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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 April 9, 2021

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is learning how to stay motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task at hand serves a greater goal.

It’s impossible to expect your motivation levels to remain at 100% all the time, but there are things you can do to maximize your stores of motivation and push forward. Here are 5 simple yet effective tips for staying motivated.

1. Find Your Good Reasons

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first, but if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it, it’s time to find your good reasons.

For each goal you set, there needs to be a reason behind it. If you don’t nail down your “why” when you begin, your motivation will soon falter, leaving you miles from achieving your goal. This isn’t the way to learn how to become motivated.

Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

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  • Rewards: This may come in the form of money (a salary or a raise, for example) or some kind of award.
  • Personal Gain: You will learn something new or improve yourself in a certain way.
  • Accomplishment: Achieving a feeling of accomplishment and recognition for achieving a goal can be a huge motivating factor.
  • A Step Closer to Bigger Goals: Even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

2. Make It Fun

When it comes to increasing motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, and others will love it[1].

Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and enjoyable when we begin to lose motivation.

Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some, yet others love being in that environment. For those that hate going to the gym, finding a team sport in their community may serve them best.

A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How can I enjoy this task?
  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and others?
  • How can I make this task the best part of my day?

Expecting a task to be enjoyable is one way to learn how to stay motivated. Most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, so looking for ways to have fun while working is a great habit to acquire.

3. Change Your Approach and Don’t Give up

When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach if you want to learn how to get motivation.

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You may be doing everything correctly and efficiently, but such an approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach that will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common—if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one that will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

If you can’t find the right approach, you may need to go back to motivation basics to find your motivation style. Check out Lifehack’s Free Assessment: What’s Your Motivation Style?

4. Recognize Your Progress

Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most big or long-term goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

We track our progress automatically with most activities, but to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it. Tracking is merely taking note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at the bigger picture and realize where exactly you are and how much more you have left to do.

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For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until everything is done and the task is fully complete.

For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such an approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive progress made. This is how to keep yourself motivated in the long-term.

5. Reward Yourself

Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on a particular task? Hate the whole idea of working?

Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables that will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way. This creates external motivators to help you feel motivated in the long run.

For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do. For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself to dessert.

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For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to see a movie, taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

The more you reward yourself for making progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

Pick one of the techniques, and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right away. Mix different approaches, and match them to your task for the best results.

Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to help you feel better, and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

Learning how to stay motivated is as simple as finding what works for you. If you need a reward, schedule one. If you just need to find your “why”, take time for introspection. Do what you need to do and start tackling those goals.

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Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Positivity Blog: How to Get the Boring Tasks Done

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