4 keys to trampling obstacles
There’s one approach to success. Only one: stick it out.
Clench your jaws on your project until you make your goal happen.
Getting things done requires a certain amount of fierceness and persistence, but it’s an art you can learn.
I wrote this motivational post for tough times, I hope it helps all those who’ve decided to achieve something worth fighting for:
Persistence is the mindset that engraves habits in your life. If you apply persistence smartly, nothing can block your way, you’ll reach the finish line when everybody else has quit.
The power of persistence gives you a strong momentum, yet it doesn’t require that much energy on your end: just commitment.
Its secret lies in doing a little bit every day. Doing anything consistently takes you anywhere, and the benefits in the long run are pretty awesome.
I try to leverage persistence by scheduling daily tasks. I did that with meditation for instance by setting myself up for 30 minutes meditation a day.
30 minutes is a modest commitment, but if you add up, you get 182 hours a year, in the end it’s like doing a 22 days meditation retreat.
I find it amazing how little actions can cluster up to form huge results.
Taking daily action means getting back to work EVERY DAY, though. Even when you’re completely low or when your motivation has gone west. If you’re like me and you were not a natural born workaholic, here are a few tips to build-up the muscle of persistence:
- make your commitment a priority: to do something regularly, you need to make it a must, which means hard-building it in your schedule
- reward your consistency: take breaks between work sessions and reward yourself for what you did (chocolate, movies, whatever it takes). You need to reinforce good habits by sending pleasure signals to your mind, that’s how you can teach new tricks to an old dog.
- expect to be alone: your friends might cheer up as you announce your intention to run a marathon, but the rest of the year, you’ll be on you own training early in the cold. In the end, chances are everybody will have forgotten what your commitment was. Get used to loneliness and to making your dream a personal thing.
2- JAWS ONLY. NO BRAIN.
Planning and strategizing can be very helpful, but sometimes they’re just another way to entertain your mind out of the task at hand. Didn’t you ever waste an entire afternoon trying to decide between 15 todo apps that were supposed to help you save time? I know I did, and to be honest, all I unconsciously wanted was an escape from my boring job.
Seriously, you don’t need a brain to swing obstacles away, immediate action is enough to crush them. Ever seen an angry pit-bull? It’s a useful example of what it takes to pull through sometimes.
If you work out regularly, you’re also familiar with the athlete’s mentality: a stubborn willpower that ignores the pain of exercising.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed by concerns on how and when to do things, just by-pass the reflection stage and take action right away:
- If you’re a writer: grab a pen/keyboard and start writing
- If you’re an athlete: go run for 15 minutes, you’ll think about your next contest later
- If you’re a sales guy: just write a two liner email to any customer randomly
That approach works great when discouragement and anxiety invade your mind: action will flush these feelings without mercy. What’s blocking us is usually not the problem itself, but how big we think it is, try and switch off your rational brain and move on.
3- VAPORIZE YOUR BLOCKAGES
Whatever is blocking your way to success: skills limitations, lack of family support, high competition, it doesn’t matter what that is: you can transform it if you choose to perceive it differently. The secret is to be smart about how you label problems.
Right now you might think of all your obstacles as enemies , you might feel cornered and weakened by all these threats. Yet, with a shift of perception, problems can be turned into allies.
I’d like to invite you to change your vision:
What if you started seeing yourself as an elephant that tramples obstacles?
Technically, that’s what you are: you have the active role, you’re the one moving towards you goals, problems only happen to be on your way.
What if you consider obstacles a good sign?
Obstacles are telling you if what you’re doing is meaningful. More obstacles? More value. That’s why the moment when you feel like throwing the towel is considered a critical time when you can make a difference.
And if you’re the chivalrous type, remember that :
“We triumph without glory when we conquer without danger.” - Pierre Corneille, Le Cid (II, 2)
What if obstacles where the exact reflexion of the missing skills you need to train?
In that case, problems should be seen as instructors giving you just what you need to progress at your own pace.
I continuously try to be creative and find empowering ways to look at my problems (and I’m blessed to have lots to deal with), I invite you to find out what works best for you.
If you shift your beliefs system on difficulties, your attitude will change radically, problems will start to help you develop at a pretty insane motivation.
4- TOSS DISEMPOWERING ARGUMENTS
At the peak of difficulties you generally hear “reasonable” voices advising you to quit.
The first objections generally come from yourself:
- “Starting this blog was just a stupid idea, I’m sure job opportunities are better in the farming industry”
- “I’m too old to learn that LISP thing, besides I’ll have to butter up arrogant gurus on internet forums, bummer…”
- “How could I be naive enough to believe that anybody would be interested in my cookbook for travellers? I should have kept my day job in retail. It doesn’t pay that well but at least I get the warm feeling of belonging to the great Wal-Mart family”
Other voices often come from those around you, friends, family. A lot of them mean well, they’re just concerned to see you tired and challenged by a project for which success is not granted.
If you hear arguments that don’t favor success: toss them.
YOU initiated your project, I bet nobody whispered it in your ear, so nobody should talk you out of your dream until it’s accomplished.
If you really want to make it a practice: remember that whenever you hear yourself or others try to convince you to abandon, it’s the sign that the finish line is getting really close.
And if you’re about to burnout, take a rest, but ban the idea of quitting once and for all.
Hmmm, OK I dumped a lot on you today, I’ll make sure I continue to apply that myself :)
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