Time is the raw material of our life. How we choose to spend it shapes our lives accordingly. That’s why having the motivation to spend it to achieve goals is key to creating the life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford Dictionary defines motivation as the desire or desire to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that dopamine kicks in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes the inspiration more practically. He says that we reach a point where the pain of not doing something outweighs the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it is easier to take action than to be passive. Like feeling awkward when making a sales call to feeling frustrated about a dwindling bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to use motivation to achieve our goals.
how to get inspired
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what drives us to take action. In fact, motivation is often the result of the action, not the cause. Once we start a task, it is easy to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: Objects in motion stay in motion.
This means that while working on your goals most of the resistance comes just before we start. Since inspiration naturally comes after we start, we need to focus on making the start easy.
4 ways to make getting started
1. Schedule it
One reason people don’t start work is because they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things don’t go as scheduled it is easy for them to get out of the way. You will end up hoping that inspiration will fall in your lap or hoping that you will muster enough willpower to make it happen.
“If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you will inhibit your ability to work,” said an article in the Guardian.
2. measure something
It’s easy to feel unmotivated when you don’t know whether you’re making progress or what you’re working towards. So you need to make your success measurable in some way. Getting started is easier when you know how close your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. External Motivation
This type of motivation comes from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation includes incentives such as money, rewards and grades. Negative motivation has deterrents such as being fired, fighting, or fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively in the long run, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it Public
Hold yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals or sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because there is pressure on you not to let others down.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, so do showers—so we recommend doing it daily.” – zig ziglar
how to stay motivated longer
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to feel motivated or guilty for doing something. We want to be so attracted and attracted to this idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
Here are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in Your Goldilocks Zone
The Goldilocks zone is when a task is the right level of difficulty – neither too hard nor too easy. In this area, we reach peak inspiration and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. At this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly get bored and won’t want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. At this level of difficulty, you will quickly become demotivated as the match is very challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to encounter someone with similar skills to you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and strive for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay in your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated for longer.
2. Pursue Intrinsically Driven Goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors such as reward or risk of withdrawal. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most inner goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. This makes these goals extremely sustainable in the long term because they directly affect the quality of our lives and the things we care about.
3. Use “Chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term goals. By doing this you achieve many successes in the pursuit of your main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and motivates you to keep going.
Traditionally, you can set a goal that you hope to achieve in a year. It’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By breaking down your goals into monthly or quarterly goals, you consistently get the positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated over the long term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in a year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be Flexible
We are all victims of circumstances. Things happen during our travels that can cause us to either adjust or leave. That’s why it’s important to have relaxation and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can leave you distracted and wishless. When you plan for when things go wrong, you make sure you can last longer.
5. Pursue Your Goals in a Sustainable Fashion
Don’t lose hope when you don’t succeed overnight. Overnight successes are 1% – for the most part, they don’t exist. What we refer to as “overnight success” is actually countless hours of behind-the-scenes work that is ultimately a moot point. Chasing goals is a story of patience, perseverance and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself with others. Comparison is a recipe for declining confidence and satisfaction. It also develops a mindset where you feel you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
It’s pointless because achievable things take time. So we obviously won’t be comparing things around us when starting out.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape the life you want to live in.