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10 Thing Successful People Do To Motivate Themselves

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10 Thing Successful People Do To Motivate Themselves

When I was in 20 years old and studying at UCLA, I flunked an Economics class. I was devastated. Guess what happened? I bounced back. I got an A when I retook the course.

When I was 22, I interviewed with 4 different managers at a Fortune 100 company and was ranked pretty much last in every interview. I didn’t get a single job offer. I was frustrated. Guess what happened? I bounced back. I have my dream job now.

When I was 25, I created 9 iPhone apps, all of which failed miserably. I spent a ridiculous amount of time and money building them. I felt really bummed. Guess what happened? Since then, I’ve built other 4 iPhone apps and all 4 of them hit the top 100 in the Business, Lifestyle, and Entertainment section.

When I was 28, I found out my mentor and friend Erik, who was like a brother to me, passed away from cancer. That was one of the toughest times in my life. Guess what happened? I bounced back because that’s what Erik would have wanted.

What I’ve noticed over the last 30 years of my life is a recurring pattern to successfully motivating myself. This pattern helped me get back on track, even during times that felt like rock bottom. I’ve also asked numerous executives from Cisco, MTV, Bank of America, VMware, Box, and Optimizely what their secrets to motivation are. In addition to that, I’ve also read numerous books on motivation from authors like Tony Robbins to Daniel Pink (Author of “Drive”).

I’ve put together a list of the 10 things successful people do to motivate themselves. I’ve never shared this list – until now. Here are the top 10.

1.  Understand Your Why

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”  – Mark Twain

Understand your purpose and it will fuel your drive.

If I told you that it was your job to sort through a box of potatoes and to throw away the rotten ones, would you feel a strong sense of purpose? Or would you feel like a cog in a machine? Now, what if I told you that by sorting out the bad potatoes you were helping out the local food bank in supplying fresh food to needy families in the area? Would that change your perspective and your sense of purpose in the work?

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Now that you understand the purpose of the work, does it potentially change your attitude or perhaps even your choice of work?

I’m not here to dictate what purpose is. Everyone’s got a different definition based on their experiences in life and their own set of values. What I do want to ask you is: What does purpose mean to you?

Find your why. If you don’t know what it is, create it. That will motivate you to make a difference.

2. Stay Focused on the Big Picture

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” – Oprah Winfrey

Admit it. There will be days where work will feel boring, when tasks feel repetitive, or when you feel like you have 100 things to do on your checklist.  There also those days when you’re just plain irritated. The easy thing to do is to feel frustrated and to give up. However, you could stay focused on the big picture.

When I worked at a Fortune Global 2000 company, I started a weekly partner training program that quickly grew from 20 attendees to well over 150 sales reps at its peak. One of my co-workers was upset because he felt like it would end up creating more work for him. For example, if Nelson is doing it, then we’ll all have to start doing this!

If I caved and stopped doing the training so that my co-worker wouldn’t feel obligated to do more work, do you know what would have happened? We wouldn’t have created $1.6M in pipeline, that’s for sure. That’s why you’ve got to keep your eye on the big picture.

3.  Get Active

A lot of times it’s hard to get motivated if you’re not in a good mood. Research has shown that working out multiple times a week for a reasonable period of time can reduce the symptoms of depression. Exercising for 30 minutes can also increase levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine which can help to reduce stress.

I’ve noticed that when I exercise for at least 30 minutes (especially in the morning), I’m a lot more relaxed throughout the day, less stressed out, and am able to think much more clearly.

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Also, if you’re pushing yourself in your workouts, you’re testing your boundaries and this can be really healthy. For example, I had never run a half marathon before until I decided to step up to the challenge this year. It was painful, but after I finished, I immediately thought, “if I can do this, what else I am capable of?”

Pushing yourself physically will also motivate you to push yourself intellectually and in other parts of your life – like your career.  #WorkoutsElevateYourGame

4.  Have an Accountability Buddy

“Surround yourself with people who push you, who challenge you, who make you laugh, who make you better, who make you happy.” – Anonymous

Let’s say you set a goal of signing on 100 new customers within a year. Now, share that goal with some of your closest friends and colleagues. Guess what? You’ve just signed up for peer pressure. This is a great way to keep yourself motivated at work. Don’t believe me? Just wait until you hear someone down the hall say, “Hey (Insert Your Name Here), how are you doing in your goal of 100 new customers?”

Still don’t think that’s motivating? How about an additional 50 coworkers also asking that same question? I think that’ll motivate you. Just a hunch.

5.  Motivational Quotes

I know, I’m writing a post on how to get motivated and included motivational quotes and then suggested that you use motivational quotes to get motivated. This just got meta on you.

Whatever motivational quote you decide on, print it out and tape it to your mirror. Or if you want to get fancy with it, take a marker and write it on the mirror!

That’ll get you going in the morning!

6.  Create Small, Bite-Sized Goals

There’s a reason donut holes are so lovable. They’re easy to eat. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a dozen of them. This is how goals should be too. Of course you should have a really big and audacious goal.

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However, make sure you break down that goal into bite-sized, consumable goals. This way you’ll feel like you’re making progress in your journey and you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete the smaller goals. A feeling of progress and achievement is a beautiful combination.

7.  Have the Time of Your Life

“There’s no fun in a perfect life. So make a risk. Take a chance. Go where the wind takes you. Have fun.” – Jenny C.

If you’re having fun, you’re going to be more motivated to do great work. This is true for 90% of the people. Okay, I have no proof that is statistically true, but I’m pretty sure for most people this holds true.

Do you notice that when you’re having fun, you’re more charismatic, upbeat, and optimistic? Do you notice that you’re more productive because you’re actually enjoying the work? Do you notice you’re motivating other team members because you’re making the work environment awesome? Thought so.

Go out there and have the time of your life!  (Go to 3:19 for the good part)

8.  Meditate

“Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

We live in a world of information overload. Because of that, our brains sometimes get overstimulated, and that’s not a good thing.  That’s why we need to meditate.

Calm down. Close your eyes. Lie down.

Okay fine, you’re probably sitting in front of a computer – just sit up straight then. Breathe slowly, in and out. Do you feel a sense of calm washing over you? Do you notice thoughts starting to creep in? Push them out and focus only on your breathing.

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Meditation will help you motivate yourself in a few different ways:

  • Focus – By clearing your mind, you’ll have a renewed sense of focus.
  • Happiness – By meditating, you’ll likely feel happier since your stress will be reduced. When we’re happy, we tend to be more optimistic about the future. That optimism can often be a very powerful motivational force.

9. Brainstorm Your Ideas and Write Them Down

Not all of your ideas will be good. It doesn’t matter. Write them down anyway. I got this idea from James Altucher (the guy is brilliant!). Your great ideas will come when you least expect them.

Eventually, after you jot down 100 ideas, chances are that you’ll have at least one good idea. That’s incredibly motivating when you discover you can come up with good ideas. So start jotting them down. Now.

10. Visualize the Future and Go Make it Happen

Need motivation? Think about what you’re going to achieve. Think about the impact you’re going to make. Think of the future you’re going to create. Visualize it.

Go make it happen. NOW!

Because it’s never too late to be awesome.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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