Few years back, I was part of a ‘merger/acquisition management’ project. These projects are unusually stressful. As a professional, you are not sure of your next role for weeks or months. It’s like the phase after an exam and before the results. One just waits, and waits.
The numerous failed attempts of mine always keeps me curious about the secrets behind successful weight loss journeys. This journey of persistence also seems interesting as decoding its secrets will give insights that can be applicable in being motivated for most business and life goals.
“How did you stay motivated throughout?”, I asked my friend.
“I have tried losing weight countless times. Trying almost every method in various phases, right from Keto diet, Yoga, Running, I realised that there was no problem with a particular method. All of them are good.”, he said.
Then with the looks of an authority on this topic, he added “Then one day I learnt about Motivated Manny, and Frustrated Frank and this time I knew I got the solution.”
“My understanding is that motivation is a myth created to give an excuse for no action” , he continued.
Cliche as it sounded, I thought my friend was getting philosophical. But then, he went on to tell the story of his transformation, and I had no second thought about believing the statement he made.
Ever since that conversation, I have adopted the principle for any goal that I pursue. The results are highly satisfactory, and I believe that most high-output achievers have a similar principle of operation.
Motivated Manny, Frustrated Frank
Frank and Manny both had similar goals for weight loss – lose 60 pounds in 6 months. That is 10 pounds per month.
Starting with high intensity efforts in exercise, diet, and daily weight track, Frank was excited to see 3-4 pounds of weight reduction in each of the initial 3 weeks. But in the 4th week, the reduction was only 1 pound which continued for about 2 more weeks. By the end of 6th week, Frank got frustrated and finally gave up the 6-month goal.
Manny, on the other hand, resorted to a different approach. He broke down the goal into smaller tasks – diet, exercise, and sleep. For each of these tasks he created a daily and weekly routine. For example, what to eat first thing in the morning, number of glasses of water to drink daily, etc.
Forgetting about the 6 months goal, Manny concentrated on the daily inputs and targets. Each day that he achieved his daily target kept him motivated for the next day. For any reason if Manny failed on a particular day, he would tweak the activity to add something achievable. Also, after every successful day, he increased the intensity for the next day for the defined tasks. For instance, if he ran 0.5 miles for 3 days, he would increase it to 0.8 miles on the 4th day. But if he could not run 0.5 miles on a particular day, then he brought it down to 0.3 miles the next day.
The whole idea was to ‘create daily success’ for tasks of that day. Daily success in completing the tasks brought motivation to act on the next day which then led to further success. Before Manny realised, he had built in a successful system for weight loss. A system of daily habits that stacked up to create a noteworthy impact at the end of 6-months.
Myth of Motivation
In his popular book, “The Motivation Myth”, author Jeff Haden demystifies the myth that one needs to be motivated to take action to get success. Most people do not get started, because they don’t feel ‘motivated enough’. Jeff explains the thought as nothing nearer to the truth. He analyses the routines and mindset of high achievers and concludes that those who achieve success think and do differently.
Most achievers work on a process to get small success. They all set huge and unrealistic goals, then break it down into a realistic process or system to act on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Once this is done, the goal is then forgotten. Surprising as it might sound but it’s true. Successful people forget about the goal, and bring their entire focus on creating a realistic process, system or routine. Success, then, is about consistently acting on the process, system or routine and not breaking the chain. If the chain keeps rolling persistently, success is inevitable.
Now take a moment and think about that one goal you’ve always wanted to achieve. Try this approach of breaking that goal into small components and making achievable daily habits / activities. Just start acting on it, one day at a time, making sure that the ‘chain’ is not broken. Track down your daily progress on the activities and review the result after three months. You’ll be surprised at your achievement and motivated to add on to the level you would have successfully reached.
Go ahead, it’s time to bust the Motivation Myth!