Motivation is the desire to do things. Motivation is the crucial element to achievement, setting goals and making remarkable things happen. It is the reason we get up and act in a particular way.
So as we trudge on merrily through the year how do we keep motivated to make our work more meaningful and achievements more impactful?
Below is a stripped back answer to what I currently understand about motivation and how we make it happen.
UNDERSTAND: True motivation comes from creativity. Doing something! Creative expression is the key. And, yes we are all creative. Please note: Motivation comes from within. It may be stimulated from the outside, but it’s always from within.
- BEWARE OF EXTERNAL PRESCRIPTIONS, they don't last and lead to addictions like social media, TV, shopping for crap, the pursuit of external stimulus.
- TRUE LASTING MOTIVATION TAKES TIME, effort and requires ongoing maintenance.
- DON'T CONFUSE ENTERTAINMENT WITH MOTIVATION. Music and movies can inspire, but when they stop, it stops.
I've been in the valley of deep shadow a lot. I know how this rolls. A motivation repair program I would recommend looks like this:
First, seek out solitude
All great artists know this. Power comes from the void. You need space to gather yourself, your thoughts and to listen to your inner voice that's more than likely silenced in the noise of everyday life and other peoples agendas. You also need avoid grabbing cheap stimulation like TV, gossip, socializing and the Internet. Can I recommend for a week you try Morning Pages A process where you write three pages a day. Just write anything. It serves to stimulate your creative core. Whatever angst you have in your mind you must get out on the paper. Identify your crap, get over yourself and get in touch with what is important. Write, just write, write fast and don't edit. Initially you write rubbish....but when you have to write 3 pages eventually the gold starts emerging. Don't judge yourself, be kind and gentle like you would encourage a child....in this case it’s your creative child you want to nurture. This process is the best I know to probe your creative core. I shred my morning pages when I'm done - it’s better for everyone that they never get read. Alternatively, go for a walk in nature or find a way to allow yourself to "just be" without expectation and interference from people.
Second, do something
Motivation and inspiration comes from doing things. Seeing the results of your work has more power than anything else. Chop wood, bake a cake, go for a run, spring clean, take photos, hike a big hill, build a bird house, take a fresh approach to your vocation and conduct a few experiments. Think about what you want to do and do that. Don't do what someone else wants you to do. Doing what you know you must do instead of what you should do is a super powerful tactic. YOU MUST read Elle Luna's eponymous essay: The Crossroads of Should and Must. The inimitable Jim Rohn taught us that inspiration happens in these 5 steps: deciding, planning, beginning, progressing and achieving. (Jim Rohn's 5 Sources of Inspiration) The idea is that you build momentum in something meaningful to you. Starting and then stopping is how you die slowly. Start, iterate and keep going, slowly but surely. Life is not a race, it’s an ultra-marathon.
Thirdly, find your focus
Your daily efforts need to be laser focused on the one thing that is super important to you. We are all defined by our work. Know this: Daily practice over time is the only secret to fulfilment and success, however you define it. If you want to sharpen your focus hack though the advice my article: Why You Struggle To Focus And What To Do About It. The endpoint you're trying to reach is "creative consistency" in something purposeful to YOU. Like a long distance runner who find finds fulfilment in the long road ahead, you find your edge in your work. The work itself is the reward. If your work is not a reward, YOU must find a way to make it rewarding right now, where you are - the fastest path is the one Einstein walked: Be a man of value!
Research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control. There are many views on this. I trust this article will help.
Thanks a million for reading this one.