You would have no chance of reaching your destination if the gas tank of your car was empty. Similarly, you cannot reach your goals if you lack motivation, for it is the fuel that drives us. What do we mean by motivation? It is simply the desire to act. And where does that desire come from?
Well, we do everything for a reason. And if the reason is good enough, we will want to take action. A lack of motivation simply means we don’t have a strong enough reason to act. So, it’s not ‘laziness’ that holds us back, but the lack of a compelling reason to proceed. That’s what Jim Rohn means when he says, “When the why is big enough the how is easy.”
Are you having trouble following up on your goals? If so, instead of focusing on what you should do, focus on the reasons why you want to do it. The more reasons you can think of, the clearer and stronger your motivation will become.
Let’s consider an example. For years, Tom thought he should lose weight, but did nothing about it, which is not surprising on three counts. First, we are naturally inclined to resist anything we should do and favor that which we want to do. Second, the goal “to lose weight” is a bit muddled. It’s not clear enough. How much weight does he want to lose: 1, 10, or 20 pounds? Third, many of the words we use have a psychological significance. For example, loss is painful. We don’t want to lose anything, including our spouse, house, job. So the idea of losing weight causes us to rebel.
Things finally changed for Tom when he changed his thinking. He decided that he wanted to become 15 pounds lighter for the following reasons:
1. He wanted to become more attractive because
a) He would become more confident
b) He would attract women (He was single)
c) Attractive and confident people have a better chance of being promoted.
2. He would live a longer, healthier, and better life.
3. He would develop self-discipline, which is a key to success in life.
4. He would have more energy and a zest for life.
These reasons combined to form a powerful motive for change. Instead of focusing on losing weight, he focused on gaining a slim body, an attractive appearance, confidence, energy, self-mastery, good health, and happiness. No wonder he succeeded at last!
To keep the fire of motivation and enthusiasm burning, remain focused on the rewards your goals will bring, and be sure to consider all the benefits of your desired actions to make them easy choices. Also, keep your eyes on the big picture. Are you hammering a nail or building a house? Are you partying with friends, or sabotaging your future success?
Action is the coal that feeds the fire of motivation, for each action you take that brings you closer to your goal will lead to positive outcomes and fan the flames of motivation.
The Maintenance and Cultivation of Motivation
Begin by analyzing the costs of acting and not acting. Many people wistfully dream about things that they would like to do without considering the obstacles involved. So, if they make an attempt, they quickly give up after running into the first few hurdles. Considering the costs involved gives you power. It prepares you and offers the opportunity to look for resources and solutions before problems arrive. Don’t forget to consider the cost of not acting. Let’s say you don’t work out because you refuse to get off your butt and put down that bag of potato chips. If so, you are giving up what you want MOST (good health) for what you want NOW (beer, potato chips, and TV). Does that make sense?
Analyze the rewards you will receive after achieving your goal. List everything you can think of because there will be many that you will overlook or be unaware of unless you write everything down. If the benefits outweigh the costs, make a commitment to start working toward your goal.
Looking forward to success is enough to get you started in taking your first small steps. The rewards you get after taking those initial steps will be enough to motivate you to take additional steps. After all, nothing motivates like success. Each step you take causes motivation to snowball and accelerate.
Repetition strengthens outcomes. For example, you feel GOOD after losing one pound, feel BETTER after losing five pounds, and feel GREAT after losing ten pounds. However, motivation won’t continue to grow unless you notice the improvements, so keep records and monitor your progress. Repetition also reinforces motivation and makes it easier to maintain because it becomes habitual.
To keep the momentum, don’t deviate from your plan. For as Zig Ziglar said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” As long as you keep up the pace, motivation will remain strong. But if you let things slide, there will be fewer rewards, and, therefore, less motivation. So remain vigilant and you will be assured of success.
Additional Tips on Self-Motivation
1. Get off your “But.” Stop saying or thinking, “I would do that if I could, BUT I’m too busy (don’t have the time, money, energy, knowhow, support…)” Stop the excuses; accept responsibility, and just do it.
2. Use energy to create energy. If you’re working at your desk and find your energy waning, stop; get up; walk around; take a deep breath; stretch. You’ll find that just a minute or two of exercise will give you a burst of new energy, and you’ll be able to get back to work. Repeat as needed.
3. Self-incentivize. Don’t only plan your work; plan the rewards you will give yourself as well. Your reward may be a cup of coffee latte, a better than average lunch, a dinner in your favorite restaurant, a new book or course to invest in your personal development, or a new iPad. The size of the gift should reflect the size of the project and given to yourself after completion of the project. The idea behind this practice is not to have you expect a reward for every good job you do; rather, it is for you to get into the habit of earning your purchases. That is, you already treat yourself to books, movies, entertainment, drinks, snacks, but you probably do it whenever you feel like it. Now it’s time to associate these pleasures with your accomplishments. Stop arbitrarily giving yourself treats and start treating yourself for the accomplishment of your goals.
4. Make and work your plan. It’s difficult to get excited about your future when you are not sure what’s in store for you. But when you set goals and work on them daily, you are creating the future you want, and that’s exciting.
5. Keep your body hydrated. Dehydration results in fatigue and loss of mental clarity. It also causes or worsens joint pain, back pain, heartburn, high blood pressure, angina, migraines, colitis, cholesterol, asthma, and adult-onset diabetes. Any of these problems will be distracting and sap your motivation, so drink plenty of water.
6. Create a Worry Box. Is something troubling you? If so, don’t let it linger in your mind and distract you from the task at hand.Rather, write it downon a sheet of paper and put it in a Worry Box, where you can refer to it later. After you have completed your important tasks, you can open the Worry Box and start analyzing one of the problems in it. Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen? What is more likely to happen? What are several ways of dealing with the problem, if it happens? What is the best option? When will you start working on the solution?
7. Break your best record. You can have fun and boost your productivity by having a contest with yourself. Monitor your progress, keep records, and beat your best performance, but never do so at the cost of accuracy or quality.
8. Get in touch with nature. If a park is close by, you can combine a stroll with soaking in the sun, and enjoying the beauty and sounds of nature. Stress blocks motivation and relaxation stimulates it.
9. Follow Brian Tracey’s 5 steps to self-motivation:
1. Have clearly written goals that you follow each day.
2. Set measurable goals so you know when you are successful.
3. Act on your goals to gain the experience of success.
4. Obtain recognition of some kind.
5. Reward yourself.
10. Exceed your expectations. Get into the habit of doing more than you think is possible. Make your mantra not “I’ve done enough for today,” but “I will always do more than enough.” And adopt this mantra as well, “When I’ve done enough, I will always do at least a little bit more.”
11. Take vitamins for the mind. Immunize yourself from the negativity that surrounds us and puts out the flames of enthusiasm. Watch inspirational videos and motivational videos to lift your spirits and keep you motivated. Read inspirational and motivational books, and listen to audio inspirational and motivational programs.
12. Don’t get stymied. When things don’t go according to plan, don’t panic, but welcome every challenge that gives you the opportunity to prove your mettle. It is also an opportunity to develop your analytical and creative skills by finding the solution to every problem you face.
13. Adjust the way you start each day. Use your gut instinct or intuition to tell you how to start each day. Should you tackle the difficult tasks first and get them out of the way? Or should you begin with the easy tasks and work your way up to the difficult ones? Don’t try to start each day the same way, but try to determine what the best way to work is for today. You see, the best way will vary according to circumstances, mood, and stress load.
14. Reflect on your past achievements. Pause every now and then to remind yourself of past accomplishments as they will remind you of what you can do and how good you felt. Then return to work, assured that more achievements and good feelings await you.
15. Conquer self-sabotage. Don’t let self-sabotage halt your momentum, but learn how to overcome it. When we set lofty goals, our subconscious may block our progress because it is trying to protect us from disappointment, embarrassment, humiliation, and the pain of fear. To remove these roadblocks we need to learn how to overcome it. You can learn how to do so here, here, and here.
16. Overcome self-limiting beliefs. To a greater or lesser extent, most of us live in a prison of self-limiting beliefs. You see, we can accomplish only what we believe we can. If we believe something is beyond our power to reach, we don’t even try. So, if we wish to reach our true potential, we will have to learn how to conquer self-limiting beliefs. To learn how to, visit here, here or here.
17. Manage your time. Do you like gardening? If you do, you could work in the garden with your bare hands, but I think you will agree that working with the proper tools will make your job considerably easier. For example, you may find gloves, a watering can, scissors, weeders, a soil knife, pruning shears, a hose, a shovel, a rake, or a saw make you much more productive. Similarly, when working with time, the proper tools can make all the difference in the world. Here are some software programs designed to make you more productive, reduce stress, and keep you motivated. The programs that are listed approach time management differently, but one of them may match your needs perfectly.
18. Stop procrastination in its tracks. Procrastination not only kills time, it kills motivation. Resolve to eliminate this problem for once and for all by following the advice in this video.
19. Stop doing the same-old, same-old. Try doing new things or doing old things differently. When we do things differently, we make discoveries, gain a broader understanding, and find life more interesting. In a word, life becomes more of an adventure, and adventures are always motivating.
20. Remain consistent. Motivation, like health, must be maintained. Doing the right things some of the time is not good enough. When we slack off, our motivation will dwindle. Even if we are making progress, we can veer off in the wrong direction. So, remain on top of things, monitor your activities daily, and make corrections when necessary.
100 WAYS TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF, THIRD EDITION: Change Your Life Forever by Steve Chandler. Listen to the audio book version for free on Youtube.
The 8 Pillars of Motivation by Farnoosh Brock
MASTERING SELF-MOTIVATION: Preparing Yourself for Personal Excellence by Dr. Michael J. Provitera
The A.R.T. of Motivation by Ubong Ekpo