Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Burn your ships – how to achieve your goals

may your choices reflect your hopes not your fears

The motivational power of setting constraints

“Setting limits for yourself — whether that involves the time you have to workout, the money you have to start a business, or the number of words you can use in a book — often delivers better results than ‘keeping your options open’.” ~ James Clear
Ok, so you’ve made your new years resolutions and you have your goals all listed out, you’re motivated to achieve them, but you’re still dragging your heels? The reassuring fact is that some people work better under pressure. Psychologists call this trait, ‘pressure prompted.’ This is where setting some constraints sets in.

You may have read in one of my life coaching modules (Step 11, Let Desire Not Fear Propel You Forward), Steve Pavlina’s advice to burn your ships. Here’s a recap:

“Burn the ships. If your goals are really important enough to you, then you can start by burning the proverbial ships, so that you have no choice but to press on.

For instance, if you want to launch your own business, you can begin by making the commitment to quitting your job. Write a letter of resignation, put it in a stamped envelope addressed to your boss, and give it to a trusted friend with firm instructions to mail the letter if you haven’t quit your job by a certain date.

One Las Vegas casino manager made the decision to quit smoking. He didn’t feel he had the personal willpower to do it alone, so he took out a billboard on the Las Vegas Strip with his photo on it along with the words, “If you catch me smoking, I’ll pay you $100,000!” Was he able to quit smoking? You bet! (Ok, bad pun.) This is called willpower leveraging. You use a small bit of willpower to establish a consequence that will virtually compel you to keep your commitment.”

Going unconditional

My partner and I did this recently when we found our dream home. Despite the fact that at the time we didn’t know how we were going to manifest the purchase price, and we had two properties to sell first, we went unconditional.

Our friends thought we were mad. Reckless even. But we’d done the math, we knew we could make it happen, and with a settlement date five months out we knew we had time on our side. We were also willing to face the consequences if it all went pear-shaped. In saying that, we put extra effort into making sure that didn’t happen. But we made peace with the possibility we could lose everything and decided far better to strive for a dream then regret a calculated risk never taken.

The truth is, if we didn’t go unconditional I doubt we would have got Summer Hill for the price we did, and I know for sure we would have got the speed wobbles and backed out. We both made the decision to ‘burn our ships’ and leverage off our willpower to make it happen.

Motivational author James Clear agrees and says that constraints can also provide benefits in health, business, and life in general. He says there’s two reasons why this occurs: (used with permission)

1. Constraints inspire your creativity.

If you’re five foot five inches tall and you’re playing basketball, you figure out more creative ways to score than the six foot five inch guy.

If you have a one-year-old child that takes up almost every minute of your day, you figure out more creative ways to get some exercise.

If you’re a photographer and you show up to a shoot with just one lens, then you figure out more creative ways to capture the beauty of your subject than you would with all of your gear available.

Limitations drive you to figure out solutions. Your constraints inspire your creativity.

2. Constraints force you to get something done.

Time constraints have forced me to produce some of my best work. This is especially true with my writing. Every Monday and Thursday, I write a new article — even if it’s inconvenient.

This constraint has led me to produce some of my most popular work in unlikely places. When I was sitting in the passenger seat on a road trip through West Virginia, I wrote an article. When I was visiting family for the 4th of July, I wrote an article. When I spent all day flying in and out of airports, I wrote an article.

Without my schedule (the constraint), I would have pushed those articles to a different day. Or never got around to them at all. Constraints force you to get something done and don’t allow you to procrastinate. This is why I believe that professionals set a schedule for their production while amateurs wait until they feel motivated.

What constraints are you setting for yourself? What type of schedule do you have for your goals?



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