Motivation informs every action we take in life. It is a core value that underpins our intent, whether we’re aware of it or not. For some of us, motivation comes easy. We don’t need to think about how or where it’s going to come from. It just happens. But even for the best of us, we can still find ourselves battling against procrastination or an unexplainable sense of apathy that hovers over us like a black cloud. Being motivated isn’t something that you either have or you don’t. It can be developed and learned, and treated the same as any other skill you might acquire.
1. Be Selective About the Company You Keep
The first thing you need to be aware of is your environment. It plays a crucial role in how you feel about both yourself and the things you want to accomplish. And the biggest influencing factor within your environment is your peer group. If you’re constantly surrounded by people who are unmotivated, don’t see the value in hard work or will openly criticise without offering any constructive input, this will eventually rub off on you. There’s only so far you can travel if the company you’re keeping is rooted in overt negativity.
2. Identify Bad Habits and Eliminate Them from Your Life
Your thoughts inform your actions, which inform your habits, which inform your life. So if you want to truly make progress in your life, you need to take personal accountability. And this involves becoming hyper-aware and hyper-vigilant about how you conduct yourself. If you’re rooted in patterns of self-sabotage, you need to have the presence of mind to recognise and replace it with more constructive behaviour. This is a process, not an event. It will take time to do this, but when people talk about making investments in themselves, this is one area that’s often overlooked. By investing your focus and attention into improving your thoughts, actions and habits, it will create a feedback loop of motivation.
3. Create Obtainable Goals
There has to be a reason for what you’re doing. If you’re already motivated by your passion alone, that’s great. But what if you don’t have that right now, or you’re trying to find that passion spark – the way into a new hobby, activity or career. Something you want to do, but don’t know how to approach? Creating a timeline of small of obtainable goals is the perfect way to get you started. It creates a reward mechanism that releases dopamine every time you reach a milestone. Not the fake dopamine rush of getting likes on social media, but a true release of dopamine that strengthens the connection between your effort and the activity you’re engaged in.
4. Realise the Power of Change is Yours and Yours Alone
It’s something of a cliche, but you are the only one who can make true change in your life. No one can do it for you. When you come to the realisation that you are the one in the driving seat, and it’s your decisions that have created your current circumstances, it becomes easier to affect real change. This might not come immediately. Hearing this alone may be enough to trigger you, or it may simply plant a seed, which later germinates into an ‘aha moment.’ It might be that you need an inciting incident, which forces you into a paradigm shift where you finally say yourself, ‘I’m not going to act like this anymore.’
5. Develop a Practice of Hindsight and Introspection
To truly understand where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, you need to first understand what led you up to this point. Developing a practice of hindsight and introspection where you hold yourself accountable and look at your past objectively – without any bias or airbrushing of the facts is a key skill you need in your self-motivation armoury. The only person who knows you as well as you do is yourself. And if you can’t be honest in your own self-appraisal, you’ll simply repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again. Think of hindsight and introspection like having mini interventions with yourself. It doesn’t need to be harsh, but it does need to be honest. It’s the best gift you can give to yourself.
6. Develop an Attitude of Learning
One of the biggest factors that limit motivation is our ‘comfort zone.’ Most people don’t like to challenge themselves. They’d rather continue living in comfortable mediocrity than attempt something new. And that’s due to the fear of the unknown, and the effort that might be required not to learn new information, but to ‘unlearn’ stuff that informs their current reality. Why would anyone want to challenge themselves in this way? What’s the payoff? Well, the pay-off isn’t material or in any way monetary, but it’s far more valuable… The big pay-off in developing a compulsive attitude of learning is growth. If you cultivate this mindset and nurture the curious soul within, eventually you’ll reach a tipping point where inquiry is second nature. And ‘why’ becomes the most used word in your vocabulary.
7. Train Yourself to See Opportunity in Set Backs
There’s a famous quote that says, ‘fail your way to success.’ What most people don’t realise or understand when they see people who are accomplished in their field is that they go there through sheer determination. And that comes from seeing the opportunity for growth whenever you experience setbacks. It’s inevitable you’re going to make missteps in whatever pursuit you’re involved in. The difference that separates those who succeed and those who fail is how they respond. You can either choose to see failure as a necessary part of your ongoing learning process. Or, you can use it as an excuse to avoid putting forward the necessary effort to make a success of your life.