In life, I've found that real failure is failing to take action and then follow it through to the end. There are a myriad of reasons why people “fail.” The problem with trying to achieve success is that we don't always make the way easy on ourselves. We have ideas, find ourselves completely inspired and sometimes even do something about it. So why is it that there are more people out there with half-started or never-ventured-into projects than there are successes? While fear and uncertainty play a huge part in the situation, I've been pondering other elements that may also be contributing factors.
Purpose translates to passion…
As humans, we gravitate towards things that “feel” good. I think the point where we start to lose interest or traction comes when the project or idea starts to lose this “feel good” sensation. Reality may set it in, and you may realize that this is going to be harder than you thought it would be. I've found that the only thing that carries a person through these uninspired moments is passion and belief that what you are doing will make a difference. If a person is driven to create change, nothing can stop them.
So why is it that so many people's “passions” are still laying around unfinished? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact these weren't their real passions. It could be that the goal wasn't altruistic enough. It's also possible that they didn't have the support team they needed to keep them focused and motivated. Maybe there wasn't a clear plan of action to see them through to the finish line.
So the question remains – What does it take to keep a person motivated and on track towards success?
It's my personal belief that it's an amalgamation of three things. A person needs a strong passion and belief that what they are doing is going to make a difference. They also need a strong support team and a clear plan of action. Why do I believe this? Let me explain:
There was a study done by MIT on how money motivates us. Surprisingly it found that money as motivator, when coupled with cognitive tasks, was actually an impediment. As long as a person's basic financial needs are being taken care of, the three things that motivate people are autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Purpose translates to passion – creating something which will fill the needs of another person or group. When you believe in your project or idea, it gives you the fuel you need to push past barriers and obstacles. However, even with a wholehearted purpose, you can't do it alone.
Having a group of people who are your biggest fans plays a vital role in your success. This is your support team. These are the people who believe in you and your goal. They are the ones who will help cheer you along and help pick you up when you've had a bad day or are feeling uncertain about your next move. Even more important than having a support group, however, is making sure you're not surrounding yourself with naysayers.
Instead, you need to surround yourself with people who believe in you and what you're doing. I strongly believe that this is where a lot people fall off the wagon, especially in self-employed projects. At the very least, you need an accountability buddy who knows how to motivate you and keep you focused.
Clear Plan of Action
The third key to success is having a clear plan of action. As a person of passion and purpose, you should already know what your goal is. How you're going to get there, however, may be a different story. There are some people who forge ahead without a clue as to how they are going to reach their goal. They may eventually get there, but they are forgetting a basic principle: the shortest path between two points is a straight line. Any deviation from the straight line adds unnecessary time to reaching your goal.
This is where a clear plan of action comes in. Now, in some cases, you may not know all the specific actions you need to take to achieve a goal. Start with milestones or targets instead. For instance…
- “In two weeks, I plan to have my blog ready for posting.”
- “In the next month, I want to have 50 e-mail signups.”
Once your targets are clear, research and learn what it will take to reach those milestones. When you're done with your research, create your plans of action. Using your support team and passion as fuel, you'll be unstoppable. Success is inevitable.