When you’re down in the dumps, the natural thing you want to do is find motivation to recharge and restart. But unlike computers or phones, people don’t work that way…or do they?
Think of it this way, people are natural sources of motivation, and we may not even be aware of it. Recall the last time you went to the store, chatted with the happy counter girl, and the helpful guy in the queue, you came out smiling and feeling good, didn’t you? That’s because those people charged you with their positive energy.
The problem is, just like them, there are people with negative energies who drain you of your motivation. After you interact with them, you feel listless, depressed or just simply low. In such a scenario, I would advise you to go to that grocery store again, but that’s just not practical.
Here are 5 unlikely places to get your dose of motivation:
1. Wind from Within
Where else would you find motivation quickly but yourself? You are the ultimate source of inspiration. Don’t believe me? Try these tactics.
Think about the reason why you’re feeling down, and treat it as a challenge. Consider it as a game, and you need to beat your competition with any strategy that you can think of and come out on top. Feel that boost of energy?
Next, dive in and consider why you feel like such a failure. Is it the career choices? The face-off incident with your ex at the office gathering? The boss who is always criticizing you? Take these issues one by one and devise plans to tackle them.
Change your career if you must, or give this one your 200 percent. Avoid your ex or talk it out with them. Face your boss by telling them how disappointed you are with their behavior, or keep on taking the criticism. The point is, not to overthink but to resolve what’s bugging you and pulling you down.
Perhaps this feeling of failure which is dragging you down stems from your fear of it. To make it right and regain your motivation, you’ll have to face your fear head on. There is no way around it so might as well deal with it like a “challenge”. There’s that word again, you know what to do now.
2. Tune in to Ted Talks
What if you still can’t find motivation from within, and still feel down? Ted Talks are the best sources of inspiration.Real people. Real experience. Real talk. You can’t get any closer to real motivation than a Ted Talks. From career to personal, emotional, educational etc. each Ted Talk takes you on a journey of the speaker, forces you to face their reality, and end up with a solution, which might be yours too.
One of my favorites is by Adam Grant, “Are you a giver or a taker?”. It has really given me thoughts about what my life is all about and what I would like to change. One of the lines which struck me and turned my life around was: “If you’re a matcher, you try to keep an even balance of give and take: quid pro quo — I’ll do something for you if you do something for me. And that seems like a safe way to live your life. But is it the most effective and productive way to live your life?”
That’s just one Ted Talk. There are tons out there. The point is not what you watch but what you garner from their experiences, wisdom, and lessons delivered.
While Ted Talks are about your average Joe, whom you can relate to and may even bump into in your everyday routine, speeches from successful people are another thing entirely.
We are talking about golden nuggets from dynamite, successful tycoons who have changed the world. They’re revolutionizing the way we live and breathe.
And you know what else they are? They’re powerhouses who have the immense capability of giving you the much needed motivation spark to come out of your lowest low. When famous people like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Jack Ma, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama get invited to deliver commemorating speeches, they share with you their world.
They tell us about using smart decisions to solve complex problems. They share with us their dilemmas, and how to come out of it without harming yourself. But most importantly, they tell us about their fears, challenges, and failures which they’ve successfully overcome.
One of the most famous speeches, and my personal favorite, is Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University. Jobs, who has revolutionized home computing, mobile devices, and luxury branding of technology, tells us if we live each day as if it were the last, then there is nothing to fear. After all, fear is the reason why we don’t do a lot of things that would boost our motivation.
4. Tap Into Teaching
People say that teaching is a noble profession but nobody tells you about the motivational aspect of it. Even if you’re down, nothing brightens your mood up instantly like a student looking up to you. You feel thousands of feet tall.
You don’t have to be a full time teacher to feel motivated. Help someone at the workplace and teach them a skill. Teach your kids about what you know. And if you’re single, teach the neighbor’s kids.
When you teach someone, you are actually learning and discovering yourself. It gives you a new perspective and forces you to look at problems from the student’s point of view. And, you might discover the reason for feeling demotivated, or stressors that are pulling you down. When you are able to identify the problem, you’ll be able to find the solution.
5. Interest in Interviews
What do Humans of New York, Larry King Live and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon have in common? You guessed it…interviews. Funny or serious, interviews are meant to bring out the inner person of the interviewee, but I bet you didn’t know they also bring the humane side of the interviewer.
Interviews force you to wear the interviewee’s shoes, think like them, and understand their dilemmas. What better lessons to learn and get motivation from real life people who’ve been there and done that?
Of course it doesn’t mean you start grabbing any Tom, Dick or Harry to interview. Find an angle, seek permission and have a purpose for your interviews. Maybe you want to find out where people go to find inspiration, or motivate others. Or, ask people what they do when they hit bottom, or at the peak of their career.
You’ll be surprised at the rationale, humbling experiences and feelings these individuals will share. Let their answers be your motivation.
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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