Staying motivated is one of the hardest things to do when working on a long-term goal, especially if the goals themselves seem overwhelming or potentially life-changing. For example, my husband and I are in the process of starting a new business. If it is successful, we’ll be able to meet our financial goals much more quickly. If it’s not, well, we’ll have to start over with something else.
The early stages of the start-up were relatively painless, and even entertaining. We got to brainstorm. We got to think about all the wonderful possibilities for the future. We were excited and optimistic.
Then came the work.
We dove right in, getting the basics done. We tested the leading idea, and test was successful. So we started fleshing out the idea in greater detail, and doing more of the necessary work. But something happened after the first month or so. Somehow, “work on business” stopped getting crossed off on my to-do list. I found myself doing everything but that, in fact.
What was the problem?
At first I thought that my list just wasn’t specific enough. After all, “work on business” is pretty vague. What does that mean, exactly? Open up a file? Start an advertising campaign? Interview prospective customers? Set up an accounting system? It could be anything. So I got more specific. I made up a list of very specific individual things that needed to be accomplished before our business could open. And that helped, because I actually started getting those items done.
But then I hit another roadblock: all of the relatively painless items on the list were done. The ones that were left required a little more thought, time, and effort. So things stalled again.
And now here I am, wondering what the real problem is. Yes, staying motivated is difficult. But WHY is it difficult? For me the reason is something that’s a recurring theme in my life: what if I really WERE extraordinarily successful? Can I really handle it? How would I deal with the changes that having a much larger income would bring? Which is silly, because I’ve adjusted to this “normal” income just fine — even though it’s a larger income for me than my previous income (or lack thereof.) So there’s the other side of the coin too. What if the business is NOT successful? My husband pointed out the obvious answer to that, which I’ve already mentioned: we’ll try again.
I think in the end it just comes down to DOING it anyway. Finishing up the rest of the steps. The thing is, I don’t actually have to BE inspired. I just have to do the steps. In the end, that’s the key. Just do it anyway.
This is comparable to deciding to get out of debt. You’ve made the decision, you know your life is going to be so much better, you’ve seen some immediate progress, but there are a few hurdles in the way. You just have to keep plugging away, regardless of how you feel about your progress to date. You have to trust that you WILL feel better later, and keeping DOING what you need to be doing to reach your goal. Stop the thinking and start the doing.
And that’s exactly what I’ll be doing now.