A good friend of mine just told me that her professional life is golden, but her health is a mess. On the flip side, my health is golden, but my professional life is…well, let’s just say a work in progress. But, today, I just had a pretty big AHA moment. They say this happens in a state called “flow,” which is a phrase used in the book Rise of Superman. Here’s how author Steven Kotler describes it:
“Attention is most engaged in the now when there’s a specific relationship between the difficulty of a task and our ability to perform it. If the challenge is too great, fear swamps the system. If the challenge is too easy, we stop paying attention. Flow appears near the emotional midpoint between boredom and anxiety, in what scientists call the flow channel-the spot where the task is hard enough to make us stretch but not hard enough to make us snap…If you want to trigger flow the challenge should be 4 percent greater than your skills”.
In a flow state, we’re consumed in the moment. Some call it being “in the zone.” It’s where you’re at your peak state—physically energized, mentally empowered, and soulfully inspired.
So here’s my breakthrough idea: What if we can tap into the SAME resources and motivation skills that we use to achieve success in one area of our life and apply it to another area where we feel we’re lacking?
Let me give you an example.
I’m highly motivated to work out every day. I’m so committed that I will do anything—even wake up before an early morning flight, sometimes at 4 a.m., to get in a workout or a yoga practice. Crazy maybe. But, still, committed don’t you think?
And then there’s the stuff that I procrastinate doing. Finishing a writing project, helping my daughter with her homework, having that difficult conversation, completing my new work project…the list is endless. Isn’t yours?
But wait—is it possible for us to apply our highly motivated work ethic to the things we want to do but procrastinate?
I think so! Keep reading to find out my top 5 practical ways:
1. Get Passionate:
Simon Sinek has a great program on his website called “Start With Why.” It helps you find your purpose. It’s applicable to any area of life, but especially when you’re looking for motivation to get you (or keep you) on a path. What’s your deepest reason why?
I like to use the “and then what” question to get to the source of my deepest desires. For example, if you want to lose weight then ask yourself: “What will losing weight accomplish?” Then you will fit into a smaller clothing size. And then what? Then you will look and feel better. And then what? When you look and feel better, you’ll be more confident. And then what? When you’re more confident, you’ll ask more clearly for what you want in life. And then what? You will find pleasure, happiness, fulfillment, and love. How does that sound for a compelling reason? If I lose weight then I will find more happiness and love in my life.
2. Create a Consequence:
For me, working out is so habitual that I don’t even think about it anymore—I just do it. But when I was just starting my path toward a regular workout regimen, I created consequences. I would pre-pay for a spin or a barre class and if I bailed then I would lose the money. So I had to go! Think about something that you wish you could do better and make it hard for yourself not to follow through. Consider the worst case scenario—what will happen if I don’t finish this work project? Well, my business could fail. Since I love what I do, I’ll be sad and unhappy if my business fails!
3. Schedule It In:
Habits and daily practices are what build our lives. Make your calendar your best friend and schedule in the things you’re pushing off. Then, make sure you get them done. If you’re learning to play guitar and know that you should practice every single day then add guitar practice to a set slot daily and follow through.
4. Set Realistic Tangible Goals:
Sometimes we get over-excited about starting something new that we go all in and then burn out. You know those New Year resolutions that statistically last about 9.5 days? Set real tangible goals that you can accomplish given everything else you have going on in life. If you’re trying to cut back on sugar try: “This week, I’ll skip my usual nightly dessert.” Don’t try to have the mindset: “I will eliminate sugar completely from my diet and never touch it again.”
5. Stay Flexible:
Balance your commitment and your disciplined scheduling and hard work with a dose of flexibility to make sure that you can stick to what you commit to for the long run. Do I skip a workout? Of course I do. Some days I’m just not feeling energetic or my legs are tired so I give myself a break. You’ve gotta balance the hard committed work with a sense of ease in order to be accomplished but sane and fulfilled.