Motivation is a function of practice, a function of movement. The more you practice, the better you’ll be able to motivate yourself. The key to motivation is to get moving.
“Whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it; men come to be builders, for instance, by building, and harp players by playing the harp. In the same way, by doing just acts we come to be just: By doing self-controlled acts, we come to be self-controlled; and by doing brave acts, we become brave.” –Aristotle, Greek Philosopher (384 BC – 322 BC)
List the benefits
Why? Why do you want to accomplish [fill in the blank]? How would you benefit personally? To really get your motivation train going, take a few minutes and list all the potential benefits of reaching your goal.
If you want to motivate yourself to save 20 percent for a down payment on a home, your list of benefits might include:
- Personal pride in ownership. That deep sigh of accomplishment and enjoyment.
- The ability to have Thanksgiving at YOUR house.
- A place to have your own garden, or for the kids to build a tree-house, or a place for your dog to run around.
- Building your own equity rather than a landlord’s.
Maybe you want to be motivated to start your own blog, or start a business to make extra money or to use more self discipline. No matter what you’re looking to achieve, listing the benefits will help you start getting motivated.
The benefits should be very personal and the more of them you can list, the better. Make copies of your list and review it on a regular basis — at least daily. Add to your list as ideas pop into your now motivated head!
Push your own buttons
Some people’s buttons are songs, some are movies, some are pictures, some are headlines. Learn what “cranks your tractor” and use it to to your advantage. When you’re feeling a lack of motivation, crank up the tunes or glance at the picture that motivates you.
I remember being 15 years old and watching Rocky 2 on HBO with a friend of mine at a beach home our parents had rented. He and I were so pumped up after watching the “Italian Stallion” beat Apollo Creed that we jumped on our bicycles and rode for miles on end. Our energy was boundless. Even now, the music and just the thought of that movie stirs me and makes me want to DO something.
Get in a new groove
You don’t always need inner strength or willpower to motivate you, sometimes you just need a routine. Try this: set your alarm clock one hour earlier than normal and less than a month later, it’s a piece of cake to get up early. It’s all in the routine you set for yourself. Start a routine that’s easy to keep and slowly crank things up a few notches each week. Do you consistently neglect a certain area of your personal or work life? Change your routine to include just one activity that reverses that neglect. Once it becomes a normal part of your life, add another activity, then another.
I have a writing routine for my blog and it’s what helps keep me motivated to write a daily post. You may have a daily exercise routine that keeps you on track. You might have a breakfast routine or a homework routine or a cleaning routine. When others see you doing those things, they think you’re incredibly motivated, but are you? Not necessarily, you’ve just intentionally incorporated these activities into your normal way of life. They’re no big deal to you, just like a daily insulin shot is no big deal to someone with diabetes or going for kidney dialysis is no big deal for a kidney transplant candidate.
If something is important enough and you want to mysteriously find the motivation to get it done, make it into a routine, and stick with it like it was a matter of life or death.
Admit that you ARE the problem
No one can motivate you. You, and only you, can motivate yourself. If the problem is outside of you, you are just a victim, and victims have no power to solve problems. But that’s good news because the problems we all have with motivation don’t come from without, they come from within. And we’re in charge of the things within us.
When we take responsibility for our problems, we unleash the creativity within ourselves to solve them.
Grow your goals exponentially
Take any reasonable goal of yours and make it UN-reasonable … double it, or triple it. If you have a goal to save $10,000 this year … double it to $20,000. Now before you say, “Impossible,” ask yourself one question: What would you HAVE to do to hit that goal? You would certainly have to do things differently, right? After all, wasn’t it Albert Einstein that said insanity was doing the same things over and over yet expecting different results? What would you have to do to hit your unreasonable goal? List everything you can possibly think of and keep brainstorming until you have 50 or even 100 things you would have to do to hit that goal. Chances are, you’ll discover that you can hit it, it’s just a matter of doing things differently.
To get some new motivational ideas, blow your goal up until it’s scary!
Have a bias for action
Commit yourself to taking the next step, the next action needed to propel you toward your goals. Sometimes, that action is to take no action. Sometimes it’s only necessary to wait, but even waiting is an action!
Humans were made to move, we were made to get going. Ever noticed how depressed people are rarely on the go? Movement keeps us healthy, keeps us in balance, and keeps us motivated to achieve higher and higher goals.
Get on with it!
“I will act now. I will act now. I will act now. Henceforth, I will repeat these words again and again, each hour, each day, every day, until the words become a habit as my breathing and the actions which follow become as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids. With these words I can condition my mind to perform every act necessary for my success. With these words, I can condition my mind to meet every challenge.” –Og Mandino, author and motivational speaker (1923 – 1996)
photo credit: WTL photos
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