The Truth About Stepping Your Game Up In Life — And How to Do It

step-your-game-up.jpg

At my job, everyone thinks I’m this workout guru.

It’s kind of embarrassing (but mostly hilarious) how amazed they are that I workout everyday at lunch! You see, everyday I come to work and I set my pink Adidas gym bag on my desk. And everyday, without fail, a coworker will pass by my office, point to the bag, and make a comment about how much willpower and determination I must have, and how they would like to workout too but it just seems too hard and they could never run that long or lift that heavy or whatever.

Of course, none of this is true. I am NOT a workout guru and any one of my coworkers could workout like I do (maybe even better!) if they wanted to. The problem is, they don’t understand how tackling a big life change like working out regularly works. In fact most people don’t. I certainly didn’t, which is why I failed to workout on a regular basis until about three years ago when I finally discovered the secret.

lunch-workout.jpg

Wanna know the secret?

Everyday, I get on the treadmill and start running. As soon as the belt starts to move, I know good and well that I need to stay on that treadmill for at least 20 minutes at an intense pace if I want to get a good sweat. But here’s the thing — I’ve been working out nearly everyday for 3 years and I still hate the treadmill. I hate running! It has never gotten easier. But I need to stay on it for at least 20 minutes for it to be worth my while. So what do I do?

Easy — I don’t run for 20 minutes. I only run for 30 seconds. 40 times.

As the belt begins to pick up speed and I move my feet faster and faster to keep up with the pace, I tell myself this half-truth: “Only 30 more seconds, Courtney. You got this!” So I clench my teeth, pump my arms, and start flying on that treadmill for the full 30 seconds. I give it everything I got. And when that 30 seconds is up?

I push myself again. “Just 30 seconds, Courtney. You got this! LET’S GO!”

Everyday, I still coach myself through 20 minutes on the treadmill, 30 seconds at a time. Even though I’ve been going to the gym almost everyday for three years, the thought of sprinting for 20 minutes is still daunting to me. If I focus on the full 20 minutes, I’ll immediately think of the pain. I’ll start making excuses. I’ll rationalize why I can skip the treadmill and go do something else instead. But if I focus on the next 30 seconds? The bite-sized portion of my goal? Now that’s something I can do. Anyone can.

Any that’s the point. If you are wondering why you can’t make headway, why nothing you set out to do ever gets done, why you have no willpower, why you’ve been writing in your journal for THREE YEARS about finally doing “the thing” but you still haven’t done it …the answer is simple. You are biting off more than you can chew. No one just wakes up one day, snaps their fingers and immediately loses 20 pounds, or pays off their student loans, or has a successful business, or lands their dream career, or stops procrastinating, or whatever. You have to BE WILLING to coach yourself through your big goal, a proverbial 30 seconds at a time.

You know how you’ll read an interview of some successful business person or celebrity or athlete, and the interviewer asks them how they got to where they are and they say something to the effect of “Oh, well you know, you just gotta start small…”? What they don’t tell you is not only do you start small, but you keep going small. The big grand vision is the destination, but focusing on the bite-sized steps, done over and over again is how you get there.

marc-ecko-quote.jpg

How to (Baby) Step Your Game Up

So practically speaking, how do you do this? The general answer is to take your goal, break it into super small pieces that are manageable to you, and go all out on achieving that one little step. That said, there are a few different ways you can do this. Here’s are the methods I’m using right now to step my game up in various areas of my life:

The Mini Upgrade

I like to call this method, “the mini upgrade”, because you take a bite-sized portion of your goal, do it, then add more and more bite-sized chunks to it until the total effect of all those little steps is huge.

I’m using this method right now as I overhaul my diet. For months now, I’ve felt like I’ve wanted to do a full out detox but I haven’t gotten around to it. But lately I’ve been feeling really sluggish and have experienced weird bloating (TMI, sorry!) so I’ve decided I’m finally going to do it!

Now I could have just ran to Whole Foods, bought a bunch of veggies, and attempted to drink nothing but green juice for 21 days but I know that would be a complete fail! I am so not ready for that! Instead, I’ve committed to making one small change every week until I’m at the point where I can complete a full detox.

This week, I committed to drinking at least 3 liters of water everyday. Next week, I’ll commit to drinking 3 liters of water + no dairy or grains. The week after that I’ll commit to 3 liters of water + no dairy or grains + salad everyday for lunch. I’ll keep upgrading my diet in a bite-sized way every week until I’m able to complete my detox goal.

The One Track Mind

I call this method the “the one track mind” because you focus on a very specific aspect of your goal and do not do anything else until you achieve it.

I’m using this method right now to step my style game up and build my capsule wardrobe. I just cleared my closet out last night and realize that I have a TON of clothes I need to buy. If I focused on building my capsule wardrobe in one shot, I’d either run up my credit card and get back into debt (been there, done that, no thank you!) or get so overwhelmed that I’d just quit all together. Instead, I’m focusing on finding the single most needed item (a pair of slim black work pants) before I buy anything else. Once I find it, I’m zero in on the next most needed item until my capsule wardrobe is complete!

The Mr. Miyagi Challenge

Now I actually didn’t come up with this method. The Mr. Miyagi Challenge is something that motivational speaker and blogger friend, Stacey Flowers came up with.

Now let me tell you, Stacey is currently working on a MONSTER of a goal. She is paying off…wait for it…$160,000 in student loan debt! Now unless you win the lottery, this is not a goal that can be achieved in one shot. You HAVE TO bite-size something like that.

Well, Stacey is attacking this with her method of “The Mr. Miyagi Payment.” You know how in The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi teaches the boy to be a karate champion by first learning to wax his car? (“Wax on, wax off!”) The motion of waxing the car and doing other seemingly insignificant movements are what eventually give the boy the skill to kick butt in his karate competition. In the spirit of Mr. Miyagi’s philosophy, Stacey is conquering her student loan debt by not only making her regular student loan payments, but by making a small, extra payment of $5.50 or more everyday. In her own words:

Everyday, I will make a PAYMENT of $5.50 or more.

If I only pay $5.50 a day for one year I will have paid $2000.00 toward my student loan debt.

Obviously I need to pay waaaaay more than $2000 a year to get everything paid off.

However this payment is designed to keep my goal right in front of me and make sure that I am making progress daily.

What I’ve learned about success is that it is really a series of small AWESOME decisions that lead to one GREAT result.

Think about it, if you told yourself that you’d had to pay $12,666 a month, to pay off your student loan debt, wouldn’t you want to give up?

This type of thinking would be the equivalent of me trying to bench press 250 lbs, even though I’ve never lifted the bar.

These small payments are like going to the gym everyday and getting comfortable with the bar, knowing that I’ll slowly add weights so I can build the strength to reach my goal of benching [160K].

***

Talk to Me:

What’s the one thing you’ve been struggling to do? How can you “bite-size” it to get it done? Share with me in the comments!

 P.S. 

This Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 8pm EDT/7pm EDT, I am hosting another Girl’s Night In with Stacey Flowers! During this chat, we will talk all about achieving goals, finding happiness in the midst of your hustle, and of course — paying off those student loans!!! I so hope you can come, we would LOVE to have you. RSVP here!

How to Go from Burned Out to Fired Up (Or, Lessons Learned During My Month-Long Blog Break)

burned out fired up

You know how it feels when you finally get a chance to catch up on sleep after going for days running on empty? Like when you’ve been getting up early AND staying up late, working hard for 2 weeks straight and you finally get a chance one glorious Sunday to sleep in all day?

At first you feel guilty about it, telling yourself you’re just going to take a “nap” for an hour then get back to doing the things you need to do. But as soon as you lay down, your body DEMANDS the rest and before you know it, you’ve slept all day. And when you wake up — you feel great! Refreshed! You can’t believe you actually slept all-day, but upon waking, you shrug and think to yourself, “Hey, I was really tired. I need this.”

That’s pretty much how I feel after emerging from my month-long blog break. I can’t believe I actually “slept” that long, but looking back, I see just how much I needed it.

As I shared in my August B-Side post, I had gotten to a place of such burnout that I literally felt spiritually led to take a “time out.” I had gotten so obsessed with working on my dream — growing this blog and building a business — that I had allowed my life priorities to get all out of wack. I was spending less and less time with God. And my husband. And my friends. And myself!

I felt creatively stifled and chained to all the “tips and tricks” the business “gurus” said I must do. I was so focused on doing what I believed I had to do, this ceased being a space where I could do what I wanted to do. If this was the dream I chose for myself, then why was I so burned out? Why wasn’t I fired up anymore?

I spent my month off praying, dreaming, and generally re-aligning myself. Getting back to my center, you know? And now that I’ve had a month to “sleep in”, I truly do feel awake. I see where I was going wrong and want to offer you some encouragement just in case you are spinning your wheels too. The following are the “epiphanies” I had during my hiatus that have helped me go from burned out to fired up!

Focus on Action, Not the Goal

My first epiphany was realizing I had to stop stressing out about the end result and instead, focus on my day-to-day actions. I’m pretty impatient, so I would do different things to move my business forward then immediately go check to see if it “worked”. I was basically like that girlfriend who is always trying to lose 20 pounds but gets frustrated if she doesn’t immediately lose weight every time she eats a salad. What I should have been doing was giving my all to whatever task needed to be done that day, and trust that the result will come if I kept it up. Success is in consistently doing the daily actions — reaching the goal is just a by-product.

Realize you already have the time

I was always feeling like I didn’t have enough time. It didn’t matter if it was a jam-packed workday or a 3-day holiday weekend — I would constantly be stressed out about not having enough time to work on my goals. But then, during my sabbatical, it hit me: you don’t need a huge window of time to get things done. What I was failing to do was make the most of those “cracks” of time. You know, the times when you are waiting in the lobby for an appointment. Or when your class ends 15 minutes early. Or whenever you suddenly have a little window of time you weren’t expecting. Honestly, most of the time I used up those “cracks” by scrolling through my instagram feed. (So addictive! Ah!). I finally realized that I could at least start working on a business idea during that time and keep working on it throughout the other “cracks” of my day. I may not have long blocks of time but if I’m honest, I do have enough time overall…and I bet you do too!

Seek Different Sources of Inspiration

Looking at the same information all the time is going to burn you out. If you keep going to the same well over and over again you are going to run dry. This is what was happening to me. Every book I bought, every blog I read, every video I watched, every social media account I followed was based on the same topics: internet business, social media marketing, self-help, and natural hair. I pretty much had no variety in the things I was taking in, which eventually led to feeling like I had lost my ability to come up with good ideas. I was sooo stifled creatively. Which leads me to…

Trust Your Own Creativity

Remember that post I wrote about following your own intuition? Yeah, I fell back into the “Google everything” trap again. I know first hand how hard it is to do, but during this sabbatical I realized that you have to stop believing everything a guru or expert tells you to do. There’s nothing wrong with good advice but everyone’s journey to success is different because YOU’RE different (!!!) and your definition of success is different. There is no one-size fits all answer that will magically take you from where you are to where you want to go. More than anything during this sabbatical, I realized that I am simply going to have to figure it out. You are going to have to figure it out. So follow your intuition and strive to be creative. Every great innovation we take for granted today happened because someone chose to think differently.

Hold Timelines Loosely

I was reluctant to follow my intuition and trust in my own creativity because I had set a very firm deadline in my head of when I wanted to “blow up.” I told myself that I wanted to be 100% self-employed by 28, so turning 26 this summer had me feeling a bit anxious about meeting this goal. I have list of creative things I wanted to do, “hunches” I wanted to try but I was so committed to “making it” by my deadline that honestly, I felt to scared to try new things! What if I try something new, it doesn’t work out, and then I miss my deadline? If I follow my intuition and I’m wrong, how far off course will that take me? This look ridiculous even as I type this but that’s seriously what was going through my mind. While it is still my desire to reach my goal by my 28th birthday, I don’t want to be so stuck on it that I get fearful of trying new things. I just have to trust that I will definitely get there and I will get there when I’m supposed to.

***

 Talk to Me 

Are you fired up about your dream or are you feeling a little burned out? Which of these lessons is the hardest for you to follow? Share your story in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

B-Side Mastermind: Monthly Meeting #7 (September) + I’m Back!

b side meeting 7

Hello and welcome to The B-Side, a mastermind group for entrepreneurial women! On the first of each month, I share my business-related goals, challenges, and triumphs while inviting you to do the same! I’d love for you to join me; you can learn more about participating by clicking here.

It feels sooo good to be back!

How are you doing? Did you miss me? :-) I can’t believe my August sabbatical is over already! As I said when I first put up my sabbatical post I really, really, really DID NOT want to take a month off but I truly felt the strongest urge that it was something I needed to do.

Having gone through it, I’m so glad I did. In fact, I think this is something I want to incorporate in my life on a regular basis. Not sure what month I’ll do it next year but I’m now convinced that taking a few weeks to a month off once a year is something everyone should try! The insight you gain on your personal, professional, and spiritual life is really amazing!

Last Month’s Results

So what did I learn? Girl. Pages and pages worth of stuff. No, seriously, I have a notebook with PAGES full of all the insight I felt God so graciously gave me during my little “time out”. I’m going to do a separate post going over everything that happened and everything I learned but let me say that during this sabbatical, God reveled that the challenges I was facing were rooted in issues so much deeper than general frustration with my business ambitions. The frustration and confusion were the symptoms, but fear, idolatry (i.e. turning my dreams into an idol!), and a general lack of trusting in God were the root cause. I know this walk with God is a life long journey so I wouldn’t dare say that this 30 day sabbatical has “solved” everything but it has realigned me and given me a stronger, more purpose-filled direction going forward.

Yeah, there’s just so much to talk about and explain. I’ll leave it at that for now but I promise to get super deep with you in my upcoming, post-sabbatical write-up. So stay tuned!

This Month’s Business Goals

Before going into the sabbatical, some of my biggest frustrations stemmed from me not knowing what I should work on. I had a gazillion ideas and they all seemed awesome, so I tried to force myself to work on them all at the same time. Big disaster. Now that I’ve had a chance to step back and gain new insight, I’ve decided to prioritize two things: facing fears and iteration. Facing fears is just what it sounds like — I want to set and achieve goals that move me further and further past my comfort zone. There’s a lot I want to do but honestly haven’t done yet just because I’m scared! No bueno, I’m facing my fears head on. By “iteration”, I mean quickly accomplishing small milestones and building up from there. I have a lot of grandiose visions but I know I have to baby step my way there, just like anything else in life. So with those priorities in mind, my goals for September are:

  1. Secure a location and Fall date for my event. I don’t know why I’ve been so scared to do this silly event but I have! Nevertheless, I’m doing it! I recently linked up with I’sha from HoneyBeNatural Magazine and she is helping me put on my first event here in Dallas! I’m shooting for late October/early November. I already have the concept and agenda down, we just need a location and date so we can start recruiting women to sit on the panel (this will be a panel discussion event). Really excited (and nervous) about it!
  2. Publish my “Find Your Purpose” blog post. During my sabbatical I had a major flash of inspiration for an entire workbook and even e-book devoted to helping women align with their purpose. In the spirit of iteration (start small and build up from there), I want to publish a detailed blog post on the topic to see how my readers respond. If the post is a success and I get good feedback, I will use the feedback to begin turning it into a book/workbook. So stay tuned for that!
  3. Schedule at least 5 “Pick your brain” Skype calls with my readers. Lately I’ve been learning a lot about a concept called “minimum viable product“. It’s basically a philosophy in entrepreneurship where you discover what your target market’s needs and problems are, then you develop a “minimum viable product” (MVP) to help your market meet their needs/solve their problems. Once your MVP is built, you improve it and build upon it based on the feedback you receive (iteration) until you get to your final product. Companies like Ecko Unlimited, Nasty Gal (#GIRLBOSS Author), and Skillshare have done this with much success. Before you can create a MVP, you need to know all about your prospective clients first! I recently conducted a survey that somewhat accomplished this, but I want to go more in-depth by speaking with my readers face to face.

Current Challenges

None yet! The sabbatical has kind of given me a “reset” so I don’t have any challenges now. I’m sure I’ll pick up some (lol) as I get back in the groove of working on my goals.

Current Successes/What’s Working

  1. Trusting God. Duh! You know I was going to say that. But seriously, that was one of my biggest revelations during this sabbatical — It’s my job to take diligent action towards the dream and purpose that God has called me to, but I don’t need to get so crazy and obsessive about the end result. Which leads me to…
  2. Focusing on intention-based actions versus outcomes. Instead of obsessing over the end result all the time, I’ve committed to focusing on the present and the actions I’m taking here and now. I of course take action with the intention of producing certain results, but I’m realizing more and more that it’s not my job to “make” things happen, it’s my job to consistently take the action that leads to the desired result (outcome). The future outcome will only happen if I’m consistent about doing what I need to do today. So that’t what I’m focusing on.
  3. Fostering my creativity. A huge, unexpected by-product of last month’s sabbatical was that I was pretty much tuned out from the blogging world. Instead of reading blogs and surfing the internet, I spent a lot of time reading a TON of books (seriously, I think I have 11 checked out from the library right now) on a variety of topics. Without meaning to, I ended up getting a lot of creative ideas just from learning more about other topics and industries. I realized that I had spent to much time reading about my little niche and focusing on what “experts” and “gurus” have to say. I don’t know about you, but when I’m not constantly broadening my horizons, I get creatively stifled and have a hard time coming up with anything new and remarkable. I knew this before I went on my sabbatical but I was so focused on becoming “a success” that I felt that I had to stay plugged into what everyone else was doing. The sabbatical, however, forced my to unplug and seek new sources of inspiration. This was awesome for me; I’m going to continuing seeking new sources of inspiration and fostering my creativity.

Your Turn!

Mastermind Rules

  • Share your goals, challenges and successes in the comments.
  • The goal of this mastermind is to support each other, so be sure to read all the comments and check out all the participating blogs and businesses! If you have something to offer, leave a comment and help each other out!
  • If you are a blogger, feel free to create a post sharing your entrepreneurial goals, challenges, and successes (via the format above) on your blog and link back here. You can even grab the button and include it in your post:
Think and Grow Chick

B-Side Facebook Group

Be sure to join the B-Side Facebook group! Since the B-side post will come out monthly, this women-only Facebook group will serve as a “hub” for us to ask questions, share what we have going on, and generally connect with each other on a day-to-day basis. You can join right now: http://facebook.com/groups/bsidebythinkandgrowchick

B-Side Mastermind: Monthly Meeting #6 (August) + My Summer Soul Sabbatical

b side meeting 6

Hello and welcome to The B-Side, a mastermind group for entrepreneurial women! On the first of each month, I share my business-related goals, challenges, and triumphs while inviting you to do the same! I’d love for you to join me; you can learn more about participating by clicking here.

Happy Friday! And Happy August! It’s the first of the month which means it’s time for new goals right?!?!

For you, yes. I encourage it in fact. But for me? This month, I’ve decided to do something different and something a bit strange even. Something I haven’t done before but I should have done before I even started the B-Side.

The month, I’m not setting any new business goals. I’ve decided to do something radical and dedicate this month (at least) to seeking God and seeing what He would have me do in regards to my business dreams.

What?!?!

Girl, I know! I know this sounds crazy! I had every intention of setting new goals up until earlier this week. I was going for big goals too because I was still pretty frustrated with the rut I got myself in and how I really hadn’t gotten anything done last month. Up until literally a few days ago, I was determined to not only set new goals, but to double down and really stretch myself. I was determined to get over my hump with brute force. You, know — 50 Cent style. Get rich goals or die trying!

And then it hit me. A small, persistent, troublesome thought. “Have you consulted God? Maybe this is unnecessarily frustrating because you haven’t consulted God…”

As I continue on my journey to business success, the more and more I realize that there are seemingly and infinite amount of experts with an infinite amount of strategies. If I drink from the firehose of information — do this, tweet that, post this, launch that, buy this, read that — I will drown. It is impossible to do everything suggested.

And that is where the frustration lies (for me at least). There is just so much noise. So much advice. So many strategies. There a literally 1000 different things I could be doing right now to move my business goals forward. 1000 different strategies and they all make sense on the surface! How does one know which path to take? How does one persist in doing what they need to do?

As I pondered the gut check I got about not consulting God, I realized that I would have the answers to these questions if I simply asked Him.

Up until this point, I actually have not asked God. No, seriously! Sure, I pray about my goals all the time. Not a morning goes by where Think & Grow Chick is not in my prayers. But that’s the problem. For the last 6 months, I have prayed and prayed and prayed that God bless what I’m already doing but I haven’t prayed for the wisdom on what to do in the first place.

Like the energizer bunny, I’ve just been picking strategies out a hat and going, going, going with it. “Oh, that sounds like a good idea, I’mma do it! Oh, and by the way God, can you help me with that? Thanks in advance!”

That, my friend, has been my strategy and that, my friend, is not the way to seek God about something.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart

    and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

    and he will direct your paths.”

(Proverbs 3:5-6, emphasis mine)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of resistance. I even wrote a post about how we sometimes feel resistance when we are on the right path — we experience forces (natural or spiritual) that resist us in effort to keep us from succeeding. I talked about how it’s important to get our beliefs right in order to push past this type of resistance. I still 100% believe this is true.

But over the last few days, I’ve been meditating on another type of resistance. God’s resistance. Plain as day, the Bible says:

“God resists the proud

    but gives grace to the humble.”

(James 4:6, emphasis mine)

And just like the other kind of resistance, God’s resistance is also brought on by negative beliefs. The belief that I can be successful on my own. The belief that submitting my plans to God is not a big deal. Another word for that kind of belief is pride and I truly believe that God has resisted me on it. I believe it is the source of the difficulty I’ve been facing.

Now I know this was not the B-Side post you were expecting. This is not the B-Side post I was expecting to write!!! All this “revelation” happened on TUESDAY. Today is FRIDAY! As I said before, up until this week I was fully intending to write about all the big, bold new goals I was going to go after this month. So if this all sounds crazy, trust me, I know. I delayed even writing this because this is so out of the ordinary for me. But I also know that God is real. And when He speaks…girl…I have no choice but to listen. (*Kanye Shrug*)

So, in summary, this month, I’m doing things a little differently. A lot differently, actually. This month, after much reflection, I’ve decided not to set goals and dedicate the month to spending time with God, seeking His direction for what I should be spending my time on in regards to my business endeavors versus what sounds good to me to spend time on. In short, I’m letting God reveal my goals this month rather than me charging ahead with some stuff that makes sense on the surface. Let’s just call this my Summer Soul Sabbatical. :-)

Housekeeping: The above “a ha!” moment is what I received, this is not a mandate for everyone else so please, carry on with the goals you set for this month and report on your progress as usual. (But do learn from my mistakes!) I will still be active in the B-Side Facebook Group and comments, providing encouragement to everyone with their business goals. I will also still be posting on the blog as usual. Actually I’ve decided not to post this month on the blog either. A true sabbatical indeed. Be sure to check back in September!

So that’s it! Pray for me! (Seriously!) And if any part of my experience resonated with you, feel free to shoot me an email or drop me a line in the comments. Ditto if you’d like me to pray for you and your goals this month too. I love you all and I really am rooting for your success. We are in this together. :-)

***

P.S. — I recently stumbled on a this great podcast about God and entrepreneurship. These two particular episodes speak to this topic exactly and really resonated with me. Check them out!

How to Motivate Yourself Out of a Rut (+ Free Printable Worksheet!)

how-to-motivate-yourself

Last week was one of those weeks where I fell all the way off. I just could not motivate myself to do the things I needed to do!

I didn’t get any blog posts published, I ate pretty terribly, and my workouts were only so-so last week. What was unusual, however, was that I could tell I wasn’t dealing with one of my typical battles with procrastination. When I procrastinate, I do everything other the sun to avoid doing what I need to do but that wasn’t the case last week. I actually attempted several times to sit down and write something interesting for the blog, or cook a healthy meal, or plan an intense workout but every time I did, I would literally draw a blank. Last week, I couldn’t come up with anything to save my life!

I would just sit there and stare at my computer screen waiting for the words to flow but nothing came. I leafed through all my cookbooks and looked up recipes online but I couldn’t motivate myself to cook anything I saw. I tried to brainstorm new workouts but when I got to the gym, I would just spend a lackluster 20 minutes haphazardly jogging on the treadmill. Last week, when it came to making any progress on any of my major life goals, I was both overwhelmed and uninspired.

Yours truly had fallen into a big ugly rut.

Why We Get into Ruts

For some, a rut might be brought on after facing a major crisis. After spending all your energy to deal with an unexpected life challenge, you may find it hard to motivate yourself toward anything else, even though you still desire to reach your hopes and dreams.

For others, a rut comes about after repeatedly failing or getting rejected. Maybe your family doesn’t support your ambition or maybe you’ve been after your goals for years but haven’t yet been able to make it happen. After failing into negative thinking because of your past or what others say, it suddenly becomes very difficult to do what you have to do to achieve your goals.

For me, I knew I had to ignore my urge to Google “how to get out of a rut” and actually listen to my intuition to figure out why I was in a rut. After sitting silently and thinking about what brought me to this lackluster place, I realized that I simply felt disconnected. I had a lot of things on my to-do list but there was a little voice in the back of my head asking “Why am I doing all this again? And am I sure these are the right things to be doing?” In short, I felt separated from the “why” and “what” behind my goals.

The Two Keys to Staying Motivated

Since deciding that I want to coach other women, I have been reading an insane number of books all about how to motivate yourself, have more willpower, and achieve goals. One I finished recently that I really enjoyed is Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D.

I like this book because she’s not simply giving her opinion on what she thinks are the best ways to reach goals — her observations come from real-life scientific and psychological research, some of which she conducted herself. What she discovered that ultimately helped me get out of my rut when I applied it to my life is that there are two factors that increase our motivation to achieving our goals — knowing your “why” and knowing your “what”.

Know Your “Why”…and the “What”!

Halvorson explains that there are two ways to look at any goal — via a “why” perspective or a “what” perspective. In the book, she uses the example of vacuuming the floor. A person can see the task of vacuuming as “keeping my house clean and stress-free” (why perspective) or a more literal “sucking up crumbs from the floor” (what perspective).

A why perspective helps us focus on the big picture whereas a what perspective helps us focus on the actual process of getting the job done. While knowing both are critical to staying motivated towards your goal, we all tend to have a bias towards one or the other. The studies explained in the book show that different situations can cause us to lose sight of either our why or our what, which in turn can hinder our motivation for going after our goal.

How I Re-Motivated Myself

In my case, I realized I felt disconnected from both my why and my what. I lost sight of my why because I was “in the weeds” focusing on all the little tasks I had to get done, forgetting how they related to my big picture. I lost sight of my what because I had a nagging feeling that I might not be doing the right things, the things that are directly related to me accomplishing my goal.

So, I called a time-out on myself and spent a good 15 minutes rewriting my goals and hashing out both my why and my what. I kid you not, my mind felt so free and clear once I did that! It was like all the subconscious confusion melted away, leaving behind a clear road-map of what I needed to do and why I needed to do it.

How to Motivate Yourself

Because I know you may struggle with getting into ruts from time to time, I’ve created a free, printable worksheet for you so you can keep your goals, whats, and whys close at hand at all times.

know your why goal setting worksheet

Here’s how to use it:

know your why goal setting worksheet

First, write whatever goal you have in big bold print at the top of the worksheet. I encourage you to print multiple sheets of this worksheet and use it for all your major goals. You can use this for fitness goals, diet goals, money goals, whatever!

Above, I’ve filled in my current major goal for Think & Grow Chick — “Turn blog into a business that earns [my current income from my job] per year via information products, coaching, public speaking, and events.” Things to note: this is not my ultimate goal for TGC (the skies the limit!) but this is the first major milestone I want to reach with it. Just write down the first major milestone for your goal that want to reach, such as “lose 20 pounds” or “have $1,000 in savings”.

know your why goal setting worksheetNext, write your top three “whys” for why you want your goal.

know your why goal setting worksheetLastly, write down the top three immediate steps, given where you are currently in relation to your goal, that you need to do in order to move yourself forward. These are the “whats” you should now be focusing on above all else.

Motivational Tips

The beauty of this “why-what” motivational system is that you can focus on one perspective more than the other depending on what you are experiencing as you work towards your goal. For instance:

  • If you are prone to procrastination and “dreaming” all day, focus more on your what list as it will force you to think about action steps.
  • If your goal kinda scares you because your next steps are pretty daunting, focus on your why list, as it will encourage you to keep on going in spite of your fear.

 Download the Worksheet! 

Click the image below to download the worksheet and try it for yourself!

what-why-worksheet-downloadTry the worksheet out for yourself and let me know what you think by posting on twitter or instagram with the hashtag #thinkandgrowchick! Share it with your friends and anyone who could use a motivational boost!

 Talk to Me: 

Have you ever been in a rut? What strategies do you use to get yourself out? Share in the comments!