Motivation is the ability to act to achieve your goal.
Successful people have the ability to motivate themselves, but why can they motivate themselves in one area of their life, but can’t motivate themselves in other areas?
Is there a secret set of rules for motivation?
I was recently working with a client who was highly motivated and successful in his career; he would happily sell himself during a job interview, he was motivated to meet deadlines and enthused to make everything he did count, but unmotivated when it came to his health. He wouldn’t exercise, diet or drink enough water, even though his goal was to lose weight!!
What is the secret to motivation? How do you motivate yourself to take action, to be more successful and to keep going when the going gets tough?
These 3 rules for motivation will change the way you approach task and goals, creating instant motivation that will kill Mr. Procrastination and bring alive Mr. Action:
Rule #1: Win the fight – Mr. Procrastination vs Mr. Action
We live each day with 2 invisible buddies, Mr. Procrastination and Mr. Action. These twin brothers have the power to motivate or demotivate you, but with great power comes great reasonability. The only weakness Mr. Procrastination and Mr. Action both possess is that only one can be in the room at the same time. The room of course is in your head! In the fight to get into the brain-room, how is the winner chosen? The winner is chosen by what you focus on
“I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become”. – Oprah Winfrey
In work, my client would focus on the challenge of the task, the enjoyment of the outcome of his project, the ability to use his skills and knowledge to make a difference to the business. He would also focus on building his career reputation as a professional problem solver
Rarely did he think about potential mistakes, getting it wrong or what others may say about his work. This is Mr. Action at his best – think positive and create action
When thinking about dieting the clients focus changed. Instead of thinking about the challenge of dieting, the enjoyment of the outcome of his new health regime, his health, fitness and longer life, he would instead think about the negatives.
Mr Procrastination relishes the negative thoughts. My client couldn’t take action as his focus was on the pain of dieting; being hungry, not enjoying soggy old lettuce and the bland boring taste from a cold weltering salad dish.
Rule 1: Change Your Focus To Win The Motivational Fight
Rule #2: Make Mr. procrastination work for you
Mr. Procrastination isn’t evil. He is a superhero or protector, keeping you away from danger. He can predict future problems, potential pain and hard work. This foresight stops you taking action on something that you wouldn’t, in the short term, enjoy. Procrastinations kryptonite is his attention to detail. Once focused, Mr. Procrastination can’t let go. One problem leads to another. Pain equals more pain. Once caught in Procrastinations trap, it’s hard to escape.
“Vision without action is daydream. Action without vision is nightmare”. – Japanese Proverb
All superheroes carry out their duties for the better good. Whisper in Procrastinations ear and he will work for you. When you want to diet, focus on what problems you will have if you don’t diet and allow Mr. Procrastination to get carried away with himself; bad diet = bad health, bad health= clogged arteries, clogged arteries = heart attack…
Rule 2: Focus on The Pain of Not Taking Action To take Action
Rule #3: Mr. Action always chases the carrot
Procrastination gets your engines running. We are highly motivated to get away from pain. Imagine this scenario; You have recently been diagnosed with a curable illness, you simply need to choose which medication to take. The doctor explains that medicine one has a 65% success rate with few side effects and medicine two has a 35% failure rate with few side effects. Which would you choose?
Most people would choose medicine one with a 65% success rate, even though the odds for both of the medicines success rate are the same, because we are more motivated to move away from pain.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. – Mahatma Gandhi
Pleasure is also motivational – the donkey will chase the carrot. Mr. action thrives when chasing his carrot, creating lots of motivation for you to take action.
Mr. action will motivate you by getting you to focus on the outcome(s) of taking action. My Clients Mr. Action told him “When you eat salad and exercise you will feel good about yourself; your own self worth will increase, you will perceive that others will find you more attractive and research shows that attractiveness plays on unconscious part in the success of a job interview outcome, which can only help your career…”
Rule 3: The More Pleasure You Associate to Your Goal The More Mr. action Will Kick In
My client already had a strategy for success. He simply needed to use his career success formula – focusing on the pleasure of completing task and the pain of not taking action, with dieting by focusing on the positives of exercise and good food (becoming more healthy, living longer) and the pain of eating takeaways (being unhealthy and dying at an early age).
When you feel stuck, change your focus and follow the 3 rules for motivation. Think of the pain of not completing the steps towards your goal and pleasure of achieving your outcomes and let Mr. Procrastination and Mr. Action work for you, rather than against you.
Thank you for reading my article! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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