Welcome to the final segment of our Motivation series. In Part I, you learned how to introduce healthy habits and activities to help you feel better when you’re feeling unmotivated. Part II showed you how to create and hold space for your feelings, determine your goals and find your purpose. Now, with Part III, we’re going to dive into the hard stuff.
We’re going to commit to restructuring our behaviors and lifestyle. Doing so will help optimize our capabilities to achieve our goals and serve our purpose. These will not be easy activities or decisions. That said, if you would like to make your needs a bigger priority, accomplish your goals and live a fulfilling life, this article can help you do that.
We all have goals we want to achieve faster, more efficiently and with ease. When we struggle to achieve these goals, we experience self-hatred, rejection, and shame. We become frustrated for not being where we want to be and take it out on ourselves. Instead of looking inwards for clarity and guidance, we seek shortcuts, secrets, and hacks to accelerate the process.
Naturally, we want to emulate the “successful” people we see on screen and magazines. We watch in awe at how they’re able to live the lifestyle we want, surround them with people we want to be connected to, and achieve the goals on our list. With this fascination, we forget about what we’re not seeing and what isn’t captured on camera. The sacrifices, the struggles, and the difficult decisions they had to make to build the lifestyle we’re so envious of.
When you look for secrets and shortcuts, you miss out on the hard work and dedication required to achieve great success.
The most successful people are committed to doing the hard work, serving their purpose, and prioritizing their wellbeing first. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re cheating, lying or sleeping their way to the top. We often demonize successful people for not earning their achievements. What we should be doing is learning about their work ethics, accountability, and leadership. Then, applying these techniques, strategies, and mindset to our own lives.
To achieve your goals and serve your purpose, you also will need to take responsibility for your actions. This includes how and what you invest your time, energy and commitment to. It requires you to reevaluate your current priorities, mental models and belief systems to see how they are serving you and/or limiting you from achieving greatness. Afterward, you will need to take the necessary step to unpack, uproot, and rebuild your priorities, behaviors, and beliefs. Doing so, you will reclaim your power and level up on your personal growth.
To live a life you’re proud of, one full of meaning and purpose, you need to build it for yourself.
No one can hand it to you, nor will they. Holding yourself accountable requires you to let go of your victim mindset, heal from your trauma, and utilize your adversities as a source of growth. Use what happened to you as a learning opportunity. Not a crutch. Not ankle weights, or a death sentence. It will also give you an opportunity to filter out outside influences, perceived limitations, and help distill what’s most important to you.
Evaluate your lifestyle, choices, and behaviors.
Is it helping you reach your goals or is it holding you back?
What needs to change for you to reach your maximum potential?
What beliefs do you have about yourself and the world around you that is stunting your trajectory?
Who or what is dictating and influencing your beliefs, focus, and capabilities?
Where is your fear, guilt, and shame coming from and what is it trying to tell you about yourself?
Nothing is going to change unless you make those changes.
Controlling your mind, reactions and responses will allow you to solve your problems. Move on and move forward. Many of us operate like a hamster running on its wheel. We hope if we run fast enough, work hard enough and pray enough, we will get to our destination. We’re so busy going through the routine, we forget to stop, look around, and reflect on the consequences.
We’re all at different stages of our personal development journey (PDJ), each with a different desirable destination: contentment, success, and/or purpose. If we don’t stop to self-correct, we will never be able to achieve everything we want to. Not in one lifetime any ways.
Success in life is not based on merit alone. It requires hard work, strategy, personal sacrifices, and extreme focus.
This article is focused on taking a look at your lifestyle and current priorities and making strategic and conscious decisions that will move you forward on your PDJ. It will be uncomfortable at first. Very uncomfortable.
You will be uprooting old behaviors, beliefs, and habits, but it’s necessary. You no longer have to limit yourself and live in dissatisfaction. These decisions will empower you to change your circumstances. Incorporating these practices will alter the projection of your PDJ and accelerate your success rate. That is, if you are willing to commit to them and free yourself of a limiting mindset.
Get to know what you want, what you really, really want
Before we can commit to a goal, any goal, we need to take a look at how much we are willing to commit to ourselves. To do this, we need to ask ourselves, how much do we want it? Then, take it a step further, what are you willing to do to bring your vision to life? A famous talk by Eric Thomas describes the most successful people, referring to them as “beasts”, wants “it” (whatever success looks like for them) as badly as they want to breathe.
Whatever it is you’re striving for, how badly do you want it? What are you willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals and pursue your purpose? How important is it for you to live the life you’ve always imagined? Or is it just that – a fun fantasy you like to think about every once in a while but don’t care enough to have it?
We all have choices to make. Those that achieve their goals are more willing to make and stick to the harder ones.
Be honest with yourself. It’s ok if you don’t want it as badly as you thought you did. Now’s the time to admit that to yourself and focus on what you actually want. You don’t have to go after goals you don’t want to or purpose you don’t find fulfilling for you.
Naturally, I (and I’m sure other people in your life) want to empower you to achieve your greatest potential. We do this because we believe you can achieve great things so don’t be afraid to dream big and/or settle only for what you think you can achieve or what you “deserve”. That said, this is your choice and no one else’s.
Admit what you want and pursue it regardless of your fears, shame, or guilt. Just because other people put pressure on you to achieve certain goals, doesn’t mean you have to accept it and carry that burden. It should not risk the relationship if you decide to do something you truly love and makes you happy.
Modify your priorities to align with your commitments
Speaking of commitments, how are your commitments reflected in your priorities? Do your current priorities align with your goals and purpose? Is it bringing you closer or are they a distraction? What should be modified and what needs to be eliminated all together?
Ask yourself: what are my choices costing me? Whatever you are saying ‘yes’ to, when you shouldn’t, can’t afford to, or simply don’t want to say ‘yes’ to, you are saying ‘no’ to spending your time, energy and focus on achieving your goals. Take a serious look at your opportunity cost. This will help simplify your decision making as it reflects what you’re able to gain, if you’re able to focus on better priorities, and less on what you’re (temporarily) missing out on.
Is having your own business more important than sleeping in? What about those lazy weekends and drunk brunches with your friends? Is reaching financial freedom more important than luxurious dinners and treating your friends to a round of drinks? Doesn’t starting a foundation for a cause you care sound like a bigger priority than having wild nights out and flexing for the gram?
Reflect on whether or not your behaviors align with your life’s mission and purpose.
If there’s a misalignment, start to readjust your priorities to better serve you. Doing this removes the disillusionment that you can achieve your goals while operating on autopilot. Recognize the power you have with the choices you make every single day. From your thoughts and beliefs to your discipline and habits, all of it is in your control.
Alignment requires minimizing external forces, eliminating distractions, and making sacrifices to focus on what you truly need.
Develop uncompromisable discipline
Now that you’ve determined what your priorities are, you will also need to reevaluate whether or not your lifestyle supports it. If not, cut down on the BS.
Reduce spending on shit you don’t need. Stop wasting time on things that will not bring you closer to your goals. Stop investing in relationships that take energy away, instead of empowering you. Quit indulging in distractions and avoiding hard work.
Discipline allows you to focus on your priorities. Apply it. Delegate your time to achieve all the things you need to do. Learn new skills. Build meaningful relationships and surround yourself with people you want to be like. Spend time working on yourself. Give back to your community.
Don’t be afraid to admit your priorities and lifestyle no longer serves you. This happens when we increase our consciousness and focus. If it no longer works for you, change them.
Set yourself up for success and let go of any feelings of guilt, shame or regret.
Sure, it will be uncomfortable for you and those around you at first. That’s what happens when you grow out of a particular stage in your life. Your needs, relationships, and boundaries change. Don’t be afraid to leave an inferior level behind and advance further on your PDJ.
Optimize your lifestyle to serve your purpose and bring your vision to life.
Establishing self-discipline is for yourself. Now it’s time to maintain your priorities by communicating them to others. A healthy way to do this is to set clear boundaries with those around you.
Say ‘no’ to unnecessary drama and filter out as many toxic people (and behaviors) as you can from your life. If this includes some of your friends, a partner, and certain family members, so be it. Remove any temptation that could lead you astray and protect your focus at all costs.
Be conscious of stressful times and how you handle your anxiety and insecurities. They can lead you to default to bad habits and guilty pleasures for comfort and familiarity. This includes, but is not limited to, going back to your ex, binge drinking or eating junk food, neglecting your mental or physical health, and so on. (This is also why building good habits is so important. We all slip up and recline sometimes. But if we fall back on good habits, we’re in a much better place to get back on track and move forward on our PDJ.)
Try your best to reduce distractions and silence the noise. External noise could be people who cause you to doubt yourself, while internal noise could be your inner critic. You have full control over what you’re exposed to. Use this opportunity to heavily curate media and channels you see daily, including social media, advertisements, shows, music, books, and even people! Surround yourself with empowering messaging, productive influences, and advance your positive mental attitude. You need the mental space and energy to be hyper-focused on bettering yourself.
When it comes to setting boundaries and communicating with others, it’s important to share what you’re looking to do and why this [the activity, relationship, or dynamic] no longer serves you. Communicating you don’t have time, energy, and/or resources to allocate to the relationship, commitments or engagements can be difficult at first. That’s ok! Do it anyway.
Naturally, you will experience some confusion and maybe even resistance (from both sides as you may not be used to the level of confrontation). Stand up for yourself. Convey why this is not something you can partake in anymore. Keep setting those boundaries and stay by them. Once you’ve gained some practice and overcome the initial discomfort, it is a truly liberating feeling to reclaim your time and focus.
Your boundaries can apply to all types of relationships, including social, romantic, personal and professional, and work or social commitments. If you would rather not have the conversation and hope it will frizzle out over time, you may experience some tension or resentment later down the road. Either way, it’s best to prepare yourself to defend your boundaries and have the conversation for when the occasion requires it.
Over time, having these boundaries in place gives you a sense of clarity to focus on your goal and control over how you chose to spend your time, energy, and focus.
Get out of your comfort zone and takes some risks
As you continue to make lifestyle changes, you will have the capabilities to better execute your plan to achieve your goals. Don’t be afraid to take strategic risks, based on educated assumptions. Experiment and try unconventional pathways to achieving your goals. This means trying nontraditional routes, not participating in illegal or harmful activities.
Do your research and get creative with all the ways you can achieve your goals. Set yourself up for success by celebrating small wins along the way. Having achievable mini-goals and milestones will help you build momentum, hold yourself accountable, and track your progress.
For things to change, you must first change your approach.
Reevaluate your relationship with change and push the limits of your comfort zone. Try new options. Make an alternative choice. See how you can incorporate smaller risks into your everyday life. Build up your tolerance for change and expand your horizons.
Mix things up! Try things you’ve never done before or wanted to but never had an excuse to. It can be as simple as trying a different route to and from work, school, or your favorite spots. Make small changes by experimenting with a new haircut or clothing style. Order something you wouldn’t typically get at your favorite restaurant instead of ordering your usual. If you ever needed a risk to ‘go for it’, the reason is to build a better rapport with change!
By integrating small risks and choices into your everyday life, you create a safe space for you to experiment, learn, and manage the consequences within your control. You can always grow out your hair, go back to your usual dish and/or route. This helps you better cope when things don’t work out for you.
Challenge yourself to try new things and make a different choice!
Welcoming new experiences increases your self-awareness and breaks you out of the hamster wheel. It exposes you to new opportunities and choices you never considered before. This challenges you to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and unexpected outcomes.
Going out of your comfort zone allows you to grow in ways you never thought possible. It opens up your shell and if done right, it brings you closer to achieving your goals and purpose. Your future is worth the risk.
Diversify your world
Another way to get out of your comfort zone is to expose yourself to new ideas, cultures, and people. Instead of holding onto our judgements and misconceptions, if we open up our mind and hearts, there’s so much we can learn from one another, if we simply give them a chance. Immerse yourself in a world totally different from your own. Learn new ways of thinking. Connect with someone you thought you had nothing in common with!
You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn about yourself by connecting and learning about others. Although languages, cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs may vary, there are so many universal human experiences we all share. Things such as love, loss, and hardship.
We all feel a desire for more, fear we’re not good enough, have crazy families, friends, and dating stories.
Pay close attention to how others pursue their goals to learn what to do, what not to do, and how to do it better. Doing so will empower you to experiment more, take new risks and equip you with lessons on how to avoid other people’s mistakes. Personally, I learn best from what I call “no models”, which is the opposite of role models, as they teach me exactly how not to do something as I do not want to experience similar consequences.
There are learning opportunities all around you. Learn from those who’ve already achieved similar goals. Talk to those who are on completely different PDJ and see what you can learn from their experiences.
Exposing yourself to a wide variety of people, circumstances, and points of view allows you to gain inspiration, develop empathy and deepen your understanding of the human experience, especially those who’ve lived under different circumstances, face different adversities and can help build your character. This also allows you to question your beliefs, values, and expectations of the realities of many others, living under different circumstances.
All of this contributes to growing you as a person and helps with character building. Absorb as much as you can and learn what’s possible by learning from others. The most successful people are lifelong learners. Use these experiences to expand who you are. Let it help you come up with solutions for your problems and inspire new ways to connect, engage and help others. Embrace it and cannonball into it!
Making hard, life changing decisions
Once you’ve built a tolerance for change and expanded your perspective, it’s time to level up on your PDJ. Making life changing decisions. (I did say it’s going to be hard but it’s ok, we’ll get through this together!).
After reevaluating your behaviors, habits and lifestyle, you are going to need to make necessary lifestyle changes to optimize your capabilities to reach your goals and purpose. This can include but is not limited to changing jobs, moving to a new city for a better opportunity, leaving an unhealthy relationship, maybe even dating someone you never thought you’d ever date. It can also include learning a new hobby, taking that trip you always wanted, taking on more responsibilities at work or within your community, or launching the business you’ve always wanted. (Also, I wouldn’t tell you to do anything I wasn’t willing to do or have done myself. As a person who has done most of these suggestions within a 1 year timespan, I can stay making these lifestyle changes has helped me grow, develop as a person and propelled me on my PDJ.)
Whatever decision you make will purely depend on your circumstances and what you look to achieve. These decisions require careful deliberation and planning. Do not make them during high intensive times, heighten emotional moments or act upon irrationally. This will not bring you closer to your goals or purpose. They should not be used as an escape from dealing with your problems or a desire for a “blank slate”. This is not a temporary bandage. What I am suggesting is a thoughtful decision to reroute and realign your PDJ.
To help you create the best game plan and strategy on how to execute on these life changing decisions, take an inventory of your life as it is right now.
Take a look at your workload, priorities, commitments and available opportunities. Then, reflect on your relationships, behavior patterns, state of wellbeing, and lifestyle. Reevaluate your situation (or shituation) to see what needs to change.
What changes do you need to make to take your growth and development to the next level? What would you like to be different and why? How can this change optimize your chances of success? What do you need to add, adjust, or take away to sharpen your focus and optimize your success rate?
Check in with yourself to see how you feel about the decisions and moves you need to make. We’ve discussed this a few times but now, you’re in a better position to make these decisions. What’s stopping you? Separate what you are in control of and willing to change from what you make excuses on, based on your fears and insecurities.
Recognize the real life consequences of these decisions but also remember all you have to gain for yourself. Think about how you’ll have the time, focus and energy to do what you want to do, be who you really are, and strive to become who you want to be. Think about how much freedom, joy and peace of mind you’ll have.
Be patient, thoughtful and plan out these decisions. It is perfectly fine if it takes a bit of time to execute. Just don’t drag your feet because you’re scared or believe you can’t do it. You totally can!
Build strategic alliances
Personal development can feel lonely but that doesn’t mean you have to go through your PDJ alone. Surround yourself with those who also strive to be their best selves and push themselves to get there. Partner with people who share similar goals, ambitions, and drive as you. This will help inspire you to push yourself and stay focused on your goals.
Life is difficult, especially when you’re constantly chasing your goals and purpose.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and show vulnerability. More than likely, they’ve also experienced it and can support you. Once you admit you don’t know something, people are more likely to help you (only jerks will judge you and this is good to find out because you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life).
Surround with others who are farther in life than you are so you can learn from their experiences. Similarly, it’s good to know what you need and who you’ll need to work with to achieve your goals. You don’t have to worry about using people if it’s mutually beneficial. If you also care and support them, not simply for their resources and/or what they can provide for you, that’s perfectly fine.
Care genuinely, give unconditionally and you will build lifelong relationships.
There are plenty of ways you can stay connected. If you don’t have access to individuals that you connect well with and can help you (and you help in return), reach out to other communities. Online and off, there are plenty of focus groups supporting one another. If you still don’t feel satisfied, feel free to build your own community if necessary. The power of collaboration is undeniable.
Making the commitment
Each day we have a choice to make. We can either face the challenges ahead of us or let them hold us back from achieving our goals and serving our purpose. Behavior change isn’t easy. We need to feel safe and capable of committing to having a better life. It is up to us to create that sense of safety by optimizing our chances of succeeding. Then, and only then can we push ourselves to stick to our productive habits, staying hyper focused and constantly reaching milestone after milestone.
Most people would rather take the easy route, coast through life and take things as they come, hoping their minimum efforts will be good enough. If that’s the life you want to live, that’s fine! Own that. But if you want to take control of your PDJ, you have to maintain a productive, progressive and healthy lifestyle. Hoping you’ll one day live up to your potential won’t cut it. You have to do the hard work, make the difficult decisions, and stand by them, even if they didn’t turn out what you hoped it to be. Even then, you will have to make the best of it.
Creating a meaningful life that you love requires constant work and upkeep.
You’re going to keep changing, growing and working on all the not-so-pretty parts of yourself. You’re also going to have to decipher through what you need to improve on and what you will have to learn to embrace. The balance between self-acceptance and change is a tough one. Either way, you’re going to have to manage it.
Hold yourself accountable. Stick to the commitments you make to yourself. No matter how big or small. For example, those late night to-do lists you set before bed (we all do this)… When you wake up tired and all you want to do is sleep in a little longer, remind yourself why it’s important. Remind yourself how important it is to stick to your commitments.
How you do handle the little things, especially when no one is around, is the same way you’ll handle big things.
When things get tough and they will, remind yourself of your goal and purpose. Check in with yourself frequently to see how you’re doing. What areas of your life do you need to pay attention to at the moment? What can you do to improve yourself, that can also help you with your PDJ?
Assess your needs and adjustments the best you can. Do this over and over again. Change the course based on what will bring you the best results, accomplish more goals and serve more people. When things get tough, adaptability is key. This is both for personal coping and strategic purposes.
Don’t give up because things are difficult. This may sound straightforward and yet, it’s the hardest thing to do. You got this!
In this series, we’ve taken you step by step on core habits, behaviors, and mental process to lift from your demotivation (caused by stress, depression, and anxiety). We’ve discussed how to determine your goals and purpose and what it takes to get there. It would be unrealistics for the both of us to expect anyone going through sadness, anxiety or demotivation to be in the right state of mind to achieve your goals.
It’s easy to get angry and frustrated. We can take it out on ourselves or those around us. OR we can sit in those feelings, process them so we can learn what we need from the experience and allow it to pass through us. By showing ourselves compassion, acknowledging our feelings and responses during our low points, we gain insights into what we need to uplift ourselves and others. Take the time you need to work on yourself and curb destructive behaviors, including self-sabotage, overindulgence, and hurting those we care about. You’ve worked way too hard and for too long to get in your own way.
Once we can get back to a place of clarity, focus, and motivation, we can then work towards our goals and pursue our purpose. Naturally, an optimistic mindset helps us during the dark periods. Then, it’s time to make a commitment to ourselves and hold ourselves accountable. That’s the way to get back on the PDJ track.
Take back control of your thoughts, beliefs, and time. You will be required to make tough decisions. If you can’t make it right now, that’s alright. Take a break and give yourself time to reflect. Evaluate all possibilities and weigh out the consequences. If you can’t act on it right away, work on something that can help you make future decisions better, sharpens your mind, and deepens your most meaningful relationships.
Habit takes time to build. Uprooting years of misconceptions and broken mental models requires deep work to change on. Consistency is developed over periods.
Be kind to yourself as you work on yourself.
Don’t be afraid to take action towards bettering yourself and building the life you’ve always dreamed of. Take strategic risks and build alliances to help you along the way. It’s ok to ask for help, accept it and help others along the way.
You have everything you need to change your life and improve yourself completely. There are plenty of people who believe in you (even if it doesn’t feel that way). Now, all you have to do is believe in yourself.
Inspired by Katarina Minich, Christina Kaputsos, Anza Goodbar, and BM
Melissa Thi Le is the Founder of Strive With Me, a business owner, and community leader. She loves learning about personal development, business, and social impact as she builds a life dedicated to combating social issues affecting millions of people. She created Strive With Me to build a community to support each other on their journey towards achieving their goals.