In our previous Wisdom Note, we completed our series called The Cycles and Seasons of Life with Make Your Winters Count. This week let us explore practical steps for finding your motivation. If you miss any of our Wisdom Notes please go to the blog to read past newsletters.
While motivation is needed to complete tasks, it also requires the ability to complete tasks, and we need to understand the difference. As an example, I may have the motivation to become a quarterback for the NFL but since I am only 5’3” and 120 pounds, there is no way that would be physically possible. In most cases, though, if you are motivated to do something, you will also have sufficient ability to do so, or you will be motivated enough to learn how. As John Maxwell puts it, “You don’t overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger.” It boils down to…Motivation makes things happen.
Where there’s no will, there’s no way, even if you have the ability. One of the best ways to improve your personal effectiveness is to find the drive to master your motivation. If you can master motivation, you can deal with life’s setbacks through the various seasons of life. As with success in most of life, there are certain steps that can be followed to ensure the desired outcomes. Here are 15 steps along our trail for this week that will help you to find your motivation each day.
1. Connect to your values.
This is the ultimate secret. If you can connect the work you do to your values, even in small ways, you will be motivated to succeed. One of my values is making a positive impact on everyone that I contact each day. This may be through this podcast, online, or in person.
2. Find your WHY.
Your WHY is your overriding purpose in life. You may have to drill down to find your true why, but keep asking yourself why until you find what really drives you.
3. Change your WHY.
As you continue to drill down on your why, you may find out that you are doing tasks for the wrong reason. Are you doing that task to get it done, or does it fulfill your purpose? Changing your why may be what you need to motivate yourself.
4. Change your HOW.
You may need to analyze how you complete your tasks. Is there a more enjoyable or efficient way? Are you doing the tasks correctly, or are you just trying to get through them? I like to think of it as mastering your craft. Sometimes slower is better. Other times, the key is to make it a game and actually speed it up. You can set time limits and race against the clock. Changing your how can get you out of ruts and find new ways to escape the mundane.
5. Remember the feeling.
When was the last time you felt good about completing particular tasks? How can you replicate that time? Tie the completion of your tasks to an individual reward system that will be fulfilling to you. Anticipate the outcome, and you will find the motivation for improvement.
6. Make a mind shift.
If you find yourself lacking the motivation to complete tasks because they were not pleasant in the past, make a mind shift to the future and how you will feel when it is completed. Choose your mindset before you begin, and your outcomes in the present will improve.
7. Find a meaningful metaphor.
Maybe you are the early bird that catches the worm, or a stitch in time saves nine. Place in your mind a catchphrase that will drive you on like, no tasks left behind. Yes, it does sound a bit corny, but what we feed our minds will become our reality. That is why I turn all of my projects into “epic adventures to be conquered.”
8. Take action.
Here’s a secret that once you know it can change your life. Action often comes before motivation. You simply start doing an activity, and then your motivation kicks in. Nike was right with the saying, “Just do it.” For example, I don’t always look forward to getting up at 4:30 each morning for my 90-minute workout, but once I start, I find my flow.
9. Link it to good feelings.
Find a way to link tasks to good feelings. I know that although I am tired after my workout, it is also a good tired and that I have reached my objectives. My workout time is also when I have my devotional time and listen to other uplifting podcasts which prepares my mind for the day. On days when I cannot get a workout in, I miss that feeling of accomplishment.
10. Impress yourself first.
Connect to your passion and set the bar for yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others, unless that is truly motivating. Instead, compare yourself to you yesterday. Let your internal benchmark be you.
11. It is your choice.
If you tell yourself you “HAVE” to do this or you “MUST” do that or you “SHOULD” do this, you can weaken your motivation. The power of choice and simply reframing your language to “CHOOSE” can be incredibly empowering and exactly the motivating language you need to hear. Choose your words carefully and make them work for you.
12. Partner with someone.
This is one of my favorite ways to make something fun. One person’s painful task is another’s pleasure. Partner with somebody who complements your skill or who can mentor you and get you over the humps. As King Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.”
13. Change your question.
Sometimes you need to change your focus. To change your focus, change the question. If you ask yourself what’s wrong with this situation, of course, you’ll find things to complain about. Ask yourself what’s right about the situation, and you can quickly find the positives and get your groove on.
14. Set a fixed schedule when possible.
Sometimes your body or emotions are working against you because you’re not giving them a break or fueling them the right way. One simple way to improve results here is to find a routine for eating, sleeping, and moving or working out that supports you. Many times this is the key to motivating you to succeed.
15. Play to your strengths.
Spending too much time in your weaknesses wears you down. Investing more time in your strengths helps you renew your energy and find your flow. It’s the place where you can grow your best. Success begets success, and this helps you build momentum. What goes into your mind is what will come out.
Pain and Pleasure for Motivation
In most cases, we choose to move toward pleasure. When we do, we move away from pain. It’s that simple. We do more to avoid pain. Keep that in mind when you find it tough to change a habit. Change can often be temporary pain. Keep this in mind when you need to motivate yourself and make a conscious choice to endure temporary pain to ensure long term pleasure.
This is why sometimes you can’t think your way into something. For example, your mind wants one thing, but your body wants another. You tell yourself working out is good for you, but your body just doesn’t want the pain. Be willing to choose what is best long term. It is then that you will truly be motivated to make the most of every opportunity. As Colossians 4:5 tells us, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.”
Today on our trek we hiked through the 15 steps for finding your motivation. Make a conscious effort to apply these steps to your life so that you can create and live a positive legacy for all to see. In our next Wisdom Note, we will learn the steps of how not to be ignorant. Encourage your friends and family to join us on our 5-days a week podcast: Wisdom-Trek, Creating a Legacy.