All of us have an innate drive to succeed. Yet everywhere we look it seems like others are sliding into success. Their launch seems effortless. Gravity is holding us down. We don’t have the power for a successful liftoff. We are stuck on the Launchpad.
In the aerospace world this is known as “escape velocity.” That is the speed an object needs to be traveling in order to break free of Earth’s gravitational pull. The craft needs to be traveling at 7 miles per second, or 25,000 miles per hour to leave without falling back to the Earth’s surface.
The same principle is true in our personal lives. When you want to change – to escape monotonous and worn out habit patterns — you need escape velocity. But there is a pull holding us back. The pull could be your past history, the friends you have, your comfort zones, your current job, or commitments that are no longer compelling. All of these forces, and more, can combine to keep you in your current position. And escaping them takes effort.
There is no secret that makes the process easy. But there are some things that will make it easier.
Here are 5 steps to help you reach escape velocity.
1. Understand how motivation works. Motivation can be broken down into 2 basic desires:
- moving towards things that are desirable, and
- moving away from things that are less desirable.
I have a friend that has an opportunity to step into a new business. She is excited about that and feels like “moving forward.” Yet to do so means she would have to leave a great paying job, creating feelings of “moving away.” The moving away signals are natural. As you eliminate the conflicts that compel you to move away from any threat, then you experience the feeling of motivation to move toward what you want. That’s why it’s important to know what we want. Which leads to…
2. Rekindle your passion. It’s easy to fall into the trap of blindly following a path that someone else has scripted. You were created to passionately pursue the work you do. This doesn’t eliminate challenges on your journey. My point is that life should not be boring nor should your work be meaningless. We were all created to be artists. That’s where excitement for your life and work will be generated.
“We are works of art, and artists at work.”
The passion you invest in your artistry – your work – will determine the fulfillment you receive.
- What did you do today that inspired you?
- What have you read lately that sparked you?
- Who is doing those things you admire?
3. Focus on specific action steps. If the steps aren’t clear you won’t generate the power to move forward. Abstract goals will not engage your brain’s motivational system. Good goals help you visualize what you want and create excitement about reaching them.
“Setting a vague goal is like walking into a restaurant and saying, ‘I’m hungry. I want some food.’ You’ll stay hungry until you order something.”
Fuzzy goals that are vague make it difficult for your incredible mind and imagination to find ways to get you what you want.
4. Look back to look forward. This helps you begin with the end in mind. There are numerous studies on regret. When people in their 70’s and 80’s look back on their life, the regrets are not weighted heavily on their mistakes or failed ventures. The predominance of regret is over the things they didn’t do. So, using your imagination, travel forward in time, and from there, look back. Spend some time thinking about what you might regret. Some things might be specific and other things will come to light that you could pursue as you move forward. Does it involve travel? A career change? Some important relationships? Looking back will help you to look forward.
5. Check in with yourself regularly. It’s a snare to simply focus on everybody else – the barrage of images and grand announcements of other people’s advances – and stay stuck. You can feel like everyone else is making progress but you are treading water. There’s mud squishing between your toes making it hard for you to move. Taking time to tune in gets you in touch with your soul. It interrupts the crazy cycle of running in circles. Ask…
- What energizes me?
- When am I the happiest?
- What do I appreciate most about myself?
- Am I doing all I can do to move forward?
Life happens when you are moving. It takes both determination and action to escape the gravitational pull of old habits and thought patterns. These 5 steps are not always immediate and easy. They include courage and discipline, combined with hard work. They help turn fantasies of achievement into reality.