It’s one thing to get to the top, it’s quite another to maintain it. Think of the energy it take to get to the top in the first place. It’s not a simple matter of once you get there, you now get to spend less energy to maintain that level of excellence. It still requires a tremendous amount of energy to stay there.
Anyone who has ever come off of preparing for a major event can attest to how tired they were after the event.
Yet some people manage it. They certainly aren’t perfect all the times and have their ups and downs, yet they seem to be consistently operating on a higher level than everyone else.
How do they do it? Triggers.
They are very clear about their long term vision. This is a powerful trigger, picturing what you want…the end goal. Although they certainly can and do focus in the short term, they are always aware of how their decisions and actions affect their long-term goals. They act in accordance to their priorities. Everything they do is triggered from this vision.
By the way, the leaders who truly leave a legacy form their priorities with a higher level of intention than simply selfish gain. They take into account how their actions will affect others in the long term.
Let’s face it. There are days we are tired. There are days we don’t want to do what needs to be done. There are days we want to give in. But do you?
You can try keeping your eyes on the prize and thinking of the end result or how good you will feel when you get it done. And that does work. You can set up a reward system for yourself.
Motivation is a key element of being successful, but even more important are the habits you set up to trigger your behaviour on the days your motivation is failing you.
A system of triggers
I find the best thing to do is to set up a system of triggers to create habits. You so don’t have to think. So you don’t make over analyze or make excuses. You just start.
If I want to play my guitar more, I can picture myself playing my guitar all I want, but if my guitar is in it’s case under my bed, it’s far less likely that I’m going to pull it out and play it. If it is sitting out on a guitar stand where I walk past it all the time with a song I want to learn right beside it, I’m much more likely to sit down and play. If I want to eat better, I buy healthy snacks instead of chips so they aren’t in the house. If I buy the junk food and the healthy food, the junk food is more of a trigger for me, so a bad one to have around.
There are lots of other triggers like time of day, location, and triggers that help you overcome inertia. I’ll cover those in a future article.
Accountability and coaching
Another good idea is to get a coach with your system. That’s why people like using personal trainers for fitness.
I really dislike bookkeeping (since we are talking about accountability, pardon the pun). So I hired a bookkeeper and together we set up a relatively painless system, using simple computer apps (I am hopeless with paper) like Dropbox and my camera phone, and her on a schedule of nudging when necessary, and all of a sudden I’m a whiz, and there’s a lot less time and stress involved.
My bookkeeper keeps me on track (accountability triggers), I’ve got a resource when I’m stuck (coaching triggers), I don’t mind using computer apps (simple triggers-for me anyway), and it frees up time to spend high-quality time on what’s important to me (reward triggers).
If you are having trouble, create accountability or find a coach. If you’d like me to help, I’m about to open the Winner’s Circle. You can get notified by signing up here at The Winner’s Circle.
Productivity is like skipping rope
At the beginning of this I talked about the tremendous amount of energy required to maintain excellence. Well, it’s true, but not in the way you think. You don’t always have to bust your gut trying to stay at one level of excellence.
If you’ve ever used skipping rope as a way of exercising, you may have noticed that the better at it you got, the harder it was to get your heart rate up. You had to add more skills to challenge your system. Yes, you were getting more fit, but you were also getting more efficient at the original skill!
Maintaining excellence is kind of the same thing. It may feel like a lot of effort at first, but if you pay attention, you will start to see ways to become more efficient, which will make some tasks more effortless, trigger others more easily, and free up energy for you to do more of what’s important to your vision. You’ll work at a higher level of excellence while expending less energy than before.
What can you change today?
What small thing can you change today to make it easier for you to do the task that moves you toward your goal? Want to train your dog more? Set a few jumps closer to the house. Want to get more fit? Sign up with a friend for an easy charity walk/run. Wasting time on Facebook? Set a timer for 10 minutes max, then you must step away for two hours minimum. If you are at a big event, what can you change to preserve your energy? Step away, read a book, visit with positive friends, or maybe visit less.
There’s no excellence in exhaustion
If you try to maintain your high level of performance by using methods that are clunky and exhausting, you will plateau and burn-out eventually.
Just like anything, when you’ve done something once, it doesn’t seem so hard anymore. Strive to find the inefficiencies in your system and then develop triggers to create action so you not only maintain excellence, your vision can expand to greater and greater things.
What do you do to help you stay motivated or get through tougher days?
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