In the last couple of chapters, we’ve focused on using CBT to reduce stress. And we’ve seen how this can indirectly lead to advancements in your career thanks to things like the law of attraction.
But what about motivating yourself toward something? What if you’re not frozen by fear and stress but simply by tiredness and indifference? What if you don’t know what it is you want out of life, or how to structure a goal so that you can get there? You can’t very well work toward what you want when you don’t know what that is!The first thing we’re going to do is to introduce just a very subtle shift in the way you approach these ideas. And specifically, this will mean having a vision and not a goal.
What is the difference between a vision and a goal?
A vision is much more abstract but at the same time, more tangible.
A goal is to lose 15 lbs in 10 weeks. A vision is to be the same you, but fitter, healthier and more attractive – running outdoors with a healthy looking tan and waking up every morning with tons of energy to get up and attack the day.
Which of those things is more motivating? For most people, the answer will be the vision.
The other great thing about visions is that most of us already have them, even if we don’t know it. If I ask you what your goal in life is, then you might not be able to answer. But if I ask you to just imagine your perfect life, then you might find it easier to do. Perhaps you’re sitting on a beautiful beach somewhere? Perhaps you’re living in a massive mansion? Maybe you’re rich in a skyscraper somewhere?
If you’re still struggling to come up with a vision that you can work toward, then some other questions to ask are things like: who are your role models (and what do they have in common)? When was the last time you were truly happy? What did you want to be when you were a kid?
It doesn’t have to be super concrete – wanting to be rich, wanting more time with your family or wishing you weren’t at work is fine! And if you do have something really concrete – wishing you were a famous rock star – then that’s fine too.
From here, the next thing to do is to take that vision and break it down into steps. This is another important point and it’s once again something that a lot of people get wrong. If you are working toward a goal rather than a vision, then you might, as per our previous example, be working toward losing X amount of weight in N amount of time.
This is a fine aim but it’s far too distant and too outside your control to be useful. When it comes to the crunch and you need to force yourself out the door to exercise, it’s all too easy to just tell yourself you’ll catch up on what you’ve missed later. You end up putting it off or making excuses and by the time that amount of time has passed and you haven’t achieved what you were hoping, you just feel disappointed, disheartened and possibly depressed. Eventually, this leads to you giving up entirely!
So instead, we make steps toward our vision. This means coming up with a plan first and often you’ll find it’s easier than you think to accomplish the impossible – it just requires a bit of creative thought. For example, if you want to be a rock star you might take a less obvious route such as creating your own YouTube channel and posting your music regularly. If you build up a big enough following and you have enough obvious skill, then eventually this is highly likely to lead to an offer for a recording contract!
In other scenarios it might be a very easy set of steps – in order to lose weight you might eat no more than 1800 calories every day and workout five times a week for 30 minutes. If you want to write a best selling novel, your goal might be to wake up one hour early and write for 40 minutes before work.
These are now incredibly simple steps that are highly within your control. You either fail or pass but it’s entirely down to you. And if you do fail? You can simply try again the next day. Each day is a fresh challenge and there is no putting things off. Ultimately, this makes a goal much easier to stick to – especially if you use the chain technique a lot of people use: creating a string of X’s in a calendar so that you will find yourself not wanting to break the sequence by missing a workout or writing session!
This will seem detached from the goal at times but if the steps are good, then taking them every single day, week or month on a consistent basis will mean you’re getting gradually closer to your aim.
Now all that’s left is to motivate yourself and to get yourself in a mind set where you’re willing to put in the time and work to get to where you want to be. How do you get yourself to get out of bed to go for a run at 5am when it’s pouring with rain outside?
The answer is that you need to use a slightly altered form of CBT by focusing on the emotional reasons behind what you’re doing. In other words, you need to think about the vision and you need to feel the vision. This is what will give you the release of the correct neurotransmitters to have the motivation to do it. You can also focus on what it is you’re trying to avoid.
So if you’re thinking about running in the morning and you can’t find the willpower to do it, the answer is just to make the connection in your mind so that you link that step to the outcome you want. Visualize that version of yourself who is fit, healthy and ripped and picture yourself running in the sun during the summer. Think about how it feels to never have this low energy and think about the alternative – getting gradually less and less fit and feeling gradually worse and worse with nothing that you can do to fix it.
And if you try this a few mornings and you find it doesn’t work, then another consideration is to try setting yourself up some kind of video or script that you can read or watch when you wake up to do that for you. Feel the emotion, know that the step you’re considering is what can get you there and then take the next step!
Next week we'll talk about increasing your confidence.