How to sustain your motivation
The main thing you should know about motivation is that it depends primarily on you. If you spend years waiting for someone to motivate you, there is a chance that you will not meet them ever. Motivational speakers, coaches, writers can only give you a push. But motivation is the internal state and the responsibility for it rests with you.
So, the first step in creating and retaining motivation is to determine what you really want. It would seem that nothing is easier. Everyone wants to be healthy, wealthy and happy. Nevertheless, thousands of people live “by inertia”, doing things that do not bring them joy. Where in this case would motivation come from? Therefore, the first thing you need to do is decide what you really want. What is your true passion, what are your reasons for making efforts? After looking into that use these simple steps.
1. Visualize your goal to the smallest detail
Imagine that you have already achieved what you want. What will you feel? What sounds will accompany the final result: the wash of the waves, the applause of the audience, the roar of your new sports car? Many famous athletes regularly do this exercise: they visualize their victory in detail, down to the drops of sweat dripping down their forehead as they cross the finish line.
One of the most vivid examples of how this technique works is the story of a multimillionaire, movie star, bodybuilder, multiple champion of “Mr. Universe” and “Mr. Olympia” contests. Of course, I am talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In many interviews, he shared his main secret: “Before I won my first Mr. Universe, I walked around the tournament like I owned it. The title was already mine. I had won it so many times in my mind that there was no doubt I would win it.”
Perhaps, you have different goals than becoming “Mr. Olympia”, but Arnold Schwarzenegger’s strategy definitely deserves attention.
2. Set intermediary goals
My mentor, Tony Robbins, said: “A major source of stress in our lives comes from the feeling that we have an impossible number of things to do. If you try to do all at once, you’re going to be overwhelmed. By taking all that is coming at you and putting it into ideal-sized groups your mind can handle, you are positioning yourself to accomplish your goals.”
Therefore, break each goal into parts. When you have a clear turn-based plan of small tasks, it is much easier to sustain motivation on the way to your dream.
3. Stop worrying about what is out of your control
Let’s say you got sick and didn’t go to an important event. You can dwell on missed opportunities, or you can think about how to seize the new ones. Recognize what you can influence and what you can’t. And do not worry about the latter. Otherwise, you will fall into an emotional pit, which will start to slow down your progress and, of course, reduce your motivation. Therefore, try to focus on future victories, not past defeats.
4. Surround yourself with positive people
You can argue that this does not always work. After all, even among the closest relatives and colleagues, there can be people who are always unhappy with everything. What can be done in this case? For example, try changing the conversation subject to a more productive one. Share your enthusiasm, tell the people about your new project which you are currently working on.
If they start giving you negative feedback, do not try to argue but simply end the conversation: “Sorry to leave you but I have an important phone call in 5 minutes.” However, what can boost your motivation is communicating with positive people who are ready to support and inspire you or give useful advice.
5. Celebrate victories, even small ones
In pursuit of a great goal, we sometimes forget to enjoy small accomplishments. Make sure to celebrate them. It is not necessary to throw a huge party on every occasion. But you can plan a weekend getaway or just go to the movies or buy yourself an ice-cream. Reward yourself, because a reward plays a huge role in maintaining motivation.
6. Watch movies, videos, read books that motivate you
We all sometimes need that “magic boot in the butt” that will make us believe in ourselves. But it is different for everyone. Therefore, I am not going to list the recommended literature, music or films. Instead, I advise you to google “Top 10 motivational movies” or “Top 10 motivational books”, read annotations and reviews, then choose what seemed most interesting to you.
What boosted my motivation at one time was meeting a world-renowned speaker Nick Vujicic. He explained to me how many of our limiting beliefs are created with our own mind and imagination. Nick has really helped me to release myself from many fears that I had because I focused on my disabilities instead of focusing on my abilities. A detailed story of meeting Nick Vujicic is on my website.
Photo: from Gil Petersil’s personal archive
7. Work with your body
Why does Tony Robbins encourage his audience to dance and jump? Because “motion creates emotion”. When you are feeling down, just do 10 sit-ups or push-ups. It takes less than a minute, but you’ll notice the effect immediately. Exercises increase the level of serotonin and dopamine, the famous “happiness hormones” that improve not only your health but also mood.
You don’t necessarily have to buy an annual pass to a fitness club or run marathons. Simply recall what you did at PE classes in primary school. This is the very basic set of exercises. However, they can give you a charge of energy for the whole day.
8. Learn to focus
There are so many distractions around, especially in our digital age. Therefore, it’s not an easy task to work without checking your smartphone every now and then or opening the mailbox on your computer. But if at the end of the day you realize that you have fulfilled everything from your to-do list, then you feel awesome.
How can you get this result? First, try to focus on the three most important things that you need to accomplish in a day. Do not get into anything else until they are done. You can find other methods of beating “the attraction of distraction” in my article “Staying focused. How to conquer distractions at work.”
9. Create new neural connections
Our brain stops developing when it performs the same routine actions every day. So, regularly surprise and develop yourself, giving the brain new challenges. For example, the simplest thing is to brush your teeth with your left hand, if you are right-handed, or take a new way to the office instead of the usual route.
Also, think about what you longed to do. For example, learn to draw, learn a foreign language, visit your dream destination. All this increases the brain plasticity, provoking positive chemical and structural changes in your head. Thus, you also change your emotions and increase your motivation.
10. Compete only with yourself, not others
Nothing kills motivation like a constant comparison with others. A person 20 years younger than you is already on the Forbes list and you are not. So what? Whatever heights you have reached, there will always be people who are smarter, richer and more successful than you.
Thus, your only competitor should be you. Compete with yourself from yesterday, not with others. Remember that everyone has his or her own path, goals and starting speed. And most importantly, it’s never too late to start pursuing your dream, no matter where you are now. As J.K. Rowling, the first billionaire author on the planet, said: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” If right now you do not have enough motivation to fulfill your dream, try the following:
- Determine what you really want, and visualize your goal to the smallest detail.
- Set intermediary tasks. Break the big goal into small logical groups that your brain can handle.
- Stop worrying about what is out of your control.
- Surround yourself with positive people.
- Celebrate victories, even small ones. Remember that the reward plays a huge role in maintaining motivation.
- Watch movies, videos, read books that motivate you.
- Do not forget about physical activity to maintain good health and good mood.
- Learn to focus and work without getting distracted.
- Create new neural connections.
- Compete only with yourself, not others.