Do you struggle with your levels of motivation? Oftentimes, we have to wake up early to work on our side business, or stay up late after a tiring day to do some extra work. It’s exhausting and can wear on you after a while. So how can we stay motivated in these situations?
In this article, I’d like to share the framework you can use to build unwavering motivation and achieve your long-term goals. This framework can be broken down into two main components. The first component is what I call the foundation. It’s the structure that you need for lasting motivation.
The second component is divided into several ad hoc tools that go on top of your foundation. They are short-term tactics that will give you a boost of motivation during tough times.
The Foundation for Your Motivation
The foundation of your motivation can be further divided into two components: your vision and your daily habits.
Your vision is the deeper meaning behind what you’re doing. Your vision is bigger than you and embodies everything you do with a sense of purpose. Have you noticed that, when you hate your job, every single task can become a nightmare? On the other hand, when what you do is part of a bigger vision you’re excited about, the toughest task becomes bearable or even enjoyable. That’s because it’s moving you closer to your ultimate vision.
Your daily habits
To create lasting motivation in your life, you need to implement daily habits supporting your vision.
- Daily habits are harder to skip: when you commit to a daily habit, you remove all excuses. With a habit you perform a few times a week, you can always come up with excuses, and the next thing you know, your new habit is gone.
- Daily habits help you build momentum: as you learn to stay consistent with your daily habits, you’ll build more momentum, and your motivation will remain high.
- Daily habits help you build self-discipline: A daily habit is a commitment that you make to yourself every day. Deciding to do something every day contributes to building your self-discipline.
“The people you surround yourself with influence your behaviors, so choose friends who have healthy habits.” – Dan Buettner
Ad Hoc Tools to Boost Your Motivation
Unfortunately, no matter how much you love what you do, there will be many times when you won’t feel motivated to work on your venture. In these situations, you want to use ad hoc tools to give you an extra boost of motivation. This will help you push through exhaustion and lack of inspiration.
Below are the 4 emotional states I personally rely on to motivate me during tough times:
A sincere desire to contribute to the world and make a difference in people’s lives will keep you pumped up as you work toward your goal. When you feel tired or demotivated, make a conscious decision to reconnect with your “why.” Doing this will give you an extra surge of motivation.
Desire is different from love. It’s not about contributing to other people. It’s about designing the life you want for yourself. Having a goal that excites you will bolster your motivation significantly. You’ll feel connected to your goal, to the point that reminding yourself of what you’ll gain from working on it should keep you going.
For instance, my goal is to create an online business that I’m passionate about. Here are some benefits I can think of:
- Having the freedom to travel the world while working on my business
- Having the freedom to take vacations whenever I want
- Being able to spend time doing what I love
- Having the potential to earn more money by scaling up my business
- Being in a situation where I must grow consistently and become a better person
Nobody wants to suffer, and when used intelligently, pain can be an effective tool to motivate you. When I was still an employee, after a rough workday, I would often go home exhausted and wanting to rest. I handled it by focusing on the pain I’d endure if I didn’t work on my business and create the life I want. I asked myself the following questions:
- Do I really want to work a job I hate for the rest of my life? Do I want to have a boss telling me what to do when I already know what I want to do with my life?
- When I reach my deathbed, will I regret not having done what I know I should have? How much pain will I experience when I realize I didn’t have the courage to follow my dreams?
“We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents, and interests.” – Sheryl Sandberg
Ego can also be a powerful motivator. Your desire to be successful, feel loved, or prove those who didn’t believe in you wrong, can be used to your advantage. You might, for instance, feel a surge of motivation when you think of how proud your parents will be. Perhaps, the thought of showing someone who doubts you what you’re really made of might get you going.
With that said, bear in mind if you feel a constant need to rely on your ego, you might want to spend some time working on yourself to figure out why you’re trying so hard to get others to validate you.
If you’re still plagued by the urge to procrastinate, try giving yourself permission to work for five minutes and stop if you’re still not in the mood. It removes the pressure of having to work for a long period of time and minimizes the fears that come with perfectionism.
A powerful “why”, mixed with consistent daily habits and the proper use of love, desire, pain and ego, can work wonders. This combination will allow you to remain motivated over time and achieve your most exciting goals.
How do you motivate yourself? Please let us know by commenting below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com
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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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