How to Motivate Yourself

Waiting for Motivation?

You haven’t fallen into the trap of waiting around for motivation to propel you to your dreams have you? There are lots of folks who act like they are waiting around for some big wave of motivation to wash them along toward their dream. Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner says, “you’re more likely to act yourself into feeling than feel yourself into action.” Tony Robbins often talks about how motion creates emotion.

If you want to make progress toward something you desire, then you need to take action. Imagine having a dream of going on vacation to Tahiti. You can almost smell the ocean breeze, feel the warm sun above and the sand between your toes. Are you going to get to Tahiti by simply dreaming and thinking about it? You could even read all about it, watch videos and talk to people who have been there, but will those activities get you there? No. You will have to start the journey. You will have to decide to take action and begin moving yourself toward Tahiti. That is basically how achieving anything in life works.

So many people, I’m sure you haven’t and aren’t doing this, but so many people seem to be sitting around waiting for something to take them to their “Tahiti.” If you are afraid of failing, welcome to the club. It isn’t the fear but what we do in spite of the fear that matters. George Bernard Shaw stated, “A life spent in making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” Fear of failure or fear of the unknown will keep you doing basically nothing. President Theodore Roosevelt said, “He who makes no mistakes makes no progress.” You have to take that first step toward your “Tahiti.”

Take Action

You can’t wait for some positive feelings or emotions to come along and carry you down life’s path. You have to take action to break out of the inaction. It doesn’t matter how big or small your action is, just take some action in the direction you desire to go. This will form a new direction and beginning for you.

Even this might not be enough to get you moving and taking action. Viktor Frankl noted that, “Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life… .” With this in mind, I suggest that to help you take that first step toward whatever it is you want to achieve, you determine if your achievement will give meaning to your life.

I believe you will find the most meaning in life through a way of living that adds value to others. When you become part of something bigger than yourself with the focus on others you will find it ultimately rewarding and meaningful. What exactly should you do? Maybe you already have your focus and know what you want to be about in life, but if you don’t here are a few suggestions to help you figure it out.

First, remember that life is a journey. By that I mean it’s a process of discovery, learning, application and adjustment all while moving forward. Few are the roads that don’t climb, wind and dip that lead to someplace grand. Second, choose work that honors your soul while adding value to others.

Developing Motivation

As you seek for meaning and the motivation that it brings (notice that you have to take action here to determine your meaning before you will get motivated) begin by determining your mission, understanding your personality type, discovering your four greatest talents and then combine all that into your vision. Doing this will allow you to realize meaning and a purpose outside of yourself which will develop motivation in your life.

How do you develop your life’s mission statement? Write it out in a single sentence containing three verbs and based on one of your core values. Here are a couple of examples:

My mission is to discover, develop and build value in others.
My mission is to inspire, promote and encourage growth in others.
My mission is to create, develop and sustain connection among people.
My mission is to encourage, promote and inspire peace.

Dig out a list of verbs and read over them selecting the words that resonate with you. From that list keep selecting the ones that most resonate with you until you have narrowed it down to three verbs. Then find a word or two that define a core value that you feel strongly about. Things like, peace, connection, love, growth, transformation etc. Find words you feel strongly about in your being.

Also note that the mission statement should be broad enough to allow you to fulfill your mission without being pigeonholed. In other words, you can carry it out at home, work, in a faith­ based community or while on vacation.

Next comes the task of determining your personality type. You can use any system you want to learn about your personality, but I recommend Laurie Beth Jones’ PEP (Path Elements Profile). If you would like more guidance determining your mission and purpose get her book The Path: Simplify Work and Life.

Next you should determine the four greatest talents you have. To help you figure this out ask people what you are good at or ask yourself what other people say you are good at. In addition, think about what you love doing the most, but keep in mind that to get the greatest meaning and motivation you’ll want to use your talents to add value to other people.

Your vision comes next. To help figure this out keep in mind your mission statement, your personality, your four best talents and weave them into your vision. You can imagine that you have no limitations­­ money is plentiful and you have all the time you need. What do you see yourself doing with the previous things in mind? Imagine it’s Thursday at 3 P.M. What are you doing? What does your evening look like at 6 P.M. on Tuesday? Who is with you and where are you for breakfast Monday morning? Combine all this together to help you find your purpose in life. Describe how you will use your talents to carry out your mission and what this will look like.

Doing this will give your life meaning and the process will motivate you to fulfill your great purpose in life. There can be bad days. What can you do to help keep you going in the direction you desire when you don’t feel like it?

Facing the Future

There is a harsh reality to your future that you can harness to give you motivation to keep going in spite of how you feel. Imagine yourself far in the future lying on your deathbed. Your older self looking back from this vantage point knows how crucial your present moment is. Why does your older self know this? Because you have run out of the present moments. Imagine your older self rising up in the bed and screaming at you to not waste your present moments. You feel the fear wash over you, that you have been wasting your life. A tremendous pressure to seize the moment surges within you to take action, to take the next step on your journey of meaning.

You might be put off by the idea of imagining yourself in the future facing death but this is the perspective that will create the urgency you need to take action now. Seeing your life from the perspective of the future, looking back, is a powerful reminder that you only have so many moments in your life. You can no longer deny that “right now” has no significance because it does.

The British writer Samuel Johnson said, “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” A story is told of a married woman who was dying from cancer. As the end of her life approached, her husband got up the courage to ask her what it was like to know she was dying. She mustered enough strength to sit up in bed and looking him in the eye asked him what it was like to live life pretending he wasn’t dying! The present moment is the only one you have­­ it will never come again. What will you do with it?

I’ve used this perspective and it definitely concentrates the mind wonderfully!

It’s Your Turn

Again I quote Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner: “You’re more likely to act yourself into feeling than feel yourself into action.” You now have some direction and tools to create meaning, purpose and motivation to do great things! Go and “act” because the clock is ticking!

If you want to make progress toward something you desire, then you need to take action. Imagine having a dream of going on vacation to Tahiti. You can almost smell the ocean breeze, feel the warm sun above and the sand between your toes. Are you going to get to Tahiti by simply dreaming and thinking about it? You could even read all about it, watch videos and talk to people who have been there, but will those activities get you there? No. You will have to start the journey. You will have to decide to take action and begin moving yourself toward Tahiti. That is basically how achieving anything in life works.

So many people, I’m sure you haven’t and aren’t doing this, but so many people seem to be sitting around waiting for something to take them to their “Tahiti.” If you are afraid of failing, welcome to the club. It isn’t the fear but what we do in spite of the fear that matters. George Bernard Shaw stated, “A life spent in making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” Fear of failure or fear of the unknown will keep you doing basically nothing. President Theodore Roosevelt said, “He who makes no mistakes makes no progress.” You have to take that first step toward your “Tahiti.”

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Trevor Wilson

Trevor Wilson

I love helping business owners who are passionate about making a positive difference in their clients' lives. I'm a passionate learner and teacher. My purpose is to help people live a more fulfilled life. In my professional life, I love helping business owners get clear on their purpose and identity. Then I help them clearly communicate their story so they can attract their ideal clients. I do this because I believe that when you work with your ideal clients you'll live a more fulfilled life.

Successful people do what everyone else won't dare to do. Don't wish it were easier; make yourself better.