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Posts tagged ‘motivation’

Getting Things Done?

When it comes to getting things done, how do you proceed?  Do you take the “eat-the-biggest-frog-first” approach and do the biggest or most difficult thing first?  For some people, that approach can work very well.  The idea is that by tackling the “biggest frog” first, you not only get that project done, but you also free up the energy that you might have spent thinking or worrying about getting it done.  If this idea appeals to you or works for you, go for it.  Use it to get those items on your to-do list checked off!

Moving With The Flow

However, if that has not worked so well for you (or has not worked at all), there is another, completely opposite approach which can be equally effective for getting things done.  It’s the idea of “the path of least resistance.”  As the name implies, you move with the flow, not against it.  I have known about and appreciated this idea for some time now because it fits for me philosophically.  However, I attribute a better understanding and more practical use of it to Jennifer Hofmann of Inspired Home Office.  I participated in a class she offers called “The Wish Kit” in which she guided us to create not only a vision for, but also the initial steps to creating an office or studio or workspace that works for us and even nurtures and inspires us.  (Please check out the link if this sounds intriguing at all.  It’s very reasonably priced!)

Path Of Least Resistance

In “the path of least resistance” approach, the idea is to generate energy and build momentum for what you want to accomplish.  Instead of going for the “big frog,” you begin with the task or project that has the most appeal, that sounds like the most fun and/or is the easiest.

“What?”  You may say, “That won’t work!  I’ll just do easy stuff and won’t get the hard stuff done.”  Perhaps.  However, the brilliance behind this approach is that it tends to clear the way so that you can get stuff done!  Doing the easy or even the fun task has a way of lightening our mood and increasing our energy, thus creating a better environment to do those very tasks that we may be putting off or even dreading.  This approach is like oiling a rusty or squeaky part in our home.  The part becomes smoother and easier to move.  And we often feel an “Ahhhhh” sense of relief.  Using the path of least resistance allows our own process to move more smoothly and easily.

Let It Be Easy!

Next time, instead of gritting your teeth and pushing through something, why not give this approach a try?  Purposefully decide to experiment with this way of getting things done.  Pick something that you’d like to do, something that you want to do, something that is easy to do, then notice if you feel less stuck or if you have more energy or your thinking becomes clearer.  Any and all of those results are possible.  It is a tried-and-true approach!

Kiss Your Monster On The Nose

Then you are in a more effective position to “kiss your monster on the nose.”  (Doesn’t that sound preferable to eating a big frog????)  If you think about “kissing your monster on the nose,” it has a sense of peace and resolution to it, not a sense of having to “gear yourself up for battle.”  Kissing your monster on the nose may just be a matter of breaking down the project in front of you into the tasks or steps that will allow you to accomplish it.  It may be that you just haven’t stopped to take the time to think through what may be involved or that you need to do some research to get more information for what’s in front of you.  You want to make sure that you have the necessary information and resources you need to accomplish your task or project!

If you think about being your own best friend, you want to encourage yourself with positive motivation as much as you can instead of forcing yourself or giving yourself grief when what you’re doing isn’t working!  And, aside from being a “kinder, gentler way,” the path of least resistance is very effective!  You do get done what you’re wanting to get done, but you go about it in perhaps a very different way.

If you’ve been looking for an approach to increase your productivity without being mean to yourself, give this one a try.  You may very well be surprised at how incredibly effective it is!

Motivation for Change: Part 3

No discussion of change would be complete without your vision for change.  Your vision for change is what pulls you forward, is what motivates and inspires you to make the changes needed for that vision to become reality.  If your vision is lackluster or ho-hum or just not that compelling, what is there to pull you forward?  There isn’t anything to pull you forward!  That’s why having a powerful vision is so essential to the process of change!  If your goal is “I want to lose some weight,” and your vision doesn’t include how wonderful you will look and feel in your “new” body, then how do you expect yourself to make the changes needed to accomplish this?

Our brain LOVES pictures and is very sensory.  The more you can use your senses to determine how this change will look, feel, sound, taste, or even smell, the better because you are solidifying what it IS that you want for your brain to go to work on, in essence to be your ally!  You want to have as clear a mental picture as possible about what that change will be like!  You want to have a feeling of excitement and energy about this change.  Create a picture (in your mind or on paper) that stirs some energy and excitement for you.  Doing a collage or a “dream board” or something that helps you see and feel the change you want can create the energy and excitement that you want to have for your goal.

However, what we inadvertently tend to do is focus on how much we don’t like the way it is now, perhaps thinking that we will goad ourselves into doing “better”.  As human and as understandable as that is, it backfires on us because our focus is on the wrong picture!  Be really conscientious about redirecting your focus when you notice yourself heading down that path.  Refocus on what you DO want and where you DO want to be and how you DO want this part of your life to be!  That’s where the mental picture or collage you have created become so important.  It is very difficult to “just say no” when there is nothing to say, “YES!” to.  Because we’re human, we do head down the path of what we don’t want.  That’s OK.  Don’t berate yourself.  Just gently say, “Oh, there I go again heading down that path I don’t want to go down.”  Then you can turn yourself toward the vision that you DO have for yourself, your mental picture and/or your collage, and really let yourself soak that in.  By doing so, you effectively add power and energy to what you DO want because you are consciously choosing that and reinforcing that for your brain and for yourself.

Give yourself one of the resources you need for change, a vision that pulls you forward with a clear mental picture that you just might want to create a collage for.  Why not?  What do you have to lose (except some extra pounds or clutter or too much of whatever you may have!)

Motivation for Change: Part 2

I jumped right into the meatiness of this topic in Part 1, but by doing so, I got a bit ahead of myself.  Before you look at making changes and creating a SMART goal for yourself to increase the chances of successfully meeting your goal, first you want to see what you already have on your plate!  Is your plate already so full that the food is falling off the edges (like at Thanksgiving)?  Is there anything to which you can say, “No thank you”?  Are you wanting to keep everything that is already on your plate and add more?  Are you (perchance) attempting to bite off more than you can chew?

If your plate is full and you then add something else to it, what might happen?  Does food begin to drop off the edges?  Hmmmm.  Does this sound like a plan destined to fail in some way?  Perhaps you will be successful with your new goal, but chances are that something else is going to fall off your plate.  Or, you manage to keep everything on your plate, but you wonder why you’re not having much success with your new goal.

It is just too much! Call a halt! Stop! You don’t want to neglect yourself, your loved ones, your work or some other part of your life that is important because you are attempting to cram too much into too small a space!  How can you come back to some balance?

Stopping.  Stepping back.  Assessing.  “OK, exactly what is it that I have on my plate?”  It may have been awhile since you really looked.  Sometimes life can feel like it’s going faster than we can keep up.  That is when it is most important to do what is counterintuitive and stop.  Just stop.  The urgency of it all is causing you to think you can’t, but you can indeed and must find a way to stop.  Then take a few slow, deep breaths.  Now look at your plate.  Not with judgment or harshness or criticism.  Just with neutrality and curiosity.  Like you are looking at it for the first time.  “Hmmm.  How interesting.  I have three rolls, a huge piece of steak, no veggies, a tiny serving of fruit and two desserts.  Hmmm.  Isn’t that interesting?”  Not, “Oh my gosh!  My nutrition has gone down the toilet, and there’s no hope for me!”  That is not the kind of gentle assessing I’m talking about.  You are observing your plate (like a scientist studying something) so you can see what is what, what you have plenty of, what you might want more of, and what you could do without, perhaps to make room for something more!

All of this is really a way of stopping to appreciate all that you do.  It’s recognizing that you probably take care of and accomplish more that you give yourself credit for.  I’ll bet that, in some way, somehow, you are taking yourself for granted.  We don’t like it when other people take us for granted, do we?  But look at that; we’re guilty of the same thing!  Instead of taking yourself for granted, try this out.  Step 1.  Write down every single thing you accomplished today.  If you are really diligent about recording what you did, you will have a much longer list than you thought you would have.  Yes, making the bed counts.  Doing the dishes counts.  Running an errand counts.  Completing the paperwork counts.  Feeding the dog counts.  Going for a walk around the block counts.  It ALL counts.  Write it all down.  Step 2.  Give yourself a pat on the back or a high-five or a “Way to go!” for all that you did do today.  Right now is not the time to be concerned with what you thought you “should have” done or what you didn’t do.  Keep your focus on all that you did do.  Because you did a lot.  And you deserve credit and appreciation.  So give yourself some!

From this place of appreciation, you are in a much better position to make good decisions and see if there is any room at all for something new.  Without first assessing how things are now and giving credit where credit is due, it becomes very difficult to make changes, much less to feel motivated to make changes!

Give yourself those gifts: 1)stopping, 2)assessing, 3)appreciating.  By doing so, you are more prepared to move forward into the possibility of change.

Motivation for Change: Part 1

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” — Lao-tzu

Making a change can seem like a huge undertaking, if not completely overwhelming.  To counteract that feeling, it can help to remember that change is a process that occurs little step by little step by little step.  The cumulative effect of those little steps creates the change that you want!

Once you have identified the change that you want to make (whether it is exercising or being on time or cleaning out a cluttered closet), the next thing to do is to break it down into parts.  Often we do not move forward because our goal is in too big of a chunk.  It’s actually several actions instead of one.  Each action may be simple enough in itself, but our brain is attempting, in some way, to do them simultaneously.  It’s doing its best, but it will not succeed unless you first back up and break down your goal into simple, concrete, manageable actions.  Then, you and your brain can go for it.  That’s where the SMART goal format can come into play.

A SMART goal is an acronym for a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Realistic/Relevant and Time-based.

Specific – Take, for example, “exercise.”  That is not specific.  It is vague.  What kind of exercise?  Swimming?  Walking?  Racquetball?  Where will you exercise?  Outside?  A particular gym?  Do you already belong to that gym?  Will you be exercising by yourself, or do you want to work-out with someone?  Who is that “someone”?  Do they have an interest and time available when you do?  These are questions that seems obvious but can kill the success of a goal if they are not clearly answered!

Measurable – How often?  Once each week?  Three times each week?  And how long for each time?  One game?  Thirty minutes?  If you’re looking at a goal like exercise that is best done with a gradual progression from starting out small to building on your successes, it helps to have short-term, intermediate and long-term goals.  Perhaps you’ll start out by just walking for 20 minutes three times the first week, then building to 25 minutes each time the second week, then 30 minutes the third week, and so on, until you have built up to the amount and frequency that you are wanting.  You can increase your likelihood of success by identifying which days you will exercise on:  Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays?  Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays?  Your long-term goal may be to run a 5K by a certain date.

Attainable (or Achievable) – Is the goal something that is possible for you to achieve?  Do you really believe that it is possible?  If you decide to exercise every single day but have three days each week that are already so jam-packed full of commitments that you really don’t have the time or energy to exercise on those days, then daily exercise is not an attainable goal for you!  However, by modifying your goal to perhaps three times each week, it becomes attainable.  Seems like a very simple and obvious point, but you’d be amazed how many of us tend to overlook the importance of really looking squarely at this guideline.

Realistic (or Relevant) – “Is your goal realistic?” is very similar to “Is your goal attainable or achievable?”  “Is your goal relevant?” addresses whether or not your goal fits with your vision and values and what is important to you.  How does your goal matter in the overall picture of what you want for yourself?

Time-based – If you leave this one out, your brain doesn’t have a way to wrap itself around your goal and go to work for you.  Having a definite date for getting started on your goal and a definite date for completing your goal increases the structure for your goal and, therefore, helps support you in accomplishing that goal.  Dates also help by providing you with some motivation to get going (because, for example, you want to be ready for the 5K!)

Little step by little step by little step.  But before you take any steps, put the change you want to make into a SMART goal format to increase your likelihood for success.  You want to use the resources you already have to give yourself the support you need!

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