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5 Kick Ass Lessons You Can Learn From Cool Runnings

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Cool Runnings Success Lessons

Cool Runnings is an inspirational movie that has many lessons we can use to be successful. It can easily be passed off as a simple Disney kids movie but there is so much more it has to offer. I watched the movie again recently to remind me how important sport can be in teaching us to be determined and never give up on our goals.

I’ve recently hit a bit of a slump after achieving so much in recent months. This is expected when you push through so many barriers and then don’t take the time to look at how far you’ve come. Taking time out to be grateful and inspire yourself with movies like Cool Runnings is so important.

Here are the 5 lessons you can learn from the movie Cool Runnings:

 

1. The underdog can win

At its core, Cool Runnings is a movie about the underdog. You can have all the money and resources in the world like the Swiss bobsled team in the movie, and still not be able to win. The movie shows us that the way you think and your mindset outweighs everything else.

When you think being the underdog is going to make you lose, you will – badly. If you believe that anything is possible and you deserve success, then you will be closer to where you want to get to.

Underdog Cool RunningsThe Jamaicans had every reason to think they were inferior with their beaten up bobsled yet they believed in their dream. They knew they were pursuing their Olympic dream for a reason and they weren’t going to let anyone tell them they couldn’t win a gold medal.

The guys visualised their dream every day and even though they didn’t know exactly how they would get there, they believed the underdog could win. In your life, do you believe you can achieve your dream even though it might seem so far away?

By adopting the underdog way of thinking from Cool Runnings, you can reframe situations where you are in last place, to situations of belief and knowing that your disadvantages are sometimes your greatest advantages.

 

2. Being different is important

The Cool Runnings movie spent a lot of time emphasizing how the Jamaicans were so different from everyone else. They were not used to cold conditions, they had a broken down bobsled, they had very little money, they dressed differently, and they were amateurs at the sport.

By being so different, they stood out more and this is what got people behind their mission. If they were like everyone else, they might never have found their voice and their true identity. Pretending to be what society wants you to be is a guaranteed way to fail.

The more you embrace your culture and the quirkiness of your true self, the more you can stop living a lie and being a Hollywood actor at life. You can’t act your way to success because eventually, you’ll realise you’re incongruent and then your inner world will come crashing down.

Be like the Jamaican bobsled team and just be happy with who you are. Embrace who you are!

 

3. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do

The character Junior in Cool Runnings comes from a very wealthy family. His dad tries to stop him from his dream and tells him that he knows best. As the movie progresses, Junior realises that what his dad told him is false.

The only person that knows what’s best for him is himself. This vital lesson shows us that you can’t let outside forces and other people shape your life.

If you’re working some job because you think it’s what everyone else wants you to do and because it gives you a certain amount of comfort money, then at some stage, your life will come crashing down. Your dream is uniquely your own and your family and friends may think it’s nuts.

It’s typically in these circumstances that you know you’re on the right path. The only person that can truly understand you is yourself. By trying to impress everyone else and playing the part others want you to play, you miss out on the activities that truly make you feel fulfilled.

Don’t be fooled; only you can tell yourself what to do and what feels right. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t have your dream because you can. It all starts with you.

 

4. You’re enough already

John Candy’s character “Irv” in Cool Runnings is depicted as an Olympic cheat. In a previous Olympics, he is found to have put extra weights into the bobsled to make it go faster. Irv tells Derice in the movie that he cheated because he made winning his whole life.Usain Bolt Success And Gold Medal

He explains that when you make winning your whole life you have to keep on winning no matter what. Even though Irv had won two gold medals, he says he learned that you have to be enough before a triumph like winning a gold medal; otherwise you will never be enough after winning a gold medal.

Think of an Olympic gold medal like your dream. If you dream of becoming influential and being known globally as someone who is the best in their field, you have to be happy with who you are and being enough before you have all the success.

Having enormous success can create even more problems if you haven’t got control of who you are beforehand. No matter what, right now, you are already enough. Chase your dream because of what it can do to inspire others and what it can do for others. Don’t chase your dream so that you can become enough.

 

5. Everyone deserves a second chance

Vishen Lakhiani says in his book “The Extraordinary Mind” that forgiveness has such an important part in our inner mind and it can help to increase our alpha brainwaves. In Cool Runnings, we see the character Irv plead for forgiveness and get given a second chance.

The reality is this: everyone will make a massive mistake at some point in their life. In fact, this will probably happen multiple times in someone’s lifetime. We have to learn to let go of the past and be able to give someone a second chance.

No one is perfect and we all have a lapse in thinking at times. When you give someone a second chance to show you the good they have inside of them, you open the door to an array of emotions and help to make impossible events possible.

The Jamaican bobsled team in Cool Runnings would never have made it to the Olympics if the Winter Olympics committee didn’t forgive Irv and allow him to make up for what he did by cheating prior. It’s not so much about what someone has done, but how they retell the story of their misdemeanor and the new meaning they give this event.

If someone can show you that they have learned from their mistake and they can explain how they messed up, you’d be crazy not to give them a second chance. Imagine if that was you in that situation. Wouldn’t you want to be given a second chance?

Have you been inspired by Cool Runnings? What did you learn? Let me know in the comments section below or on my website timdenning.net and my Facebook.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared hundreds of thousands of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around success, personal development, motivation, and entrepreneurship. During the day Tim works with the most iconic tech companies in the world, as an adviser, to assist them in expanding into Australia. By night, Tim coaches his students on the principles of personal development and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Joyce E. Hale

    Nov 9, 2017 at 4:18 am

    hello,
    what a wonderful post, thanks for sharing

  2. Ran Mendis

    Aug 7, 2016 at 11:10 am

    As always an awesome masterpiece Tim!!! I watched Cool Runnings couple of days ago for second time and honestly one of best motivation driven movies of all times. “Being different is important” touched me to the core. Being a big fan of you I got inspired, motivated and started creating content and quotes believing me that I’ll be able to inspire one to realise the importance of pursuing their passion. We all here for short term and out duty is leaving this world is a better place by helping and sharing wisdom within ourselves. Cheers again mate you are the champion 🙂 Respect & Regards!!! Ran Mendis

    • Tim Denning

      Aug 9, 2016 at 9:27 am

      Ran I’m glad you watched Cool Runnings as well. It’s such a great story and I never get sick of it. Ran thanks for the kind words and I feel honoured to have inspired you to start your own thing. Keep up the good work and feel free to send me a link to your stuff so i can check it out.

      Take care 🙂

      • Ran Mendis

        Aug 9, 2016 at 4:47 pm

        Cheers Tim!!! I will keep you posted mate 🙂 Respect & regards

        Ran Mendis

  3. Bryan Oliver

    Aug 3, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Such great wisdom, Tim. Point #4 spoke to me. Such a great reminder that we are enough. Appreciate your insights.

    • Tim Denning

      Aug 4, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      No problem Bryan and thanks for reading mate!

  4. Toño

    Aug 3, 2016 at 5:12 am

    One more thing forgot to ask. It’s about your book, as it finally came out, yay! For some reason, I cannot receive it. I was subscribed to your website for white a while but haven’t received it on the fist day when it became available. I subscribed again, but still nothing. Can you send it to me directly please, if this ok to ask?

    I haven’t received a word from your website, not even confirmation.

    And my apology for spelling errors in my previous message, for some reason, haven’t checked the first paragraph. Embarrassing 😀

  5. Toño

    Aug 3, 2016 at 4:59 am

    Glad to have you back, Tim. And good morning read to get my brain ready for the day.

    After so intensive work it is natural to have a slump which may just tell you to take some time off, enjoy some rest and chill somewhere in nature, with your family/freinds or simply having a pleasure to be alone and contamplate on something you like. I wanted to comment on one of your article’s where you talk about working 5x harder but changed my mind and thought it may be, let’s say, offensive and never did it. You see, it’s cool to be a hard working mechanism as Eric Thomas says, and work your socks off for your dream, however, you sgould take care of yourself first and do no let burn yourself out. There’s no need to have an article every single day, as it’s not a race, and if you don’t feel like it, better not push it. Otherwise, you may stuble in a daily routine and feel it like a chore, also the quality may not be the same, and is it no the most important thing about motivation, the quality of the content you give the life? After many working hours and pushing through I realized I want to make a peace with myself first and if I need a rest a healthy life I will pursuit it. Working hard may be very negative, and actually, I really like the word ‘grind’ (like really!) I feel like it has lost it meanings and now is the synonym of a boring routine. Yes, let’s make the grind and do it daily, but do so with a sense, with purpose and with healthy attittude. We don’t need to die on a tredmill really, as WIll Smith said, because what good will that does? You should always take your time, your speed doesn’t matter, forward is forward. I’m not talking about being lazy, rather be productive instead of busy every time. Sometimes you need to slow down and enjoy the walk, the view, and that perspcetive. Everything will come in place when it’s time. No need to rush, remember? It was you who told me that 😉

    Now, back to your article, some beautiful points to take.

    The underdog mind is really a winner. I started to believe in my ability to believe 🙂 I started to motivate myself daily, few times per day, to make sure I am the one who can rule my day. The quote I always liked: ‘People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily’. And that you have to believe in your ability. I feel like underdog quite often and now I feel more confidence, that I can and I will if my desire and motivation will be in place.

    It is also beautiful to be different. I like that message of yours. I don’t remember who said that, but it is better to fail in originality than succeed at copying others. Or something like that, hope you got the idea. And this is so true. It is not so hard to be authentic, but it requires time and dedication to recognize your inner self.

    Oh. and another theme – ‘only you can tell yourself what to do and what feels right’, this is exactly how I feel. Only you can help yourself at the end of the day if you really want to. Only you can realize what to do, when and why is so important for you and yeah, that it feels right. I spoke with a new girl at my job recently, was trying to motivate her as she really struggles and just cannot beat her anxiety, and told her exactly what you described. She even read some of the articles from a2s as I usually print them and left on the desk (fortunately she can read English) for everyone’s access.

    And you’re enough already, I like that very much. It goes with everything in life, with your partner, with your job, with your daily activities – with basically everything! You have to feel as a whole in order to find another whole. It is amazing.

    Thank you so much for the article Tim and for your honesty, keep yourself high and motivated, take the time to rest and enjoy the journey, it’s about that, right? Stay well and healthy, and so you can have the beautiful energy to inspire all of us!

    Peace and much love, man~

    • Tim Denning

      Aug 4, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      Toño sorry for the slow reply I have had a few days off sick but thanks for welcoming me back. Never be afraid my friend to speak your mind. I’m a pretty hard person to offend and I always love your honest feedback both good and bad 🙂

      It’s funny that you love the word grind cause it’s also one of my favourites….haha. Thanks for the quote too. I am a big believer in being original as much as possible and not playing the copy game. Toño you have also reminded me of a few things I had forgotten and thanks for that so much. Take care mate!

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Motivation

The Real Hack Is In The Doing.

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I had a coaching call with a client recently and it was a trainwreck. I’m trying to get them to create content and they keep peering into the future. Instead of creating content they’re obsessed with:

  • Sales Funnels
  • When to monetize
  • How to convert inquiries into customers
  • What camera to use when filming videos
  • Writing a whitepaper

I told them this:

“Screw all of that. The key to success is in the doing.”

 

Your Ideas change over time.

When I first started blogging in 2014, I was doing interviews with entrepreneurs and turning them into blog posts. I had no idea what I was doing or even why I was doing it.

The blog posts sucked and sounded like press releases.

I hated the process.

None of the blog posts got any engagement at all. Hearing entrepreneurs talk about raising money and selling widgets was boring to me.

Then, one night at around 8 pm I wrote a blog post about changing my life. It was all the lessons I learned from studying personal development and it was nothing more than a brain fart.

It took about 45 minutes to write and was published with spelling and grammar errors all the way through it. This post got shared 84,000 times on Facebook alone.

All of a sudden, through focusing on the doing, I found something I liked.

“What starts as an idea changes over time and you’ll never predict where things will end up. Trust in the process”

 

Your beliefs change too.

I told my coaching client that his beliefs would change too. What he believes right now will change in the future. This will shape his creative side and his content most of all.

“Trying to predict where you’ll be in the future is like trying to predict when you’re going to die - it’s impossible to know”

My beliefs initially about what I was doing came from a very self-centered view of the world that was all about the cliché version of success.

I thought the nice car, suit, house and bikini babe was what mattered. Pretty quickly, as I produced lots of content and began reading, after not touching a book for more than ten years, I saw a different side.

My beliefs about the world changed and the idea of money went to last place. Add on a couple of near-death experiences like a cancer scare and my beliefs are now completely different.

I’m no longer trying to figure out how to suck out as much value from the world as I can for my own benefit. What I do daily is about a purpose far bigger than myself.

I told my coaching client this story because I believed the same was true for him. He’s trying to impact people’s lives by getting them to fall in love with the work they do.

Whenever he starts talking about this topic, I feel inspired. I told him that I say no to so many clients because I don’t believe in what they do.

I believe in what he does and that’s why I’m obsessed with getting him to focus on the doing.

 

You learn as you go.

People have this obsession with the idea that you have to do a course, be mentored, study for years (insert excuse) before you can start doing what you love.

This is a ridiculous idea and I challenge you to a duel if you think this way. As you continue the doing aspect of what you love, you’ll learn at the same time.

Even if you’re not conscious about the learning side, the doing will reveal way more than waiting for accreditation, permission or a mentor’s approval to proceed ever will.

Everything I know about social media, blogging, inspiring people and entrepreneurship came from the doing. Yes, there was deliberate learning along the way but that was always a distant second to the doing itself.

 

Consuming vs. creating.

My coaching client also suffered from the battle that is consuming vs. creating. He spent too much time watching what everyone else was doing and he didn’t spend enough time creating his own art.

He’s currently posting one video a week and I told him that’s not enough. He has it within him to do at least one video a day if he quits consuming everybody else’s content.

He also told me that he feels the need to respond to every comment he gets on social media. I told him this is nuts!!!

You cannot respond to every comment or email you get online. This time is better spent creating than it is pumping up your ego with “thank you’s” and “yes I know I’m so smart.”

 

The tools change.

I started blogging on WordPress and now I do most things on Medium and LinkedIn. If I’d become too obsessed with the tools, then I would have wasted the time I could have been spending refining my craft.

All the tools you use to execute on doing what you love will change, so treat them secondary to creating your unique art.

 

You can’t preplan the doing 9 times out of 10.

Your best work is often done when you’re spontaneous. For example, today is a public holiday in Australia and I wouldn’t normally write on a Wednesday.

I felt inspired this morning though, so I decided to jump on the computer and do some creating. Some of my best work (if I look at the stats) has been done on public days and times when I didn’t plan to create anything.

Over planning is a trap you need to avoid if you want to get down to the doing which produces results.

 

The doing is the hardest part.

The reason why many of you reading this are so obsessed with mentors, education, online courses and consuming someone else’s content is because all of these things are easy.

The doing is the hardest part. Being creative takes up all of your energy and putting your work out there to be judged is hard on your ego.

“Creating truly inspiring work takes every ounce of your emotions. You need flow states, time, resources and the belief that you’re enough to do the doing”

What stops us from the doing is either procrastination or fear. These two evils prevent you from the doing without you often realizing.

My coaching client wants to make a massive impact and he’s scared that he doesn’t have the ability. As his coach, I know he does and I’ve seen it.

The battle that exists in your mind daily is whether you should be doing the doing or settling for something easier (often this looks like the same thing but it’s not!).

Spending time doing the very thing that is hard, is how you leapfrog everyone else that never gets what they want and never lives a fulfilled life.

 

How do you win so frequently?

That’s what my coaching client asked me. He wanted to know how I produce so much content and have so many people watching online.

I told him the truth: I just spend as much time as I can doing the doing.

Everything else seems to take care of itself when I embrace this simple hack. You must become obsessed with the doing.

Spend a disproportionate amount of time doing the doing and you’ll produce the results that are 10X of what you think you’re capable of.

Are you ready to win?

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Motivation

How To See What You’re Truly Capable Of Becoming And Then Becoming It.

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I have an opportunity right now to do something that will propel my life and career to a whole new level. It will take me from behind the keyboard and into the spotlight of critics, people with a lot of power, people I admire and the masses.

It’s a dangerous crossroads in a lot of ways. There’s a lot that could go wrong. Normally I am full of belief, but in the last few days, I’ve had my doubts.

Maybe I shouldn’t aim so high so quickly. Maybe I will get distracted from what I really love doing. Maybe I don’t have the skills just yet.

What you’re hearing here is the thoughts of a stock standard, off the shelf, pink brain that was designed hundreds of years ago for a different purpose.

None of these thoughts are valid unless I accept they are.

Seeing what you are capable of becoming requires a few key steps. Then becoming it is the hardest part.

Here’s how to see what you can become and then actually become it:

 

Believe first.

“This is not gospel talk. I didn’t pull this one out of the pages of a hymn book. Until you can see what you are able to become, no one else can see it”

There’s an element of visualization required here. Ask yourself the question “What if there were no barriers and I could achieve anything?”

I want you to assume this is the case. To see what you are able to become you must see it first without barriers, negative thinking and outside opinions.

Once you can see what you can become, you then have to start believing. That requires you to see a positive outcome and have the courage to dare to do something phenomenal.

Believing first requires a degree of ignorance. In a way, I suppose you are ignoring logic. You are being somewhat irrational and not using common sense. You’re using belief to see a future version of yourself that achieves something meaningful to you, and to those who are inspired by your work.

 

Make it really big.

The next step is to dream really big. Our mind often constrains us and forces us to focus on what we’ve done in the past as the basis for what we can become in the future.

The stupid thing is that past results don’t necessarily predict the future. If that were true, we’d all bet on the stock market based on what has happened before and we’d be millionaires sipping mojitos off the bar of our luxury yachts.

Making your dream really big is an art. Your imagination that has been mostly switched off since you were a child and the creativity that has been sucked out of you by society needs to be reignited for the dreaming element of your mind to be turned on again and lit on fire baby!

If you aim really high and think you can deliver a speech in front of 50,000 people and then you fall short and deliver an inspiring speech in front of 2000 people, have you really failed?

The obvious answer is no. At least you got out of your warm bed and took a chance. Maybe there were a lot of seats empty but you at least influenced one person in a positive way.

“Giving it a shot is half the game of life”

 

Disconnect from the result.

Being fixated on the result stops you from ever taking the first step. I’ve been so focused in the last week on whether I can deliver and whether I have the experience to do something audaciously big that I didn’t take action.

I was blindsided by fear even though I know fear better than my own body.

Fear has been the thing that nearly ruined my life and prevented me from typing these very words. In some ways, it’s because I can smell the perfume of fear and see it a mile away with my Superman eyes, that I’m able to see what’s really going on, not only in my life, but the lives of others.

Never giving it a go is a far bigger failure than trying something and not succeeding. Not taking a chance and not risking it all for the person you’ve always wanted to become is something you’ll regret for the rest of your life.

Right up until the day of your death you’ll regret not knowing what could have happened if you saw what you were capable off, took a moon-shot opportunity and became that person.

“Regret is far worse than failure will ever be”

 

Be okay with not knowing a hell of a lot.

Part of the battle of seeing what you can become and then becoming it is that there is a lot you won’t know. The person I want to become in the coming weeks and months, and the opportunity I’m scared to say yes to has a lot to do with the core issue: I have no idea whether I can deliver on my promise.

I have no clue if I am this person that people think I am on the internet. Do I really inspire people? Or do I get inspired by other people and use that as fuel to pass it on?

We’ll never know the answers to these questions. We all have doubts and pieces to the puzzle of life that we can’t figure out.

In the end, there’s only a few harsh truths:

–    You must say yes to big opportunities

–    You must not overthink every decision

–    You must not try to have all the answers

–    You must not continually play out every scenario in your head thus draining your energy

All you can do is have guts, believe in yourself, have the courage and become who you’re truly capable of becoming through relentless action.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Motivation

You Can’t Be 100% Motivated And On Fire All The Time So Stop Trying To Be.

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Right now, I’m not feeling that motivated. In fact, I haven’t felt very inspired or motivated all week. Given that motivating and inspiring others is my passion and it’s what I do every day, you’d think my career was over. You’d think maybe I have no more positivity left in me.

Even the most inspirational people in the world have times when nothing happens.

I recently watched Gary Vaynerchuk give advice to a young teenager. The teenager said:

“Gary, my girlfriend broke up with me and a relative just died. The last two weeks are hell.”

Gary took a few deep breaths and you just knew he was going to say something epic – and he did.

He said to the boy “Two weeks of lows doesn’t define the rest of your life.”

 

We’re all entitled to be down for a bit.

What I learned from Gary is that we are all going to have times during our life where nothing sticks. In the last few weeks, I’ve missed several great career opportunities, had a lot of rejection, seen a slump in shares/likes on some social media platforms and had some personal challenges.

All of this is normal.

 

What’s not normal is what you see online.

That’s the real point here. What is normal has been overshadowed by all the self-help, success talk that happens online 24/7. We’re being bombarded by it and we think we have to be motivated 100% of the time.

If we have a day when we’re not inspired, we think something is wrong. In my case, given my profession, it’s even harder. There’s this stigma that I have to be some perfect human being to do what I do. That’s BS.

It’s normal for anyone you admire and even your heroes to have low points or long periods of nothing – that’s the actual norm. The highlight reel you see online of the people you follow is what’s not normal. No one lives life like how we see people living online.

The cameras are only with these people of influence some of the time. What you didn’t see was them taking a dump or having an argument with their partner.

All you saw was a highly edited success reel of what they wanted you to see so they could send you to a landing page, put up a payment wall and monetize you. That’s what being motivated 100% of the time told them to do.

You can’t blame them entirely.

What the internet really needs is more of the truth. That is, more people talking about what goes wrong, more people documenting what’s really happening.

In simple terms, the internet needs less perceived perfection and success, and more of what’s real like disappointment, f*ck ups and challenges.

 

Not being motivated is where it all happens.

The opposite of what we’re led to believe is true. It’s during the moments of zero inspiration, bugger all motivation and low points that we discover who we are. It’s in our weakest moments that our strength, resilience and courage is built.

What I’ve learned during my recent low moments is that if I can handle this sh*t, then I can handle anything.

“Motivation comes from eating crap for dinner every day of the week and still persisting with your goals”

I’m writing these words today and not really feeling like it. It’s the art of doing even through the tough times that allows me to have a 60-second highlight reel on social media that makes me look like a freaking god that goes viral all over the internet hourly.

My success highlight reel looks very impressive and it sounds fantastic during one of the speeches I give. In job interviews, it really helps. When I pitch for business, it gives me credibility.

Our success highlight reels look freaking phenomenal but it’s 0.99% of the actual story.

If humans are motivated by storytelling, then let’s start telling the real story.

We’re not f*cking motivated 100% of the time so let’s stop pretending we are. Cheers to the moments when we feel like dirt and keep going.

 

Then everything changes.

What do I mean? This week I have no motivation but I already sense that next week is shaping up to be a big one. I find out about a number of life-changing opportunities. Knowing I could get through a tough week and be cool to keep inspiring gives me hope. That hope translates into strength.

Next week could be a disaster and these so-called life-changing opportunities could all amount to a mound of dust and broken dreams. But because I survived the tough times I know I can excel during times when I plateau, go backwards or even experience massive growth.

“It only takes one moment for everything to change and before you know it you’re 100 steps ahead of where you thought you’d be”

 

Quit the game.

The game of endless success. The rat race that is showing how perfect you are.

Show up with your best self. If that best self is 1% motivated or 100% motivated it doesn’t matter. The fact you showed up and got through the quicksand of life is all that counts. Sometimes that struggle will look like winning an Oscar and other times that struggle will look like pissing your pants.

Take a step back and see the bigger picture.

No one (including me) needs to, or is, motivated 100% of the time.

You don’t need to be either.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Motivation

2 Things You Need to Know: How to Hack Motivation With Avoidance and Approach Goals

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how to hack motivation

Motivation is a sneaky beast. It can hide in plain sight, and it can express itself when we least expect it. Motivation (and its frequent companion inspiration) can often elude us for days, weeks or years, only to jump out at in an instant with such force that we drop everything in order to capture it before we lose the moment.

Often times, these random “attacks of motivation” happen with little warning, when we are least prepared to take advantage of them. For instance, how many of you have had a moment of clarity or have felt motivated to act on some idea while in the shower? How many of you have perhaps had a similar feeling when going for a run or driving to work? Motivation can come at any time and in any way. Unfortunately, the very randomness keeps us from being able to act effectively to get more done. So what do we do to take hold of our lives and guide our own sources of motivation?

To get more done in less time, we need to understand the power of two types of motivation. Once we explore each of these types of motivation, we must learn to set goals around both to create positive feedback loops. This will make it easier for us to develop stronger motivational habits and take control of what motivates us.

While there are many ways to define motivation, today I will focus on two types: avoidance and approach motivation. The way we will define both types of motivation provides an in-depth look into how we see the world, and ultimately how successful we will be in it.

1. What is avoidance motivation?

Avoidance motivation is part of what makes us human, and it is integral to our survival. This type of motivation helps us avoid negative experiences across psychological, physical, and social boundaries. It’s what told us to run away from saber-toothed tigers or to not dive into shark infested waters looking for food. Clearly, avoidance is a good way of staying safe in a world of unknowns. Unsure about what your boss thinks about your last project? It’s best not to ask to avoid disappointment or emotional trauma. Considering whether to apply for a job in another country? Best to avoid it in case you like the culture.

Unfortunately, avoidance motivation often has negative consequences. It makes us more likely to avoid tasks that we know rationally will be positive experiences for us. It makes us avoid going for that big promotion we aren’t necessarily qualified for. It makes us not get on that airplane to travel to that new new country and experience that new culture.

“Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you.” — George Whitefield

2. What is approach motivation?

Approach motivation is any type of motivation that drives action and forward progress towards a certain outcome or activity. It’s what pushes the nerdy high school kid to talk to their crush in the hallway. It’s what drives the explorer to see what the view looks like from the top of the tallest mountain. It’s the itch the traveller gets when they go too long without taking a trip. It’s what inspired humans to explore outer space. Rather than avoiding certain activities, approach motivation drives individuals to explore and become more productive in their day-to-day existence.

When we consider approach motivation, the most often cited examples relate to feelings of opportunity, fulfilment and exploration. When you see an opportunity to achieve some goal that falls along Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, you are more likely to take action. When you see the opportunity to grow your pool of resources, that may motivate you to take action (strengthening your ability to provide food and shelter to yourself and your family). Similarly, you may see the opportunity to gain recognition or acclaim through appearing on television or writing a blog post. This feeds your ability to achieve self-fulfilment, belonging and perhaps even self-actualisation.

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” — Sam Levenson

So how do we take this information and action it? How do we make it useful on a day-to-day basis?

The best way to leverage the lessons of approach and avoidance motivation is to set goals that align with each type of motivation. Take the following approach to help guide you on the path to taking control of what motivates you:

First, understand the difference between avoidance and approach goals. Most people will find that they tend to avoid activities that are unpleasant to them, all the while approaching those activities that are most enjoyable or fulfilling. Let’s think of approach goals as positive (i.e. finishing a project ahead of schedule, finding a new job) and avoidance goals as negative (i.e. avoiding drinking too much, avoiding talking in public).

Avoidance goals are goals for reducing, avoiding or eliminating undesired outcomes. While these goals are powerful, they are often harder to accomplish. You may want to cut down the number of sweets you eat each day, the number of cigarettes you smoke, the total time you spend watching Netflix. These types of goals work, sometimes, but they are much more likely to stick if you spin them to an approach goal with a positive spin.

Approach goals aim to guide someone to reach or maintain a desired outcome. People are more likely to commit to completing tasks and taking part in activities that are positioned in a positive light. Approach goals become more potent motivational goals because they focus on action and activity around what can be done to reach a goal.

If you want to get better at setting and following through on your personal and career goals, make a point of creating both approach and avoid goals and being aware of the subtle differences between both.

Do you have any approach or avoidance goals that have been particularly challenging to reach? Would love to hear about them!

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Success Advice

One Question You Must Answer to Ensure Personal Success

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Image Credit: Twenty20.com

I don’t believe in quick fixes, in get-rich-quick schemes, or any other system that guarantees instant success with only a modicum of effort. But, I do believe it’s possible to condense great strings of logical thought and intellectual algorithms into basics. I like to keep things simple! Many of my clients love the fact that I don’t overly complete things, and frankly, so do I! I like to ask simple questions whose answers can be had quickly but require some focus in obtaining the outcome. (more…)

Biagio Sciacca, known to his friends as Bill, was a lifelong resident of Pittston, PA. He is the owner of Intelligent Motivation, Inc. a global consulting and training firm specializing in management and leadership training as well as psychological assessment for hiring and staff development. He is the author of several books relating to goal setting, and his third book, Provocative Leadership, is publishing soon. Now residing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, he divides his time between his international coaching and training clients, writing his next book and wandering aimlessly on the beach. Feel free to contact Bill at bill@intelligentmotivationinc.com or schedule a call with him by going to www.intelligentmotivationinc.com and clicking on the “set up a call” tab.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Joyce E. Hale

    Nov 9, 2017 at 4:18 am

    hello,
    what a wonderful post, thanks for sharing

  2. Ran Mendis

    Aug 7, 2016 at 11:10 am

    As always an awesome masterpiece Tim!!! I watched Cool Runnings couple of days ago for second time and honestly one of best motivation driven movies of all times. “Being different is important” touched me to the core. Being a big fan of you I got inspired, motivated and started creating content and quotes believing me that I’ll be able to inspire one to realise the importance of pursuing their passion. We all here for short term and out duty is leaving this world is a better place by helping and sharing wisdom within ourselves. Cheers again mate you are the champion 🙂 Respect & Regards!!! Ran Mendis

    • Tim Denning

      Aug 9, 2016 at 9:27 am

      Ran I’m glad you watched Cool Runnings as well. It’s such a great story and I never get sick of it. Ran thanks for the kind words and I feel honoured to have inspired you to start your own thing. Keep up the good work and feel free to send me a link to your stuff so i can check it out.

      Take care 🙂

      • Ran Mendis

        Aug 9, 2016 at 4:47 pm

        Cheers Tim!!! I will keep you posted mate 🙂 Respect & regards

        Ran Mendis

  3. Bryan Oliver

    Aug 3, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Such great wisdom, Tim. Point #4 spoke to me. Such a great reminder that we are enough. Appreciate your insights.

    • Tim Denning

      Aug 4, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      No problem Bryan and thanks for reading mate!

  4. Toño

    Aug 3, 2016 at 5:12 am

    One more thing forgot to ask. It’s about your book, as it finally came out, yay! For some reason, I cannot receive it. I was subscribed to your website for white a while but haven’t received it on the fist day when it became available. I subscribed again, but still nothing. Can you send it to me directly please, if this ok to ask?

    I haven’t received a word from your website, not even confirmation.

    And my apology for spelling errors in my previous message, for some reason, haven’t checked the first paragraph. Embarrassing 😀

  5. Toño

    Aug 3, 2016 at 4:59 am

    Glad to have you back, Tim. And good morning read to get my brain ready for the day.

    After so intensive work it is natural to have a slump which may just tell you to take some time off, enjoy some rest and chill somewhere in nature, with your family/freinds or simply having a pleasure to be alone and contamplate on something you like. I wanted to comment on one of your article’s where you talk about working 5x harder but changed my mind and thought it may be, let’s say, offensive and never did it. You see, it’s cool to be a hard working mechanism as Eric Thomas says, and work your socks off for your dream, however, you sgould take care of yourself first and do no let burn yourself out. There’s no need to have an article every single day, as it’s not a race, and if you don’t feel like it, better not push it. Otherwise, you may stuble in a daily routine and feel it like a chore, also the quality may not be the same, and is it no the most important thing about motivation, the quality of the content you give the life? After many working hours and pushing through I realized I want to make a peace with myself first and if I need a rest a healthy life I will pursuit it. Working hard may be very negative, and actually, I really like the word ‘grind’ (like really!) I feel like it has lost it meanings and now is the synonym of a boring routine. Yes, let’s make the grind and do it daily, but do so with a sense, with purpose and with healthy attittude. We don’t need to die on a tredmill really, as WIll Smith said, because what good will that does? You should always take your time, your speed doesn’t matter, forward is forward. I’m not talking about being lazy, rather be productive instead of busy every time. Sometimes you need to slow down and enjoy the walk, the view, and that perspcetive. Everything will come in place when it’s time. No need to rush, remember? It was you who told me that 😉

    Now, back to your article, some beautiful points to take.

    The underdog mind is really a winner. I started to believe in my ability to believe 🙂 I started to motivate myself daily, few times per day, to make sure I am the one who can rule my day. The quote I always liked: ‘People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily’. And that you have to believe in your ability. I feel like underdog quite often and now I feel more confidence, that I can and I will if my desire and motivation will be in place.

    It is also beautiful to be different. I like that message of yours. I don’t remember who said that, but it is better to fail in originality than succeed at copying others. Or something like that, hope you got the idea. And this is so true. It is not so hard to be authentic, but it requires time and dedication to recognize your inner self.

    Oh. and another theme – ‘only you can tell yourself what to do and what feels right’, this is exactly how I feel. Only you can help yourself at the end of the day if you really want to. Only you can realize what to do, when and why is so important for you and yeah, that it feels right. I spoke with a new girl at my job recently, was trying to motivate her as she really struggles and just cannot beat her anxiety, and told her exactly what you described. She even read some of the articles from a2s as I usually print them and left on the desk (fortunately she can read English) for everyone’s access.

    And you’re enough already, I like that very much. It goes with everything in life, with your partner, with your job, with your daily activities – with basically everything! You have to feel as a whole in order to find another whole. It is amazing.

    Thank you so much for the article Tim and for your honesty, keep yourself high and motivated, take the time to rest and enjoy the journey, it’s about that, right? Stay well and healthy, and so you can have the beautiful energy to inspire all of us!

    Peace and much love, man~

    • Tim Denning

      Aug 4, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      Toño sorry for the slow reply I have had a few days off sick but thanks for welcoming me back. Never be afraid my friend to speak your mind. I’m a pretty hard person to offend and I always love your honest feedback both good and bad 🙂

      It’s funny that you love the word grind cause it’s also one of my favourites….haha. Thanks for the quote too. I am a big believer in being original as much as possible and not playing the copy game. Toño you have also reminded me of a few things I had forgotten and thanks for that so much. Take care mate!

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Motivation

The Real Hack Is In The Doing.

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I had a coaching call with a client recently and it was a trainwreck. I’m trying to get them to create content and they keep peering into the future. Instead of creating content they’re obsessed with:

  • Sales Funnels
  • When to monetize
  • How to convert inquiries into customers
  • What camera to use when filming videos
  • Writing a whitepaper

I told them this:

“Screw all of that. The key to success is in the doing.”

 

Your Ideas change over time.

When I first started blogging in 2014, I was doing interviews with entrepreneurs and turning them into blog posts. I had no idea what I was doing or even why I was doing it.

The blog posts sucked and sounded like press releases.

I hated the process.

None of the blog posts got any engagement at all. Hearing entrepreneurs talk about raising money and selling widgets was boring to me.

Then, one night at around 8 pm I wrote a blog post about changing my life. It was all the lessons I learned from studying personal development and it was nothing more than a brain fart.

It took about 45 minutes to write and was published with spelling and grammar errors all the way through it. This post got shared 84,000 times on Facebook alone.

All of a sudden, through focusing on the doing, I found something I liked.

“What starts as an idea changes over time and you’ll never predict where things will end up. Trust in the process”

 

Your beliefs change too.

I told my coaching client that his beliefs would change too. What he believes right now will change in the future. This will shape his creative side and his content most of all.

“Trying to predict where you’ll be in the future is like trying to predict when you’re going to die - it’s impossible to know”

My beliefs initially about what I was doing came from a very self-centered view of the world that was all about the cliché version of success.

I thought the nice car, suit, house and bikini babe was what mattered. Pretty quickly, as I produced lots of content and began reading, after not touching a book for more than ten years, I saw a different side.

My beliefs about the world changed and the idea of money went to last place. Add on a couple of near-death experiences like a cancer scare and my beliefs are now completely different.

I’m no longer trying to figure out how to suck out as much value from the world as I can for my own benefit. What I do daily is about a purpose far bigger than myself.

I told my coaching client this story because I believed the same was true for him. He’s trying to impact people’s lives by getting them to fall in love with the work they do.

Whenever he starts talking about this topic, I feel inspired. I told him that I say no to so many clients because I don’t believe in what they do.

I believe in what he does and that’s why I’m obsessed with getting him to focus on the doing.

 

You learn as you go.

People have this obsession with the idea that you have to do a course, be mentored, study for years (insert excuse) before you can start doing what you love.

This is a ridiculous idea and I challenge you to a duel if you think this way. As you continue the doing aspect of what you love, you’ll learn at the same time.

Even if you’re not conscious about the learning side, the doing will reveal way more than waiting for accreditation, permission or a mentor’s approval to proceed ever will.

Everything I know about social media, blogging, inspiring people and entrepreneurship came from the doing. Yes, there was deliberate learning along the way but that was always a distant second to the doing itself.

 

Consuming vs. creating.

My coaching client also suffered from the battle that is consuming vs. creating. He spent too much time watching what everyone else was doing and he didn’t spend enough time creating his own art.

He’s currently posting one video a week and I told him that’s not enough. He has it within him to do at least one video a day if he quits consuming everybody else’s content.

He also told me that he feels the need to respond to every comment he gets on social media. I told him this is nuts!!!

You cannot respond to every comment or email you get online. This time is better spent creating than it is pumping up your ego with “thank you’s” and “yes I know I’m so smart.”

 

The tools change.

I started blogging on WordPress and now I do most things on Medium and LinkedIn. If I’d become too obsessed with the tools, then I would have wasted the time I could have been spending refining my craft.

All the tools you use to execute on doing what you love will change, so treat them secondary to creating your unique art.

 

You can’t preplan the doing 9 times out of 10.

Your best work is often done when you’re spontaneous. For example, today is a public holiday in Australia and I wouldn’t normally write on a Wednesday.

I felt inspired this morning though, so I decided to jump on the computer and do some creating. Some of my best work (if I look at the stats) has been done on public days and times when I didn’t plan to create anything.

Over planning is a trap you need to avoid if you want to get down to the doing which produces results.

 

The doing is the hardest part.

The reason why many of you reading this are so obsessed with mentors, education, online courses and consuming someone else’s content is because all of these things are easy.

The doing is the hardest part. Being creative takes up all of your energy and putting your work out there to be judged is hard on your ego.

“Creating truly inspiring work takes every ounce of your emotions. You need flow states, time, resources and the belief that you’re enough to do the doing”

What stops us from the doing is either procrastination or fear. These two evils prevent you from the doing without you often realizing.

My coaching client wants to make a massive impact and he’s scared that he doesn’t have the ability. As his coach, I know he does and I’ve seen it.

The battle that exists in your mind daily is whether you should be doing the doing or settling for something easier (often this looks like the same thing but it’s not!).

Spending time doing the very thing that is hard, is how you leapfrog everyone else that never gets what they want and never lives a fulfilled life.

 

How do you win so frequently?

That’s what my coaching client asked me. He wanted to know how I produce so much content and have so many people watching online.

I told him the truth: I just spend as much time as I can doing the doing.

Everything else seems to take care of itself when I embrace this simple hack. You must become obsessed with the doing.

Spend a disproportionate amount of time doing the doing and you’ll produce the results that are 10X of what you think you’re capable of.

Are you ready to win?

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Motivation

How To See What You’re Truly Capable Of Becoming And Then Becoming It.

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I have an opportunity right now to do something that will propel my life and career to a whole new level. It will take me from behind the keyboard and into the spotlight of critics, people with a lot of power, people I admire and the masses.

It’s a dangerous crossroads in a lot of ways. There’s a lot that could go wrong. Normally I am full of belief, but in the last few days, I’ve had my doubts.

Maybe I shouldn’t aim so high so quickly. Maybe I will get distracted from what I really love doing. Maybe I don’t have the skills just yet.

What you’re hearing here is the thoughts of a stock standard, off the shelf, pink brain that was designed hundreds of years ago for a different purpose.

None of these thoughts are valid unless I accept they are.

Seeing what you are capable of becoming requires a few key steps. Then becoming it is the hardest part.

Here’s how to see what you can become and then actually become it:

 

Believe first.

“This is not gospel talk. I didn’t pull this one out of the pages of a hymn book. Until you can see what you are able to become, no one else can see it”

There’s an element of visualization required here. Ask yourself the question “What if there were no barriers and I could achieve anything?”

I want you to assume this is the case. To see what you are able to become you must see it first without barriers, negative thinking and outside opinions.

Once you can see what you can become, you then have to start believing. That requires you to see a positive outcome and have the courage to dare to do something phenomenal.

Believing first requires a degree of ignorance. In a way, I suppose you are ignoring logic. You are being somewhat irrational and not using common sense. You’re using belief to see a future version of yourself that achieves something meaningful to you, and to those who are inspired by your work.

 

Make it really big.

The next step is to dream really big. Our mind often constrains us and forces us to focus on what we’ve done in the past as the basis for what we can become in the future.

The stupid thing is that past results don’t necessarily predict the future. If that were true, we’d all bet on the stock market based on what has happened before and we’d be millionaires sipping mojitos off the bar of our luxury yachts.

Making your dream really big is an art. Your imagination that has been mostly switched off since you were a child and the creativity that has been sucked out of you by society needs to be reignited for the dreaming element of your mind to be turned on again and lit on fire baby!

If you aim really high and think you can deliver a speech in front of 50,000 people and then you fall short and deliver an inspiring speech in front of 2000 people, have you really failed?

The obvious answer is no. At least you got out of your warm bed and took a chance. Maybe there were a lot of seats empty but you at least influenced one person in a positive way.

“Giving it a shot is half the game of life”

 

Disconnect from the result.

Being fixated on the result stops you from ever taking the first step. I’ve been so focused in the last week on whether I can deliver and whether I have the experience to do something audaciously big that I didn’t take action.

I was blindsided by fear even though I know fear better than my own body.

Fear has been the thing that nearly ruined my life and prevented me from typing these very words. In some ways, it’s because I can smell the perfume of fear and see it a mile away with my Superman eyes, that I’m able to see what’s really going on, not only in my life, but the lives of others.

Never giving it a go is a far bigger failure than trying something and not succeeding. Not taking a chance and not risking it all for the person you’ve always wanted to become is something you’ll regret for the rest of your life.

Right up until the day of your death you’ll regret not knowing what could have happened if you saw what you were capable off, took a moon-shot opportunity and became that person.

“Regret is far worse than failure will ever be”

 

Be okay with not knowing a hell of a lot.

Part of the battle of seeing what you can become and then becoming it is that there is a lot you won’t know. The person I want to become in the coming weeks and months, and the opportunity I’m scared to say yes to has a lot to do with the core issue: I have no idea whether I can deliver on my promise.

I have no clue if I am this person that people think I am on the internet. Do I really inspire people? Or do I get inspired by other people and use that as fuel to pass it on?

We’ll never know the answers to these questions. We all have doubts and pieces to the puzzle of life that we can’t figure out.

In the end, there’s only a few harsh truths:

–    You must say yes to big opportunities

–    You must not overthink every decision

–    You must not try to have all the answers

–    You must not continually play out every scenario in your head thus draining your energy

All you can do is have guts, believe in yourself, have the courage and become who you’re truly capable of becoming through relentless action.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Motivation

You Can’t Be 100% Motivated And On Fire All The Time So Stop Trying To Be.

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Right now, I’m not feeling that motivated. In fact, I haven’t felt very inspired or motivated all week. Given that motivating and inspiring others is my passion and it’s what I do every day, you’d think my career was over. You’d think maybe I have no more positivity left in me.

Even the most inspirational people in the world have times when nothing happens.

I recently watched Gary Vaynerchuk give advice to a young teenager. The teenager said:

“Gary, my girlfriend broke up with me and a relative just died. The last two weeks are hell.”

Gary took a few deep breaths and you just knew he was going to say something epic – and he did.

He said to the boy “Two weeks of lows doesn’t define the rest of your life.”

 

We’re all entitled to be down for a bit.

What I learned from Gary is that we are all going to have times during our life where nothing sticks. In the last few weeks, I’ve missed several great career opportunities, had a lot of rejection, seen a slump in shares/likes on some social media platforms and had some personal challenges.

All of this is normal.

 

What’s not normal is what you see online.

That’s the real point here. What is normal has been overshadowed by all the self-help, success talk that happens online 24/7. We’re being bombarded by it and we think we have to be motivated 100% of the time.

If we have a day when we’re not inspired, we think something is wrong. In my case, given my profession, it’s even harder. There’s this stigma that I have to be some perfect human being to do what I do. That’s BS.

It’s normal for anyone you admire and even your heroes to have low points or long periods of nothing – that’s the actual norm. The highlight reel you see online of the people you follow is what’s not normal. No one lives life like how we see people living online.

The cameras are only with these people of influence some of the time. What you didn’t see was them taking a dump or having an argument with their partner.

All you saw was a highly edited success reel of what they wanted you to see so they could send you to a landing page, put up a payment wall and monetize you. That’s what being motivated 100% of the time told them to do.

You can’t blame them entirely.

What the internet really needs is more of the truth. That is, more people talking about what goes wrong, more people documenting what’s really happening.

In simple terms, the internet needs less perceived perfection and success, and more of what’s real like disappointment, f*ck ups and challenges.

 

Not being motivated is where it all happens.

The opposite of what we’re led to believe is true. It’s during the moments of zero inspiration, bugger all motivation and low points that we discover who we are. It’s in our weakest moments that our strength, resilience and courage is built.

What I’ve learned during my recent low moments is that if I can handle this sh*t, then I can handle anything.

“Motivation comes from eating crap for dinner every day of the week and still persisting with your goals”

I’m writing these words today and not really feeling like it. It’s the art of doing even through the tough times that allows me to have a 60-second highlight reel on social media that makes me look like a freaking god that goes viral all over the internet hourly.

My success highlight reel looks very impressive and it sounds fantastic during one of the speeches I give. In job interviews, it really helps. When I pitch for business, it gives me credibility.

Our success highlight reels look freaking phenomenal but it’s 0.99% of the actual story.

If humans are motivated by storytelling, then let’s start telling the real story.

We’re not f*cking motivated 100% of the time so let’s stop pretending we are. Cheers to the moments when we feel like dirt and keep going.

 

Then everything changes.

What do I mean? This week I have no motivation but I already sense that next week is shaping up to be a big one. I find out about a number of life-changing opportunities. Knowing I could get through a tough week and be cool to keep inspiring gives me hope. That hope translates into strength.

Next week could be a disaster and these so-called life-changing opportunities could all amount to a mound of dust and broken dreams. But because I survived the tough times I know I can excel during times when I plateau, go backwards or even experience massive growth.

“It only takes one moment for everything to change and before you know it you’re 100 steps ahead of where you thought you’d be”

 

Quit the game.

The game of endless success. The rat race that is showing how perfect you are.

Show up with your best self. If that best self is 1% motivated or 100% motivated it doesn’t matter. The fact you showed up and got through the quicksand of life is all that counts. Sometimes that struggle will look like winning an Oscar and other times that struggle will look like pissing your pants.

Take a step back and see the bigger picture.

No one (including me) needs to, or is, motivated 100% of the time.

You don’t need to be either.

<<<>>>

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Motivation

2 Things You Need to Know: How to Hack Motivation With Avoidance and Approach Goals

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Motivation is a sneaky beast. It can hide in plain sight, and it can express itself when we least expect it. Motivation (and its frequent companion inspiration) can often elude us for days, weeks or years, only to jump out at in an instant with such force that we drop everything in order to capture it before we lose the moment.

Often times, these random “attacks of motivation” happen with little warning, when we are least prepared to take advantage of them. For instance, how many of you have had a moment of clarity or have felt motivated to act on some idea while in the shower? How many of you have perhaps had a similar feeling when going for a run or driving to work? Motivation can come at any time and in any way. Unfortunately, the very randomness keeps us from being able to act effectively to get more done. So what do we do to take hold of our lives and guide our own sources of motivation?

To get more done in less time, we need to understand the power of two types of motivation. Once we explore each of these types of motivation, we must learn to set goals around both to create positive feedback loops. This will make it easier for us to develop stronger motivational habits and take control of what motivates us.

While there are many ways to define motivation, today I will focus on two types: avoidance and approach motivation. The way we will define both types of motivation provides an in-depth look into how we see the world, and ultimately how successful we will be in it.

1. What is avoidance motivation?

Avoidance motivation is part of what makes us human, and it is integral to our survival. This type of motivation helps us avoid negative experiences across psychological, physical, and social boundaries. It’s what told us to run away from saber-toothed tigers or to not dive into shark infested waters looking for food. Clearly, avoidance is a good way of staying safe in a world of unknowns. Unsure about what your boss thinks about your last project? It’s best not to ask to avoid disappointment or emotional trauma. Considering whether to apply for a job in another country? Best to avoid it in case you like the culture.

Unfortunately, avoidance motivation often has negative consequences. It makes us more likely to avoid tasks that we know rationally will be positive experiences for us. It makes us avoid going for that big promotion we aren’t necessarily qualified for. It makes us not get on that airplane to travel to that new new country and experience that new culture.

“Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you.” — George Whitefield

2. What is approach motivation?

Approach motivation is any type of motivation that drives action and forward progress towards a certain outcome or activity. It’s what pushes the nerdy high school kid to talk to their crush in the hallway. It’s what drives the explorer to see what the view looks like from the top of the tallest mountain. It’s the itch the traveller gets when they go too long without taking a trip. It’s what inspired humans to explore outer space. Rather than avoiding certain activities, approach motivation drives individuals to explore and become more productive in their day-to-day existence.

When we consider approach motivation, the most often cited examples relate to feelings of opportunity, fulfilment and exploration. When you see an opportunity to achieve some goal that falls along Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, you are more likely to take action. When you see the opportunity to grow your pool of resources, that may motivate you to take action (strengthening your ability to provide food and shelter to yourself and your family). Similarly, you may see the opportunity to gain recognition or acclaim through appearing on television or writing a blog post. This feeds your ability to achieve self-fulfilment, belonging and perhaps even self-actualisation.

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” — Sam Levenson

So how do we take this information and action it? How do we make it useful on a day-to-day basis?

The best way to leverage the lessons of approach and avoidance motivation is to set goals that align with each type of motivation. Take the following approach to help guide you on the path to taking control of what motivates you:

First, understand the difference between avoidance and approach goals. Most people will find that they tend to avoid activities that are unpleasant to them, all the while approaching those activities that are most enjoyable or fulfilling. Let’s think of approach goals as positive (i.e. finishing a project ahead of schedule, finding a new job) and avoidance goals as negative (i.e. avoiding drinking too much, avoiding talking in public).

Avoidance goals are goals for reducing, avoiding or eliminating undesired outcomes. While these goals are powerful, they are often harder to accomplish. You may want to cut down the number of sweets you eat each day, the number of cigarettes you smoke, the total time you spend watching Netflix. These types of goals work, sometimes, but they are much more likely to stick if you spin them to an approach goal with a positive spin.

Approach goals aim to guide someone to reach or maintain a desired outcome. People are more likely to commit to completing tasks and taking part in activities that are positioned in a positive light. Approach goals become more potent motivational goals because they focus on action and activity around what can be done to reach a goal.

If you want to get better at setting and following through on your personal and career goals, make a point of creating both approach and avoid goals and being aware of the subtle differences between both.

Do you have any approach or avoidance goals that have been particularly challenging to reach? Would love to hear about them!

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