Written April 2017:
How many of us can honestly say we feel motivated ALL the time? Do you even feel motivated the majority of the time? Maybe not, and that’s okay. It can be tough to find and feel motivation. However, there are people who achieve so much more than many of us ever will. So what’s their secret? How are people like Nathan Latka motivated to create a multi-millionaire dollar business by age 24? How is David Blaine able to dedicate his entire life to enduring some of the craziest stunts known to man? The list could go on and on. People achieve things that seem unimaginable to some of us. What are their secrets? Obviously, I don’t know the answer because if I did, I’d probably have achieved some greater things by now. But to me, the answer isn’t motivation. Why?
We have a preconceived notion about what motivation really is. We sit around and wait, wishing for motivation to hit us like a truck. We envy those that seem to have more motivation than us. We see them have this drive that pushes them to accomplish things and soar higher than us. Except there is something that maybe we don’t all realize: no one is born with more motivation than another. It’s NOT in our blood, it’s something we harness, grow, and use. The only difference is in our mindset and attitude.
Now, motivation is a powerful thing. It gives us the energy we need to get off the couch and do something. It drives us to work, invent, innovate, and better our lives. Without motivation, I mean, I’m not really sure where anyone would be. The problem is that motivation does not last forever. It’s something a lot of us end up chasing. What happens so often is that we hear a story, read an article, or hear someone speak, and we feel inspired and motivated because of it. We tell ourselves we’re gonna do ‘x’ and we feel so good because we have this new found drive. Personally, I feel unstoppable and I am at my happiest during these moments.
Sadly, give me a few more days or a week, and I’ve long forgotten about the story or article that inspired me. I’ve lost the motivation that it had given me. I’ll be lucky to remember just one or two quotes or main lessons from what I heard or read. If I were to plot a comprehensive chart of my motivation levels throughout a year, it would look a lot like continuous waves. Looking at that, it can be quite disheartening because we all want to be motivated all the time, if we could. But, we can’t. So what is the secret then? If motivation is short-lived, how do people do it? I don’t have the answers. If I did, I would be extremely wealthy and achieving all sorts of things. Realistically, I’m not. But I have a theory. So agree or disagree, but it’s worth thinking about.
Motivation is ultimately the enemy because we’re so busy chasing motivation when it really only gives us short bursts of energy and drive. Motivation is not sustainable. The secret is that habits need to be created for yourself. No one can be motivated all the time, and there really isn’t a secret formula, like do ‘x’ and ‘y’ and tomorrow, you will be motivated. It doesn’t work like that, unfortunately. So you set good habits for yourself and stick to them, to carry you through the periods when motivation is low. Eventually, your motivation will be back around in the next wave. David Blaine, for example, has achieved some things that we thought we’re beyond human capabilities. He has continuously pushed the barriers of his body’s physical capabilities. A lot of people see the crazy acts he does, but rarely do people know about the months and years he puts himself through to train and adapt his body for this one event. Now a year is a long time to train daily for one moment. There’s no denying that David is an extremely motivated individual. However, the motivation alone is not what makes him successful. He too, would have a motivation chart that looks like continuous waves. I will admit that his chart probably has much taller and wider waves though. Still, he has highs and he has lows. No matter what his motivation level is at, he has habits that he sticks to day in, day out. He holds himself accountable to the habit no matter how he feels that day. That is true determination and grit. He sticks to his training and habits through the ‘bad’ days until his motivation is back again. It will be back, he knows that. He just needs to get there.
The same can be said for all successful athletes, artists, and successful business-people. I can only assume they were not motivated EVERY day. They set habits and they held themselves accountable. If you want to start making changes in your life and achieve great things, stop waiting around for motivation. If you want to become a famous writer, write every day for 5 or 10 minutes. If you want to play professional basketball, shoot 20 free throws every day. If you want to grow as a person, read a chapter a day. If you want to own your own business, write a section of a business plan every day. You get the point. Don’t chase after motivation either because you cannot stop the highs and lows. You’re going to go through periods where your motivation is low but that’s okay. You stick to your habits and you will pull yourself through to the next period when your drive is high. That is the key to being a ‘motivated’ individual. Try it and see what changes happen in your life.