“Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.” – Robert Kennedy
Change does have enemies and Robert Kennedy knew that truth and paid for it with his blood. Change can be dangerous. That is why our natural instinct is to stay the course; stay put; avoid trying something new; leaving well enough alone; being safe; and I could mention another twenty or so excuses.
If you are the type that wants to stay in your comfort zone, you will never experience the immense joy that comes from living. In order to succeed we must take risks and that means we have to change. Robert Kennedy said this in the context of politics. He referred to making progress as a nation. The only way to make progress as a nation is to change our point of view, to change the way we govern ourselves, to change certain laws that are unfair, and change the way we deal with the bad guys.
But his words can apply to any aspect of life, not just politics. In my career as a trainer I can say that change is the one thing that is needed the most and done the least. I have seen people go way out of their way just to avoid change. I trained adults in job readiness skills. Let me tell you that there were times I couldn’t even get an adult to change their seat after 20 minutes of being seated in class. That is how ridiculous we can get about change. We all need to train ourselves to be more open. But it goes further than that.
Change is an action word and that means we need to act if we are going to progress. Change is not a theoretical practice of the mind, it implies real physical movement. For example, we may say that we have changed our attitude towards someone, but unless that is followed up by an action towards that certain person, they are only shallow words. Change means to repent. I instantly scare people away as soon as I say that because of the religious overtones. Well you can apply this to religion if you like. All I am saying is when someone says to you to repent, it simply means to change what you are doing. Change requires 3 things. The first is to recognize the need to change. The second is you actually do the action that is required. The third is you maintain the new course of action. Those happen to be the same three things involved in repentance. They say that recognizing that you need to change is half the battle and that is so true in my experience. The changing part is actually a lot less difficult to do than the first part which again is recognizing that you need to change. The final part is easy. It just requires that you keep on doing the new action over and over again. The second part in the middle means you must turn around and do something different to prove that what you recognized as needed to be done will be done. Change is empowering no matter how small it is as long as it is positive. Today, why not give change a chance and perform an action that you know needs to be done in your life. You will be gratified and empowered when you do it!
The secret of motivation is that it begins between your ears. Motivation is like a puzzle and you have to see how the pieces fit together before you can get the full picture. How you view the world, beginning with your mind and attitude, will hinder or help you on the path to getting and staying motivated.
I can’t say this enough. Motivation does not come from external sources. On the contrary, it’s all driven from your internal resources. In my experience, some of the pieces to this puzzle can be found in the following life principles:
- Change Your Attitude: Attitude is at the foundation of motivation. Success and even how you deal with failure and challenges will depend very much on your attitude, first and foremost. Everything that happens to you has to be viewed through a certain lens. That lens is either positive or negative attitude and motivation. A friend of mine was told years ago that he had less than a year to live. He spent the rest of his days focusing on the 10 percent chance the doctors had given him. His final days were positive.
- Take Ownership: You own your life. No one else does. Your boss, your spouse, your job, etc. are not the owners of your life. No one can “make” you feel happy, sad, overwhelmed, motivated or whatever else. Only you can make yourself do that. It is you who wholly owns your life. You are where you are because of your own actions or inactions. When you assume ownership, it empowers you and gives you control. And, that control helps provide you motivation.
- Erase “I Can’t” and the Excuses: When my daughter was young, I taught her early that she should not use the word “can’t.” To be motivated, you have to believe in your potential and opportunity. Saying, “I can’t make money,” or, “I can’t find a new job,” is defeatist. All you’re doing to yourself mentally is providing excuses. To recharge your motivation, erase the “I can’t” and dispose of the excuses. Life is not easy. We all have challenges, but your chances of success increase exponentially if you get out of your own way.
- Get Off the Couch: Newton’s First Law of Motion is absolutely correct: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. Motivation comes when you are moving forward. If you’re looking to get and stay motivated, you have to move. One of the easiest things you can do for yourself to help you nurture your motivation is to get out and connect with nature. Move. Exercise. If you live in a concrete jungle, then join a group and connect with others. But, whatever you do, don’t sit on the couch and watch the world pass by.
- Commit: Motivation comes by committing to something. In other words, making a decision. And, when you’ve made the decision and the challenges arise, stay committed to what you decided to do. Anything worth having will become a challenge, which is always an opportunity to reaffirm your commitment. This is how we all grow as human beings. Commit to a decision, stay the course and you will see your motivation increase.
- Do the Work: Sustained motivation takes consistency and the only way to place fuel on the fire is to do the work. Big goals take time to achieve. It’s important to spend a little bit of time each and every day working on it–even if it’s only 15 minutes. A friend of mine is looking to begin his own business; however, he has to work at a job and cannot afford at this time to work on his own. He wakes up 2 hours before so he can work on his products and then when he returns from work at night he makes phone calls and has networking meetings. He does this every business day.
- Accept the Consequences: Finally, accepting responsibility for consequences is actually an opportunity to stay empowered and motivated. Again, you are the owner of your life and you have control. Take responsibilities for mistakes you’ve made along the way. This is an opportunity to learn and master your goals, with the mistakes that will occur along the way. And once you accept the consequences and learn from them, move on.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises (EE). Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, which is a social enterprise that enables nonprofits, individuals and organizations to raise funds while helping to support micro-enterprise opportunities in developing nations.