“It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.” – Zig Ziglar
You have hardwired your mission into your heart and mind. You have set your goals, learned from your research on how your peers and mentors have succeeded in reaching similar heights; visualized yourself achieving it, and possibly drafted up a vision board and photoshopped yourself succeeding in each scenario. A brilliant strategy has been devised, the significant roles have been filled with people of great character, talent and skill; and you have already begun executing the actionable steps towards achieving your goal.
So how do we keep riding this momentum with the possibility that negative situations might have us scattered and imbalanced, unexpected upsets may come like a hydra invested in taking our operation down, or the temptation to give up creeps into our consciousness when we reach that half-way point?
Below are three things seasoned goal-getters do to assist them on this journey:
Create A Commitment Device
In The Odyssey, Oddyseus had his crew tie him to the mast of the ship so that he wouldn’t be tempted by the songs of the sirens and taken off-course on their mission. Chinese military general, Han Xin, positioned his soldiers with their backs to a river so that the better alternative was to stand their ground and fight lest they fall in the harsh river to a wet demise.
A commitment device is something that one uses to make deviating from a commitment have an additional undesirable result. It’s like a contract with yourself to work against yourself if you choose to break a commitment.
In the Freakonomics podcast, Save Me From Myself they gave examples of people creating large obstacles to their temptations: One man who wanted to stop his excessive gambling and believing he lacked the will power, voluntarily put himself on a list that banned him from all casinos that would result in his arrest if he were to enter one. Another man wanted to live a healthier lifestyle so he created a commitment device that involved his despise of Oprah Winfrey. He would send a $750 check to Oprah if he ate fast food, drank a beer or watched TMZ.
If you would like to listen to the entire podcast, feel free to play it here:
Speaking of Oprah Winfrey, she created a commitment device in the form of a contract for a boot camp team that was comprised of herself and her staffers. They were on a strict exercise regimen and diet that had rules such as: “zero food for three hours before bed-not even a grape or a seed.” After they agreed to the terms and signed, she expressed that if they faltered, they were “out”.
To draw more inspiration on different devices, Freakonomics listeners responded with their own here.
If you are up for the challenge, get creative and make one that works for you. And I will trust that you will choose something legal, healthy and helpful.
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson
You are a rock star in setting yourself and everyone involved up for success. And yet you have reached a point of questioning yourself and your ability to succeed. Which is especially disconcerting when you know from experience that your perception can hinder or help you on your path.
For 27 years, Nelson Mandela (R.I.P) was imprisoned for his activism towards liberating South Africa from apartheid. From prison he stayed persistent on his mission. And though it is highly likely that aggressors tried their best to challenge him, he stood firmly on his belief of peace and equality by demonstrating it.
Learn from Nelson Mandela: His Journey
Elon Musk was a child whose brilliance was met with constant bullying in his primary years in South Africa. With grit and a supportive family, he stayed focused on his vision to one day live the American Dream and be an explorer on Mars. After making his first fortune during the tech boom in the late 90’s with PayPal, he had his share of great personal losses and dealings with unscrupulous business people, but as his first wife Justine had said, “He was very much in the mode of stiff-upper-lip, the-show-must-go-on, let’s-get-it-over-with”. Recent history has shown the ups and downs of his journey with his creations but somehow he comes back thriving. He remains atop the headlines when it comes to innovations such as SpaceX and Tesla that are helping our nation and the environment.
Observe Elon Musk: Triumph of His Will
In 2013, at age 64 Diana Nyad in her fifth attempt became the first person confirmed to swim from Cuba to Florida without the security of a shark cage. She swam 100 miles through the uncertainty that comes with dark waters, hallucinations from fatigue while being relentlessly stung by jellyfish.
Listen to Diana Nyad’s story:
All three of these successful people practiced perseverance. They gave the impression that the only real choice they had was to succeed. The thought of going back to the way it used to be was ridiculous. Nelson, Elon and Diana remind us that, with force of will and a full heart, we can achieve our goals and live our big dreams. Hateful people do their hateful things, our creations may take years to truly come to life and nature itself can threaten our mortal existence but ambitious people have developed a taste for trying and trying and trying again. Driven people know from experience that those upsets can be the wind that pushes their sails towards some of their greatest accomplishments.
Let us also remember that the will, grit and self-respect of these self-empowered people led them to recognize kindred spirits along the way that had goals intertwine with their own. They took part in a symbiotic support system in various forms. A guru is great but there is also some merit in a drinking buddy.
Keep Connected with Their Inner Sage
Make the time to center and recharge yourself as a weekly practice as well as when you are stressed and feel disconnected. If you are a city dweller go hiking, take a weekend trip to beautiful natural settings, visit an art museum or anything that takes your senses towards something different from your place of business. Select places that inspire, uplift and give you a more positive perspective. Places and situations that remind us that great things are built on strong foundations and take time to flourish. They help us identify the compatible components that can keep things thriving and evolving. We remember the value of developing patience. Nature demonstrates how everything is connected and gives us the platform to practice seeing from a much more expansive perspective.
If staying right where you are feels like the appropriate course of action, take a moment to sit in a quiet place to literally take a breath or meditate. Being relaxed frees us from being constrictive in general and allows for clarity that leads to constructive thinking and productive activity. I, myself experience the benefits of meditation and there is scientific evidence that meditation can help with attention, memory and emotional control as well as lower cholesterol, heart rate and blood pressure.
Successful entrepreneur and Def Jam founder Russell Simmons has been meditating for over 12 years. He credits meditation for contributing greatly to his strength, health and wisdom. It affected him so much that he brought his passion to the David Lynch Foundation, where he could help bring meditation to people in need.
Last, but not least, exercise. Exercise affects people on the mental, physical and spiritual levels. It is a means to release toxicity and build up strength. Activity, such as running, biking and yoga can boost our serotonin levels, which is known as the molecule of will power and associated with feelings of well-being. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and releases endorphins which is known to be the body’s natural antidepressant. And as Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage said in his TEDx Talk “Exercise tells your brain that behavior matters”. The spirituality of martial arts was wonderfully expressed by Bruce Lee. Personally, working out and pushing past a perceived limit each time, has always been more of a moving mediation for me.
Keeping connected with the inherent and growing wisdom that helped you achieve your past goals will help you get to your next. So keep in touch and nurture that relationship in a way that stimulates your mind, body and spirit. More importantly, throw some fun in there as well as experience it with people with whom you share mutual respect and love.
Here are some apps to add to your Inner Sage kit:
Everytrail: Hiking, sightseeing, walking and mountain biking trails near you. Easy to use, has reviews and images. Cost: freemium model
Scout.me: Navigates you to art galleries and museums near you as well as other places of interest, real-time local events, and gas stations with price comparisons. Option to easily connect and meet up with subscribing friends. Intuitive design, easy on the eyes on both the website and app version. They use open street mapping. Cost: freemium.
Google Maps | Explore Nearby feature: If you are an avid Google Maps user, take advantage of the Play option in the Explore Nearby feature that pops up when you click on the search field. This section shows options for local museums, gyms and parks. Scroll further down the cards to explore more categories. Remember that the map feature also gives you bicycling and public transits routes as well as walking navigation. There can be a lot of inspiration that can come from walking or taking public transportation. Cost: free (just tell us everything about you)
Meditation Apps: This Healthline blog lists out some of the most highly rated meditation apps for 2014. They based it on affordability, accessibility, format, functionality and relevance to meditation and its community’s needs. Cost: free and inexpensive investments.
Where ever you are in your life cycle as a goal-getter, I wish you luck in reinforcing your commitment to accomplishing your goal, moments of joy as you persevere through set-backs and shared success as you reach another milestone on your journey.
With much gratitude to our sources: Wikipedia | Commitment Device Freakonomics.com | Save Me From MyselfOprah.com| Meet the Boot Camp Team TEDTalks | Diana Nyad: Never, ever give up