How To Stay Motivated
People ask me a lot about how I stay motivated.
How do I do what I do, the long hours, the continuous focus on my tasks and maintain a focus on my goals?
How does someone learn to stick to things?
What makes someone a terminator of motivation?
Motivation is a powerful, yet tricky beast and not every one knows how to simply turn it on.
Sometimes it is really easy to get motivated and you find yourself wrapped up in a whirlwind of excitement.
Other times, it is nearly impossible to figure out how to motivate yourself and you’re trapped in a death spiral of procrastination, self doubt and depression.
What is Motivation?
Scientists define motivation as your general willingness to do something.
It is the set of psychological forces that compel you to take action.
I believe it is about making better choices and doing what is right for you more often.
Trust your instincts. Listen to what your subconscious is telling you.
“At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.”
When you truly listen, the doing, the action itself, then has an opportunity to become a habit of choice.
Anything less becomes a painful burden.
A depression of self.
A load that will never go away no matter how much you try to distract yourself.
Materialism, consumerism, TV, movies, and corn chips is also not a cure.
It is a bandaid and is living in complete opposite to the natural ways of a human.
The only way out is to act and do things differently.
In other words, at some point, it is easier to change than to stay the same.
It is easier to take action and feel slightly insecure than to sit still and experience self-loathing.
It is easier to feel awkward than to feel disappointed about your lack of effort.
Make that call.
Make that step forward.
Every choice has a price, however when we are motivated, it is easier to bear the inconvenience of action than the pain of remaining the same.
For those who have explored the way out of darkness or life plateaus inevitably cross a mental threshold and start to act.
They start to move, mentally, physically and emotionally.
This, I think, is the essence of motivation.
What can we do to make it more likely that we cross this mental threshold and feel motivated on a consistent basis?
One of the most surprising things about motivation is that it often comes after STARTING a new behaviour, not before.
It takes the leap of faith or a change in the environment to discover the ongoing path.
It also takes surrounding yourself with the right people who already live the life you seek and using them as a mentor, a positive influence and energy.
We have this common misconception that motivation arrives as a result of passively consuming a motivational video or reading an inspirational book.
That is not motivation, it is fun fluff.
Active inspiration can be a far more powerful motivator.
Motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it.
Getting started, even in very small ways, is a form of active inspiration that naturally produces MOMENTUM.
Momentum sets a platform for a new behaviour, a new habit, and a new life direction.
“Objects in motion tend to stay in motion”.
Once a task has begun, it is easier to continue moving it forward.
You don’t need much motivation once you’ve started a behaviour.
Nearly all of the friction in a task is at the beginning.
After you start, progress occurs more naturally.
You also start to learn how to maintain momentum.
In other words, it is often easier to finish a task than it was to start it in the first place.
Thus, one of the keys to getting motivated is to make it easy to start.
STARTING IS THE FIRST GOAL!
How to Get Motivated and Take Action
Many people struggle to find the motivation they need to achieve the goals they want because they are wasting too much time and energy on other parts of the process or simply failing to start in the first place.
If you want to make it easy to find motivation and get started, then it helps to automate the early stages of your behaviour.
Create a routine that is feasible and sustainable.
Don’t make promises to yourself that you can’t keep.
Schedule Your Motivation
If your business doesn’t have a system, then you’ll show up at work crossing your fingers that you’ll find a way to get things done.
If you don’t have a scheduled time when you workout or dedicate time to make clear inroads to your to do list every week you are setting yourself up for procrastination.
Setting a schedule for yourself seems simple, however it puts your decision-making on autopilot by giving your goals a time and a place to live.
It makes it more likely that you will follow through regardless of your motivation levels.
Stop waiting for motivation or inspiration to strike you and set a schedule for your habits.
This is the difference between professionals and amateurs.
Professionals set a schedule and stick to it.
Amateurs wait until they feel inspired or motivated.
Just do things and be prepared to make a few mistakes or two.
It is the only way to get better.
How to Get Motivated
Build rituals and daily routines and focus on the small things first like behavioural patterns.
Look at the steps and process rather than the outcome.
The moment you simply do a few things for yourself, for your goal, the ritual has been started and momentum has been initiated.
It’s a simple act, however doing it the same way each morning habitualises it — makes it repeatable, sustainable and easy to do.
It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently.
This can apply to anything you do.
Understand the steps it takes to get you to where you need to be.
Reverse engineer your outcome and work your way back to the start.
Visualise your end game.
“Reverse engineer the process”
The power of a ritual or routine is that it provides a mindless way to initiate your behaviour.
The steps are well understood and can be repeated easily.
It makes starting your habits easier and that means following through on a consistent basis is easier.
“The key to any good ritual is that it removes the need to make a decision”
What should I do first?
When should I do this?
How should I do this?
Many people have trouble moving because they can’t decide how to get started.
You want the beginning of any new behaviour to be easy and automatic so you have the strength to finish it when it becomes difficult and challenging.
Repeat the easy and progressively work to more difficult situations with ease.
The biggest thing that will always support a greater motivation is making life decisions around what you want to do in life.
Choose your environment, career and lifestyle and seek to live it.
Anything less is living someone else’s goal.
How to Make Motivation a Habit
There are three simple steps you can take to build better rituals and make motivation a habit.
Step 1: A good routine starts by being so easy that you can’t say no to it.
You shouldn’t need motivation to start your routine.
Example: Lets say I am preparing for a day of different activities.
My daily routine starts by setting my alarm, getting up, showering and drinking 2 glasses of ionised distilled water as I put the kettle on for my morning coffee.
My weightlifting routine starts by putting on my lifting shoes and long socks.
My work schedule starts by looking at my “To Do List” and starting with one task I don’t want to do followed by the ones I do.
These tasks are so easy, I can’t say no to them.
The most important part of any task is starting and doing it.
If you can’t get motivated in the beginning, then you’ll find that motivation often comes after starting.
That’s why your routine needs to be incredibly easy to start.
Step 2: Your routine should get you moving toward the end goal, your ambition and your vision.
A lack of mental motivation is often linked to a lack of physical movement and/or understanding of the process.
Just imagine your physical state when you’re feeling depressed, bored, or unmotivated.
You’re not moving very much.
You’re not creating anything new.
Maybe you’re slumped over like a slobby blob, slowly melting into the couch watching mind control TV and propaganda media.
Nothing more numbing and destroying to the soul really.
If you’re physically moving and engaged, then it’s far more likely that you’ll feel mentally engaged and energised in general.
This will flow over into your daily lifestyle, your career and your ambitions.
For example, it’s almost impossible to not feel vibrant, awake, and energised when you are running, dancing or playing sport.
While your routine should be as easy as possible to start, it should gradually transition into more and more physical movement.
Your mind and your motivation will follow your physical movement.
It is worth noting that physical movement doesn’t have to mean exercise or doing really hard workouts.
It simply means move for an extended period of time.
Step 3: You need to follow the same pattern every single time.
The primary purpose of your routine is to create a series of events that you always perform before doing a specific task.
Eventually, this routine becomes so tied to your performance that by simply doing the routine, you are pulled into a mental state that is primed to perform.
You don’t need to know how to find motivation, you just need to find and start your routine.
Your routine is the trigger that kickstarts your habit, even if you’re not motivated to do it.
This is important because when you don’t feel motivated, it’s often too much work to figure out what you should do next.
When faced with another decision, you will often decide to just quit.
However, the routine solves that problem because you know exactly what to do next.
There’s no debating or decision making.
Lack of motivation doesn’t matter.
You just follow the pattern.
How to Stay Motivated for the Long-Run
Human beings love challenges, however only if they are within the optimal zone of difficulty and/or comfort in the INITIAL stages.
Tasks that are significantly below your current abilities are boring.
Tasks that are significantly beyond your current abilities are discouraging.
However tasks that are right on the border of success and failure are incredibly motivating to our human brains.
We believe we can do it.
Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.
You feel challenged, however capable.
How to Reach “The Zone”
This wonderful blend of happiness and peak performance is sometimes referred to as the “zone”.
The Zone is the mental state you experience when you are so focused on the task at hand that the rest of the world fades away.
In many ways, we could describe the zone as your state of peak motivation.
You would be hard-pressed to find a state where you are more driven to continue the task you are working on.
“One of the important sources of human happiness is working on tasks at a suitable level of difficulty, neither too hard nor too easy.”
In order to reach this state of peak performance, however, you not only need to work on challenges at the right degree of difficulty, but also measure your immediate progress.
One of the keys to reaching a zone state is that “you get immediate feedback about how you are doing at each step.”
Thus, we can say that measurement is a key factor in motivation.
To put it more precisely, facing an optimal challenge and receiving immediate feedback about the progress you are making toward that challenge are two of the most critical components of peak motivation.
What to Do When Motivation Fades
Inevitably, your motivation to perform a task will dip at some point.
What happens when motivation fades?
Understand it is normal and just a moment.
It is not a permanent event.
You are human.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, however what I do is seek new goals, keep adding to my to do list, add new milestones and sometimes all you need is a break.
Go climb a mountain and see how you feel when you get back.
Your Mind is Manifesting Thoughts
Consider every thought you have as a guide and instinct.
It is not yet a decision.
They are merely options.
I have the power to choose which option I follow.
The key is to sort them our and get them out of your head.
Pen and paper is best for this task.
Control your thoughts as what your think and what you believe is what you will manifest.
Thoughts become things.
Being Uncomfortable Is Temporary
Relative to the time in your normal day or week, nearly any habit you perform is over quickly.
Your workout will be finished in an hour or two.
Your report will be typed to completion by tomorrow morning.
Life is easier now than it has ever been. 300 years ago, if you didn’t kill your own food and build your own house, you would die. Today, we whine about forgetting our iPhone charger.
Maintain perspective. Your life is good and your discomfort is temporary. Step into this moment of discomfort and let it strengthen you.
You Will Never Regret Good Work Once It is Done
We want our work to be useful, appreciated and respected, however we do not want to struggle through our work.
We want our stomachs to be flat and our arms to be strong, but we do not want to grind through another workout.
We want the final result, but not the failed attempts that precede it.
We want the gold, but not the grind.
Anyone can want a gold medal.
Few people want to train like an Olympian.
And yet, despite our resistance to it, I have never found myself feeling worse after the hard work was done.
There have been days when it was damn hard to start, however it was always worth finishing.
Sometimes, the simple act of showing up and having the courage to do the work, even in an average manner, is a victory worth celebrating.
Just do it.
“This Is Life”
Life is a constant balance between giving into the ease of distraction or overcoming the pain of discipline. It is not an exaggeration to say that our lives and our identities are defined in this delicate balance. What is life, if not the sum of a hundred thousand daily battles and tiny decisions to either gut it out or give it up?
This moment when you don’t feel like doing the work?
This is not a moment to be thrown away.
This is not a dress rehearsal.
This moment is your life as much as any other moment.
Spend it in a way that will make you proud.
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