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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.

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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!

For a great read, check out Simon Sinek’s book: Start With Why

Overview: “Start With Why shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.” – Amazon

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. Set SMART goals: Design your goals to be simple and SMART – Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

For a great read, check out Brian Tracey’s book: Goals! How to Get Everything You Want

Overview: “Using the twenty-one strategies Tracy outlines, you’ll be able to accomplish any goal you set for yourself—no matter how big. You’ll discover how to determine your own strengths, what you truly value in life, and what you really want to accomplish in the years ahead.” – Amazon

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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.

For a great read, check out Hal Shelton’s book: The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan

Overview: “Using the twenty-one strategies Tracy outlines, you’ll be able to accomplish any goal you set for yourself—no matter how big. You’ll discover how to determine your own strengths, what you truly value in life, and what you really want to accomplish in the years ahead.” – Amazon

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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.

For a great read, check out David Schwartz’s book: The Magic of Thinking Big

Overview: “The Magic of Thinking Big gives you useful methods, not empty promises. Dr. Schwartz presents a carefully designed program for getting the most out of your job, your marriage and family life, and your community. He proves that you don’t need to be an intellectual or have innate talent to attain great success and satisfaction—but you do need to learn and understand the habit of thinking and behaving in ways that will get you there.” – Amazon

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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.

For a great read, check out this book by Leonard Schlesinger and Charles Kiefer: Just Start! Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future

Overview: “Just Start distills for you the very essence of what makes people successful in today’s volatile environment. This book is your guide to achieving your goals—whether your project is professional or personal, or somewhere in between.” – Amazon

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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:

  1. Surround yourself with positive people
  2. Read inspirational books (stop reading negative news)
  3. Exercise daily
  4. Show gratitude to those around you
  5. Don’t dwell on your failures, learn from them
  6. Stop worrying about what is outside of your scope of control
  7. Celebrate your achievements (both big and small)

For a great read, check out Norman Vincent Peale’s book: The Power of Positive Thinking

Overview: “In this phenomenal bestseller, “written with the sole objective of helping the reader achieve a happy, satisfying, and worthwhile life,” Dr. Peale demonstrates the power of faith in action. With the practical techniques outlined in this book, you can energize your life—and give yourself the initiative needed to carry out your ambitions and hopes.” – Amazon

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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.

For a great read, check out Tim Harford’s book: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure

Overview: “Adapt … looks at how and why innovation really comes about, extolling the value of trial and error and arguing that we should learn to embrace failure. Above all, Adapt applies hard-won lessons learned in the field, from a spaceport in the Mojave Desert to the street of Iraq, from a blazing offshore drilling rig to the frozen tundra of Siberia. The book shows that it’s up to individuals – us – to change the world.” – Amazon

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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!

For a great read, check out Brian Tracy’s book: Eat That Frog

Overview: “There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re done with the worst thing you’ll have to do all day. For Tracy, eating a frog is a metaphor for tackling your most challenging task—but also the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life. Eat That Frog! shows you how to organize each day so you can zero in on these critical tasks and accomplish them efficiently and effectively.” – Amazon

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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.

For a great read, check out Brian Tracy’s book: The Power of Peers

Overview: “The Power of Peers features stories of business leaders from a range of industries to illustrate the five essential factors for peer advantage, how it impacts personal growth and why it has proven so effective in helping leaders identify future opportunities and challenges. It’s what top, growth-oriented executives have relied upon for decades to be successful in business and in life.” – Amazon

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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.

For a great read, check out James Clear’s book: Atomic Habits

Overview:Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits–whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.” – Amazon

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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.

For a great read, check out Dr. Michael Greger’ book: How Not to Die

Overview: “In addition to showing what to eat to help treat the top fifteen causes of death, How Not to Die includes Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen -a checklist of the twelve foods we should consume every day.Full of practical, actionable advice and surprising, cutting edge nutritional science, these doctor’s orders are just what we need to live longer, healthier lives.” – Amazon

62 Comments »

  1. I saw you followed my blog avidWriter and I must say my mom and I are into these life hacks. Also, I love your name. It’s just so perfect. 5 stars, dude

  2. Congratulations! I have nominated you for the Kennedy Award For Excellence, please see my blog post under the same name for details! I look forward to reading your response to the questions upon acceptance of the award! 😃🙏💛👊🎉

  3. Great post with very practical tips on motivation. How about another post on Inspiration. For a leader to inspire his team he may need to awaken their higher and super-ordinate values.
    Cheers 🙂

  4. Brilliant post 👍🏻👍🏻self motivation is so important especially during this pandemic season 💯👏🏻👍🏻…bdw thankyou for the follow 😊

  5. Hello Notimeforpants,

    Thanks for following my little blog. Anyone with a name like yours is definitely going to be ‘interesting.’

    As soon as I did I rushed over to your site and had a read. My life hacks are pretty simple. Like all Cats I need as much rest as possible, personally I find window ledges over radiators work both in the Summer and Winter, though after a heavy dinner and any stolen scraps they tend to occasionally be hard to jump up to.

    Another of my lifehacks is always use someone else’s credit card when using shopping online, a tip I origina;lly imparted in my first bestselling book. Which happily is still in print 15 years after it first weighed down any bookshelves and possibily soon to be an animated movie.

    Anyway thanks for following and I look forward to recieving many more of your droplets of wisdom.

    Purrs,

    The Cat

  6. Hey dear No Time For Pants,
    Your content is real informative and good. I’m really looking forward to read more from your side of the screen about tips on daily life things that are important to the contemporary lifestyle.I’m also filled with gratitude that you followed my side of the screen.Sending love.P.

  7. I reread this today — especially helpful for “my” young people navigating the world and jobs etc. The thing I noted today was the little line “surround yourself with positive people” and I realized how difficult that has become — especially since I have lost so much positivity! Something to work on — in the meantime, when I can’t find “real” positive people, I go to imaginary ones in books or funny / positive tv shows or movies. Happy navigating and good post — Jane

  8. Lots of wisdom here–well done, NTFP! Couldn’t agree more with Tip #8 that included the advice to write down a schedule for the day and avoid multi-tasking–two important strategies for using time more efficiently. Both of those tips have helped me as a stay-at-home Mom of three kids and then school teacher for 22 years. Now retired, I still write down my tasks for the day, finding that more gets accomplished that way, and I can stay focused on activities of value rather than waste my time.

  9. I really enjoyed this post! I struggle with motivation at times myself, and I’ve found goal-setting and creating specific plans to be incredibly helpful for keeping me on track. Thanks for the insights (and for following my blog, too!).

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