Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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Continuing to improve is hard. Why?

Published: 26 Jul 2011

My statement I’m amazed at how many people seem to think they can improve in life by wishing. I’m amazed every time I see lottery pots. Not even the big ones, just thinking of $30 million. That’s a lot. That’s often the best attempt at improvement and that’s pretty sad. Improving is really hard, though.

First, it’s a challenge to just figure out how to improve. It’s very difficult to plan accordingly. It’s like New Years Resolutions. Good intentions but too much to do. You don’t move a mountain, you go a rock at a time. The problem I have is losing the motivation to keep picking up stones.

The best example is this site. Before I published I was writing daily. I enjoyed it and was having fun. Then I start publishing and my frequency went down to every other day (even less if you look at what gets published). I thought I’d want to write more after having my work up in public. Nope. I have to still exert the same level of energy into continuing it. When I slacked off, I stopped writing. As expected.

The best way to maintain momentum to set low expectations. Low expectations are easy to achieve. But they’re just the stones. They don’t give any happy tingly feelings. It’s just a stone that was over there and now it’s not. Hardly a cause for celebration.

If the best hope is to stop and reward yourself after a certain number of stones, you’re doomed. After every celebration the Good Enough bug creeps in. Motivation decreases. Also, the focus is on moving a certain number of stones and no longer moving a mountain.

Staying focused means you never lose sight of the goal. The rhythm must not be interrupted. Every day, the same thing. This makes me think of punishing yourself if you don’t meet goals. I don’t believe in this because I think every journey should be a happy one. If you can’t have fun doing it, give up and buy lottery tickets.

So many people attempt to build products, services, hold seminars or take up careers as personal coaches. They do this because everybody wants the same thing. They want to improve but struggle.

The struggle itself becomes more of an issue than the lacking motivation and decreased productivity. It’s a fixation.

Software and coaches can’t save you. They can’t even really help you. The fire must come from within.

You must surround yourself with people who are committed to your vision. Committed to your improvement and your goals. In life there are many people that want nothing more than to be followers. Be a great person and have great followers.

Those followers will keep you productive. They will be your confidants. They will be your fuel.