Everyone has failed to reach a goal at some time in their life. We give up. We let it slide. We quit. It’s human nature. Sometimes, we don’t care when we fail. We know our heart wasn’t really in it. However, when it’s a goal we believe we really want to achieve, that’s a different story. We get frustrated and look for ways to not quit the next time. For example, if we fail to find career satisfaction, we might subscribe to a daily advice blog, read self-help books, take a class, or consult with an expert – all with the hopes of seeking enlightenment on how we can make reaching our goal easier.
Studying the way to minimize failure isn’t enough.
While closing our gap in knowledge can help us remove roadblocks to success, it’s still not enough. Even the most informed people give up on their goals. Knowledge might be power, but it doesn’t guarantee success.
There’s a secret to not quitting…
This is a true story.
There was a young boy who had trouble breathing. His mother took him to the doctor, who after examination, looked and the boy’s mother and said, “Teach him to play chess. He’ll never run and play outside like other boys.” The doctor diagnosed the boy with acute asthma. The boy and his mother left the doctor’s office. In the parking lot, the mother grabbed her son by the arms and said, “Don’t you ever let someone tell you you can’t do something.” She encouraged the boy to run and play. Slowly, he got stronger.
That boy is now grown man named Alden Mills (you can check him out here on LinkedIn) – and he is one athletic guy. Not only is he a champion rower, he’s also a former Navy SEAL who lead two tours of duty. Better still, after the military, he launched what is now a million dollar fitness company. Alden Mills knows a thing or two about not quitting. His book, “Be UNSTOPPABLE,” is a short yet powerful story that shares the secrets to not giving up. I was so inspired by his book, I tracked him down for an interview. I want to share with you the biggest Ah-ha Moment I had from our conversation.
I asked Alden, “Why do you think so many people give up?” He responded with:
When a person quits, it’s usually because their ‘why’ – the reason for going after the goal isn’t strong enough to keep them going as their ‘will’ starts to waiver.
Quitters share a common trait – a weak ‘why’ is the culprit.
As I pondered Alden’s answer, I reflected on my own life. Thinking back on all the goals I didn’t achieve. I realized he was right. My reasons for achieving the goal weren’t strong enough to push me to stick it out when things got challenging. It was easier to make excuses then to find solutions. At the same time, when I thought about my greatest accomplishments, I realized the reasons had been insanely strong. So much so, they made not succeeding an unthinkable option. Which leads to a technique Alden teaches to help you strengthen your ‘why’ for your goals.
“What if I don’t?” – can be your best motivator.
Alden suggests grabbing a piece of paper. Put your goal at the top. Then, make two columns beneath it. On the left side, list all the reasons you want to achieve the goal. On the right side, list all the bad things that will happen if you don’t achieve the goal. Then, sit back and look at the two columns. Which one has more in it? Which one has the most compelling reasons for you to achieve your goal. Alden shared with me, “In my experience, if you have a strong list of reasons why you don’t want to fail at this goal, the chances are you’ll be more committed to succeeding.” Makes total sense. Without consequences for not achieving your goal, it can be much harder to motivate yourself. You’ll need some incredibly desirable reasons to reach the goal. Positive or negative, we all need a fire lit to fuel our motivation.
Now, let’s put Alden’s technique to the test!
For all you readers out there, in the comments below, I invite you to share a time when you actually reached an important goal. Tell us, “What was your ‘why’ and do you feel it played a key role in you being able to achieve the goal?” I want to see how many others have found the thought of not achieving the goal was their key motivator. Or, perhaps the reasons were so positive, you were inspired to succeed. Whatever the case, I want to hear how you did it!
Let’s talk honestly about how to create a stronger ‘why’ so we can help each other reach those goals.
If you want to read more of what I’ve written, check out my articles on Inc.com.