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Motivation: 21 Words That Can Change Your Life and 3 That Will Surprise You

Motivation: 21 Words That Can Change Your Life and 3 That Will Surprise You

Motivation is life changing.  Your life is changing every day.  It is either changing for the better or it is slowly changing for the worse.  Motivation is derived from the verb “motivate,” which means “move.”  Motivation is the burning desire that compels you to take action.  It is a so deeply intertwined with what you believe to be true and right in life that it moves you from a simple desire to a moment of decision.  Have you ever watched a working dog?  There only motivation is  you.

What is your motivation?

In 2006 I wrote, “Change happens in an instant.  It happens the moment you decide to change.”
You are going to be different tomorrow.  Stop feeling stuck.  When you decide to be different you will find motivation seeping into to thoughts and into your actions.  Motivation causes you to take action, it becomes an inner drive  fueling you forward.

We all believe something.  When was the last time you asked yourself, “What do I believe?”  What role does faith play in my life?  Why was I placed on this earth?  What is my purpose in life?”

Remembering that motivation is a verb meaning to “move” or take “action”.  Family, friends, co-workers and the people all around us are key motivators for how we act.  Surround yourself with great people and you will surround yourself with great motivation.

Goals.

It should be no surprise that goals motivate us and inspire us.  The most powerful goals are self-directed goals.  Self-directed internal goals.  They include understanding your priorities and purpose in life, knowing what you believe to be most important and using those goals as a daily guide for how you will choose to live your life.

New.

Choosing to learn something new every day will give you a reason to grown and change.  This could be something as simple as driving to work via a different route or signing up for guitar lessons.

Challenge.

Challenges are frequently seen as some sort of contest like the final four during March Madness.  Challenges draw out the best in us.  A simple challenge might be to decide to go to bed fifteen minutes earlier for thirty days to see if it improved your daily productivity.

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Truth.

Truth does not waver.  Something either is true or it is not.  Truth provides a firm foundation to stand on.  Truth strengthens, encourages, and will guide you correctly.

Determination.

You’ve met them.  Those rare individuals who are determined to continue regardless of how difficult the circumstances.  Determination literally means you are willing to put a “stake” in the ground.  It is not a casual choice.  There are very few things humans will determine to mark as permanent placeholders for their beliefs.

Laughter.

Laughter heals the soul.  Why is it that children laugh hundreds of times a day and adults laugh only _____ times.   Laughter occurs when something unexpected happens that causes your brain to emit a signal to your lungs to expel short burst of air causing you to make audible noises that are a signal of joy all across the world.

Perseverance.

Perseverance reminds me of a road or a bridge – a specific course or path we all walk down.  When you feel hopeless and lost, that is when perseverance counts the most.  Perseverance is consciously choosing to stay on your path even in the midst of incredible difficulties.

Freedom.

Having a sense of control or autonomy over your time and your actions is a powerful motivator.  Freedom liberates you to dream and imagine and create.  Freedom of stress is one of the most sought after psychological goals.

Tenacity.

Tenacity is a word originating with the meaning of adhesiveness.  There are frequent times you will find you need to “stick together”.  Tenacity never gives up.  It never lets go. Willpower lives in the core of your being.  Willpower moves you, motivates you and causes you to take action for good or for bad. This inner drive is the control center for many of the decisions you will choose to make moment to moment.

Faithful.

Faithfulness is a rare quality in today’s world.  It is choosing to remain reliable, trusted and constant.  It carries a sense of attachment and devotion to people, causes, organizations and beliefs.  Faithfulness is a foundational motivator.

Endurance.

This word literally means to have the ability to endure suffering over long periods of time.  Grit is stone broken down, but it is still stone.  It speaks to the indomitable toughness it can take to push through life’s most difficult trials.  Endurance when accepted can build character, patience, wisdom, empathy and compassion.

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Novel.

Novelty is also one of the most unexpected motivators.  When you experience something for the very first time or you see something you have never seen before you may find yourself swept away with emotion.  The birth of a child.  An unexpected gift.  A surprise ending to a difficult moment in life.

Tragedy.

Life is full of heartache and indescribable pain.  War, illness, death, divorce, financial problems, and injustice.  Tragedy regardless of the pain is full of opportunities to learn and grow and find renewal and hope.  Tragedy shows you are never alone.

Learning.

Any gap in understanding will motivate you to want to fill that knowledge gap.  If you want to know more about leadership – read books by great leaders.  To learn how to train a dog – hire a dog trainer and take lessons.  The incremental acquirement of new knowledge becomes a self-motivating driver.

Anticipation.

The act of looking forward to something important happening in your life.   When you are just given a glimpse of a future success or opportunity the anticipation releases an incredibly powerful chemical called dopamine into your system.  Everything you have ever wanted in your life you were first motivated to strive for attaining it because you anticipated the feeling of importance it would mean to you.  Dopamine is the brain chemical of anticipation.

Courage.

Lt. Col. (retired) Dave Grossman shared a single quote of where the bravery of being an Army Ranger came from for him.  He said, “Courage is just being willing to take one more step.” Sometimes the only motivation you need is to take just one more step.

Hope.

When used as a noun hope only a feeling, but when used as a verb hope becomes the focal point of your motivation.  Sometimes in life all you have is hope.  And, in those moments hope will be more than enough.

Time.

Time is not merely a framework for how the minutes, hours and days pass by – each day is like having a blank canvas sitting in an art room filled with unlimited options.  Improving your motivation through improving your time management will require you to reduce the number of choices you have to let into your life.  You will find simplicity and peace in narrowing your focus and increasing your energy and attention only on accomplishing the tasks that bring motivation and meaning in your life.

Love.

The foundation of life is love..  There is no way to create a life of meaning without love.  There is no motivation, no reason to move or change or engage in life without love.  The foundation of motivation is love.

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And, Three That Might Surprise You

Brain.

The prefrontal cortex is the thinking part of the brain. This is where life happens! In this space just behind your forehead, ideas are created, thoughts are pondered, imagination grows (or dies), judgments are made. This part of the brain is highly specialized in humans; this is where you define meaning, plan for the future, and imagine. Your values, priorities, purpose, goals, drive, learning, love, and hope all live here.  Motivation is a decision.

Attention.

You experience the depths of motivation when your attention focused so intently on completing a task or a project or a hobby that challenges you to such a point that time stands still.  When you are in that moment – swept away from stress and worry – concentrating with full attention – you don’t need motivation – you are experiencing motivitation.  At that moment you are motivated.  You are in the process of taking action.  And, in those amazing moments you realize the life-changing power of motivation.  You understand the difference between existing and thriving.  And, in that moment – life oozes out of you.  And, motivation is contagious.

Time Management.

Your personal time management skills affect the levels of motivation you experience in life.  Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter is a sports psychology expert and coach to Olympic athletes, as well as being a world-class athlete in her own right. She says, “It starts with a dream; motivation comes from within.  It has to be an inner desire, an inner fire, a willingness to achieve something you are passionate about.”
Far too many people only focus on the hard parts of life that motivation can guide us through.  By improving your time management you can create daily blocks of time to focus your time and attention on the part’s of life that motivate you.

Action Steps:

Time Management Tips to Live with More Motivation

Assess your current schedule

Determine which activities motivate you and which activities drain you of energy

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Take time to think about what you really want out of life (preferably away from work or home)

Clarify what you want in life by writing down personal or professional goals

Create a plan of action – prioritize or sequence the individual action steps you need to take to accomplish your new goals

Use a pen and paper to schedule when you will take these actions.

Then take action.

Remember “motivation” comes from the word “motive” which means to “move” – or to take “action.”

“The secret to motivation is purposeful action.”
~ Allyson Lewis

Featured photo credit: André Spieker via bit.ly

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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