These words from a stranger reframed my view on motivation
Happy Sunday, how's February going so far? ❤️🔥
We had an unexpected visitor in our backyard a few nights ago: a massive boa! NBD, life in Nicaragua. (Here's a pic.)
Aside from that, we're getting ready for a family trip soon, and I'm so hyped to ride the Hogwarts Express with this 8-going-on-18-year-old. Check out the eyeroll energy, and tell me you cannot hear him saying "Mom..."
How I bankrolled this trip is actually what inspired this week's topic:
How can I stay motivated to reach my goals when things get really rough?
Before I jump in, a quick shoutout to the 50 new friends who've signed up this week. I'm so glad you're here. ✌️
If you know someone who's interested in self-work, forward them this email. It'd mean the world to me. Let's give people tools to improve their lives.
Onto today's edition.
That's what my manager said when I asked about my missing pay for the fifth day in a row.
Not getting paid on time is never funny, but, looking back, it was kind of funny that I was so determined to make that job work.
Despite my better judgement, I decided to give it one last shot, hoping the drama would die down. I set a goal to make it to the end of the month and reevaluate if I wanted to leave or not.
But red flags kept piling up, and it became tougher to stick it out. I needed a plan to power through, so I took inspiration from marathon runners:
On a podcast, I heard a pro runner say they don't think about races as a long distance. Instead, they focus on a runner a few yards ahead and pass them, then set a new target.
Not one mile. Not even half a mile. Just a few yards at a time.
"I spot a person a few runners ahead and lock eyes on their red shorts until I pass them. Then, I set my sights on the next target, maybe a blue shirt this time, and keep pushing forward."
Life is like a never-ending race. (Or obstacle course?) It's filled with challenges to overcome. But, sometimes, the fire in our belly just doesn't burn bright enough to push us forward.
That's where the pro runner's advice comes in handy.
Here's how I used it to tackle my toxic job situation:
1. Spot the red shorts
When facing my big task (one more month at the job), what small goal—or red shorts—could I focus on instead of drowning in the big picture?
Making it through an entire month of disrespectful comments felt overwhelming. But, by breaking down the goal into smaller, manageable pieces, the process became less daunting.
This is a technique known as "chunking," where you take a large goal and divide it into smaller, more achievable parts.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the end date, I focused on reaching the end of each workday. I set the goal of passing the person with the red shorts (the end of the day) and kept my focus on that small objective.
My "mile markers" were the end of each week, which also signaled a sense of progress and gave me motivation to continue.
Chunking may sound logical or common sense, but it's so often overlooked.
It not only makes the goal seem more achievable, but also drives persistence, a crucial component in reaching any long-term objective.
With each small victory, you are one step closer to your goal.
"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races, one after another.“
And who doesn't love checking things off a list?
Breaking down your big goal into smaller pieces makes it feel like a series of mini victories—each one you cross off just adds to that sweet, sweet sense of accomplishment. ✅
2. Keep your eyes on the prize
Another critical trick I learned from the marathon runner is that there's an important visual aspect to maintaining motivation.
"Keep your eyes on the prize" is not just a popular saying—it's science.
In a study by Dr. Emily Balcetis, people who had a visual representation of their goal reached it faster and with less effort.
When you can see your goal, it's easier to work towards it.
To the runners, it was the red shorts they'd focus on.
For me, it was saving up for a family trip to Disney.
I knew I wanted to take my kids hop on the Hogwarts Express and enjoy Mickey-shaped waffles, so I found a picture of us all there a few years ago and put it where I'd see it every day.
This way, I was always reminded of the reason I was withstanding the disrespect—to have a blast with my loved ones.
I'd tell my friends, "This week, I paid for the plane tickets. Next week, I'm paying for the hotel."
Keeping that picture of my family where I could see it everyday gave me a clear purpose, driving me to keep going and finally achieve my goal.
The finish line
After my month of reflection was over, I made the tough call to leave the toxic job.
There were many reasons that factored into that decision, but I'll share one positive one:
It didn't feel right to invest my hard-earned skills and effort into supporting the vision of someone who mistreats me. Instead, I'd channel my energy towards realizing my own dreams and aspirations.
Now, if you visit my LinkedIn profile, you'll see this:
Soon, I'll add another entry on top of that one with what's next in my journey. (I'll soon share more about what's cooking.)
Reflecting on this journey, I realize just how important chunking was to making it to the finish line. I wouldn't have made it through the month without the small steps.
The only difference between a little shot, and a big shot is at the big shot kept shooting.
We all have unique dreams and challenges.
Yours might be work-related like mine, or they may be personal.
Regardless of what you're up against, keep these two steps in mind to help you achieve your goals:
- Red shorts: Break your big goals into small, manageable chunks.
- Keep your eyes on the prize: Visualize your end goal by having a tangible reminder you can see all the time, like a photo, a chart, or a drawing.
Keep pushing forward.
You got this. ⚡️
And stay tuned for a new photo of us at Disney in a few weeks.
Alrighty, that's all for this edition.
I'll be back next week with another self-work strategy, to make life 10x better for you and everyone around you.
Until then, reply back with your thoughts:
How can you break your big goals into smaller chunks to help you maintain persistence and motivation?
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