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10 Thing Successful People Do To Motivate Themselves

10 Thing Successful People Do To Motivate Themselves
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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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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