How Critical is Motivation to Success?
Motivation may be the most critical component to our success. It energizes our behavior to perform. Motivation is why we do something. You can’t see it but you can see the outcome.
If you have ever wanted to lose a few pounds or run a marathon, you quickly realize that merely having the desire to do it is not enough. Making things happen requires persistence and endurance. You have to break through any obstacle and keep on going in spite of difficulties.
What’s it take to light that fire for motivation?
Obviously, not a wet match.
Stephen Covey said, “Motivation is fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.”
It’s hard to meet goals without the proper motivation but not impossible. People do it all the time. Maybe it’s an approaching deadline or the pain-in-the-rear boss that forces you to get things done. But, one thing for sure is that motivation is that external force (positive or negative) that pushes you or gives you the kick in the pants that you might need to get started.
Motivation: An Individual Phenomenon
Motivation varies by generations and culture but it ultimately falls into the hands of an individual. Motivation is complex. There’s no simple set of guidelines or a step-by-step process that can be followed to gain motivation.
To gain insight into motivation, it’s helpful to understand its three general components: Inspiration, Desire, and Tenacity.
- Inspiration – Motivation is what gives you an incentive for action but inspiration….ah, inspiration breathes life into it. Let’s say you see a friend you haven’t seen for five years. They look fantastic, healthy, and are a few pounds lighter. Your friend may be the inspiration to set your goal of losing weight into motion.
- Desire – Desire is a feeling that comes about because of an unsatisfied state of being.
- Tenacity – Tenacity is having the sustained energy needed as you work on your goal even though obstacles may exist.
Very simply, inspiration and desire ignite motivation. Tenacity sustains it. If they are absent, results will be shoddy. When these three components are present, it gives you vigor that goes into pursuing a goal.
How do You Strengthen Your Motivation?
It helps to start with a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. You can’t get to New York if you are on a non-stop train bound for California. You have to know where you want to go and understand the path that will take you there.
Once you have a vision of what you want to accomplish, you’ll have to determine, with brutal honesty, how committed will you be to see it through to fruition.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how motivated are you to walk through ALL of the steps that it will take to get you there? If you say, ‘6’, how will you turn that ‘6’ into a ‘9’ or ‘10’?
If your motivation is strong, it will propel your desire forward, making visions reality.
Then you must:
- Find Your Inspiration: Inspiration is what drives motivation. When you feel inspired, it sets off a series of emotions and a course of action that drives you to act with purpose, vigor, and energy. For me, I find inspiration when I listen to R. Carlos Nakai, one of the world’s premier performers of the Native American flute. There is something haunting in the music that takes me to a deep place of creativity, thought, and reflection that is hard to mimic elsewhere. Your inspiration maybe found in a walk on the beach, skipping rocks on the lake, or just having a cup of hot tea listening to the sound of the rain hit the roof. It might be found in a person that you admire. Just like motivation, inspiration is personal. You have to find yours.
- Get Real: Life changes the instant you say it changes. If you’re not motivated to make something happen, you’ll most likely not meet your goal. Make up your mind that you’re going to make it happen and stick to it. Make a decision to go all the way. Get serious. Don't fool around anymore. If you want change, you have to be committed to that change.
- Get Support: If you want to run my marathon, join a running community. Find support either in the real world or online, or both. Make your intentions public so that those around you can help push you to success.
- Have a No Procrastination Zone – Don’t fall victim to your procrastination. Understand how and when you procrastinate. If you procrastinate, you’ll never succeed in your vision.
- Keep picturing the benefits: If you want to lose ten pounds, don’t think about how hungry you will be or the crappy food you might have to eat, see yourself rockin’ that sexy dress on New Year’s Eve. One common problem is that we think about how hard something will be to accomplish. Get energized by seeing the benefits each day.
- Find Your Flow: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book, Finding Flow, defines flow as “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” I’d recommend reading this book if you have not. It provides insight and takes you on the journey of finding your flow.
- Bribe Yourself: Why not? You can bribe yourself with something small or large. Tell yourself something simple like: When I’m done cleaning the garage, I will treat myself to the movie, I’ve been wanting to see. Or: When I obtain my Master’s degree, I will take myself on a dream vacation.
If motivation were easy, we’d all be successful with everything we set out to accomplish. It’s not easy to stay motivated, but it’s certainly not impossible. The secret is discovering what works for you so you have a blueprint for action. Expect ups and downs. Motivation has an ebb and flow effect. It can be hard to maintain high motivation at all times. Take advantage of the highs so that your lows are not a step backwards.
Over to you: What motivates you? What advice to you have for others who have a hard time being motivated?
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Johnston Osburn is a Career and Life Coach who helps people turn dreams into realities. After years as a Global Talent Acquisition Professional, she realized how frequently people limit themselves because they lack belief in their abilities. They are afraid to dream, let alone dream big. [...]