Motivation is often cited as the magical answer to everything you want. If you were motivated you would lose that weight, write that book, start the business and so on.
So how do we develop the habits and mind power needed to stay motivated on a daily basis?
Here is my 5 Step Process to Develop Life Long Motivation.
But, here’s a question:
What if motivation never strikes?
What are you going to do then?
Is Motivation The Solution?
I often hear people say “if I could just find the motivation to…”
Within these words are an implication. The implication is that motivation is the solution to your problems.
If you were motivated you would pay off that debt, find a new job, and go back to school.
But what if that’s not the case?
What if motivation isn’t the solution?
What if motivation is a consequence of the actions you take?
What Came First: The Motivation or The Action?
I believe that there is a dance between motivation and action. The two of them work together to ignite each other.
Who makes the first move?
The first step?
Who leads the dance?
Let’s get practical: What is easier to do in the next five minutes: find incredible motivation or take action?
Motivation isn’t something that can be summoned upon demand. But action… that’s a different beast.
Right now, can you take step 1 to get what you want in your life?
In case you don’t know the answer: It’s “yes”. You can take action right now.
Want to write a book? Write page 1.
Want to lose weight? Go on a run.
Want to find a new job? Send out your resume.
So we know that action is easier to take than to find motivation.
But within all of this another questions looms:
Is motivation a consequence of your actions, or are your actions a consequence of your motivation?
The Misunderstanding of Motivation
The unfortunate misunderstanding of motivation is that you must be motivated to achieve what you want.
Yes, motivation is wonderful. It feels good and gets us excited. But motivation can be fickle. It’s here one day and gone the next.
I believe there are 2 types of motivation:
There is short term motivation and long term motivation.
Short term motivation is shallow, fickle, and vulnerable to the ebbs and sways of daily life.
Long term motivation is not fickle nor shallow. It’s not vulnerable to the economy, the news, the “experts”, or anything in the outside world.
It’s a deep lasting motivation. It’s internal. You feel it deep in your soul.
I call this life long motivation.
Which brings us to a question:
How can you develop life long motivation?
The 5 Step Process to Develop Life Long Motivation
Below I share with you the 5 step process to develop life long motivation.
Step 1: Identify and Write Down Exactly What You Want
Above all else you must identify your purpose. You must know why you were put on this earth.
When you know exactly where you want to go, it plants the seed for life long motivation.
Here’s a great exercise to start gaining clarity on where you want to go in your life:
Take out a piece of paper and get ready to write. Imagine 5 years have passed. Everything you have wanted to accomplish has happened.
What is your day like?
What activities do you do?
What relationships do you have?
How do you make money?
How much money do you make?
How do you feel?
What are your hobbies?
Write. Write. And write some more.
Step 2: Write Down Why You Want It
Knowing what you want is the first step, but knowing why you want it feeds your motivation.
Basically you’re establishing a purpose for your purpose.
So look over your 5 year vision. Then write down your response to this question:
Why do you want to achieve this vision? What impact will it have on your life if you fulfill this vision?
Step 3: Develop The Step by Step Plan
A killer of motivation is ambiguity, or a lack of knowledge.
Therefore to nurture motivation you need to gain knowledge and establish clarity.
A critical part of gaining clarity is to identify the specific steps you must take to fulfill your vision.
Look at your 5 year vision. Begin to write out the specific steps that you will need to take to fulfill that vision. Don’t make this difficult. You aren’t going to know all the steps. But you will know some of them.
Develop the plan. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s got to be something.
By creating this plan you have created a map to start working with.
Step 4: Take Action on Step 1
So you have put together the plan to fulfill your vision. Now is when the rubber hits the road.
You need to take action on step 1.
You have identified exactly where you want to go, why the vision matters, and the plan to fulfill the vision.
Now, take the first step to make it happen.
This brings an alignment between your daily actions and where you want to go over the longterm.
This brings meaning and purpose to each day… Which is fuel for lifelong motivation.
Step 5: Reflect Then Adjust
After about 1 week take a look at the actions you have taken. Reflection allows you to learn from your experiences and to increase the rate at which you achieve what you want.
Basically, this allows you to constantly learn and grow as you move forward. As you learn and grow you will become the person you need to be to fulfill your vision.
Look at the actions you took over the course of the previous week and answer these 3 questions:
What actions are moving you towards your 5 year vision? Keep doing those.
What actions are preventing you from achieving your 5 year vision? Stop doing those.
What is 1 action you can start taking this week to accelerate you towards achieving your vision? Immediately implement this.
Remember: a huge killer of motivation is a lack of knowledge. When you feel like your just running on a treadmill it kills your motivation. By taking the time to step back and assess your actions and plans you are providing fuel for your motivation.
Above All Else Take Action
Here’s the simple reality, you can spend a lifetime waiting for motivation to strike… and it might never happen.
But right now, this moment, you can take action.
As you can see with the steps above when you take action, you give yourself the opportunity to gain motivation.
I’ll end this with a quote:
“You are much more likely to act your way into feeling, rather than feel your way into acting”.
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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