“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” – Confucius
Motivation is a powerful emotion. It enables us to steadily move forward in our lives – towards our dreams, goals, and objectives. Motivation is the fuel that fills the tank of our ambition and allows us to overcome the inevitable obstacles.
However, motivation is elusive and often hinges on the circumstances of our lives. This being the case, it is important to have a plan in place to re-motivate ourselves when we feel nothing of the sort. None of us want to feel lethargic and without purpose. In having a plan to re-motivate ourselves, we effectively neutralize procrastination and other debilitating emotions that keep us from taking action.
Here are 11 ways that we can find motivation when we need it most:
1. Break down large tasks
You have probably heard this before: “How do you eat an elephant?”
“One bite at a time…”
While certainly corny, this riddle has some legitimacy. You have big goals, big dreams, and a life that you picture for yourself. In fact, these goals are so big that you become paralyzed by the feelings of unattainability.
You can’t allow yourself to become mentally paralyzed.; not if you are serious about achieving your dreams. You must take small action steps that eventually lead to the realization of these dreams. You have to take one small bite, and then the next, then the next…until you are done with that elephant of a goal.
Break that goal down into small steps and then get after it.
2. Mentally prepare for work
Let’s be honest: work is not fun for most of us. We spend the majority of our day in some cubicle, at some desk, or elsewhere when we’d rather be actually enjoying life. Regardless, work is a necessity that allows you to provide for yourself and your loved ones. To make the most of it, it helps to mentally prepare.
Research shows that intelligence accounts for about 30% of achievement; the rest is mental preparation. When you are mentally prepared, you prepare yourself for success.
Before an athlete steps onto the field of play, they are preparing themselves mentally. Some do this through visualization – rehearsing what they’re going to do to allow them to win. Some meditate, listen to music, read, and even pray. Find the right preparation technique for you that will get those productive, creative juices flowing.
3. Remember your past successes.
The ability to move forward and push the envelope of success is great for advancing society. This ability has allowed us to explore space, map the genome, cure polio, and achieve countless other feats.
Naturally, we feel the need to keep moving forward and achieve more success in our lives. However, we must be able to give ourselves credit when credit is due. Remembering your success boosts self-confidence and motivates you to push on.
Maybe you’ve built a successful business, finished a degree, helped someone in need, or something that makes you proud. The point is this: remember your times of success, as it regenerates motivation and allows you to overcome discouragement.
4. Discover your purpose, and live it!
It’s never too late to put dreams into action, nor is there anything wrong with starting later in life. If you’re still breathing, there’s still time.
Your true purpose does not need to translate into a job or source of income, although it’s certainly a nice benefit. You should, however, know your passions and what makes you feel alive, and then go about doing these things.
When you are unmotivated or unhappy, chances are that you are not living out your passions. Do what you love doing and feel the power of a fulfilling life.
5. Live every moment, every day to the fullest.
Here’s something to contemplate: right now is all that you are guaranteed. You are not assured tomorrow, nor is anything else in your life. Uncomfortable? Maybe, but it is 100% true.
Living your life to the fullest can only be accomplished one way: being present. Whatever task is facing you, positive or negative, wanted or unwanted, should be approached with 100% presence of thought.
Now, no one does this al of the time – we’re human after all. But we should do it as often as possible. Remind yourself to be present and live each moment. Then witness how much more fulfilling and motivating your life is.
6. Get outside of your self-imposed box.
Fears and self-imposed, false limitations make it difficult to attain a successful mindset. Perhaps more disturbing is that these fears and limitations are dream crushers.
Here’s what Michael Jordan, possibly the greatest athlete of all time, says about fears and limitations: “Never say never because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”
Recognize these illusions as false and let them go.
7. Stimulate your creativity.
Many methods – good and bad – have been derived to help “stimulate” creativity. Similarly, research has also been varied on how to effectively boost creativity. There are, however, a few commonly-accepted ways to boost creativity.
– Psychological distance – imagining that the creative task is disconnected and distant, rather than personal and accessible. In essence, this involves putting the task outside of your mind’s view and observing the results.
– Daydreaming – Most studies show that both daydreaming and napping help with the creative thinking process. One catch: this works best with projects where much time and effort has already been invested.
– Exercise – Research shows that exercise helps creative thinking due to its ability to get the heart pumping and the endorphins (“feel good” hormones) flowing in your brain.
8. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Perception is not reality and never will be. It’s simple: negative thoughts are usually a result of your brain being on auto-pilot.
Choose to consciously embrace being present in every situation, and you’ll find that more positive thoughts enter your mind throughout the day.
9. Cut back on distractions.
Distractions kill motivation, plain and simple.
As much as technology and social media has benefited our society, it has also created a following of distracted, unmotivated individuals. This following is a by-product of the “always-on”, “always connected” society that we’ve embraced.
Those of us guilty of these distractions have to shoulder much of the blame. Our lack of self-discipline makes it possible for Facebook, Twitter and the others to make this content (and therefore their companies) viral and always accessible.
The solution for these and other distractions is simple: focus on one task at a time, and only allow distractions when that task is complete. You’ll find that this becomes much, much easier with time and practice!
10. Follow or surround yourself with motivated, successful people.
Jim Rohn, the uber-famous self-help guru and motivational speaker, states: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
If your inner circle consists of unmotivated, unambitious people, how can you expect to be motivated? Remember, human beings have an innate tendency to absorb what is around them, including the thoughts and attitudes of others.
If you desire to be motivated and successful, you must surround yourself with people that reciprocate these ambitions.
11. Write down your goals, and how to achieve them.
In 1979, Harvard MBA students participated in a study. These individuals were asked “have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”
In response, 3% had written goals and plans, 13% had goals but weren’t written down, and 84% had no goals.
Ten years later, the results were these:
-13% of those who had goals but hadn’t written them down were earning twice the amount of the 84% who had no goals.
-The 3% who had written goals were earning ten times the amount as the other 97% combined!
This study is nothing short of incredible, and speaks to the power of writing down goals. Specifically, you should: create a vision (what do you want?), make it measurable (a written list of concrete goals and timeframe), set benchmarks (very small, measurable action steps), and remember to celebrate your successes!