We don’t always wake ready to conquer things. Sometimes, just getting into first gear is a taxing process.
The key to getting and staying motivated is … (lengthy drum roll)
To stop focusing on motivation.
It’s simple: What’s the point of seeking motivation if you don’t follow through?
The problem with the traditional view of motivation is that we generally don’t look beyond surface level. We focus far too much energy on the bigger picture and not the tangible actions that form the guts of our motivations.
Your brain learns over time to avoid the stronger triggers and overcome the weaker. It paralyzes you when decision time comes.
While taping a picture of a model with stone-chiseled abs to the mirror might serve as a temporary spark to lose weight, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll put on your running shoes and dance out the door.
Linking action to inspiration
The key to movement is linking inspiration to action. It’s superhero and indispensible sidekick. They coexist in the same motivational ecosystem, so you have to complete each in turn for it to work.
How do you do this?
Inspiration could still be that picture taped to the mirror as a reminder, or some variation of, as long as it realigns you with whatever your goal is at the moment. The source of inspiration has to be focused on the present for it slip through your natural wall of resistance.
Start by breaking larger goals into smaller, actionable and achievable, and focus your inspirational cues on one of these smaller components.
Next, you’ll need a trigger for an action that also correlates with the same goal. For example, I’ve been know to place my phone in the bathroom so that I’m forced to get out of bed to turn it off in the morning. Inspiration is the drive to wake earlier so that I have more quiet time for myself.
So the formula is simple: Once inspiration hooks, the next step should be the trigger, followed by a simple action.
How to stay aligned with your motivations
In my humble opinion, it’s easier to focus on action and inspiration first, then maintaining your connection to motivation second.
It’s motivational maintenance, so to speak.
Here a few ways to stay aligned with your motivations and keep those cogs well-oiled and running smoothly:
Taking risks – forces you out of the safe zone and tricks your brain into “accepting” the feeling of being uncomfortable. If you can learn to enjoy discomfort, you’ll keep moving forward, despite the toughest of obstacles.
Accept that you’ll struggle – a lot – and you’ll set a clear internal expectation that you’re ready to fight when it gets tough. You’re in it to the teeth, so why pile on by struggling with the fact that you’re struggling? Accept it and move on.
Ask why – often - and realign with the larger purpose behind your motivations. Laser in on the deeper reason why you’re motivation is important in the first place. If you can’t answer why, then it’s probably time to shift gears to something new.
Life introduces all types of challenges, and you can’t always depend on passion alone to overcome. Sometimes, you just need an extra nudge to shake loose and move forward.
In the end, even the smallest of steps forward, can be that nudge.