10 May 2010

Stay Motivated: Keep Growing and Achieving

Stay Motivated: Keep Growing and Achieving

By Shawn Doyle

Have you or a friend ever been in a rut? You probably have known someone who was in a rut, living a life of routine, monotony and dullness, maybe even depressed.

Do you have a friend or know someone who is excited? Upbeat? Energetic? What is the difference between the two?

I believe the difference between the first person and the second is the first person is not growing and achieving.

The human mechanism I believe is “wired” naturally for growth and development. As children we are growth machines physically, emotionally and mentally. We go to school, take dance lesson, play in sports leagues, and join the scouts.

These are all activities that lead to growth and achievement. Then, after all those years, we graduate and get a job. That’s when some of us put on the brakes and just stop learning and growing. We are “busy” with work, family, bills, and chores. The idea and practice of growth and achievement goes away for some of us as life takes over. Then at some point, the drive and motivation slips away and we are in the rut. We get stagnant.

Have you ever seem a swimming pool at the end of the winter? It is dirty and overgrown with algae and mold and it looks like it can never be restored. It has been stagnant for three seasons. It hasn’t been cared for and there has been no activity. I believe that we as humans operate in a similar fashion. If we are not active and engaged we stagnate.

Many studies with the elderly have tried to uncover some of the reasons for senility and the slowing of mental abilities. Shockingly, they found the reason to be the lack of activity and lack of stimulation, in other words they had grown stagnant!

This is proof that when the brain isn’t used, the capacity lessens. ?So one of the questions that you should ask yourself is to loosely quote Janet Jackson is “what have you do for you lately?” In other words, what have you learned in the last year? Not by accident, or because it was part of your job, but what have you learned on purpose? What have you gotten better at? How have you grown?

Growth Is Required and Expected

Why must you keep growing and achieving? Well, we live in a fast, crazy, and rapidly changing world and change is happening at a more rapid pace every year. If you stay the same and don’t grow, you are actually going backwards while the world passes you by! In order to stay competitive and to keep up with change you have to grow and get better every year. This will also keep you motivated because you will have a feeling of accomplishment each year.

In a recent book Deepak Chopra said that the human body is in a constant state of change biologically. We have new skin every 5 days, and a new liver every eight weeks. So the person we see in the mirror is in a state of constant change and there is a new “we” every few weeks. So if that is the case shouldn’t we be willing to keep growing intellectually, spiritually, professionally and personally?

I recently went back to the hometown that I had grown up in, Martinsville Virginia. I can’t even begin to tell you how shocked I was! The house I had grown up in had been bulldozed, now an empty lot. Roads were gone, stores were closed and torn down, new shopping centers had been built and institutions that were the lifeblood of the town were vapor. The reality is that the world is changing around us daily but we just don’t notice. When we go back to a town after a long absence the changes are much more apparent. If the world around is changing, should we not change with it? Be willing to re-invent yourself!

Here are some tips to help insure that you keep growing and achieving:

• Set Goals. Once a year, sit down in a quiet spot and really look at your goals for the year. Analyze what you did last year and all the accomplishments. You may be surprised by what you have been able to do. Next set goals for yourself for the next year. Look at each important area of you life. Next look forward 3-5 years and ask “what do I want to be doing in five years?” See if the goals for the upcoming years are helping you to head in that direction.

• Learn. Set a goal of reading a certain number of books for this year. Mainly read non-fiction on topics that are areas which you need to improve. Take a class. Go to a seminar. Learn a new skill. Everything that you learn is linked to everything you know and do- so learning will enhance every aspect of your life.

• Experience. Arrange to experience new things that you have never done before. If you have never seen a symphony go see one. If you have never seen a certain town go visit it. If you have never played paint ball -do it! The more new things you experience the more you grow. Try new directions and your life will be enhanced.

• Aim for your weaknesses. Create an all out assault plan for attacking your weaknesses. Target them and work on making them less of a liability. Do you remember the old T.V. show Kung Fu? There was a famous scene in which “Grasshopper” went to the master for advice. The master replied, “Remember Grasshopper, it is a strength to know your weaknesses.”

Analyze your weaknesses and then pick two or three that you really want to attack. Then develop an action plan to start working on them. Don’t wait to work on them, start working on them tomorrow! I soon as you start making progress you will be motivated, because you will feel that you are making progress. I am a very creative person and very right brained. This makes me tend to be unorganized. Because I have identified this as an area of weakness I have been able to make significant progress in this area.

• Decide what you don’t know. Be observant and notice throughout the year what information you don’t know. This is information and knowledge that either you want to have to need to have. Let’s say you are an accountant and there are some new accounting procedures you keep hearing about.

Ignorance as the old saying goes is not bliss, find out! Attend an industry conference, call someone in the industry, but a book, go on the internet, and dig! Find out and be curious. You will grow professionally and personally and your credibility and confidence will be increased, as will your motivation.

• Exercise. There is no question that if you want to keep growing and achieving that you need to exercise. I am not saying you have to look like a world champion body builder or run like a track star. I am saying that exercise will help you grow and improve your physical and mental health. Your exercise should be regular and consistent, and should include both anaerobic and aerobic exercise. Lastly exercise will give you energy; vitality and you will feel GOOD about yourself.

• Network. They say that “birds of a feather flock together.” Decide what birds you are going to flock with. Network with people who are dynamic, goal oriented and growing. Find out about and try to meet the people in your industry who are “in the know” and network with them.

So you, your body and your mind are wired to grow and achieve. To not grow and achieve is not what you are meant to do. Lastly, if you are growing and achieving not only will you be motivated, but you will also be a source of inspiration and motivation for others.

Shawn Doyle is the President of New Light Learning and Development (www.newlightlearning.com) a company specializing in Leadership Development, motivation and creativity. He has also authored five books on leadership sales and motivation. His latest book The Manager’s Pocket Guide to Training has just been published by HRD Press. Sldoyle1@aol.com

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