Motivation provides the spark behind any big accomplishment. One inspiring idea or mission can spur a lifetime of change.
Finding that motivation can be difficult, however – and sustaining it is another matter altogether. Many of us think we understand how to be motivated, and yet, we find ourselves failing again and again to maintain that necessary drive.
Unfortunately, no quick fix can deliver lasting motivation. Rather, motivation constitutes the culmination of passion and hard work, which, when combined, can deliver the drive you once assumed was firmly out of reach.
Given the right project and the right mindset, anyone can find sustained motivation, as we demonstrate below:
Goal-setting can help, but it will do little good if you derive no personal meaning from your objectives. Before you start on your next big goal, determine why it’s so important that you achieve it.
To ground yourself, outline the reasons underlying your goal with pencil and paper. Research suggests that actively writing goals engages us in the process, making it more difficult to shake off that initial burst of motivation.
Get specific. How will your life change if you achieve your goal? How will your journey improve the lives of others? What long-term benefits do you foresee beyond your own personal bubble?
Keep these essentials in mind as you move forward – and don’t hesitate to turn to them when the going gets tough.
Plan for Motivational Downturns
As the old cliché states, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. This concept certainly applies to the seemingly elusive quality of motivation.
No matter how passionate you feel about your mission, you will doubt yourself from time to time – and you may struggle to deal with the roadblocks that constantly stand in your way.
If inevitable barriers come as a complete surprise, they may seem impossible to move beyond. If, however, you’ve always anticipated drops in motivation, you’ll recognize them when they occur. More importantly, you’ll understand the value of pushing through.
Before you take action, determine where and why motivation may plummet – and what you can do to maintain it during those periods. Tailor your efforts to reflect what you and your cohorts find inherently motivating.
From workout partners to study buddies, it’s no secret that goals are easier to accomplish when social support and accountability enter the picture. Not all companions will actively help you succeed, however. As you build a supportive community centered around your mission, seek passionate individuals who also understand the importance of your objectives. When your motivation begins to suffer, these supporters can reignite the spark.
Take Measurable Steps
Teachers regularly try – and often fail – to convince their students to break big projects or term papers into manageable “chunks,” rather than procrastinate. Outside of school, this concept can easily be applied to major objectives, which may seem overwhelming at the outset. With “chunking,” however, you’ll quickly realize that your mission can be accomplished, one step at a time.
Don’t attempt to take on everything at once. Instead, keep the motivation underlying your mission in mind as you divide your journey into a series of ambitious, but achievable steps.
As you achieve small goals, make a point of congratulating yourself. Don’t hold back personal praise – you’ve earned it! If you fully recognize your efforts and their early rewards, you’ll feel compelled to continue moving forward. Even small successes can activate your brain’s reward center, delivering bursts of dopamine that can easily be recaptured as you continue to pursue small, but important goals.
Gratitude is an often forgotten but essential component of motivation. Thankfulness and drive may seem like opposing forces, but they go hand in hand.
When we feel grateful for what we already have, we also feel hope for the future. Even a shred of hope can drive us when everything else seems to stand in the way. Express gratitude early and often – you’ll thank yourself later.
Sustainable motivation is well within reach. With a strategic approach, a supportive community, and a bit of passion, you can handle virtually any roadblock. Effort begets excellence, so don’t be afraid to dive in.