One of the biggest challenges of being motivated in your business and professional goals is staying motivated. As the challenges and discouragements come, its easy to just give up on our dreams or develop a pessimistic outlook on life. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Starting with this post, I’m publishing a series on how to maintain your motivation as you’re working on your goals. Check back often because I’ll be updating this often.
There is a tendency that, once a person experiences discouragement, they be-come mired in the feeling and take a long time to recover their enthusiasm. But what happens to cause discouragement anyway? Usually, it occurs when an external or internal thought enters your mind to counter the positive, motivating feelings you currently have.
Discouragement can be very insidious because your mind will grab hold to that one thought and create other thoughts that correspond with it. Before you know it, you are filled with fear, concern and doubt about something you were thrilled about, just a few moments before.
Feeling discouraged is a normal part of life. What’s not normal, though, is letting that discouragement stall your progress. You have to learn to manage the feeling so that it does not interrupt your progress. Since discouragement crops up from both outside and inside of us, there are several tactics we can employ to guard against it. That way, our natural enthusiasm and motivation for our goals flows more freely, and its easier to stay on course for their completion.
Tune Out The News
I first became aware of the discouraging nature of the news as a teenager. My mother watches the news like clockwork – she starts her day with whatever newscast is on, then watches the 6pm broadcast after work and while she’s cooking dinner. Finally, she watches the broadcast that comes on right before bed. Rinse, repeat, ad nauseum — every day for as long as I can remember…
This lady is a walking fountain of news facts. She can tell you almost anything you wish to know about domestic events and major weather news and natural disasters that have recently taken place. Thing is, she can’t really tell you anything positive that’s going on in the world, because its either not reported or the positive stories are greatly outnumbered by the number of robberies, murders and other tales of mayhem that are constantly repeated. These stick to the forefront of her mind because its what she constantly hears.
The light bulb went off for me during the DC Sniper incidents back in October 2002. I had just moved to DC a few months earlier, and Mom started driving me crazy with her daily calls about news events that were happening here. Between updates on the National threat level (I still don’t understand what the color codes mean…), weather disruptions, major traffic accidents and developments about the September 11 attacks, I just couldn’t take it. She was stressing me out and she was 1,000 miles away in South Florida!
One day, Mom and I had a conversation about the shootings. She described in detail the assailants’ van, the injuries their victims sustained and the types of locations where they shot their victims. I explained to Mom that I lived in an urban area inside the city and I felt somewhat safe because I did not visit the types of suburban areas where the victims were getting shot. “All the same,” she said, “don’t pump your gas early in the morning!”
Soon after that conversation, another victim was shot. I only occasionally watched the news so I was not aware, but Mom was frantic. She called me and I did not immediately call her back – and it was like all hell broke loose. She just knew I was lying dead somewhere with a hole in my head, the latest victim of the sniper.
What I realized was that Mom heard these messages of doom and gloom several times a day. The mind is like a sponge and she was soaking up the most negative and repetitive messages. Because she constantly heard about bad things that were happening, her mindset became accustomed to and expected bad things to happen. She’s never been robbed, beaten, raped or been a victim of crime, but you can’t tell her that danger doesn’t lurk behind every tree.
I refused to allow my mind to swim in these messages and started examining what information I voluntarily consume. I found that the average person spends alot of their day consuming information that does not relate to their life – from news stories that don’t occur in their neighborhood, biased political reports (depending on the news station) and the latest celebrity gossip.
I found that the best use of my time was to stop consuming this type of information and focus on the information I really need to move my goals forward. If the story does not directly affect my life, I do not read or watch it. I find that if its something vitally important, a friend or coworker will tell me. Or I’ll read it on Facebook anyway. I prefer reading about current events on blogs, where I can filter the information better and take part in an actual discussion, instead of just passively ingesting the information into my mind.
In order to keep your motivation going, I suggest you limit yourself to a low-to-no news mental diet. Start phasing out those TV news programs that don’t affect your life. For example, if your job has not been affected by the current state of the economy (as my blessedly has not), then why do you need to hear twice a day about the number of layoffs this month? “But we’re in a recession, I need to stay informed!” Okay. That’s true.
But what do you do with that information? Have you changed your spending habits? Have you looked for a job with greater security? Have your business or plans to start a business been affected? If the answers to these questions are ‘No’, then again I ask you: why do you need to hear about the number of layoffs this month? How does this news affect your life?
If you can continue to consume the same news that you currently do, at the same interval and your mood and outlook on life are not affected, then more power to you. Keep doing what you do. But most people I know can’t do that. We internalize these messages that we see and hear, and before you know it, the events that are happening out there are affecting how you feel in here, inside your emotions and the thoughts that churn unobtrusively in your mind. You have enough to worry and think about, without adding details to your thoughts that don’t affect you anyway.
Think about tuning out the news and listening more closely to your own internal motivation.