Have you ever sat back in your easy chair and wondered how you got to where you are right now? How did the road of life lead you to this very spot? The culmination of everything you’ve undertaken and every challenge overcome. Breaking it down, the answer becomes clear. How did you achieve X? Well, your motivation, drive, passion, or whatever you want to call it is what got you there. What got you to here and now. Your life is has been built on the back of your own desire and drive. Pretty profound eh? Let’s dive in a little deeper to explore how we can harness our personal drive to achieve the outcomes we ultimately want.
In order to get to where we want to go, what we want to accomplish, we first have to understand and know for certainty what it is we want. What we desire. We have to recognize in this order:
If we fail to recognize these things we can never begin the journey. Shaaaboom whamo! The door is shut. After we know what we want we can break them down into smaller segments. But first, we need to define a purpose for our core identity all the way down to the spiritual level. Our beliefs, ethics, and values will ultimately lead us to how we live our life. We then take those attributes and qualities and shape them to what we want. We need to first think BIG picture and dream BIG and then the rest will follow. Our smaller steps or actions are all contributing to the BIG picture.
Our minds/willpower are our own worst enemy. If we accept mediocrity, that is what we’ll get. If we don’t shoot for the stars, we lay reaping the rewards of our own shortfalls. We reap what we sow. We can only go so far was we let ourselves go.
Once we have the picture painted and clear in our minds of who we are and what we value most, we must take action. We know what we want, now we must act. Now we must start. If we use our dreams and values and paint them to reality, we can get the push to start. This is our starting motivation.
Motivation is a movement consisting of forward motion (Mo[tiva]tion). In order to get to point B we must keep moving forward until the destination is reached. As such, in order to achieve what we want, we must continuallybe motivated.
We as humans have a hard time with having to continually think or dwell on something especially if it is hard or causes some sort of pain to us. Some things that we inevitably must go through to get what we want will not be easy. It will be going against the grain for us. It will cause us pain. But in the words of Mr. T., “No pain, no gain.” Doing what we know is good for us, what is right, what is unselfish will be a challenge sometimes. Thankfully that always won’t be the case though as we will have joys in those as well.
We know staying continually motivated is a challenge especially when it causes pain or we encounter temptation. In order to stay motivated, we therefore have to schedule our motivation. Turn it into routines and habits. When we identify what we are doing we then can use the momentum of our starting motivation and build small habits and routines as a roadway for us to coast down or push up hills until we’ve reached our destination. No road, lots of flat tires and broken axels. Pretty soon getting to our destination becomes overwhelming.
Sometimes we know what we want all along but just can’t seem to get started down the road to achieving it. Most of the friction is at the beginning but once we get going we can find it easier to keep going. It’s difficult to push a car at first down a hill but once it’s moving, it’s easier for it to keep going then it is to stop it. Think Newton’s Law. This is where our habits and routines can pay off for us to keep us moving in the direction we want.
Set an agenda for our habits and routines. Then make it easy to start those routines. Make our habits so easy that you don’t even have to think out them.
When I wake up in the morning there usually is a litany of small things to accomplish before I can be transported to the breakfast table with coffee, hot food, family time, and then reading the news. Having a routine to get to that blissful state makes it pretty much automatic. I don’t need much motivation to accomplish it because I follow a set routine that is over and completed before I know it and BAM! Hello hot food, family, and fond memories!
Another key factor to stay motivated is the measurement of our success. When we define our purpose, then set goals along the way to achieve our desires, we have to evaluate our progress. If we are lagging or not to where want to be, sometimes we can see that the challenges we face are too great. We must tackle what we can achieve, just beyond our reach, just enough to make us stretch. If something is too easy or we set the bar too low in our lives, we become bored and unmotivated. If it’s too high, we may find it easy to give up or become overwhelmed. The key is to set the bar just high enough that it pushes us and we realize success and achievement. That is where we will be optimally motivated.
Finding encouragement in tough times is another valuable thing we cannot overlook. Sometimes it’s what will push us over the hump.
The power of the mind also plays a key role in our motivation. We are continuously being influenced by our minds and the promptings it is relaying to us. If we choose to ignore it saying to us, “We are tired, it would be easier to just quit. What we’ve done is good enough” and instead embrace it saying to us, “We will feel good about ourselves for accomplishing this, I CAN do this,” then we’ll be well on our way to success.
Mentality is everything. When professional athletes compete, their talents, training, work ethics are often equal. In the moment of competition, it is their mental toughness, their mental game that takes them to the finish line. Most all would tell you the mental aspect of sport is what’s the most important.
If we want great results, we have to push past failure, continue to get back up when knocked down. Consider Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he was bodybuilding, he would say that, “It’s not lifting the weights until your muscles get tired and you start to feel some pain and then you stop. Pushing past that to go for 3, 4 more reps is what makes muscle grow.” It’s what separates the men from the boys.
We don’t have to be born with natural abilities or born into some privilege. Reflect on the movie Rudy. Rudy wanted to play football for Notre Dame. There was a problem though, he physically did not fit the mold of a football player. He wasn’t big, wasn’t fast, couldn’t throw, and could be easily knocked down. His physical limitations did not stop him nonetheless. Despite what everyone said, despite everything going against him, he had the heart of a lion and the mental fortitude and motivation to achieve his goal. Rudy played for Notre Dame.
To get what we want, to be whom we want to be, to succeed we must harness our wants/needs/desires to take risks. We must step out and step up to ultimately succeed. A life without risks is comfort. Comfort is like glue. If you’re in it too long, it dries and keeps you stationary. It hardens and becomes very difficult to get out of. To lead a life of comfort and lacking in motivation is to lead a life of average and forgettable. Picture yourself all old and frail. You look back on your life and what will you think? Will you be proud? When you stand at the heavenly gates will you hear, “Well done good and faithful servant?”
We only have one shot at this life. We can’t change the past but we certainly can change our future. What choices will you make?