The word “motivation” is, of course, derived from the word “motive,” which means a need, want or actualizing force. Another way to describe it is the behavioral process of being sparked into action in order to accomplish your goals and better your life.
The hard part about motivation is not knowing exactly what it is. The trick is to understand and utilize it so as to most effectively apply it to your own personal life.
The overwhelming majority of us recognize how important motivation is in helping us achieve our goals. Ever buy a dress or pair of pants a size too small as a motivator to lose a couple of pounds?
Even if you haven’t, we can all agree that the stronger the motivator, the more likely the success. Which do you think would be the more powerful motivator: a too-small dress that cost $100 or one that cost $1,000?
What this example tells us is that you have to make your motivation mean something. It has to count. With that in mind, let’s take a look at two different kinds of motivation.
• Extrinsic Motivation: This type of motivation refers to the avoidance of something for fear of the consequences. Think of it as what causes you to stop at a yellow light for fear of the traffic cop or camera. For the purpose of this article, remember that when you are governed by extrinsic motivation, you are not fully in alignment with your goals.
• Intrinsic Motivation: On the other hand, intrinsic motivation can be thought of as a magnet pulling you toward something. According to BusinessDictionary, it’s “a stimulation that drives an individual to adopt or change a behavior for his or her own internal satisfaction or fulfillment.” When you are governed by your intrinsic motivation, you are fully in alignment with your goals.
Of course, whether your motivation is intrinsic or extrinsic, you stand little chance of reaching your goals unless you have an adequate supply of self-discipline, which I call self-motivation. In other words, you must have the ability to focus on what needs to be done without influence or distraction from other people or situations, so as to follow through to completion.
For the fortunate few, this ability is inherent in their personality. Often they are born with it, or it was instilled in them by nurturing parents. However, most of us have to work at it.
Measure your self-motivation on a scale of 1 to 10. Is it strong, or does it need attention and strengthening? If you think you’re probably less than 7, you need to do some self-motivation work. Here’s how:
1. Be clear about your unique path to fulfillment.
As I explained in a previous article, your “Place of Choice” is where you recognize what brings you fulfillment. You are not limited by fears, doubts or undue concerns regarding the opinions of others. It’s what nurtures your self-motivation. It symbolizes the best version of yourself and represents your dreams, aspirations and laudable intentions. From here, anything is possible.
Now, the “Point of Decision” represents your immediate reality — the need for doable action. It’s where you are when you focus on your options. In other words, what exactly are you going to do as a result of your Place of Choice?
You should approach the Point of Decision only after reconnecting with your Place of Choice and making sure it incorporates the long-term vision you have for yourself. Be particularly aware of any warning signs that the time is not quite right, or that you are succumbing to peer pressure or other influences.
2. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely (SMART) goals.
Your goals should be connected to your Place of Choice and in alignment with your personal values and moral standards. Their attainment should make you feel fulfilled and proud.
3. Design milestones and small steps in between your goals.
Sometimes your goals can be quite big. This makes it hard to track progress. Incremental steps are better. Design your milestones and intermediate steps so that you’re not only measuring your progress but are encouraged by it.
Set deadlines for achieving both your milestones and your ultimate goal. This will create additional inspiration, as it’s something to look forward to.
And when you achieve your milestones, it will be cause for celebration. Reward yourself for your hard-won achievements. A celebration with friends? A trip? A luxury purchase? You’ve worked hard in furtherance of your Place of Choice. Why not reward yourself?
4. Have an accountability partner, or ask for help when needed.
Tell a friend or family member about your goal and ask this person to be your accountability partner as you check off your milestones and other signs of progress.
Or, if you are not seeking accountability for yourself, share your goals with your respected circle of mentors, colleges, family and friends, and ask for help, suggestions and advice when needed.
5. Cultivate positive, committed energy by believing in yourself.
Jot down your thoughts and reflections in a journal, which you can review as a source of motivational reinforcement. Then keep going. Act quickly on your positive, motivating thoughts. Don’t let old patterns of procrastination get in the way.
Mel Robbins’ “five-second rule” is useful for this. It requires that you act proactively after five seconds of first becoming aware of a needed action. With the “five-second rule,” excuses won’t slow you down and distract you.
6. Always look for opportunities that bring you closer to what you want to achieve.
Instead of remembering the now overused expression, “think outside the box,” actually do it. Look for novel and perhaps imaginative ways to advance your goals. Be aware of your progress. Make needed adjustments and eliminate roadblocks in order to stay on track.
Acquire whatever additional knowledge and skills as are necessary to get you where you want to go, and seek opportunities to utilize and demonstrate them. Volunteer. Join organizations. Do whatever it takes to show off a bit and gain recognition.
Be proud of yourself for becoming the highly self-regarded person you want to be. You are an action-oriented goal achiever. Many people can’t legitimately say that.