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”.
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The Guide to Staying Motivated While Working Alone
Working alone at home might sound like a nightmare to some, but as a fully signed up introvert, working alone at home is an absolute dream. No energy-draining small talk, no noisy distractions, just peace and quiet to complete deep and focused work. Well not quite. Working alone at home has more challenges than you might expect. Boredom, lack of focus and lack of motivation to name a few.
When you start working for yourself, you quickly realise that one of the biggest problems you face isn’t the job itself. Maintaining your motivation poses a potentially huge difficulty. Much of that difficulty stems from working alone, rather than in a traditional office setting. There is also the challenge of staying focused on the task at hand. With no boss or supervisor looking over your shoulder, social media can distract or cat videos interrupt you.
But the greatest problem by far is a simple lack of motivation. There doesn’t seem to be a pressing need to finish this project right now, making it far too easy to put it off until later. Left unchecked, a lack of motivation can cripple the work you are trying to accomplish. Over the past few years I’ve developed a few go-to tactics to improve my lone working motivation.
Here are some of the tools I’ve used to stay motivated and on-task.
These first few tips focus on using different tweaks in your personal work schedule to provide some variety and maintain your focus.
1. Include short breaks
My eye doctor once told me that for every 20 minutes of staring at a computer screen, you should look away and focus on something across the room for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a chance to reset. Do something similar with the rest of your body; don’t just look across the room, walk, jog, or run across the room. Give your body a break, and try to reset your thoughts. If you don’t have the discipline to take regular breaks, use an app to remind you.
2. Block out an afternoon for social activities and networking
Set aside one afternoon a week for your social life. Friday afternoon works best for me. If you feel guilty about not working, think of it as a chance to network. Either way, be sure to spend this section of time with other people. Socialise and network.
3. View your personal schedule as your work schedule
A 9-to-5 job requires getting up every morning, preparing for the day, leaving the house, and commuting to your workplace. In other words, it requires going to work. You want to recreate the same rhythm at home. You may not actually need to leave your house in order to work, but try to stick with the schedule. Filling the old job timeslot with your new work helps to keep you motivated – you can’t clock out early!
These next few tips are little things you can do to trick yourself into staying focused!
This tip may sound cliché, but try listening to an upbeat song loudly whenever you feel unmotivated. It’s a simple trick, but a surprisingly effective one!
2. Have somewhere else to work for a change of scenery
When procrastination sets in, sometimes a quick change of scenery is all you need. If you work at home, going to your favourite café can be a huge help. Other freelancers I know have even gone so far as to hire office space outside the home, and rotate between the two to help stay on-task.
3. Love what you do
This is arguably the most critical point on the whole list. If you don’t love what you do, it will be hard to keep yourself motivated – particularly long-term. Sure, you may be able to push on through sheer force of will for a while, but sooner or later you’ll lose motivation entirely. Do something you genuinely enjoy, and you’ll find it much easier to stick with it for the long haul.
These last few tips are Industry-related!
1. Make sure you have fun projects
Not all of your work projects will be fun, but fight to make at least a couple of them fun. These might even be personal side projects, not particularly related to your main job. Or they might be in the same general field, but not your specific focus.
2. Attend industry events a couple of times a year
Nearly every imaginable industry has an organising body of some kind. Find the local branch, and use it to keep tabs on industry-related events. Attend some seminars, network, and maybe even glean some new tips and tricks from industry insiders.
3. Schedule at least one call a week to learn something within your industry
View this as an opportunity for personal development. At least once a week, try to learn something new about your industry. For me, this might mean calling a new tool provider to demonstrate their gadgets. Whatever your industry, try to expand your horizons a little bit every week. You’ll learn new methods and make new connections at the same time.
These tips worked for me, hopefully, some of them will help you out as well. Above all, strive to enjoy what you do, stick to a “work schedule,” and look for opportunities for constant self-improvement. With those ideas in mind, you’ll find staying motivated much easier to do alone or in a group!
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