If you've ever wondered how to keep yourself motivated through challenging times you're certainly not alone. After all, motivation isn't of much use if you can't call on it when you need it most! These tips will help keep your eyes on your goals and your nose to the grindstone. Inspired life change awaits.
"Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character."
1) Summon the spirit of attack.
2) Decide and learn.
3) Keep your eye on the goal.
4) Don't complain. Don't explain.
5) Believe in yourself.
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"Live as brave men and women; and if fortune is adverse, front it's blows with brave hearts."
~Marcus Tullius Cicero
In the world of martial arts and self defense there's a well known maxim stating that the best defense is attack. In other words, attack is the best chance you have to defend yourself successfully. Why is that?
Attack is the best form of defense because a 'defensive spirit' is reactive - and a reactive spirit is a spirit that hasn't taken control. A reactive spirit is always waiting. It waits for the opponent to make his move, thereby allowing the opponent to dictate the terms of engagement.
On the other hand, the spirit of attack is proactive vs reactive. Summoning the spirit of attack means taking the initiative back into your own hands. This is where proper conflict management can take place.
Reaction always lags behind action. How to keep yourself motivated through challenging times is largely a matter of avoiding a slip into reactive mode. Summoning the spirit of attack is a great way to do this.
When challenge comes knocking on your door, notice your 'defensive spirit' arising. Then summon the spirit of attack to replace it and carry you to safety. The challenge could be anything. It could be an unexpected financial setback, it could be a fight with a loved one, a relationship problem or anything else that has the potential to knock you off your feet.
Say you take a sudden financial hit that threatens to set you back for a long time. A defensive spirit might be thinking, "Oh no. I'm doomed. This can't be happening to me. What did I do to deserve this? My dreams are dead. I had better buckle down and protect myself the best I can; who knows what's going to hit me next?"
As an initial reaction this kind of thinking is to be expected. But don't allow yourself to wallow or stop there. A quick, decisive switch in thinking and attitude is in order.
Summoning the spirit of attack you may switch to thinking...
"Ok. I'm still alive...and kicking! I have a brain and a creative one at that, I know there's a solution to this predicament, I just haven't found it yet. What can I do to turn this around? How can I respond so that this becomes one of the most significant stepping stones of my life? Boy, this has really got me going. I'm sharp, I'm alive and I'm ready. What an intensely powerful position to be in. I'm balanced and grounded. Watch me go!'
A defensive spirit is passive. The spirit of attack actively seeks solutions. A defensive spirit tends towards self-pity, perfectionism and procrastination. The spirit of attack is forward-looking. A defensive spirit is reactionary. The spirit of attack is proactionary.
Summoning the spirit of attack means to be direct, decisive and resolute. It means aiming to win - as opposed to just 'trying to survive'.
A defensive spirit isn't even thinking of winning. It's too busy concentrating on not losing. Ever hear someone exclaim, 'But I'm doing my best!' or 'I'm tryyyyying!'? What spirit do you sense in that? If you're just trying - you aren't playing to win. You're playing not-to-lose, which ironically, makes you more likely to lose in the end.
Summoning the spirit of attack is how to keep yourself motivated in challenging times by turning a bad situation around.
"Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not to suffer."
Sometimes it's better to make things happen then to let things happen. Sometimes it's better to decide rather than letting life decide for you. And life will decide for you if you don't make up your own mind.
Either way life goes on and things will unfold.
Making a conscious decision takes courage - the courage to face the consequences that naturally result from that decision. Sometimes you may be risking failure. This is the price that being decisive exacts from you. Not making a decision doesn't call on your courage. Yet, you'll have to face the consequences of that too.
Either way consequences must be faced, so why not give your courage some exercise while you're at it!
Being decisive is to seize the opportunity for self-definition. By making a clear-cut decision about what you want, or don't want, you're defining who you are. Taking self-defining action is a powerful builder of character and self-esteem - exactly the qualities you need to face challenging times.
Life will unfold with or without your decisions. The question becomes - how are you growing from it? Making conscious decisions is a fast-track to inspired life change and personal growth of any kind.
What's the worst that can happen? You make a mistake? You make the 'wrong' decision? It's a perfect opportunity to give your creativity muscles a stretch. Another decision can always be made - one that realigns you once again with your goals.
How to keep yourself motivated through challenging times is nothing if not an intensely creative endeavor. Decide and learn is an ongoing daily habit to cultivate. The more you practice, the better decisions and fewer mistakes you'll actually make.
Either way - your wisdom grows.
"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."
Imagine you're running on a path with your destination or goal clearly visible in the distance. You can see where you are, you can see the path, and you can see where you're going. All is well with the world.
Suddenly you find yourself face-to-face with a wall. You don't know where it came from. You hadn't seen it on the path - but now it's suddenly there - blocking you. With your goal no longer in sight, you become fixated on this obstacle in front of you.
You start wondering how to keep yourself motivated to get over the wall and back on track.
Nevertheless, the obstacle has disrupted your forward momentum for the time being. The more focused you become on the wall, the more stuck and hopeless you begin to feel. It's now not only blocking your path, it's also blocking your imagination. The wall is taking over your internal world - you find yourself settling in to a new 'reality' - one far away from the goal you could see not so long ago.
How to keep yourself motivated becomes a forgotten question. You give up on the path to your dream.
Keeping your eye on the goal in this context means using the power of your imagination and intention. It means becoming singlemindedly focused - and not on the obstacle. It means summoning the spirit of attack or bringing any other creative 'tricks' to your aid.
Imagine a dog running towards a piece of steak. If it came up against an obstacle on it's path, how do you imagine it would react? Picture it. Its mind, its body, its whole being remains focused on the steak. It barely even sees the obstacle standing in its way. The dog's whole being is committed to getting at that steak. In its mind's eye there's, quick frankly, no other option. The obstacle doesn't stand a chance - it's as good as gone.
Perhaps a dog isn't a strong enough metaphor. Imagine a tiger in pursuit of its prey. Obstacles - what obstacles? Nothing can distract a tiger from its target. You would have to kill it to stop it. You can tap into the same energy. Bore right through the obstacle with your vision. Pierce right through the wall to reconnect with your goal.
Remember that tiger. Become that tiger. Lay in wait if need be - until the time is right. Then seize the moment and pounce with all your might. That's how to keep yourself motivated through those challenging times.
"The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me."
Henry Ford was well known for this 'mantra', 'Don't complain. Don't explain'. But why not? Why shouldn't you complain and explain? In fact, complaining and explaining seem to be some of the most common responses of folks going through difficulty. Can refraining actually be an effective answer to how to keep yourself motivated through challenging times?
If you're complaining and explaining it means your focus is now on the obstacle. You've taken your eyes off your goal and are now elaborating on what you don't want instead.
Not so good, if you believe that what you focus on expands and grows.
Complaining and explaining takes time and energy - time and energy better spent focusing on and pursuing your goal. Every moment you waste complaining, and every calorie you burn explaining, robs you of the opportunity and resources to secure what you actually want.
Complaining and explaining are always vague, because they deal in lack instead of substance. Furthermore, they promote confusion because they delay the very action that will give you clarity - observation.
Instead of giving into the temptation to complain or explain, take a step back to observe your situation. Give yourself perspective and you might be able to see something that you hadn't seen before. Perhaps a way out of your predicament will present itself.
That's how to keep yourself motivated by leaving complaining and explaining for another day - a day that ideally never comes at all.
"Never be afraid to tread the path alone. Know your path and follow it wherever it may lead you. Do not feel you have to follow in someone else's footsteps."
~Eileen Caddy in "Footprints On The Path"
Sometimes challenging times come about by feeling you're on your own. Perhaps you're making an unpopular decision. Maybe you're taking a turn in the path that nobody but yourself seems to understand. You may have chosen a direction that puts you at odds with long held traditions, ideology or even superstitious beliefs.
In times like these, believing in yourself and calling on your confidence and self-assurance may be all you've got. Fortunately, it's also all you need. Even the greatest Zen master in the world can't tell you the path you should take in life. It's up to you to uncover it, walk it and create it yourself.
Matters of destiny are delicate and highly intimate affairs.
You have access to parts of yourself that no-one else does. You have the capacity to know yourself better than anyone else ever could. Listen to your true voice - that warrior within. Follow your heart. Heed your own internal compass. Make these your most trusted and cherished guides.
Everyone has their own life to live. Live yours; let others live theirs. Believe in yourself and be true to who you are. Sooner or later the 'others' in your life will come around. Even if they don't, at least you're living the only life you can - yours truly.
Why wait for challenging times to build your motivation muscles strong? Why not introduce your days to ongoing opportunities to stretch and strengthen this ability of yours? Cultivating a mastery mindset gives your motivation a powerful framework to grow in. It's the very mindset of changing your life one day at a time. Taking a long-term view is how to keep yourself motivated through life's challenges and beyond.
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