As I strolled along the beach, I ran across this herd of birds just waiting by the shoreline. Meanwhile, beyond the shoreline and over the ocean, I saw just a few of them flying around.
I’m no ornithologist, so I couldn’t tell you the biological reason they were standing there, but I took it upon myself to go with my hunch. Those idling by the shore seemed to be waiting for their meal to come to them on the incoming waves. They gazed out into the wake, patiently awaiting mother nature's delivery of tasty, challenge-free food.
Only a few of them were out there above the sea, doing the work of scavenging. They were spending time and energy to get what they wanted. That's proactivity.
The shore-bound birds reminded me a lot of many people I know (myself included). We know what we want to accomplish and we often know what we need to do to achieve it. But it's soooo comfortable on the shore of life, waiting to be spoon-fed success and opportunity.
But that's not very conducive to achievement. In fact, there's a correlation between your hunger and your chance of getting fed.
HOW HUNGRY ARE YOU?
Just like someone on a strict diet, you have to make the determination whether you need to eat for yourself. Depending on your desperation, you might be able to keep quelling that voice inside. But if you still have dreams that 'growl' at you, constantly reminding you of what you truly want, here are ways to stay hungry and get out into the ocean (like our determined feathered friends):
“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
A great way to stay hungry is to feed your dreams every day. It might sound counterintuitive, but being proactive actually motivates more proactivity. So be sure that you're always looking ahead (but keep goals at a managable level so you don't stress out).
How do you feed your goals, exactly? Well, it varies from person to person and project to project. It all depends on what steps you need to take to get to where you're going. But here's a rule of thumb to get you started:
- Make a to-do list and finish the important stuff every day.
- Achieve little things, even if they're not fun (getting rid of the "boring" stuff leaves more room for the good stuff)
- Keep setting new goals and to-dos to replace your finished projects (don't get comfortable with achieving what's on your list. Pat yourself on the back and move forward).
Surround yourself with what matters most
Are you building your dreams through attention? If your environment isn't conducive to dreaming, change it to the best of your abilities. Post up a vision board where you work and play so you're always reminded of what you really want.
It's especially important to enjoy leisure time with those who build you up instead of people that put you down. We don't always have a choice who we have to be around, but do your best to find people who support you and fall in line with your values.
Be authentic and true to yourself
Evaluate how important your dreams and goals are to you, right NOW. Ask yourself whether or not your current "far-off" goals are remnants of a past dream that you no longer desire. A lack of motivation can come from our procrastinating nature (it happens to all of us) but sometimes it's a sign that there's no passion.
Sometimes you think you should do something but that thing no longer brings you joy. Don't be afraid to change.
Celebrate each win
The road to achieving your dreams is often the tougher of two paths. Make small goals along the way so you can celebrate victories and improve your confidence. "Create a masterpiece" is a lot less tangible than "paint one small piece a week."
But every time you tick one small item off your to-do list, it punches up the reward-center of your brain and motivates you to keep going! Celebrate it with a reward that means something to you (and something you can keep from yourself until you've checked off your to-dos).
Visualize yourself already living your dreams
The greatest athletes and high-achievers use vizualization to their advantage daily. Whether it's throwing a touch-down pass or nailing a board meeting, vizualization can help put you in a mindset of confidence.
This is where writing may come in handy, but you can just as easily do it by closing your eyes and taking a few minutes every day to vizualize what your life looks like when you achieve your dreams.
- What does life look like when you've accomplished your goals?
- Who have you become? How have you changed for the better?
- Who is there to celebrate your triumphs with you?
Be open to the detours
Because the WHY is the way (read that article here if you want to find out more about the WHY), it acts as your personal north star. But circumstances are often out of our control. Your how and what can change in an instant.
Don’t let these twists throw you off — if you're truly passionate about something, you will find a way to hop your hurdles and move forward.
Just before heading onto the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro for a 7-day trek to the summit, our guide told us to “Enjoy the difficulties."
I’m encouraging you today to do the same. If you commit to that from the beginning, you will embrace the fact that they are part of the journey and as such, will start seeing difficulties as opportunities.