Motivation can be elusive at the best of times. Even to the most successful people among us, it can be fleeting. One moment we’re filled with a surge of excitement and passion that will lead us to start on a path towards achieving greatness. But then all to quickly it fizzles out and we’re back on the couch with little-to-nothing to show for our efforts. But motivation doesn’t have to be hard to attain or momentary. If you have a vision, work hard and adopt the right habits, it will come naturally and almost effortlessly.
1. Start with WHY
Instead of focusing solely on what it is you’re setting out to do, take a minute and ask WHY! If you understand the purpose behind what you’re doing and truly believe in the outcome, you’ll be much more motivated to actually accomplish it. Focusing on WHY acts as a kind of compass for decision making, making it considerably easier to identify the most prudent path forward. Instead of drifting around trying to figure out what to do, it helps you narrow in on what is truly important by keeping your scope limited to only doing things that align to the WHY. So next time you’re trying to motivate yourself or others, start with WHY, then figure out the HOW and WHAT!
2. Set realistic goals
If you want to stay motivated and be successful, get in the habit of setting goals. Goals act as a barometer for success and with out them, measuring your achievements is nearly impossible. The best way to stay motivated is to set smaller, more achievable goals that gradually help move you towards the end-goal.
Here are the 5 basic rules of goal setting:
- Set goals that motivate you: Goals should be important to you and relevant in achieving the bigger picture. If you have no interest in the outcome of a goal then there is little to no chance of you actually accomplishing it.
- Set SMART goals: Design your goals to be simple and SMART – Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
- Write it all down: The physical act of writing down your goals makes them real. It forces you to take a potentially ambiguous concept and transform it into something tangible and meaningful.
- Make an action plan: Once you have your goals laid out, create an action plan with the steps required to achieve them. Create to-do lists and prioritize what you want to accomplish each day.
- Stick with it: Goal setting is a process, not a means to an end. Priorities can change and goals may need to need to as well.
3. Create a plan
It’s a great first step to create some SMART goals, but then what? You’ll need to create a plan of action because without one, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Most people don’t merely stumble onto success, it takes hard work, dedication and a plan of action, all of which drives you towards your achievement. Having a plan will help you significantly improve time management and better prepare you for the uncertainties that lay ahead.
4. Focus on the big picture
One of the most surefire ways to stay motivated is to stop sweating the small stuff and focus on the big picture. When you have a clear notion of the end-goal and you’re laser-focused on achieving it, work can be fun! The next time you’re about to start something new just ask yourself, does this bring me closer to accomplishing my mission? If not, skip it and move onto something more impactful.
5. Take action
Do you sit around all day and ponder about what could be, but never actually put pen to paper? Sorry to break it to you, but successful people don’t sit around and wait for the perfect opportunity to fall onto their laps; they are action-oriented! They act on the information at hand and the options currently available and trudge on forward. They don’t muddle themselves in the trappings of perfection. Most of the time, 75% is good enough (or as some might say, don’t let Great be the enemy of Good). So start acting and stop dreaming! Once you start taking action and get some momentum behind you, it becomes a lot easier to fend of procrastination and just get things done.
6. Be Positive
Positivity breeds success! Motivated people tend to be optimistic, are clear about what they want and what their goals are, and are constantly looking for ways to achieve them. Having a positive outlook might seem elusive for some, but it is all about training your mind so that you get into the habit of it. Here are a some tips to help you be a more positive person:
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Read inspirational books (stop reading negative news)
- Exercise daily
- Show gratitude to those around you
- Don’t dwell on your failures, learn from them
- Stop worrying about what is outside of your scope of control
- Celebrate your achievements (both big and small)
7. Don’t be afraid to fail
A good many people never achieve success because they are too afraid of failure. Let’s face it, no one likes to fail but you should never let it prevent you from achieving your goals. Instead, learn to embrace it and thrive off of it. Learning to cope with failure is a valuable skill that will only help set you up for even greater success in the future. Setbacks should be reflected on and viewed as learning experiences and opportunities for improvement. Failure, ironically enough, can actually be one of the greatest sources of inspiration. So next time you stumble and fall, don’t let it cripple you, instead let it free you to do even better next time.
8. Stay in the zone and avoid distractions
In today’s world, there are certainly no shortage of distractions. From social media to digital entertainment, most distractions are merely a click away, providing us with a near effortless way to procrastinate and stray from the task at hand. To help fend off these distractions, plan your day ahead of time. Write down a schedule with all of your work-related tasks while also setting some time aside for regular breaks, and then stick to it! Avoid multi-tasking wherever possible so you can put all your effort towards just one task at a time. Make sure that your workspace is clutter-free and that all of your devices are turned-off or put away when it is time to put your head down and get some work done!
9. Surround yourself with the right people
A crucial, but less-talked about, factor of success is who we surround ourselves with each and every day. Our relationships fundamentally shape who we are. If you choose to immerse yourself in a group of lazy, uninspiring and low-achievement individuals, you’re bound to become one of them. Instead, say goodbye to negativity and surround yourself with positive people who are eager for life. Seek out those who are smarter than you. If it seems like you’re the dumbest one in the room, you’re in the right place! Whenever possible, spend time with people who have a list of accomplishments under their belt and who can provide a wealth of inspiration for you and your endeavours.
10. Take Breaks
In today’s relentlessly competitive work environment it can seem like the only way to get ahead and get noticed is to work non-stop 24/7. But we’re not all Elon Musk here! Taking breaks are a much needed part of staying focused and boosting productivity. Down-time helps you de-stress and re-charge while also helping you process and retain information. It will also afford you the opportunity to step back and re-evaluate what you’re doing against the bigger picture. So start taking your lunch break and try to step away from your work (or at least switch things up) every 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Where possible, incorporate a bit of physical activity and fresh air so that you come back to work you’re refreshed and energized.
Bonus Tip: Stay fit and healthy
Staying fit and healthy are the cornerstone of productivity and success. A regular workout routine will clear your head, improve your mood and boost motivation, and it can be as simple as a 30 minute walk, bike ride or jog. But burning calories isn’t the only pillar of a healthy lifestyle, the calories you consume matter as well. A lot of what we eat is habitual, and unfortunately a lot of those habits are bad for you. Get rid of all those processed fast-foods and fill your pantry with healthier whole food options. Lastly, take some time out of every day and focus inwards on yourself. Stress is arguably a bigger killer than fast food or lack of exercise. So go meditate, take a bath, or read a book. Anything that will take your mind off of the daily grind and help you de-stress will do wonders for your mental health.