You’ve just read the latest Forbes Billionaires List and you’re super inspired by the rags-to-riches stories. You’re motivated to give things a good shake and start earning some serious cash. They did it, so why can’t you, right?
BAM! You’re off with a flying start, getting organized and planning all the things you need to achieve your goal. But as the hours and days go by, that motivational momentum you had seems to be slowing right down. In fact, by the end of the week it’s come to a grinding halt. Sound familiar?
I got a little something for you: you need motivational momentum to succeed in this world, and to have that, you need motivational stamina.
How to get motivational stamina
Think about elite cyclists preparing for Tour de France. They don’t just rock up and compete. They spend months doing the same thing over and over and over until they feel they have mastered it.
What these athletes endure to sit at the top of the Lycra tree isn’t easy – it’s often mindless, thankless and repetitive work with no immediate reward. So how do these athletes stay focused and driven?
Fact is, they have a reason that sits behind their motivation. A personal, internal motivator that is so strong that it keeps them moving forward when things are super tough and most people would give up.
The 1 question you must ask yourself
So what’s the key to getting motivational stamina? You need to figure out what your internal motivators are. You must ask yourself: “What are the reasons why I want to be successful?” Because your reason for wanting to become a success is going to be your strongest motivator.
Let me explain. The psychology world will tell you that motivation comes from two things: external (doing something for a physical reward) and internal (wanting to do something for a sense of achievement) motivators.
The most common external motivator is money. And, on the flip side, a common internal motivator is job satisfaction. But if you’re like most people, you probably have a mix of both external and internal motivators. Let’s say your reason for wanting to succeed is to support your family and give them the very best life possible – that’s a typical mix of external and internal motivators (money + feel-good stuff = powerful motivation).
“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” – Oscar Wilde
In his book, The Winning Effect, neuropsychologist Ian Robertson says, “Even in industries where financial bonuses dominate, such as investment banking or other financial services, the money rewards are seldom entirely extrinsic. There are also crucial tokens of status and success”. Yep, it’s true. Most of us want to earn the big bucks but what a lot of us haven’t realised is that it goes a little deeper than that. We also want to achieve something – whether it’s power, status or satisfaction. “This explains why many billionaires, rich beyond reason, still work feverishly to accumulate even more billions: it is no longer the extrinsic reward value of the money that motivates them – it is the need to achieve (and usually it is also a need for power),” Robertson explains. So now it’s time for you to really think about the reasons why you want to be successful. Think about the internal stuff, not just the money rewards.
3 Powerful things you can do right now
1. Write down the reasons why you want to become successful
Name it your Motivational Master Plan. And be honest with yourself. Because if you want to continue feeling motivated, you need to have a reason that resinates with your soul – it has to be something that makes you sit up and sets your heart aflutter every time you think about it. So if you write down reasons that sound good but don’t mean much to you, you’re going to fall back into the unmotivated lull all over again.
2. Print your Master Plan out and put it somewhere you’ll see it daily
Put it on your fridge, bedside table or desk. Treat it like a vision board and add images to it that help paint the picture you can see in your mind. Or create an online version so you have a visual reference to use as you progress towards your goal.
3. Remind yourself why
If you hit a snag or you start to feel uninspired as you work toward your goal, go back to your Master Plan. Remind yourself why you’re doing this – and let it inspire you.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
It’s important to give yourself a break if you start to feel unmotivated – it’s a normal human response! But with a little practice and planning you can motivate yourself when times get tough.
So start by figuring out your external and internal motivators, and use them to pull you through those slumps and plateaus you will inevitably experience on your way to your goal.
Now it’s over to you – what are the reasons why you want to succeed? Are they purely for the money? Or do you have internal motivators too?
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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