Motivation. What is it?
I think many people perceive motivation as a “feel good” emotion that gets you generically jumping out of bed each morning ready to take on the day. As this sounds all fine and dandy, it’s a poor perception of what real motivation looks like.
I am going to dissect and discuss the true meaning and usage of this word in our life. I will also give practical daily practices that will help you stay motivated. But remember, motivation goes deeper than just some “fake bravado”. Ultimately, if we want to achieve a particular goal, action will be needed on the days when we may not feel motivated.
“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.” Zig Ziglar
It’s true. Motivation is not some feeling that emerges magically. We have to work on it daily. We have to commit to a lifestyle that consistently sparks our motivation.
Simply put, motivation is “having the desire to achieve something”. If I desire or want to achieve a specific goal, there are two questions I must ask before moving forward:
- What do I want to achieve in my life?
This is a starting point question. Go to a nearby coffee shop or find a quiet space and write this question down in your notebook. Sit there. Meditate on the question. Listen to your deepest self. What do you want? I recommend opening up your mind to big and broad ideas. Anything goes. The next question will help you decide if the goal or plan is realistic for you in your life at this moment. Don’t hold back. Write down your biggest thoughts and goals. This creates a limitless mindset.
- What am I willing to sacrifice to achieve the above goals?
This matters. Where are you at in life? Kids? Full time job? Married? Just started a business? Accomplishing goals takes sacrifice, consistent work, support and dedication. It is an important step to know the expectations of “X” goal you want to pursue. Completing an Ironman triathlon takes a considerable more amount of time versus completing a few Sprint triathlons in the year. Know expectations and that will give you a strong mindset going into the endeavor.
(I recommend doing this activity at least a couple times a year.)
Here are a few ideas to keep your motivation:
- Human Spirit. To me, this is the main ingredient to keeping motivation in your life. Find the right people who are motivating to be around. These people are positive, inspiring, hard workers, support you and your goals, encourage you, hold you accountable, etc. We NEED these PEOPLE! We cannot do this alone. Daily motivation is positive relationships. Anytime you feel discouraged or down, call that person who you know will uplift your spirits. Find an accountability group, a workout group or a church group that will give you a sense of positive energy. When I ran 300 miles in 100 hours, the people supporting me were heroes. I couldn’t have done it without my pace runners and support crew guiding me through this arduous ultra run. There is nothing stronger than the human spirit. That is why I suggest a strong dosage of positive people in your life to maintain your motivation.
- Condition the Mindset. Notice the word “condition”. You don’t just wake up one day with a more “positive mindset”. Just like Zig Ziglar said above, we need motivation daily. It takes work to build a resilient and optimistic mindset. It’s never ending. First we need to look at our daily habits and rituals. If our days are loaded with negative people, pessimistic news and lack luster energy, guess how life will be? We have to put positive daily habits in place to improve up on our mindset. Reading positive books, watching positive videos, meditating, exercising, being around good people, these things are needed daily to sustain motivation. Take time every once in awhile to reevaluate your schedule and habits. What are some minor changes you can make in your daily routine to positively impact and condition your mindset? Starting the day with 5-10 minutes of reading? Walking around your block a few times? Getting to the gym 3-4 days a week? Spending 5-10 minutes/day breathing/meditating? Again, what do you want? And what are you willing to do to get there?
- Condition the physical body. No matter what, life will knock you down. Might as well be fit and strong to be able to handle the face punches that you will endure through the journey. Physical stamina, strength and endurance will be needed to get you up each day to fight for your goals and pursue your best self. When you are sick or have limited movement, it’s a tough road. The more conditioned the physical body is, the more motivation you will have to pursue your goals. Fitness can be a unique journey for everyone. The key is to find what works for you. Walking? Yoga? Triathlon? Running? Three times a week at the gym? Circuit training? Weight training? A mix of a few? What do you want? What are you willing to do? If you need accountability, hire a fitness coach who can help you build a program specific to your goals. Exercise is not only good for the physical body, but the mental benefits are valuable as well. Along with the exercise and movement portions, a consistent nutrition plan will assist with conditioning the body. And a consistent healthy nutrition plan is not just about looking a certain way, because when you are eating healthy foods most of the time, you feel good, your system is working well and you have sustained energy. Many people sabotage themselves by ignoring this element. Motivation naturally happens by continuing to work and improve upon your fitness.
- Gratitude. Plain and simple, BE THANKFUL. Gratitude is a positive attitude. A positive attitude is likely to stay motivated. There are always a few things to be thankful for each day. Take a moment at the end of the day and write down 2-3 small things you were grateful for. It will give you a sense of optimism before bed, release any tension or anxiety and prepare you for the day ahead. Consistent gratitude creates motivation.
Disclaimer: Nothing works without consistent action.
“The journey to the race makes the man.”