Chances are you’ve heard the quote “No pain, no gain” before. Especially if you enjoy hitting the gym and getting a nice pump going on. What this means is that in order to make your muscles grow, you’ll have to shred the fibers so they can grow back bigger and stronger. This progress causes physical pain because you’re tearing apart your muscles, but the reward for the pain is always worth it.
Many people don’t realize that this golden quote applies everywhere. Even outside your local gym. In all the different areas of your life. Fitness, dating, finances, mental health. You’ve probably faced different challenges and setbacks in these areas, but have you ever wondered what kind of lesson you’ve gained? Have you ever thought about your progress and the impact that your failures have had on it?
Pain and gain in your everyday life
You probably know that if you want to achieve something, you’ll have to put in the effort. Nothing good in life comes without it. Just like you have to put the effort into your training to become fitter, you have to put effort into learning new skills when building a business.
You’ll probably encounter pain when losing money, but those mistakes will teach you important lessons. When you’re looking for love, you’ll have to face rejection when approaching people. The list goes on. When you pursue your goals, there’s some pain you’ll have to go through to reach them. It may be physical pain at the gym or mental pain and stress in business.
So, whatever your dreams are, start seeing them from this perspective. Just like at the gym, every moment of pain and discomfort will be rewarded later. Don’t be afraid to encounter pain because it’s a sign that you’re making progress. The burn in your muscles will make them stronger, the pain of getting rejected will teach you how to approach better, and the pain of losing $1000 will teach you many valuable lessons in business.
All this is something that will help you to succeed later. Mastering any area of life will require those painful repetitions and effort. No book or any information can replace the skill you gain from your own experience. So remember, it’s OK to fail, it’s OK to be stressed, and it’s OK to feel confused. It means you’re improving!
Using pain to your advantage
“What do you mean use pain to your advantage, are you insane?” No, I’m not. What I mean by this is that you should start seeing failure, rejection, and pain from a new perspective. One of the greatest differences between the top 1% of successful people and mediocrity is the way they treat failure.
Rather than seeing a painful failure as a sign of lower worth, consider it a great lesson. Just like a rep in the gym. The more it hurts, the more it will reward you later.
A rep in business could be investing in training that doesn’t work but will teach you how to find one that works. A rep in dating could be a brutal heartbreak that teaches you to not put another person on a pedestal. A rep with your mental health could be a negative experience that forces you to learn to control anxiety.
Do you see the point here? One of the fundamental, unwritten laws in this world is that if you want to achieve something great, you’ll have to put in the effort and exit your comfort zone.
Many people don’t do this because they aren’t patient enough to be consistent, or their ego and fear of failure are stopping them. Don’t let that toxic mentality hold you back. Rather than shrinking away and avoiding the risk of pain, put yourself out there and do that rep! And when you do those reps over and over again, you’ll reach success. Rather than seeing failures as heavy bricks in your mental backpack, you’re using them to build stairs that will reach the clouds one day.
Pain, the greatest motivator
Have you ever seen the following phenomenon in your life? Someone faces a horrible setback in their life such as failing in business or a brutal heartbreak. For a while, they’re feeling terrible but along with time, they change and end up becoming a new, better version of themselves. They may even claim that the setback was the best thing that ever happened for them.
I certainly have seen this and experienced it myself. The reason why this happens is very simple. When life hits you hard, you end up in a situation so painful, that it nearly forces you to take action and improve your life. Once you take that action, you become a better version of yourself.
There are two types of motivation. The first is a desire to move towards pleasure. This is the most common one. People see something they want and they go for it. Then there is the more powerful one, an urge to move away from pain. Obviously, the second one gives you better results because you start from a situation that’s painful and something you want to get rid of. Yes, it’s uncomfortable but extremely effective. This is how you can turn a major setback into your greatest advantage.
Start seeing different forms of pain and discomfort as reps that will reward you later. Just like at the gym. No pain, no gain. Once you apply this principle properly, you can achieve pretty much anything you want!
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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