Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How to Continue

Before you read this post, read the first part, “How to Start”

So here you are; you’re on your way to your own mini revolution. Maybe you’ve just started, or maybe you’re reading this after years of hard work. Regardless, you’re making a difference and that is the single most noteworthy thing you can be doing in this world.  I’m sure you’ve realized by now, it’s not nearly as straightforward as you thought it would be, though.

Sometimes, the plans don’t always work out and you seem stuck in a rut until an extrinsic motivational factor pulls you out.  It happens to me all the time. It seems like I’m not getting anywhere and I loose heart until someone reminds me about my goals. If you’re like me, and wish you could stay on top of your goals and not loose heart all of the time, I’ve compiled some bits of advice that might help.

First, every Sunday, I look back on my week and think. I answer seven questions I found on this great website called Marc and Angel Hack Life:

1.       What pleasant surprises did you discover this week?

2.       What lessons did you learn?

3.       How are your short term efforts aligned with your long term goals?

4.       What could you have spent more or less time doing?

5.       How did fear or uncertainty affect you this week?

6.       Do you have any mental clutter to clear?

7.       What are your goals for next week?

These questions really keep me on track because they make me review how my life goes every week and allow me to change my life if it isn’t going as I’d like it to. I write out all on my answers on paper because writing them down makes it less easy to lie to myself.  I encourage you to do these questions also. And as you complete all your goals for this week, check them off, to give you some satisfaction.

Secondly, I’ve started to wear something every day to remind myself of my efforts constantly.  It’s simply a hair tie on my left wrist. Since I’m left handed and wear my watch and bracelets on my right wrist, I’m not used to having something on my left wrist. It feels strange and I notice it constantly. Therefore, if I notice it constantly, I constantly have my goals on the mind. You could do the same, or just something similar like drawing a star on the back of your hand or posting sticky notes around your house to remind you, etc. Whatever you decide to do, simply keeping your goals on your mind periodically will increase your chances of completing them.

Something I also try to do that you might find useful is journaling for five minutes at the end of each day, just to keep track of how you’re doing or how you could be doing.

Also, every year I sit down with a pencil and paper and answer a set of 38 questions about my whole life. I never look at the questions or answers unless it’s June 10th and it’s time to do my questions again. My goal every year is to change my answers. (So an example of one of the questions I’ve remembered is what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done. Two years ago, it was talking about my sticky notes idea at a small school assembly. One year ago, I one-uped that by talking to my whole school about changing the world.  I’m going to try to beat both of them again this year.) The point of these questions is take advantage of opportunities to better yourself and do new and better things than before. I encourage you to do the same, making up your own questions that mean something to you.

Lastly, I want to stress that getting stuck in a rut while you’re trying to make a difference is normal. Life happens and sometimes there’s just no time for anything but work or school. Sometimes we get depressed and empty and can’t convince ourselves to do something productive with our lives. But as long as we are pulled out eventually, it’s alright. And sometimes extrinsic motivational factors are very helpful. But on the other hand, they don’t always show up when we need them the most. And so intrinsic motivation is a very powerful thing to learn.

 Good luck with your goals! And if you ever are stuck in a rut and can’t seem to find the intrinsic motivation to get yourself out, feel free to shoot me an email. The months of my life I’ve emailed with people about my goals are the times I’ve been the most inspired and achieved the most.

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