MOTIVATION AND MENTAL TACTICS TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL
Five tactics that can help you achieve your goal, overcome the barriers in your mind and to take charge of your life
1. Determination beats talent every time.
Your abilities don’t have to limit you. A love for deserts and adventure got me started running ultra marathons, not the fact I was a talented runner. Athletically speaking, I am not the right genetic makeup to be a talented runner. I am not the right body shape, I have asthma, I have a small lung capacity, I broke two vertebrae, and have four crushed discs. The list is long if you want to look for reasons not to be a runner, but by finding my niche (running long and slow in predominantly hot, dry conditions) I discovered that despite not having the lungs or speed I did have a lot of endurance, stamina, willpower, and determination.
2. To succeed you have to be willing to risk failure.
The fear of failing is always there; however, if you let that rule your life then you will never successfully face any major challenges and you will be in danger of being another person who at the end of their days didn’t follow their dreams and is full of regrets. You have to feel the fear, acknowledge it for what it is, and then get on with the task. Find ways to control your thoughts (because that's the root of all fear) as best you can.
Take an example from my career. When I got to the starting line of a 333km run across the desert of Niger, to say I was petrified would be an understatement. But there was no way out but through, and I had to pull my focus in and not look too far ahead down the line. Then I got food poisoning, which made the race across the Sahara absolutely hell, but I managed to get through to the 222km mark before having to pull out. That was a devastating failure for me, but I knew I had to pick myself up and get back into life as quickly as possible.
Trans 333km ultra marathon across Niger in the Sahara:
By just taking things just one step at a time, you can break down mammoth projects into bite sized pieces.
3. No matter what everyone around you might say, YOU have to back yourself.
Friends and even family might ridicule you, discourage you, or be negative about your dreams. Perhaps their opinions might sometimes be valid, or perhaps not. If you believe deep down that you truly can do something special, or if you just want to live life your way and your own terms, then back yourself.
Back your decision, fight through the negativity, and avoid people that will pull you down. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore experienced, sound advice, but not everybody in life is giving you seasoned well-thought through advice.
Surround yourself with people who will tell you can do it, and who will help you with how. Having strong mentors has been so important to me. To have people who have believed in me has been life-changing. There were far more people who didn’t, but I used that as motivation to pull me through when the going got tough.
I have to psychologically prepare myself for an event. Not just envisage the distance, but what is likely going to happen, what scenarios may unfold, what obstacles I am likely to face, and what solutions or motivations I need to draw upon to get past those obstacles.
I think about the “Why” of what I am doing: what I want to achieve, and whom I am doing it for. “Why do I want to do this?” You have to know your “Why” when it gets rough, or you will find yourself asking “What am I doing this for?” or “Why should I put myself through this?” and “Why don’t I just stop now and give up.” When preparing for a significant run in harsh places like Death Valley or the La Ultra in the Himalayas, with huge obstacles like heat and altitude to overcome as well as the stupidly long distances, I have many conversations in my head about what I will do when my body starts screaming at me to stop.
I have to know that no matter what, that negative voice telling me to stop will not overcome me. If you have made the decision that you will go through “whatever it takes” to get there, you can be sure you will make it or have a real damn good reason why not.
4. Surrounding yourself with good people.
I run often for charities or personal causes that mean a lot to me, and that extra “Why” gives me so much motivation to keep going. I also surround myself with good people—people who will pick me up when I am down, find a way around the problem, talk me through the lows, and back me in whatever may come. When I ran through New Zealand for Cure Kids and CanTeen, I had a young boy of 13 who was fighting cancer come out with me and join the crew. When I was crying one night in a desperate state of exhaustion and anxiety, doubting whether I could really do it, young Wayne came into my room. He grabbed my hand and told me what it meant to him that someone would do this for all the kids who had cancer, and that it made a difference to him. That moment touched me deeply. This young man was facing cancer, and here he was caring for my state of wellbeing and encouraging me! Who wouldn’t find the extra boost of motivation needed to continue?
No matter how hard you think you have it, someone else has it a damn sight harder. They are fighting on, and so can you.
5. Take a chance, see the opportunity.
I have a habit of getting super excited about an idea or challenge, and then signing up in that state of excitement without necessarily understanding necessarily everything that will be required to get there, what it will actually mean, how much preparation, pain, time, money and effort it will require, the consequences of failure, and so on.
Fortunately, as a passionate, excitable, and curious person, I have also found that I can just work things out along the way. I may find myself midway through the preparation, project management, planning, or training, asking myself “What the hell was I thinking?” Invariably, however, I just keep moving forward, and eventually I get through all that doubt. Sometimes I think it is best if we don't always know what lies ahead or how hard it will be, because it would scare us off. It's far better to let things unfold on a day-to-day basis and cope with each smaller obstacle or task as they arise, rather than look down the road too far.
When you take a chance, succeed or fail, it is always an experience. It may be a massive learning curve, perhaps a confidence builder, but never a waste of time. Sometimes, it’s even epic and life-changing!
Being willing to put yourself out there and to push outside your comfort zone means you will always achieve more than the person who is timid and spends so much time thinking and preparing, but never actually doing. Life is for living, laughing, stumbling, achieving, risking, and adventure. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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