Everybody faces challenges in managing certain aspects of their lives. Someone who loves to go trail riding on a bicycle will have no problems motivating themselves to exercise. However, putting aside time to sit and read might be problematic. On the other hand, the reader might have problems putting down the book and getting active.
This self-management checklist can be applied to any area of your life where you need to gain some control.
Set specific goals. You can’t measure achievement if you don’t know where you’re going. Set specific goals such as: I’ll walk for 30 minutes per day; or I’ll write a 1,000 words each day; or I’ll lose 20 pounds.
Set specific times. You need to determine when you are going to accomplish your goals. Work with specific times; whether it’s a deadline for a one-off project or regular times for on-going behaviour.
Track your progress. Write it down. You can use a journal, a calendar, a graph or any other form that works for you. Make sure you track both your successes and failures so you can refine your systems.
Set rewards or penalties. You’ll need some motivation to help you move forward. Set small rewards to mark the completion of small steps. Set larger rewards to mark major accomplishments. You might even set penalties for not reaching goals. You could, for example, make a donation to a food bank every time your weight went up instead of down.
Take small steps. If you’ve been sitting in front of the TV for ten years, don’t try and run a marathon tomorrow. Changing a habit takes time and you need to start slowly.
Break it down into pieces. Regardless of your readiness, if the task seems overwhelming, you may never get started. Break down large tasks in to small, logical and manageable pieces.
Monitor time increments. Use a timer to help you stay on track. Set it to the best interval to help you measure your progress.
Share your goals. Telling someone what you hope to accomplish can add another level of motivation. It’s easier to fool ourselves than to fool others. Tell someone what your goals and your deadlines are; get them to check on you to see if you met the goal.
Have a work buddy. It’s not just enough to share your goals with someone, you need to have a buddy that can meet with regularly. Keep your goals on someone else’s agenda. This should give you an added sense of responsibility and motivation to reach your goals.
Review with your buddy. Have your buddy do more than review accomplishment. Review the written track of your regular progress. They might spot patterns you don’t see and give you some help for getting back or keeping on track.
Eliminate distractions. Reading through e-mail may seem productive, but it’s not going to help you read three chapters of a book. If need be, turn off the phone, shut down the computer and throw the television in the garbage.
Review and rework your system. Your self-management plan may not work the first time you try it. There will be times when your self-management process falls apart. These steps are not static, but need to change and grow with you. Make time to review your process and see what changes can be made.
Some people look at self-management techniques as cumbersome, getting in the way of productivity. The truth is, if you look at successful and productive people, you’ll find some type of system guiding them. Give it a try.
Everybody loves it when the underdog wins. The theme crops up regularly in movies: whether The Absent Minded Professor or the latest version of The Bad News Bears, something feels right about a group of misfits pulling it together for an eleventh-hour victory over the perennial champs.
We love these stories because they make us believe we have potential to be winners, regardless of how we feel about ourselves at the moment. The fact that underdog stories are not reserved for fiction, but play out in real life, heightens our perception that we could become winners, if we just knew how.
Motivation is often the only difference between winners and losers. You see two equal teams competing, playing with similar skills, and having breaks and mistakes on both sides. Yet one team wins. What is the difference? Motivation!
If you want the edge that makes a difference in your personal success, you’ve got to use motivation to get the most out of your skills. Here are some practical tips to maximize your motivation:
Know what you want – If you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll never get there. The person who complains about lack of success, or more frequently, the “unnatural” success of others, is often sitting around, waiting for something to fall in their lap. Winners know what they want to achieve and set the steps to get them there.
Record your progress – Don’t scrub your to-do list every time you mark a task completed. Use those check marks to remind you of the progress you have made. In turn, the record can push you forward to new accomplishments.
Use rewards – There’s nothing quite like recognition to bolster your self confidence and motivate you to continued success. When you receive recognition, or are rewarded by others, hang on to those as reminders of things you have done well. If your current project doesn’t come with external rewards, create some for yourself. Use rewards to mark milestones and motivate you into the next phase.
Challenge yourself – Don’t be content to merely repeat last year’s success. Athletes don’t limit themselves to winning championships, but are constantly looking for ways improve their personal best. Whether it’s adding to current skills or completely re-inventing yourself, personal challenges can motivate you.
Think positively – The power of positive thinking may seem like a cliche, but it works. William Hazlitt said, “If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory.” Negative self-talk is going to get in the way of your success. Surround yourself with the things that will help you think positively.
Remember the why – Remind yourself of the reason for your current undertaking. Why are you trying to be successful in the endeavour: to bring financial security, to create a good life for your family, to help someone in need, to see your name in lights or engraved on a trophy? All these are valid drivers and revisiting them from time to time will motivate you to go forward.
Bill McCartney, a former head coach at the University of Colorado said, “All coaching is, is taking a player where he can’t take himself”. The greatest coaches don’t necessarily have all the greatest athletes, but they know how to get the best out of the team. The greatest personal successes don’t come from people who have all the talent, but from those who know how to maximize their talent through motivation.