“Brilliant results don’t just show up by chance. The finest things in life take patience, focus and sacrifice.” – Robin Sharma
Chasing our goals can often feel like an uphill climb. Like a mountaineer you will be tested with challenges as you ascend to the peak. Much like mountaineering, the process of accomplishing our dreams is arduous. Whether your dreams center around an entrepreneurial venture, a sculpted and trimmer physique, or a fulfilling relationship, you will hit roadblocks. You might question whether it’s worth continuing to invest yourself in it. Is it worth the blood, sweat, and tears if you aren’t seeing satisfactory results?
In an era that fosters personal growth and progress, we’re inundated with quotes, articles, videos, and anecdotes that repeatedly tell us to never give up on our dreams and to keep going, no matter what. Although this message is at the heart of The Dream Catcher, I’m not oblivious to the fact that there are people out there who regard this as much easier said than done.
Nothing is harder than trying to ‘keep moving’ when you’re unable to see the fruits of your labor. When the weighing scale is barely moving, when your sales are declining, you’re not getting any job interviews, or when you’re unable to find the love of your life, you will be tempted to throw in the towel, curl up in bed with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and watch sappy Netflix movies.
If you’re at a point where your willpower is waning, I urge you to be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that you are an emotional being and not a robot that can just keep going. Remember that you’re under the influence of a mind that’s set to dwell on the negative and concoct vivid and scary visions of doom which are rarely grounded in reality.
Our minds find it difficult to be at ease if we don’t see immediate results. This is especially true for the younger generations. Unlike the patient Baby Boomers, Millennials get restless if they don’t see quick results. They grew up in an era where they witnessed the overnight successes of YouTubers, American Idols, and reality TV celebs that influenced their standards.
As a Millennial who’s been in the trenches of dream-realization, I’ve had to learn to moderate my pace and temper my expectations. In the early stages of my blog, there was a point when my motivation dwindled because of the lack of activity. Through serendipity I stumbled upon this quote from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished”.
This timely wisdom was the impetus for a huge, personal breakthrough. The concept of instant gratification simply does not exist in nature. Even though the pace of our minds is much faster than the pace of nature, the timing of the manifestation process is the same in both cases. A seed needs to retrieve nourishment from the soil and sun every now and then, but it still takes as long as it needs to grow. Similarly, after taking action, we have to be willing to let go and take a step back, allowing the forces of nature to respond to the energy that we have put out there.
Having said that, staying motivated about our goals does require both a psychological and a tactical shift. After all, we do want to see the desired results from all the hard work that we put in. For that to occur, we should assess both the practical and emotional aspects of a situation.
Here are four steps that you can take if you aren’t seeing immediate results from your efforts:
1. Take a step back to regroup and honor your feelings: Much like the weary mountaineer, you will reach junctures on your climb where you’ll need to rest and regroup. If you’re feeling overcome by emotions, and if feelings of insecurity are plaguing your mind, it’s a sign that you need to step back and engage in some serious self-care. Go for a walk, speak with a friend, take a mini-vacation, listen to music, meditate, or journal. Anything that helps you return to center and balance. Acknowledge and reward yourself for each milestone you reach, no matter how small. Every step you take matters and brings you closer to your dreams. Focus on the now by taking conscious, deep breaths and appreciating all that’s in your present moment.
2. Revisit your vision and goals: If you’ve hit a wall, it would be beneficial to revisit your goals and vision. Take note of the exact goals that you had laid out and remind yourself of what inspired you to create them in the first place. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, was it because your doctor recommended it or because you want to get healthier? The key is to set goals that you’re fired up about and that you’re willing to commit to. Your goals need to be connected to an overarching vision that will galvanize you to overcome any obstacle. Create a vision board, or write a descriptive and vivid account of what you would like to achieve. You need to be crystal clear on how success looks to you so that you recognize it when you actually get there. Be sure to know what metrics you’re using to measure your progress. Grounded data is a much more reliable barometer of the effectiveness of your efforts instead of your feelings.
3. Manage your expectations: Another possible reason that you’re losing motivation is that your expectations are too high. Often our biggest disappointments occur from having unrealistic expectations. ‘Unrealistic’ doesn’t always mean that you can’t achieve your goals, but that you may need more time or resources to actualize it. For example, when opening a new store, instead of hoping to make 10K, focus on breaking even and perfecting your systems of operation. Set positive and specific goals that feel manageable, especially in the beginning stages. Setting healthy expectations that are easy to reach will encourage you to keep going. In this previous article, I’ve provided more insight into how you can adopt healthy expectations.
4. Have a contingency plan (Plan B): As the saying goes, “you can’t win ‘em all”. There’s always a chance that your plans won’t pan out as your hoped they would. I know that it’s hard to accept failure as a possibility without getting dejected, especially if it’s important to you. But I’ve always found that having an alternative plan in mind helps me keep failure in perspective. Plan B is like a safety net, there to catch you in case you lose your grip. In creating a Plan B, it’s essential to assess what went wrong in your previous plan. What could you have done differently? What are the lessons from the experience that can equip you with the knowledge to get it right the next time around? Ask friends, mentors, and coaches for candid feedback to supplement your own insights. Let a solid Plan B comfort you in knowing that failure is not the end of the road but merely a bend that’s leading you somewhere else.
Buddha once said that a jug fills drop by drop. With every drop that falls, your jug will slowly but surely be filled. During that waiting time, take long deep breaths and gain strength from your faith, in yourself and in the Universe. Allow this grace to calm and soothe your anxieties.
All my best on your journey,
Question: Do you find it hard to stay motivated if you’re not seeing immediate results ? If yes, what are the obstacles, and what steps can you take to overcome them?