystal clear about your goals.  Once you have the big picture you can look at your goals and action steps.  Do your goals support your values and dreams?  Do your action steps support your goals?
  3. Now you can have focus.  You've moved from the big picture down to the close-in, immediate picture.  Now you have the clarity to focus on the things that matter.  The things that matter are your goals that move you toward your dreams and the action steps through which you achieve your goals.
As a rule, when we lose focus, it's because we're no longer clear about what we want and how we're going to get it.  If you've lost your focus, change your perspective, get crystal clear about your goals and actions and focus on what really matters.