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Ten Weapons for Taking Action

Following are ten effective techniques that will help you and your team take action to overcome the roadblocks to success If necessary, their affectiveness can be increased by using them in combination.

You may find the techniques that focus on avoiding pain to have the most dramatic effects on your immediate behaviour, but be careful not to use them exclusively. Healthy, permanent changes in your behaviour require a measure of positive, moving toward pleasure and reinforcement as well. Think about what it is that motivates you. Are you more motivated to accomplish a task by the thought of a reward (e.g., a favourite dessert or time with a friend) or by the thought of having avoided a negative consequence (e.g., others think poorly of you or won’t get to take a holiday.) Knowing your personality type will help you decide which of these ten weapons will be the most effective for you.

The Deadline

Pain avoidance and pleasure seeking. When the power of the particular roadblock you are facing isn’t too great, then this is often an easy solution. Just give yourself a deadline for action. Make it an exact deadline and don’t allow yourself to go over it, not even by one second. Some of us will be motivated by the satisfaction of meeting a deadline, and some of us will be motivated by a desire to avoid the mental pain of missing one. It may sound overly simplistic, but sometimes this little internal push is all you need.

The Worst Case Scenario

Pain avoidance and pleasure seeking. What is the worst thing that can happen if you confront your roadblocks? Can you live with it? Often you’ll find out that your worst case scenario is not too bad and that your obstacles have been exaggerated. This new, more realistic perspective can often reduce your roadblocks to a manageable level.

Long Term, Positive Reinforcement

Pleasure seeking. Imagine and mentally enjoy the achievements you will accomplish, once you push through your limiting roadblocks. If you are the type of person that is more motivated by pursuing pleasure, the inspiration of achieving your goals will motivate you into action.

Immediate, Positive Reinforcement

Pain seeking. Offer yourself a small reward for overcoming your roadblocks. A walk in the park, an extended lunch break, a small gift anything that will make you feel good. Just make sure that you don’t give it to yourself until you complete your task. Once again, if you are a pleasure seeker, this could be very motivating for you.

apathyJust remember these two simple rules:

1. You’re in charge of your own life.
2. You’re the right person for the job.

Long-Term Negative Reinforcement

Pain avoidance. Imagine your life as it will be if you never overcome your roadblocks; if you allow excuses, procrastination, pride, fear or apathy to stop you every time they get in the way. If you are more motivated by pain avoidance, this will paint a more unpleasant picture than your immediate concerns, and you will be motivated into action.

Immediate Negative Reinforcement

Pain avoidance. Give yourself a more unpleasant alternative to not confronting your roadblocks, e.g., “If I don’t meet with Joe by 1:00 p.m. today, I’ll have to work through the whole weekend and I’ll still have to meet with him on Monday.” Keep in mind that this will only work if you are fully prepared to follow through. If you don’t meet with Joe then you had better work through the weekend. If you decide to give yourself a break, there's was no point making the deal with yourself in the first place. You can’t fool yourself, so don’t even try.

Involving Others

Pain avoidance. You can increase the pressure you put on yourself to confront your fear by involving others. Tell your plans to people who will hold you accountable for your actions.

Put it in Writing

Pain avoidance. When you put something in writing, it feels more like a commitment. To increase the power of this weapon, you can give it to someone to hold on to. Make sure that you date it and sign it.

Eliminating Negative Self-Talk

Pain avoidance. “Negative self-talk” is the internal dialogue that goes on inside your head, telling you that you can’t do something and showing you pictures of your imminent failure. In order to help yourself to eliminate negative self-talk, it’s important to understand that your mind can only think in “positive” terms.

Combined Approach

You can add more power to the situation by combining two or more of these together. Don’t limit yourself to trying these methods one at a time. No one knows you like you do. You are the best judge of what will work best for you.

"As a coach, I have often used the following illustration when explaining this to my athletes. First I tell them, “I don’t want you to think about pink elephants for the next 20 seconds. Whatever you do, do not think about pink elephants.” Then, when the 20 seconds are up, I ask them what they were thinking about. What’s their answer? It’s always the same. “Pink elephants.” Why? Because the mind can’t focus on a negative, it can only focus on a positive. The results would have been exactly the same if I had told them to think about pink elephants for 20 seconds. The only way to eliminate the thought of the pink elephants would have been to replace it with another thought. For example, green elephants. So, the way to eliminate negative self-talk is to replace it with positive self-talk. Tell yourself that you can do it. Fill your mind with your strategies and your plans. Focus your mind on your task, and you will take your mind off of your fears."

-Mark Wardell

Take a few moments to think about what really motivates you. Are you more motivated by the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain? With that in mind, write down which of these ten weapons you believe will be most effective for you. Now think of something in your life, personal or business, that you have been postponing and write down a plan using one or more of these motivators to attack it.