Oh Motivation, Where Art Thou...
Updated: Aug 3, 2019
Those of you who read my blogs and Facebook posts know that I talk a lot about taking action on the things that are meaningful to us so that we can have the life we want to have. And, therefore, I talk a lot about strategies for getting things done. This can take the form of mindset, habits, inspiration, and—as in this case—motivation. So, I’ve said some of this before, but just trust me when I say that it doesn’t hurt to say it again.
I remember my oldest son telling me one time that he wanted to do certain things, but he just didn’t feel motivated to take action on attaining them.
He didn’t feel motivated. As if it’s something you wait around for until, by chance one day, it just slips beneath your skin.
It doesn’t work that way. You have to generate it or figure out how to leverage the things that lead to it. It doesn’t come to you like a virus.
But some of these things are pretty easy to achieve, they just require knowledge of them and a willingness to try them out.
Which brings me to my first point about motivation. And I’m going to use that as my kick-off point for a few of the things that I think are super important in getting motivated and staying motivated:
· Inspiration. Yeah, that’s right. Something that fires you up. Something that gives you that “wanting to” feeling that my son was missing. What does a person do who wants to become a great baseball player? They watch great baseball players! Not just to learn things, but to feel inspired. I get inspired in my writing by A) reading good writing, and B) reading books about the craft of writing. This is what I call FUEL. You can’t run without it. If you want to start a new healthy eating lifestyle, for example, find a diet guru you admire, or whose plan interests you and read their books, join their social media sites, watch their webcasts, and try their recipes. It will motivate you.
· Accountability. You saw this one coming, didn’t you? Tell someone about your plans; get with someone who is also trying to stay motivated to accomplish something; and encourage each other into success. Doing it alone is possible, it’s just not as much fun. And you can always get away with your excuses. You don’t want to let yourself get away with your excuses.
· Make a plan with a specific timeline. I will let the following example speak for itself: I am on summer break from my teaching job right now, but there are things I need to accomplish before I go back for the Fall semester. If I tell myself “I’m going to work on my new lectures over the summer,” I may not work on them at all, and find myself in a frightful state when I’m not prepared to teach my classes. Instead, I will say something like: “I’m going to work on my new lectures for 3 hours this Thursday.” Bam! Now it’s like having a doctor’s appointment; Thursday comes along and I do what I said I was going to do. (On a side note: the plan took place during my weekly Strategic Planning Session, during which time I am accountable to my planning partners AND I create my weekly plan. Killing two motivational birds with one stone. I would recommend that everyone choose one day of the week to spend a few minutes to a few hours—depending on what you have going on, or depending on your planning needs—setting up a timeline for some of the things you want to accomplish. Or just jot that shit down right now, while you’re thinking about it).
· Understand the power of inertia. Often, the first step is the hardest. Inertia is a bitch, but momentum is the bee’s knees. Unfortunately, you have to get past the one to arrive at the other. Sometimes, when I’m feeling very resistant to getting my writing done, I make myself write for just 10 minutes. Most of the time, that 10-minute threshold is the only thing holding me back. It hurts like hell for 10 minutes and then I feel like I get over some metaphysical barrier and, suddenly, I’m coasting. Momentum. Now…keep rolling.
· Check/Challenge your beliefs. It’s so common for people to be held back by false beliefs.
-I can’t change jobs.
-I can’t go back to school.
-I can’t lose weight.
-I can’t improve my life while I’m tired and in pain all the time. (I can state this one because this has been a reality in my life).
-I can’t start a new career.
-I can’t create my own business.
-I can’t write a book.
-I can’t get into a good relationship.
There could be a litany of reasons for why we have these beliefs (and this is just a tiny sampling of the beliefs we have), and add to that the fact that we also believe our reasons. Check that shit at the door. Challenge it! I would venture to say that most of the time it isn’t true. It’s only true within certain parameters, and we have allowed those parameters to be set by our insecurities, and our fears, and our other beliefs that we have failed to question. If you don’t believe you can do something, you will not be motivated to try. So, this is key.
Motivation can be intrinsic (self-driven) or extrinsic (driven by something outside yourself). What I have offered is a mix of both. Extrinsic motivation is very powerful (“If you don’t come to work today, you’re fired!”) but intrinsic motivation will give you the greatest return on your investment (“I want to build a strong business so that I have more freedom of choice and can offer my family a better lifestyle”), the most satisfaction, and the greatest chance of fulfilling your highest potential.