People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.
The Truth About Motivation
Have you ever wondered how some people seem to have all the motivation in the world, while others struggle to get out of bed in the morning?
On the one hand, you have all these high achievers who appear to be buzzing with energy 24/7 doing miraculous things daily. On the other hand, you have all these other people who just can’t seem to figure out why they feel so sluggish and unmotivated. They have all these hopes and dreams for a better future, but they just don’t feel capable of moving forward toward that future. Their life stagnates, and they remain stuck in a place between the dreaded reality of where they are and the promise of a better tomorrow.
Yes, these people are all too familiar with motivation. In fact, they are probably often avid readers of motivational books. They are constantly searching for that one key insight that will help spring them into action. However, the reality of the matter is that motivation isn’t a generic secret recipe that works for everyone the exact same way. The truth is that what works for one person may not work for another person, or what works one time will work in various degrees other times in a different set of situations. Therefore motivation isn’t something that comes with a secret formula that will suddenly help you get unstuck. No, the reality is that finding your own approach to motivation is as unique as your thumbprint. But there is something very important that you should know.
Motivation rests upon the bedrock of the pain and pleasure principle. This is the fundamental principle at play that moves us to either take action or to refrain from taking action; to either pursue our goals or to laze around in front of the television all day. This is, therefore, the secret sauce, right? It’s exactly what you have been looking for all this time. We either take action moving us toward pleasure or away from pain. It’s that simple, right? Therefore if you can just master the pain and pleasure principle, then you will most certainly find the motivation you need to achieve your goals. That all, of course, makes sense, but it doesn’t always work. It doesn’t work because we rarely take the time to understand our “trigger points.” These are the things that help spark our motivation.
These “trigger points” are the fundamental keys that will help move you toward the attainment of your goals. However, the challenge here is that these “trigger points” vary from person-to-person. What motivates you forward may not inspire any action whatsoever within another person. Likewise, what motivates them forward may not spark your motivation.
Now, I, of course, don’t know you. I don’t know what stimulates the greatest amount of pain for you. I also don’t know what pleasurable triggers inspire you to act in various situations. This is something that you will need to figure out for yourself. I, therefore, cannot help you in that regard. However, what I can do is present you with a vast amount of ideas that can help spark your motivation. Not all these ideas will of course work for you. Some will work better than others, while others will work better in some situations and not so well in other situations. You will, therefore, need to experiment a little to get a sense of what works best for you in various situations while pursuing a variety of goals.
Below I have listed down many ways you can find the motivation you are searching for. I have ranked these ideas from Beginner to Intermediate to Advanced to Expert level techniques. The ideas discussed at the beginner level, for instance, will provide you with a good starting point. These ideas are relatively easy to implement, however, being “easy” doesn’t mean that all of them will work for you in various situations. As such, it’s important to keep an open mind while going through these motivational guidelines. Something that’s easy to implement may, of course, work wonders. However, it is possible that you may need to also dig into some of the more advanced suggestions to give yourself that extra needed boost.
It’s also possible that what you find easy to implement will be difficult for somebody else to implement. As such, it’s important not to read too much into these rankings. All of these motivational strategies work on some level in various degrees. You, therefore, don’t necessarily need to start at the beginner level. Instead, work with what resonates most with you and the goal you are pursuing. Try something out first, and then if it’s not working for you as effectively as you had imagined, then try something else. And above all else remember that the level of motivation you are able to muster up in various situations all comes down to the pain and pleasure principle. Therefore, the more pleasure you can muster up to help pull you forward, and the more pain you can generate to help push you forward, then the more motivation you will bring forth to help move you toward your goal. I would therefore highly recommend you become familiar with how the pain and pleasure principle works before digging into this article.
Speaking of goals, it’s, of course, important that you have a clear goal in mind while working through this list of motivational guidelines. This goal must be specific because what motivates you to pursue this goal might not be the thing that motivates you to pursue another goal. Therefore having a specific and concrete goal in mind is absolutely paramount. Please have a read of The GROW Model for further details about how to set effective goals.
So let’s now jump into the list moving from Beginner to Expert guidelines to help you spark that motivation you need to pursue your goals.
Beginner Motivation Guidelines
The ideas presented here are in general quite easy to implement. However, being “easy” doesn’t mean that they are not effective. In fact, the easiest strategies may work better than any other motivational strategies you implement. It’s therefore important not to overlook anything on this list or on any other list that follows. Also, please bear in mind that some of these suggestions might not seem as though they will help boost your motivational levels, but they actually will. What they do very well is shift your focus and attention to help trigger higher levels of motivation.
- Set big, exciting, and inspiring goals for yourself. Now take the time to read these goals daily to help keep you focused and motivated.
- Each day lay down a clear set of inspiring objectives that you will be working toward. Make sure they are challenging yet realistically achievable.
- Set achievable personal standards that will help you stay focused and on track toward your desired goals and objectives.
- Just decide to feel good about yourself. Decide to feel enthusiastic, energized and positive no matter what is going on in your life.
- Focus on just being happy. Happiness will generate positive energy to help you pursue your goals.
- To improve your happiness spend time smiling more often throughout the day. When you smile, you will automatically begin feeling better about yourself.
- Focus on the beauty of the world around you. This will put you into a more positive state-of-mind.
- Focus on the abundance around you. Abundance is everywhere. The more abundance you see around you, the more, you will appreciate what you have.
- Focus on just the present moment. Just be there in the moment without fear, worry or anxiety. This will help you stay focused on what’s most important.
- Be grateful for the events and circumstances of your life. Gratitude will help open your mind to more opportunities and possibilities.
- Try pretending that you are feeling highly motivated. Acting as if you are motivated can become the catalyst for positive action and change.
- Take some time to breathe deeply. Breathing deeply will immediately transform your physiology and put you into a more optimal state-of-mind.
- Move your body to get yourself out of a lazy funk. You can do this through stretching or exercise, or simply by moving faster. Develop a physiology of excellence.
- Play with children or animals. Playtime can help relax the mind and spark creative insights. When the mind is relaxed it is more open to the possibilities.
- Spend time watching an inspiring movie. A movie with a powerfully inspiring message can become a catalyst for positive change in your life.
- Listen to your favorite inspiring song or a powerful movie score. The words of a song or the emotion behind a movie score can often spark you into action.
- Take time to transform your personal image. Put on an outfit that makes you look sharp and successful. Often what we wear influences how we think about ourselves and our goals.
- Spend time daily visualizing a positive future full of opportunity. See yourself making the most of these opportunities while working toward the attainment of your goals.
- Spend time daily reflecting on your past successes. Learn what you can from what you accomplished in the past to spark the motivation you need in the present moment.
- Do all you can to avoid the influence of peers who constantly doubt and hold you back. It’s these kinds of people who keep us stuck and feeling unmotivated.
- Put a reward system in place that will help keep you motivated as you work toward your goals. This is all about implementing small rewards that help generate pleasure.
- Put a penalty system in place that will help push you forward toward the attainment of your goals. This is all about implementing penalties that help create pain when you miss your mark.
- Hire a life coach to help give you direction and keep you motivated, accountable and on track as you work toward the attainment of your goals.
Intermediate Motivation Guidelines
The ideas presented here are somewhat more involving than at the beginner level. However, they are certainly not difficult to implement. In fact, some of the suggestions here might come quite naturally for you. Again, this is all about finding what works best for you in specific situations pertaining to the individual goals you set.
- Complete uncompleted tasks that are weighing on your mind to create space for the more important stuff. Alternatively, delegate these tasks or eliminate them altogether.
- Simplify your life and schedule. Having too many things on your plate just doesn’t leave you enough time to focus on what’s most important.
- Develop a plan of action and schedule these actions into your calendar to help move you consistently toward the attainment of your goal.
- Spend some time listing the benefits of the actions you are about to take. Motivation comes not from the action but rather from the reason behind taking that action.
- Create deadlines for the actions you will take. Deadlines create a sense of urgency that can help keep your motivation at optimal levels required to pursue your goal.
- Take small steps in the pursuit of your goal. Large steps can become overwhelming very quickly and can lead to bouts of procrastination.
- Work in small chunks. It’s easy to bite off more than we can chew, and then end up choking on it. Moreover, having too much on the plate doesn’t feel good when it’s in your stomach. 😉
- Take consistent proactive daily action toward the attainment of your goals. Taking small steps occasionally is simply not enough. Consistent action is what is required.
- Take responsibility for your life, decisions, actions, and circumstances. Quit whining and complaining about how things are and commit yourself to making positive changes.
- Every now and then take a time out throughout the day to observe your thoughts and feelings. Get a sense of how they are affecting you and how you can make adjustments.
- Take charge of your psychological tendencies by learning how to better manage your emotional responses. This particularly becomes of value when dealing with adversity.
- Talk passionately and confidently to yourself especially when you just don’t feel like it. Confidence in your voice will bring energy to your body to help you move forward with more passion.
- Spend time reading 30 minutes of an inspiring book each and every day. If not a book than read some quotes that challenge you to think differently about your life and circumstances.
- Spend time singing aloud to yourself. Sing a song you know well or make up a song about how you will achieve your goals. And of course, it’s perfectly okay if your neighbors hear you. 🙂
- Help inspire and motivate someone who is struggling to make progress in their own life. Helping someone else in need can very well provide you with the spark you need to move forward.
- Transform your work environment with things that keep you inspired and motivated throughout the day. Cleanliness and orderliness, of course, go a long way.
- Take some time daily for meditation. Meditation will allow you to clear your mind of the clutter you have built up over the course of the day. This will likewise help you think more clearly about your goals.
- Take time throughout the day to think curiously as a child. A child looks at everything in wonder. This approach can help you find the inspiration you need to move forward.
- Cultivate optimism especially when faced with uncertainty. Of course don’t ignore the reality of the situation, however, be sure to cultivate the confidence you need to keep moving forward.
- Take a moment throughout the day to observe what’s going on around you in silence. You will often find inspiration in the smallest of things, but you must first take the time to notice.
- Only make self-to-self comparisons. It’s easy to get caught up comparing ourselves to others. This rarely motivates us long-term. Instead, compare yourself against your very best.
- Find positive role models who are doing what you would like to do or who have the qualities you would like to instill within yourself. Use them for guidance and inspiration.
- Find ways to have more fun with the pursuit of your goal. At times we can get so wrapped up in what we’re doing that we just take things too seriously. Have fun and enjoy the process. 🙂
- Laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Laughing at yourself will help you relax, and when you’re relaxed, you will be in a more positive frame-of-mind.
- Look at ways to boost your health and energy. When we are feeling lethargic and lacking in energy, it’s difficult to maintain high levels of motivation. Looking after your health is the key.
Advanced Motivation Guidelines
The ideas presented here are for the most part advanced strategies. They are advanced because they require more planning, effort, and involvement on your part. This, of course, doesn’t mean that they are any better than the ideas mentioned at the lower levels. These ideas will only be as helpful as you make them out to be. The more effort you put into implementing them, the more likely (or not) they are to work in your situation. It just depends on your situation. 😉
- Ask someone to become their “motivational buddy.” Your task will be to keep them motivated and accountable as they work toward the attainment of their goals.
- Ask more effective questions that stimulate your imagination. For instance, when facing a difficult situation ask: “What is great about this?” or “How can I make this more enjoyable?”
- Create an empowering morning ritual that will get your day started on the right track. It’s such a simple thing, but often a great morning leads to a productive day.
- Turn everything into a game. If you treat everything as a game, you will have more fun, and more fun often leads to higher levels of enthusiasm and motivation.
- Take time to resolve all unresolved problems. These are the problems that will often weigh on your mind, and when they weigh on your mind, you will never fully commit to your goals.
- Commit yourself to living a more passionate life. With passion comes desire, and with desire comes motivation that will help pull you toward your goals.
- Commit yourself to living with more purpose. Living with purpose automatically brings with it a high level of motivation that you can infuse into every task and project you undertake.
- Create a mission statement and a vision for your future. The more clarity you have in these areas, the more motivation you will be able to muster up throughout the day.
- Spend time developing a set of new empowering habits and rituals that will keep you focused, productive and motivated throughout the day.
- Create several empowering mantras you can use throughout the day when you are struggling to find motivation. For instance: “I can do this” or “I believe in myself.”
- Begin writing out a daily gratitude journal. This journal will help you come to appreciate all the positive things in your life so you can use them as inspiration to help move your forward.
- Start building a strong support network of individuals who will be there for you through thick and thin. They will be the bedrock you can rest upon when the going gets tough.
- Start challenging yourself in new ways. Often a lack of challenges leads to boredom, and when we’re feeling bored, it’s literally impossible to feel motivated at the same time. 🙁
- Build long-term anticipation for a better future. This is accomplished through the process of setting empowering goals that you visualize each and every day.
Expert Motivation Guidelines
The ideas presented here I have categorized as “expert” strategies. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you need to be an “expert” at motivation to implement any of these suggestions. What it does mean is that these ideas do require you to do a lot of background work on yourself and on the mindset, you bring to every situation.
If some of the ideas shared here sound a little perplexing or strange, then that’s perfectly okay. In such instances, I would recommend you follow the relevant links for each point where you will be able to read more about that particular topic.
- Begin acquiring the necessary experience, knowledge, resources, skills, and tools that will give you the confidence you need to pursue your goals with more certainty.
- Develop a set of motivational anchors that will instantly put you into a more positive frame-of-mind. Please have a look at how to eliminate unhelpful habits for more about anchoring.
- Develop a collage of inspiring words, quotes, and images exploring your goals that you can then use for guidance and inspiration throughout the day.
- Learn to say “no.” Many times we lose focus and motivation because we are just too busy solving other people’s problems. Just say “no” to anything that pulls you away from your goals.
- Instead of resisting your problems, come to appreciate the value that they have to offer. The best way to do this is to learn more about how to reframe your thoughts.
- Do you know someone who is constantly motivated? If so, then learn to model their patterns of behavior to help jump-start your own levels of motivation.
- Do something that feels uncomfortable. This will tend to push you out of your comfort zone, which will subsequently expand your horizons and lead to new opportunities.
- Let go of past regrets, mistakes, failures, grudges, ill-feelings, fears, attitudes and beliefs that are holding you back. Letting go of these things will lift a huge burden off your shoulders.
- Stop caring about what people say about you or about your goals. They may judge and criticize all they like, but you can’t allow that to affect how you think about yourself. Instead, focus on enhancing your self-worth and self-esteem. Also, improve your self-image and work on developing an empowering self-ideal that will keep you motivated and moving forward in the pursuit of your goals.
Turning Motivation into Action
Now that you have a general idea of what it takes to find the motivation you need to pursue your goals, it’s time to put some of these ideas into action.
Take time to go through each of these suggestions and select two or three that resonate with you and the goal you are pursuing. It really doesn’t matter which of these ideas you choose to work with first. The key is to choose something that will help you get the ball rolling. From there it will pretty much come down to trial and error. Some techniques will work better than other techniques. You may even find that in combination several techniques can significantly help spark your motivation levels. Just try things out to get a sense of how it feels. However, it is absolutely paramount that no matter what you choose — you must throw 100 percent commitment behind those actions. Doing things half-heartedly won’t lead to much. A full commitment is required.
It’s also important to point out that some techniques will work better at a certain point along your journey — as you work toward your goal — then at another point along that same journey. Therefore don’t be afraid to mix things up every now and then. You will never really know how much motivation you can muster up until you try something for the first time.
To conclude, I want to go back to the Zig Ziglar quote posted at the top of this article. Zig says that:
People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.
And that really is the key to lasting motivation. It’s not a one-time thing that you do and then forget about. It’s rather something that you must continue to work on every single day. As such, there really are no more excuses. You have more than enough ideas here to help move you to action no matter what your life, goals or current predicament. All that’s left is for you to commit yourself to putting these ideas into daily action.
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 5 Common Mistakes that Kill Your Motivation @ Pick the Brain
- 7 Surprising Ways to Get Motivated Right Now @ Inc.
- 13 Ways to Break Out of Any Slump and Get Motivated @ Inc.
- 30 Simple Little Hacks to Motivate Yourself Throughout Life @ Lifehack
- Dopamine Regulates the Motivation to Act, Study Shows @ Science Daily
- How to Get Motivated According to Science @ The Week
- How to Motivate Yourself: 3 Steps Backed by Science @ Time
- Lacking Motivation? Follow these steps to get back on track @ Entrepreneur
- Pushing Past the Terrifying Dip in Motivation @ Zen Habits
- The Key to Getting Motivated: Give Up @ 99U
- The Science Behind Motivation @ Forbes