Motivation is a difficult skill to master, often we find ourselves incredibly motivated and flying through life at full steam, other times just getting out of bed can seem like a monumental task! In this article, I’ll teach you how to harness motivation in order to reach your true potential.
What is Motivation?
Motivation is the reason for people's actions, willingness and goals. This is a very simplistic explanation of motivation, but, to get to the essence of motivation, let’s start by stealing a line from Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art. To paraphrase, “At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.” This is gold, this is poetry! Pain is a strong motivator, and this often helps people take action!
The common misconception regarding motivation is we think that we become motivated, we act upon it and we then achieve our goals, in that order. But that’s not how it works, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Getting started, even in a very small way, will naturally produce momentum. Keeping this in mind, the best way to get motivated it to simply take action!
The snowball effect
The issue we have is that we think taking action is a monumental task, but it’s really not. You just need to create a little bit of momentum. If we look at physics and Isaac Newton’s Laws of motion we can see that every object in a state of motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it. The same thing applies to life. In other words, we just need to get in motion, this will provide us with motivation and momentum. It’s the snowball effect!
How do we get started?
How do we get started, I hear you ask. it’s easy. We need to create a simple, pragmatic ritual . If you need to go the the gym each morning, your ritual should not be to go to the gym, train for 1 hour, shower, eat etc. Your ritual or action could be as simple as getting up and out of bed early enough to make it possible to go to the gym, or to go and put your trainers on, it’s that simple, we’ve rolled the snowball off the edge, now just let momentum to what it does best...stay in motion! My ritual is to get up at the same time each day and make coffee, I love coffee! And once I’m up (at stupid o’clock in the morning) I can then make a more rational decision as to whether or not I’m going to go and workout. 9 times out of 10 I do! This kind of ritual can be done at anytime of the day, call it your pre game routine. Maybe at 5 pm each day you put on your running trainers. Maybe you book a taxi to the gym each morning, the ritual is not going to the gym, the ritual is simply getting in the taxi, the gym, the momentum, motivation and consequently the success will all follow.
So I challenge you to formulate a pragmatic strategy that ultimately leads to your success!
How to maintain momentum?
Now you have created your ritual, we need to make sure you stay on track and maintain momentum. We do this by having a vision of where you wish your goal to take you. If you want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or a bikini competitor, you might find your goals are so out of reach they become too challenging and unrealistic, this makes it easy to give up. Conversely, if the goal is far too easy, like I want to lose 1kg in 6 months it ends up becoming painfully boring.
On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being too easy and 10 being impossible, you want to sit around a 7 or 8. To help you visualise the point I’m making, let’s create three 100m sprint scenarios with three different opponents. Now, generally you run your 100m sprint in 12.5 seconds, so whether you win or lose, you’re wanting to hit that respectable time. Scenario one you race against someone who is much faster than you, this crazy son of a bitch runs it in 10 seconds, you give it your “best” and cross the line in 12.5 seconds. The second Scenario you run against someone who is quite a bit slower than you, same again you give it your “best” and cross the line in 12.5 seconds. Scenario number three, your opponent is YOU, or without being too philosophical, let’s just say it’s your twin, your twin runs it in 12.5 seconds same as you. The challenge is of course to beat this guy, this is doable, but not easy, you have to work incredibly hard, you can’t just give it your best, you’ve got to give it everything, your very best, you need to summon any little bit of energy you might have been holding out on in the previous scenarios. Due to this attainable challenge you and your twin run it in an astonishing 11 seconds, this was you truly giving it your best. People vastly underestimate human potential, but put under the right challenge, people can achieve extraordinary things! Your goal/vision wants to be similar type of challenge, not too hard and not too easy, it wants to put you in “the zone”!
To summarise - Having a vision/goal which is appropriately challenging will keep you focused when times are difficult, but the ritual will create momentum and form a habit, this will ultimately results in your success!