Seven Steps to Staying Motivated
1. Set a goal and visualize it down to the most minute detail.
2. Make a list of the reasons you want to accomplish the goal.
3. Break the goal down into smaller pieces and set intermediary targets — and rewards.
4. Have a strategy, but be prepared to change course. Let Thomas Edison inspire you in this department: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.”
“The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
5. Get the help you need.
6. Pre-determine how you will deal with flagging motivation.
Winston Churchill is particularly inspirational on this front. After London endured 57 consecutive bombings by the Germans during World War II (the Blitzkrieg), he was invited to address a group of students. In that speech, he uttered his immortal line
“Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up.”
7. Continually check in with your reasons for carrying on. Despite his all-too-human flaws, Steve Jobs embodied this brilliantly. He once told an interviewer:
“I think most people that are able to make a sustained contribution over time — rather than just a peak — are very internally driven. You have to be. Because, in the ebb and tide of people’s opinions and of fads, there are going to be times when you are criticized, and criticism’s very difficult. And so when you’re criticized, you learn to pull back a little and listen to your own drummer. And to some extent, that isolates you from the praise, if you eventually get it, too. The praise becomes a little less important to you and the criticism becomes a little less important to you, in the same measure. And you become more internally driven.”
See the Big Picture
There’s also a more meta, “Why are we here?” way to think about motivation. The great JewishRabbi Hillel (alive around the time of Jesus), famously said, “If not you, then who? If not now, when?” If you truly let those words sink in, it’s hard to be slacker.
But perhaps my favorite “put it all in perspective” commentary comes from the Dalai Lama. When asked what surprised him most about humanity, he answered, “Man.” Why?
“Because,” said His Holiness, “he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
So what keeps you motivated? We’d love to hear from you.