How to Get Grit and Get to Work
I've said before that I really love the podcast Don't Keep Your Day Job with Cathy Heller. For a while, though, I just couldn't stop listening to one episode in particular called "How to Get Grit with Caroline Miller."
I kept feeling that each day I would wake up and get to work, I'd want to listen and re-listen to this episode because it gave me such a huge boost of motivation and inspiration.
Some of my personal takeaways from this episode are as follows:
1. Happiness comes from the pursuit of difficult goals.
I think that so many times, we are programmed to feel that something isn't right if we're not happy all the time. We then get stuck in a vicious cycle of trying to help ourselves be "happy" in shallow ways (i.e. shopping, consuming alcohol, spending money, etc.). All of these things are simply band-aids that help in making us feel better on the surface, but they don't get to the root of why we're feeling down.
In the podcast, Caroline outlined the fact that we reach happiness when we are in the midst of pursuing a tough but meaningful goal. Once I heard this, it all seemed to click as I really do feel happiest when I am at my most productive level of existence. Whether I'm working on a website (for myself or a client), whether I'm thinking about a long-term action plan, or whether I'm thinking of my own goals and reverse engineering them to fit into my day-to-day tasks, I always feel happy when I'm busy working toward something bigger.
2. Get after your goals by thinking about Your Best Possible Future Self.
Caroline mentioned an exercise she studied while at school called "Best Possible Future Self," and it's used today by psychologists to help people navigate how to set their own personal goals. Essentially, you must try to envision where you'd like to be in your life in, say, five or ten years and you spend some time (20 minutes each day for three days) writing down all the things Your Best Possible Future Self will be experiencing in that time.
From there, you must make it clear what exactly Your Future Self has done and is doing to achieve their lifestyle. Then, you'll be able to see a bit more clearly the steps you must take to make your goal for your future self a bit more actionable.
As they say, a goal without a plan is only a wish...
3. Mind over matter, always.
One thing that Caroline said that really stuck with me was this:
"Your body won't stop working until the brain commands it to."
This simple thought is so incredibly powerful because it basically eliminates all forms of excuses that one might make for not doing or working toward something. In other words, any inclination to not do something can always be overridden by your mind once it's in a motivated state.
And the beauty of it all is that once you're in motion moving toward your goals, you really have no excuse to stop until your brain tells you that you literally must stop.
Now, of course we all have our lapses of motivation and our bouts of procrastination, but I really love the idea of us being in it for the long run, being patient with ourselves and our goals, giving ourselves a break when we really need it, and then doubling down on our strengths when we're really feeling inspired.
4. Even just simple goal-setting can make us happier.
With the implementation of even just a few simple longer-term goals of what we'd like to achieve in the next week, month, year, etc., it can really have an effect on our happiness. It's a bit similar to planning an upcoming vacation: once you've gotten over the hump of committing and purchasing that plane ticket, the anticipation is really the most fun part!
After that, taking your goal and reverse-engineering it into smaller, more manageable actionable tasks will show you that you your goal is certainly within reach. Just remember: it's up to you to hold yourself accountable and follow through on what you're committing to do.
5. Getting off technology for a day can help reset motivation and alleviate burn-out or exhaustion.
For those of us who've lost a bit of their burning motivation they had at the start of their project or business, Caroline has one piece of advice:
"Get off technology for the day."
While it may seem difficult to do (especially for those whose careers revolve around being and staying connected), I really think this is a very valuable insight. Even if you start small like choosing to not spend 30 minutes in bed each morning poring over social media or otherwise deciding not to turn on your computer for all of Sunday - it really gives you and your brain a little chance to reset, to be present, and to recharge your batteries.
If we're connected 100% of the time, we always have so much new content to process, which really can't be all that good all of the time.