We frequently become adept at pointing out our flaws and identifying failures. But to be happy, we need to become equally adept at citing our achievements. We have to be willing to say to ourselves, I’m on the right road. I’m doing OK. I’m succeeding.
How do we change our mindset from fault-finding and uninspiring to one that’s positive and motivating? Here are three ways to stay motivated:
1. Chart your progress.
Identify things you are doing now that you weren’t doing one month ago… six months ago… a year ago. What habits have changed? Doing well once or twice is relatively easy. Continuously moving ahead is tough, in part, because we so easily revert to old habits and former lifestyles. So give yourself regular feedback to monitor your performance and reinforce yourself positively. Don’t wait for an award ceremony, promotion, friend or mentor to show appreciation for your work. Take pride in your own efforts on a daily basis.
2. Keep the end result in sight.
Always see the big picture of the ultimate goal you’re working for and the benefits that come with it. During World War II, parachutes were being constructed by the thousands. From the workers’ point of view, the job was tedious and repetitive. It involved crouching over a sewing machine eight to 10 hours a day, stitching endless lengths of colorless fabric. The result was a seamless heap of cloth. But every morning, the workers were reminded that each stitch was part of a life-saving operation. As they sewed, they were asked to think that this might be the parachute worn by their husband, brother or son. Although the work was hard and the hours long, the women and men on the assembly line understood their contribution to the larger picture.
The same should be true with your work. Each thing you do benefits someone, something — the lives and well-being of adults and children throughout the world, not just generally, but specifically. These are the visions that drive us through tedious details to the top.
3. Set up a dynamic daily routine.
Getting into a positive routine or groove, instead of a negative rut, will help you become more effective. Why is the subway the most energy efficient means of transportation? Because it runs on a track. Think of the order in your day, instead of the routine. Order is not sameness, neatness or everything exactly in its place. Order is not taking on more than you can manage, without still being able to do what you really choose. Order is the opposite of complication; it’s simplification. Order is not wasting a lot of time trying to find things. Order is avoiding a lot of recriminations because you didn’t do something you promised. Order is setting an effective agenda with others so neither of you is disappointed. Order is doing in a day what you set out to do. Order frees you up. Get into the swing of a healthy, daily routine and discover how much more control you’ll gain in your life.
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