Do you have 50 great ideas a day? New business plans? New blogs to start? New books to write? New courses to create? New speeches to give? New inventions to launch?
You may even start on some of these projects but lose motivation very quickly. It seems like ideas come up and fly away without you taking action on them. You’re wondering why some people can start on projects and keep pushing forward while you tend to lose interest after you start something.
Well, here’s the thing. Motivation isn’t something you’re born with. It’s not that some people are naturally motivated and others aren’t motivated at all. The big secret is that motivation can be cultivated which means that you too can do something to improve the level of motivation in your life. When you feel like scrapping the idea because you’ve lost interest, have a look at your motivation tank.
Here are 7 unspoken rules of motivation that will help you move forward to achieving your dreams:
1. Starting small helps you get motivated
If you love to bite off more than you can chew, take note of this principle. If you go after big tasks and giant goals, without breaking them down, you won’t feel very motivated. Instead of going for the kill every day, take small steps to achieving your life goals. Small steps means taking the smallest of steps. What is the very smallest action step you can break down? Take that step today. Buy the domain name. Write your first hundred words. Get the running shoes out of the closet.
2. Having a reason “why” helps you stay motivated
This is the biggest reason you don’t have the mojo to keep going. You start something but then suddenly feel like you have no reason to pursue it. If you’re going to go after something, get super clear on why this is important to your life. Come up with a list of reasons on why the dream is important or why the goal matters. Keep this list at the top of your mind and look at it every day. Make sure you have emotional, psychological and purpose-filled reasons to go after whatever it is you want.
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell
3. Your vision of what’s possible helps you keep going
So often, we start and stop because we can’t see the end product. We can’t see what the promise land looks like. If you want to stay motivated, you have to keep the vision of what’s possible in front of you. Spend a couple minutes envisioning achieving your goal or dream. What does that feel like? How do you view yourself after you’ve achieved it? Taste the sweetness of having done what you’re setting out to do.
4. Habits are the fuel for motivation
Yes, you should take small steps but not occasionally and not when you feel like it. The way to make sure you remain motivated, especially in the beginning, is to turn your dreams into actionable steps that you do consistently. Write for five minutes a day. Run for five minutes a day. Work on your business plan for five minutes a day. It’s not how long you do something as much as how consistently you do something. Use habits to keep you moving forward.
5. Acknowledging your progress is critical
You may move ahead but feel more behind. When you don’t feel like you’re progressing forward, you begin to feel like you’ve lost. The way to help you stay motivated is to regularly remind yourself of how far you’ve come along. To do that, acknowledge your progress. Track your progress and celebrate milestones. Look back and show yourself how much farther along you are.
6. Your inner circle impacts your motivation
If you don’t think your friends, mentor and inner circle matters, you’re wrong. You’re going to do what your circle of influence does. If your inner circle is lazing around and slacking , you’re going to do the same. If you hang around go-getters who are going after their dreams, you’re going to do so likewise. The people around you can be the sun that helps you flourish or the weeds that will cripple your progress. Add more sun in your life and cut the weeds out. Be conscious and aware of who you’re surrounding yourself with because they have a direct effect on your motivation.
“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.” – Edmund Lee
7. Failure can unleash your motivation
You might feel it’s over when you fail but that’s hardly the case. All success stories, world-changers and come-back stories share one thing in common, failure. All the greats have failed. You have to use the lessons of failure as an opportunity to spring forward. Use your failure to learn what didn’t work, then start over. Go stronger and bolder than you’ve gone before. Failure is a great motivator to get it right and to surpass previous attempts.
How do you help harness your motivation? Please leave 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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