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How to make more progress in your life

Introduction

There is huge gulf between what people say they will do, and what they actually do. Most individuals have an idea of what their ideal life entails, and yet only a few have the drive and determination to make their dreams a reality. This article equips the reader with a number of strategies and philosophies to propel them towards their long-term goals and aspirations.

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Burn your bridges, Do or die

In the classic book ‘The Art of War,’ Sun Tzu notes that warriors will fight more ferociously when they believe there are fighting to the death, and there is no means of escape. Expanding upon this principle, intelligent generals would create the illusion for their opposition that there is a realistic escape route for them. This resulted in these warriors fighting less hard, and consequently loosing the battle.

If you are prepared to do anything in order to reach your goal, one course of action is to burn all of your get out clauses.

For example if your goal is to build a successful business, and you are committed to reaching this goal then one appropriate action maybe to quit your day job (as long as you can afford to).

By removing any capacity for excuses you make yourself 100% accountable for not achieving this goal.

In this example you cannot use the most common excuse ‘I didn’t have the time to work on my business,’ because you made time by quitting your job.

By burning your escape routes, you show that you are determined to do whatever it takes to reach your goal.

If you want something badly enough, then quitting is simply not an option. You either find a way or make one.

The importance of taking constructive action

It is so easy to get side tracked when you are working towards a goal. Often you end up engaging in a host of distracting subsidiary behaviours that you think you are of primary importance. For example, organising your work space, checking emails for the sake of it, speaking with colleagues, and making pointless phone calls are some of the typical culprits.

In terms of you moving towards your goal, there is no substitute for productive ACTION. This constitutes the physical acts that take you closer to your goal.

Once you start moving towards your goal you will begin building momentum to a point where you will find it harder to stop than to keep going.

Set up environmental reminders

It is a good idea to surround yourself with verbal triggers to remind you of the ingredients of success. Buzz words such as ‘effort’, ‘passion’, and ‘commitment’ can be placed in your working environment to act as psychological reminders of what it will take to reach your goal.

You can also produce a visual representation of your goal and place it in your work space as a constant reminder of what you are working towards.

This may be in the form of a financial figure you are working towards, or even your dream house that you will buy when you make your millions.

Even if the image is in the corner of your eye your unconscious mind will still be processing all the information contained in the image, imprinting a powerful beacon in your mind.

Work like your life depends on it

Some psychologists argue that all of your actions and behaviours have a positive intention behind them.

The reason why you engage in a particular behaviour or action is because on some level it is rewarding.

All motivation and desire is equal to the intensity of the reward on the other side of the behaviour.

If you increase the reward a particular behaviour provides, you will increase your motivation levels to complete the behaviour. Therefore it is advisable to install reward systems into your work regimes.

An extreme technique to fuel your motivation is to convince yourself that your life depends on you completing your long term goal. Incentives don’t come much bigger than saving your own life:

‘Knowing that you are going to be hanged in the morning focuses the mind wonderfully.’ Samuel Johnson

If working like your life depends is a little extreme, try making time at work more enjoyable. Perhaps listen to music while you work, or buy yourself an unbelievably comfortable chair to make work more relaxing.

Enjoyment is potent reward, and it will work on its own as an effective motivator

Don’t procrastinate

One of the reasons why people struggle to motivate themselves is because they procrastinate. Procrastinators often have high flying ideas and goals of living the life of luxury, but when push comes to shove they refuse to do what it takes to make their ambitions a reality.

One of the causes of this is that the procrastinator perceives the task ahead to be long and arduous making inaction an attractive alternative.

To overcome this, try starting small. For example if you have set the goal to get into shape, start by running for 5 minutes every day.

The little and often approach is a highly effective strategy to help you make significant progress towards your goals.

By starting small you slowly build up momentum and before you know it you are running for 1 hour every day.

This approach taps into the power of Newton’s law of motion.

‘An object at rest tends to stay at rest; an object in motion tends to stay in motion.’

As you begin building up speed towards your goal, you will realise through the application of this law it becomes harder to stop as opposed to keep going.

Take a break

Most people have heard of the saying ‘no pain, no gain’, expressing the importance of working all hours of the day until you reach your goal.

The problem with this approach is that vigorous work regimes, in the long run will often burn you out.

Top sport coaches believe that the harder you train, the more important it is to take planned breaks, in order to give your mind and body time to regenerate.

Integrate mini breaks into your work program, giving you time to engage in leisure activities. Exercise is a good example of a rewarding, and reinvigorating pastime.

As long as the action nourishes your mind and body, you will return to your work re-motivated.

Relax, and enjoy the ride

In order to maintain high levels of motivation it is important to make your work, stress free and as relaxing as possible. Whatever it is that you are working on whenever your mind and body are relaxed your work will be easier, lighter, and more importantly of a higher quality.

Answering the questions below regularly during your work will remind you to remain in a relaxed state:

Can I make my workflow easier?

Can I make my workflow lighter?

9 times out of 10 the answer to these questions is yes, and there is always something you can do to make your work a more relaxing experience.

Relaxed excellence is the key to productive work

Onto Part Two

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Click here to read part two of this article.

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