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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

What Is Motivation And How It Can Change Your Life

What Is Motivation And How It Can Change Your Life

You’ve been thinking about learning to drive since you were a teenager. You believe having a car would give you freedom, choice, and adventure—as well as enhancing your career prospects.

But despite these beliefs and the encouragement of your friends and family, you’ve never gotten around to learning to drive.

What has stopped you?

Well, you might blame it on a lack of time or a lack of money. But in reality, it’s probably due to a lack of motivation. And this lack of motivation could well be holding you back in all areas of your life.

Now, imagine if you had zest and boundless motivation. You would not only learn to drive and get yourself a car, but you’d be excited to take on other big goals too. And with lots to aim for—you’d be passionate and alive.

The Motive Behind Motivation

Firstly, have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “what is motivation?”

Well, while I could give you a long, detailed answer, I prefer to share with you this simple definition:

Motivation is the driving force behind your actions.

Take eating, for instance. When you wake up in the morning, you’re probably motivated to grab a bite to eat. And even if you usually skip breakfast, I’m sure that by lunchtime you’re super-motivated to eat some food!

In this case, hunger motivates you to find and eat something. So, are you hungry in other areas of your life?

If you want to be successful, then you’ll need to be.

Wealthy people are hungry for money, fit people are hungry for health, and wise people are hungry for knowledge.

It’s their hunger that pushes them to succeed. Without this, they would probably just be daydreamers who never achieved anything major in life.

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The good news is that it’s never too late to learn how to become motivated and to inject that power into all areas of your life.

Let’s look now at exactly how to do that.

Making Motivation Work for You

There are five elements of becoming motivated that you’ll need to learn and adopt if you’re serious about changing your life. Each element will help boost your motivation, but all five together will super-charge it!

I’ll talk about these five elements and give you examples so you can see each element in action.

1. Finding Inspiration

The number one cause of feeling unmotivated is having nothing to be inspired by. If nothing excites you, then nothing will motivate you.

Is there a way to find inspiration? You bet there is!

The trick is to go back in your life to the times when fun, adventure, and enthusiasm ruled the day. This could be last year, five years ago, or even back to when you were a child.

One thing is certain: there were days when your life was exciting and purposeful.

It may have been your first kiss, your first holiday with friends, or the thrill of getting your first job. Think back to how you felt at that time—probably on top of the world. That’s the emotion that you need to rekindle in your life.

Another reason to look back in your life is that you may have given up following dreams that other people (possibly your parents) told you were a waste of time. These might be things like becoming a professional musician, actor, or sports star.

We all had ambitious dreams like these when we were young. But more often than not, these dreams were crushed by adults who told us to be ‘realistic’ about our lives.

If you want to be excited about life again, then allow yourself to dream once more.

This could lead you, for example, to join a drama class to train as an actor. Even if this remains as a hobby, you’ll start to taste enthusiasm in your life again. And you’ll be able to take this inspiration and use it in different areas of your life.

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2. Goal Setting

American football coach Vince Lombardi once said:

“Success demands singleness of purpose.”

In other words, you must know what you want before you have any chance of getting it.

When you start to set goals for yourself, you’ll quickly find that you have purpose and motivation. It’s the difference between sailing to a specific destination or just letting your boat drift upon the ocean.

The secret to goal setting is to start off small. Choose some easy to achieve goals like giving up caffeine for one day a week or waking up every day 30 minutes earlier than you normally do.

Once you’ve achieved your small goals, you’ll notice that you’ll have grown in self-confidence and belief. That’s when you’ll be ready to set some bigger goals. These might be things such as finding a new job, clearing your debts, or even traveling the world!

Bigger goals may seem hard to achieve. But you’ll make them more palatable by breaking them down into bite-sized chunks.

For example, if your goal is to find a new job, then you could break this down into the following steps:

  • Decide what job you really want to do.
  • Tailor your resume to match this job.
  • Practice your interview skills.
  • Register with recruitment agencies.
  • Take on any advice they recommend (such as boosting your qualifications).
  • Go along to interviews.
  • Celebrate when you’re offered the role you want!

Goal setting is fundamental to being motivated. It costs nothing to do, yet it will reward you abundantly.

3. Persistence

The third element that you must have to be motivated is persistence. This trait will keep you going when the going inevitably gets tough.

Just think of a runner in a marathon. If they reach halfway but feel half-dead (most runners say this happens to them), then without the element of persistence, they’ll probably call it quits.

The winners are the people who keep running until the finish life—however arduous that may be for them.

It’s the same story when it comes to your hobbies, relationships, or career. If you quit when things aren’t going so well, you’ll never find the happiness and satisfaction that come from staying the course.

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Life is always a mixture of ups and downs. This is why you must be persistent if you want to achieve big things in your life.

4. Getting Support

If you try to do everything yourself, you’ll set yourself up for failure.

The reality is that to achieve any big goal you will need the help and support of other people. It’s just not possible (or desirable) to do everything yourself.

To give you an example of this, let me tell you a short story from the early days of Lifehack.

Back in 2005, the website was just starting to take off, and I was getting lots of new subscribers. Some companies were even asking to advertise on the site.

This was at the time when I was writing the content, marketing the content, answering subscriber queries, maintaining the website, etc. Lifehack really was a one-man band at the start.

But as its popularity soared, I found myself becoming too busy to handle everything that needed doing. That’s when I decided to hire some people to help me!

Initially, I hired someone to look after the finances, someone to look after the marketing, and someone to help me out with creating new content.

It was amazing the difference this made. Instead of being stressed out and working all the hours under the sun (and moon!), I was able to find time to plan the way forward for Lifehack and to create a strategy for success.

And it worked. Lifehack is now one of the most visited self-improvement sites in the world.

So how about you? Do you try to do everything yourself?

If yes, then you MUST break out of this habit if you want to achieve big things.

I’d also recommend you consider getting support from a mentor. Read our article How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed for how to get started with this.

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5. Rewarding Yourself

The final essential element for boosting your motivation is to reward yourself as you achieve your goals — whether these are big or small.

For instance, imagine that you set a goal to redecorate your home. This would probably include purchasing and fitting items, such as new carpets and curtains. But it would likely also include repainting most of the rooms in your home.

Now, it would be unrealistic to expect to redecorate your whole place in a day. Instead, you’d probably want to do a little at a time. Maybe something like this:

  • Choosing new carpets
  • Choosing new curtains and blinds
  • Choosing paint for each room
  • Purchasing the items
  • Arranging a carpet fitter
  • Painting the walls and ceilings (you might choose to do this yourself)
  • Fitting the curtains
  • Inviting your friends and family around to see your new-look home!

Each of these steps may take you a few hours or a few days. But to keep you motivated, my recommendation is to reward yourself when you complete each step.

A small reward for the steps listed above could be going out to get a coffee and cake at your local café. A big reward for having completed your redecoration goal could be to go out for a meal with your friends or partner.

By rewarding yourself as you go along—and at the end—you’ll keep yourself focused on completing your goal, and you’ll be excited to set the next one!

Start the Motor!

Have you noticed that the pronunciation of motivation sounds like MOTORvation?

While I’m not encouraging you to use the incorrect spelling, I would like you to think of motivation as a motor—one that you can switch on to help drive you forward in all areas of your life.

When motivated, you’ll be unstoppable. You’ll no longer procrastinate and look for excuses for not doing stuff. Instead, you’ll be a super-powered success story!

So turn the key and get started!

Featured photo credit: Tegan Mierle via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

8 Creative Ways To Motivate Yourself To Reach Goals

8 Creative Ways To Motivate Yourself To Reach Goals

“Self-pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it we can never do anything wise in this world” – Helen Keller

From the moment our kindergarten teachers asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up to the job interview question that asks us to envision where we see ourselves in five or ten years time, everyone seems to want to know what we’re doing (or hope to do) with our lives. Some of us have detailed road maps in our minds, with mile-markers for each goal: Obtain a college degree, land a dream career, start a family, visit Mars, achieve world domination—whatever. Others like the scenic route. We have a vague picture of someone in the distant future who looks like us and is doing amazing things, but they’re too far off in the distance for us to see just what those amazing things are. Whether you’ve had your entire life planned out since you were 5 yrs old or are just winging it, we all need a jump start from time to time to keep us moving in the right direction—or any direction. Here are eight creative ways to motivate yourself to reach your goals.

1. Sing to yourself

Seriously. Like laughter, sunshine, and fresh air; singing elevates our moods and increases our well being. It can even be a useful group exercise to enhance collaboration in the workplace. Read more about it here. Studies have shown that singing triggers a release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural way of chemically relieving pain and stress. When we’re happier, we get more done. This might be why Snow White likes to whistle while she works.

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2. Visualize your success

According to Dr. Frank Niles, visualization is a simple but useful motivational technique because when you form a picture of succeeding in your mind, you begin to see the possibility of reaching your goal. When I was working on my dissertation in graduate school, there were days when meeting the daily writing goal I’d set for myself seemed insurmountable, let alone finishing the entire book-length project that sat in my stomach like a baby with an unknown due date. When I began to feel overwhelmed, I’d often visualize the moment of achievement, walking across the stage, receiving my degree, finally earning those three letters at the end of my name that I’d poured so much blood, sweat, tears, and vodka into. Six years and quite a few drinks later, I managed it.

3. Speak about achieving your goals in definitive, positive terms

Instead of saying, “if I get married,” “if I get that raise,” “if I quit smoking,” say “when I get married,” “when I get that raise,” “when I quit smoking.” This shifts your focus from possibility to actuality. Spiritual teacher and best-selling author Dr. Wayne Dyer has written and spoken extensively about the “I Am” discourse, which is a form of positive thinking that takes its name from Judeo-Christian Scripture but is portable in any walk of life. Dyer tells us humorously that God didn’t introduce himself to Moses as “I will be,” or “My name is I hope things will work out.” No. He said simply “I am.” Using this affirmative vocabulary in our own lives, argues Dr. Dyer, can help us to visualize our goals and keep our eye on the prize.

4. Use sticker charts

We all remember the thrill of achievement when we rushed home from school to show our parents the shiny gold star we’d received on our homework assignments in school. Who’s to say this positive reinforcement can’t work for adults too? Draw up a chart of your goals, with various benchmarks. Each time you achieve a benchmark, give yourself a gold star, or a smiley face, or a googly-eyed cat. Whatever gives you a sense of accomplishment. This ties into the visualization technique as well, because charting the trajectory of completion gives you verifiable proof that you’re making progress.

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5. Keep a goal diary

Like creating a chart with eye-catching visuals, writing down your goals and reflecting regularly on their progress helps you to both focus on the desired outcome and holds you accountable. In 1979, a study conducted in the Harvard MBA program asked students if they had goals and if they’d written down those goals. 3% had written down their goals, 13% had goals but hadn’t written them down, and 84% had no clearly defined goals. Ten years later, the study revealed that the 3% who had written down their goals were the most financially successful. While financial stability is only one quantifiable way to measure success, the study still points to a link between clearly defining one’s goals and achieving them.

6. Find a “study buddy”

While this can be a useful way to motivate students to complete homework, it can also work well for anyone who has a hard time settling down to work. I used to notice that I graded papers much more efficiently when my boyfriend was sitting in the other room doing the same thing. While this might not work for everyone, I’ve always found that glancing up now and then to make a comment about something I’ve read does more than allow for a break in the action. The other person becomes a sounding board to bounce my ideas off of. Even Sherlock Holmes relied on Watson’s insights to solve his cases.

7. Keep a corkboard in your workspace or someplace visible, with empowering quotations

Personally, I find Yoda a great inspiration. It’s hard to quit anything when you’ve got “do or do not. There is no try” staring you in the face. Turn to your favorite books and movies, or your role-models. Pick your favorite inspirational quotes and keep them close to remind you that you can do whatever you set your mind to.

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8. Daydream

It might sound counter-intuitive, but I’m going somewhere with this. You probably remember being told off in Biology class for staring into the fathomless blue eyes of your lab partner instead of concentrating on the frog you were supposed to be dissecting. However, according to Margrit Tarpalaru, there’s a way to procrastinate “consciously, creatively, and, most importantly, guiltlessly.”

Tarpalaru, a teacher who uses this technique to plow through grading, refers to it as the “micro-break,”[1] which many of us probably think of as that reflexive urge to check Facebook for five minutes, only to look up twenty minutes later and wonder how we got sucked into the social media vortex. Instead, Tarpalaru suggests techniques like a quick daydream.

Glance up from the computer screen and spend a few minutes thinking about all of the glorious things that await you once you’ve gotten through the day, or the week: biking with your partner, having drinks with friends, the summer cruise you’re planning.

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Like the other visualization techniques we’ve talked about, this practice keeps your eye on the prize, and it’s a conscious form of procrastination because you can’t have that drink, or board that cruise ship unless you meet that deadline, which inevitably forces your mind back on work.

Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

Reference

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