How to Motivate Yourself in 2020 (Without Making it Awful)


We are all beginning a new decade and that’s both daunting and fun to think about. It’s daunting in that if you ever asked me what I wanted to accomplish prior to a previous decade I would have been grossly off-base (for example, world domination in Street Fighter arcade games for the 1990’s).

But there is something fun about thinking ahead this time of year and decade. Studies in fact show that before a major age achievement (say like me turning 40 this coming summer) that we are more likely to attempt and achieve success. For example, one study shows that there is a significant spike in those who ran marathons and even the speed in which they ran them for those with an age ending in 9 (29 or 39 for example).[1] The lesson here is not to take this time crescendo lightly but instead to use it to your advantage.

Here are a few ways that you can motivate yourself to begin the 2020’s and maximize on this important new phase of your life:

1) Make it Easy

92-percent of those who make a New Year’s resolution will fail. Sorry to be that guy to share this but if you set one for 2020 you have about the same odds as finishing BUDS training and becoming a Navy Seal (good luck if that’s your resolution!). Why do we so often enter the new year with a roaring start and end with a whimper more than nine times out of ten? Maybe because we make it way too hard to fulfill.

In Jon Acuff’s latest book, “Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done” he describes a study done on his reader base that completed his “30 Days of Hustle” Challenge. Going into the challenge Jon admits that he focused more on getting started; how to get off the couch and hit the treadmill if you will. But when a local PHD student offered to study more than 850 of his participants the findings were telling. While those who completed the course had a 27 percent greater chance of success, it still showed a weak batting average for reaching one’s goals.

So what was the best way to increase your odds of success? Cutting your goal in half. In doing so participants increased their performance by over 63-percent.

Maybe that seems like wimping out. What would your Instagram followers think if you posted that you would run a half-marathon in 2020 and only ran a 10k? What would they think if you set out to lose twenty pounds and only lost ten? Not that it matters but odds are they would still be pretty impressed!

In 2020, cut your goals in half or make them easier to finish rather than quit. I’ll take a 63% completion rate over 8% all day.

2) Make it Fun

This is one I need to work on. I like to go the Angela Duckworth “Grit” route, or at least tell myself that in my head. It’s all about the hustle, the grind, the arduous climb! Unless it isn’t. Who says you have to wake up at 5am and run on a hamster wheel if you love being around people or nature instead? If you are force feeding yourself plain raw vegetables because the extra calories from hummus are cheating then you’re missing the point (especially if you crash-and-burn into a bag of cool ranch Doritos later that night).

I love coaching my kid’s sports teams. Not only is it a way to connect with them several times per week but they also still want me around (clock is ticking on this I’m sure). But I have to admit something... I dread coaching baseball. I enjoy watching the sport but know little about coaching it and peaked in my role at setting a ball on a tee.

Whereas I could eat, sleep, breathe, shower and dance in the rain all-things-football every day and night, when it came to baseball I prayed for rain daily. Like hale storm, Wicked Witch style rain.

So this year I decided to double down on football. It brought me joy and my kids still seemed to not hate me being around them I’m happy to say. Where do you need to cut something out that you can’t stand and instead double down on fun?

Whatever your goal is, find the joy in it. And if you can’t, find a new goal!

3) Find Your Just Cause

So you’ve made it easier and you’ve found the joy in some parts of your life but you’re still not jumping out of bed to attack your goal. You’ve scheduled out a perfect plan. Hired a coach to improve your odds. But still something just isn’t clicking.

Maybe you haven’t put enough thought into your “why”. Your why is a purpose that goes beyond yourself. My why is helping those around me know they are loved by God and to help them use their lives to better those around them.

Author Simon Sinek in his recent book “The Infinite Game” takes it one step further and explains that we all should seek to find a “Just Cause”; he says:

“A Just Cause is about the future. It defines where we are going. It describes the world we hope to live in and will commit to help build.”[2]

Some of you may be thinking, “well my goal of losing three belt sizes doesn’t necessarily seem like it will change the world, so...”. I get it. Maybe you don’t need to blast “Man in the Mirror” and power clap to it in the morning to achieve your goal. But if you do find a Just Cause I promise you it will help more than a before-and-after-photo of you in your comfort jeans.

What if you saw health as a way to increasingly love your family; better health = more energy = more joyful times with your spouse and kids for example. What if instead of working for a paycheck you saw your income as an opportunity to give back and help your community?

Search for the Just Cause in your goal, without one you may stall out. With one you’ll perpetually reenergize and go further.

I hope you’ll use the three methods described above to enrich your year and decade. Make it easier, make it fun and find the Just Cause. The world needs you this decade and I pray you will find joy, peace and success in all your endeavors.

[1] https://www.pnas.org/content/111/48/17066

[2] The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, page 33

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© 2017 by Brian Catanella. 

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