A woman from the UK wrote:
I read what you had to say on enthusiasm with, dare I say it, enthusiasm.
My trouble seems to be that I cannot sustain that enthusiasm for any one thing for very long. I have bursts of passion, set my goals way too high, flounder and I'm back where I started in that grey limbo that so easily and so often turns to depression and resentment.
I know you will say that in a way I have answered my own question (it's not as though I don't think about it often enough as I watch my life pass me by — I'm 42) in that I set goals too high, but lesser goals afford me little or no passion at all.
I am (ungratefully) dragging through a lukewarm existence in search of that sustainable fire...
Adam Khan responded:
Thanks for writing to me. I had a similar problem for many years. The assumption I had made was that if my enthusiasm dropped, there was something wrong with the goal. What I finally realized is that enthusiasm and desire need to be deliberately maintained. There are two ways to go about it.
The first is to sit down with paper and pen when you feel your enthusiasm wane, and argue with your own thoughts. Doubts and fears and pessimistic assumptions can, without you even knowing what happened, completely kill your enthusiasm. Now if it turns out that your doubts are legitimate, fine. Maybe your enthusiasm SHOULD die. But almost always — like 99 percent of the time — when you put your thoughts on paper and take an objective look, you will find you made faulty assumptions. And these assumptions have occurred in the background of your mind up until now.
Put it down on paper, find yourself a different colored pen, and now argue with each assumption. Come up with all the arguments against them you can think of. Read your little dialog every morning until you can feel the power of those assumptions has been killed.
The other part is to keep your desire burning hot. Here's what happens: You think of a goal. You can think of many good reasons why it would be great to accomplish that goal. You take action. You get busy working on the goal. You plan your time, you break it down into tasks, you're busy with the tasks, you run into some problems maybe, and maybe not. But the point is, you get kind of lost in the task, and in the details, and in your to-do lists and you do the one thing which you must never do: YOU FORGET WHY YOU WANTED THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE. You're not thinking about that any more. That is a big mistake.
Even though you have thought before about why you want to accomplish your goal, you will help keep your enthusiasm high by thinking often of what you want and WHY you want it. Keep a list of the reasons why this goal is a great goal to accomplish. Keep adding more reasons as you think of them.
As mundane as it seems, these two ways work very powerfully to keep your enthusiasm from fading. I heard Zig Ziglar say something once that has stuck with me: The reason motivation fades is that the world is full of demotivators. The nay-saying of friends, the problems that come up, the constant distractions, the temptations to go off track, etc. But the worst demotivators of all are what we do in our own heads. Those two methods will help you make your thoughts work FOR you rather than against you.
Good luck to you and feel free to write to me any time.
This article was excerpted from the book, Principles For Personal Growth by Adam Khan. Buy it now here.
Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.