People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.
– Andrew Carnegie
Every January 1st, people commit to yet another set of resolutions; working out, cutting down on junk food, quitting addictions and so forth. Gym memberships skyrocket, social media gets overflown with motivational updates, and everybody’s talking about what they’re going to improve.
This hype lasts a couple of weeks, after which most of those people give up and never look back. What happened?
They lacked proper motivation from the start. Usual explanations for these sudden commitments are vague and generic; they want to get in better shape, live healthier or let go of bad habits.
Problem with their way of thinking is that they don’t have a specific purpose for sticking to their resolutions. They get a boost of temporary motivation which soon wears off and they’re back to square one.
To be able to sustain the energy and willpower needed to reach a desired goal, they need to define their big, fat, bold, capitalized and unique WHY.
SPRINT VS MARATHON
When talking about motivational energy, most people adapt the sprint motivation; you watch an incentive video, read an inspiring quote or simply feel inadequate, and decide to change.
You set big, long-term plans and get down to business right away. Your adrenaline is high, you’re 100% focused on what you need to do, and there’s no stopping you. An hour, day or a week after, that energy is completely gone and you don’t know what happened.
Short-term boost of motivation is awesome, but it is temporary. However, people don’t realize it, and have a ridiculous belief that a sudden rush of adrenaline will be able to sustain them over a longer period of time.
It won’t. For that, you need marathon motivation.
As the name suggests, it’s the type of motivation designed to keep you going all day, every day. But, you can’t think of motivation as something that can be activated on que. It’s about changing habits, building routines and becoming disciplined.
Still, before doing all that, you need to be hyped enough to want to do it. So where do you get that foundational motivation to get off your ass and start doing something useful?
You get it by focusing on the end result.
With sprint motivation, you already do this; you watch a video about someone already in shape working out (end result) to motivate yourself to start a workout (inception). But you’re doing it in a wrong way.
Focusing on others gives you a temporary boost. If you focus on the result you hope to achieve, it will be much more effective.
WHY, OH WHY?
The most basic, but important step is to define your why – why are you doing this?
And not just vague explanations – why is this so important that you are willing to go through blood, sweat and tears for it? Why do you want exactly that? What specifically do you want to achieve? Why is it important to you?
If you can’t answer those questions with a clear definition of what you desire, you’re going to have a very hard time chasing success.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger set his mind on becoming the best bodybuilder in the world, he was dedicated to it. He didn’t watch others working out to get motivated; he envisioned what he desired. He imagined himself huge, pictured himself winning bodybuilding tournaments and, when he did, he got so excited about it that he went to work with a 150% capacity.
In contrast, compare his passion to this:
I want to get in shape. Studies shows it increases productivity and health of an individual.
While true, it won’t give you the motivational energy you need. Everybody knows they need to get in shape, but why do you want to do it?
Do you want to lose weight or gain mass? Do you want to simply improve cardio or are you in risk of developing a severe medical condition? Do you want to become a functional athlete or just get compliments from your friends?
Just like a workout, you need to personalize your motivation. Sure, studies show working out can increase productivity for you, but it also applies to others. Why is it important to you?
Are you writing a novel and need to get over a writer’s block? Are you solving a problem? Or are you simply working out for the hell of it?
You might not understand why defining you why is so important. In the end, it’s just words, right?
Imagination is a powerful tool. If you simply say it, it doesn’t mean much. But if you can close your eyes and picture the success you crave as clear as day, it will unleash an endless stream of motivational energy that will keep you going for a long, long time.
Because, once you envision the result you hope to achieve, or the person you want to become, something amazing happens.
When you determine why an activity matters to you, you adapt a different mindset. Instead of looking for excuses, you’re looking for opportunities.
Nobody supported Arnold’s dream of becoming a bodybuilder, but because he could imagine the end result, he was adapting for success, rather than looking for reasons to quit. At the age of 18, he was serving in the military and had no equipment or time to work out.
Still, because his passion for the end result was extreme, he adapted to the situation; after an entire day of military training, he would use objects around his dorm to work out while every else went to bed. He went AWOL to compete in Junior Mr. Europe contest, won first place, and then spent a week in military prison for running away.
When you know why you’re doing something, you will be more inclined to stop procrastinating and reach that level of success as soon as possible. Once you got that fire beneath your feet, you can start changing your habits and forming routines around your workflow.
There will always be days when you don’t want to do what you need to do. Maybe the weather isn’t fit for a run, you’re not feeling productive enough to write, or you’re simply itching to watch the newest episode of your favorite show.
The choice is yours. But consider this; once you’re old and grey, and you look back at what you achieved throughout your lifetime, will you think to yourself – “I wish I had more time”?
Someday, you are going to die. Right now, you can choose how to spend your time. Are you choosing wisely?