Motivation is a tricky thing.
It’s key to putting us in the right mindset to get strategic about a goal and take conscious action on a consistent basis, and yet we rarely know where that inner power comes from and how to get it when we need it.
In times of desperation, hopelessness, or when we fear failure or let outer factors affect our mind and decisions, motivation isn’t usually there to give us the determination needed to get through these.
But let’s take control of that aspect of our life too, as it can be the one thing we do that increases our chances of success, in whatever it is that we want to achieve.
By understanding motivation, where it comes from and what goes on in our head when we’re motivated, we can turn this into a constant state of mind and decide to be encouraged to do something when we need to.
Here’s what the 3 most effective motivators are according to science, and how to make them part of our daily life:
We’re all looking for meaning in our lives. And there’s no bigger motivator to do something, no matter how difficult it is or how long it takes, other than to really want to do it. By knowing our ‘why’ – which is different for everyone and can be found deep within – we also somehow get to find out the ‘how’.
That’s what Daniel Pink talks about in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and also in his popular TED talk.
According to him, purpose and meaning are the things that let us wake up with excitement in the morning, ready to conquer the world.
Nothing else really matters – our current situation in life might be bad, we might not be advancing at work or be okay financially, or things in our relationships or health might be going wrong. But if we have this desire deep within, if we know what we want and are determined to have it, there’s nothing that can possibly stop a mind focused on an end vision.
So if you want to motivate yourself the next time you want to see better results, ask yourself if you truly want this, think about how it can change your life, involve a contribution to society somehow (as that makes the purpose even bigger).
When I go back to the moments when I did my best job, performed better than ever, were more focused and energetic than usual, there’s one thing that was always the same – I’d seen a little progress with a project or goal, and I wanted more.
Getting further makes you want to take the next step, and the one after that.
That’s great, as it’s a surefire way to constantly be moving ahead. But what does it take to make that first step?
That’s usually the irony. No one but you can make you take the first action. When you do, though, magical processes begin in your mind and you become more powerful, determined, and start using more of your potential.
Luckily, your first move doesn’t need to be big. You just need to start somewhere and thus build momentum.
According to Harvard professor Teresa Amabile, tracking these small wins can keep you motivated till you see even more progress, which itself will encourage you to keep going without complaining, being exhausted, getting distracted by other goals, or else.
Tracking is nothing more than just writing down what you did today that will help you reach your vision in the future. Journaling is a powerful process, though, and you internalize your accomplishments by doing it. Turning it into a daily habit also keeps your mind in action mode, and you’re concentrated on taking the next step.
There’s also the feeling of gratitude. You see how far you’ve come and don’t want to ruin that. So instead of making excuses the next day, you go do something that will help you do better work or succeed in a new endeavor, and can’t wait to add it to your journal.
Stop looking for motivation in outer factors.
Yes, it might feel nice to have mentors, to be supported by loved ones, to read things that make you more determined, to hang out with the right people who also have similar goals, to go to seminars and listen to lecturers you admire.
You might think a higher salary is what makes you work harder, that a bigger apartment and a better car are what excites you when you’re working on your business every spare minute. But think again.
These are temporary. The real deal happens on the inside.
As study suggests, gain isn’t a real motivator, it’s interest,
– the one that comes from deep within – that makes us perform better and be happy with what we’re doing and with the result.
‘If a reward—money, awards, praise, or winning a contest—comes to be seen as the reason one is engaging in an activity, that activity will be viewed as less enjoyable in its own right.’
It might be the desire for personal and spiritual growth, as it is with most students learning a new skill.
It might be the challenge, when learning a new language or aiming at a higher position at work.
It might be the joy of learning that makes you read on a daily basis and put the things you know into practice.
When a teacher has his own personal reasons for inspiring others, leaving a dent in the universe, or just wanting to change the lives of a few particular students, then he’s able to go to work energetic every day and find a way to get to the kids, whatever it takes.
So, the next time you’re looking for motivators, look no further than inside. The deep internal motivation is not only the strongest and most effective, but also the one that leads to pure satisfaction.
Over to you now.
How do you stay motivated? What was your biggest motivator in the past, and how can you replicate that?