What do you do when you cannot seem to motivate yourself to do what you know you must?
It appears that some people are good at focusing on a target more than others. Whether nature or nurture is the reason behind this, the truth is that staying motivated on a consistent basis requires effort and time.
Motivation – the drive or determination to get yourself to do what you know must get done even when you do not feel like it – is hard for many of us. However, it is something that humans have wrestled with since the caveman days.
Our ancestors were motivated by the needs for basic necessities to survive. Today, the same needs still compel us to get out there, but if you desire to reach your potential or attain any lofty goals, you will need to be motivated on a whole new level.
This brings me to share 10 tips to help you stay motivated:
1. Set clear goals
Clarity is golden, and is critical if you want to get from point A to point B. Therefore, decide on a specific goal to pursue. Whether you are an individual or an organisation, you want to set big hairy audacious goals, or what management guru Jim Collins calls BHAG (pronounced bee-hag).
In his book, Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, he notes that companies with BHAG are more successful than those that don’t have them. He adds that, “A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for the team spirit.”
The same is true on an individual level. BHAG sparks your childlike imaginations and invoke your creative genius to achieve the impossible – because they are big enough to challenge you to rise to your highest levels of performance.
2. Know your ‘why’
Your goals must be meaningful to you if you are going to realise them. Having a sense of purpose ignites your true passion from within.
Passion does not wane when the going gets tough, but rather ignites your being with creative energy that brings out your best recourses especially in the hardest of times.
Think of how passion influences scientists, the likes of whom go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize after spending scores of years in research to discover a breakthrough.
To this end, one online journal writer notes, “As academics, they aren’t doing this for the money. They are doing it because they live and breathe it. Without that passion, the long hours and the inevitable, repeated failures wouldn’t be bearable.”
3. Break down your goals into small, winnable milestones
To reach your dreams, you will need to break down your overall goal into small goals that are attainable in the short term. By targeting these small goals one after the other, you create short-term wins that build up your momentum over time.
Small wins help you feel like you are accomplishing something – remember, reaching your big goals is a marathon and not a sprint.
4. Have a ritual
Having a fixed set of activities cues your brain so you are motivated to take the right action towards your goals on a consistent basis.
According to Charlse Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit, “Habits form when the cue leads to a ritual. Rituals manifest as an automatic behavior that you engage in after the cue that then leads you to experience the reward of having taken the action.”
5. The art of questioning self
If you find yourself drained and uninspired, remember that the best answers are always within you. Ask yourself intelligent questions and unravel a hidden motivation to keep you charged up again. Tony Robbins asserts that, “If you ask yourself intelligent questions, you’ll get intelligent answers.”
6. Do not focus on what you cannot control
Beware that once you set out to achieve your goal, all kind of challenges – or what Steven Pressfield calls resistance – will surface. Your challenge is to ignore the noise – those things that are not in your control – while managing what’s within your control.
7. Be accountable
Having an accountability partner who keeps you aligned with your thoughts, words and actions is quite helpful.
A study by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) on accountability found that you have a 65 per cent rate of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have specific accountability appointments with a person you’ve committed to, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95 per cent.
8. Measure your progress
It is said that what you don’t measure does not grow. To know exactly where you are, set some time for review: daily and weekly towards progress. This will inspire you to keep on keeping on and uncover obstacles that may not be so obvious.
9. Be consistent
Take actions towards your goals consistently. Note that Rome was not built in a day, meaning that if you keep doing what you know must be done, then it’s only a matter of time before you reach your tipping point and voilà! Goal attained!
10. Reward yourself
The brain responds to either pain or pleasure, which is why rewarding yourself upon achieving a goal can yield positive effects, leading to new neural pathways that result from feeling great. However, do note that not all rewards are created equal – some rewards have adverse effects that are counterproductive.
Staying motivated demands you to be very clear on what you want, and have mastery over yourself if you want to achieve your goals. This is a challenge for many of us, but if you follow through on these tips, you’ll thank yourself for it.
Remember that as you advance in pursuit of your dreams, you’ll get bogged down every once in a while, but you must keep your focus on the goal at all costs.