I’m not going to yell and cuss at you. Or give you a quick pep talk that will only energize you for the next 25 minutes. I’m simply going to show you how I find the motivation within myself to master my energy and become motivated beyond external bursts.
Reliance on external motivation only causes noise that continues to cloud our productivity.
(e.g. intense speeches, pep talks, inspirational songs with epic choirs saying latin words, random self-help teachers who just want to cuss at you)
When you’re tackling work or a project, the most difficult part is getting started. It’s so easy to feel like our projects and goals are overwhelming.
Defeat feels like it already happened even though we haven’t started yet.
And the possibility of future regret constantly stifles our attempts to even get started.
Motivation shouldn’t be a battle between willpower and external stimulation.
Motivation shouldn’t need to be pumped into us all of the time.
Motivation should be a way of life that flows from what we value.
Once you learn how to find motivation within yourself, you’ll allow energy and productivity to flow. Your values and drive will empower you rather than external sources.
Motivation flows from what you value
Most people think that motivation is something they have to find. So, they spend their time searching for motivation outside of themselves rather than cultivating it within themselves.
True motivation isn’t something that occurs outside of you. It’s found within yourself.
Sure, an inspirational video might give you a good nudge, but ultimately, that video is simply stirring up the values inside you already had to begin with.
So, how do you find and cultivate the motivational values within yourself?
First, recognize what you value. Then, practice those values and make them crucial to a life well lived.
It’s that simple.
I’ll walk you through an example of myself:
I need motivation for writing. So, I first need to recognize why I want to write. Why do I want to communicate with people in this medium?
A value I recognize within myself related to writing is growth.
I value growth within myself and within other people. So, writing for me isn’t actually about writing at all. It’s about sharing growth with other people.
It’s about a communal challenge to enter into a better humanity with each other.
If I spent hours trying to become motivated to write from external sources, they would never help me arrive at that conclusion.
Instead, all I had to do was take 5 minutes to recognize the values that are underlying my desire to work on a project.
I had to recognize that what I value is crucial to a life well lived. Fostering that value inside myself allows me to transform writing from work into a gift.
This is how you find true motivation: by cultivating the values inside yourself that drive you beyond the norm.
Try this for yourself… what values are behind your drive to accomplish a task? Find those values and foster them.
Lasting, determined motivation comes from your ability to translate values into action.
“Over-motivation interferes with reasoning processes. The automatic reaction mechanism is jammed by too much conscious effort—trying too hard. Something akin to ‘purpose tremor’ develops and the ability to think clearly is lost. “ - Maxwell Maltz
Andy Stanley says that “direction, not intention, determines destination”.
Your intention might be to get started on your project, but unless you put action and direction towards your goal, you’ll never get to your destination.
Simply willing something to happen won’t work.
Once you find the values that are behind your desire to start and complete a project, you’ll need to get started.
You can get started in a small way… begin by creating an outline of the work you need to do and a simple timeline of when you’ll get it done.
Direction will move you towards your destination. Intention will only cause stalling.
Resolve the tension of open loops
“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” - Neil Gaiman
Our lack of productivity and motivation mainly comes from the unresolved open loops in our life.
This is why all the little errands and tasks you have to do slowly add up and completely destroy your emotional energy.
Our brains crave completed tasks and ideas. The biggest function our brain has is to figure out how to complete things through logic.
When we have a myriad of unresolved tasks, our mind will spend its processing power trying to accomplish them.
This is detrimental because we use up precious energy and time thinking about ways to solve things without completing even a single one of those tasks.
Learning to resolve open loops will free up your mental and emotional energy so you can have deep focus and motivation without distraction.
Stop consuming so many low-quality things
“A person cannot rise above how he sees himself” - Maxwell Maltz
Buzzing notifications will never serve you well.
I love staying connected to people. I want to know when people get engaged, or how their Christmas was, or even the snarky face their cat made, but continual low-quality consumption is devastating to productivity.
We willingly choose to allow ourselves to become distracted by things that don’t provide value to us. And don’t get me wrong, it’s great to stay connected and to have times where you can relax and watch TV.
But, rest and relaxation have a time and place of their own.
A majority of your motivation-block my be coming from your choices to distract yourself away from the fear of getting started.
I’m an avid reader. And I think everyone should be. So, I try to tell everyone I meet to start reading because I believe it has the power to greatly change someone’s life.
But, most people I talk to argue that they don’t have enough time to read…
This is fascinating to me. Usually, because they were talking about the last Game of Thrones episode they watched.
I don’t read a lot because I have more time than other people. I read a lot because I choose to value it over other activities that are low-quality.
If you spend your life only choosing low-quality activities, you’ll never find the motivation to starting doing high-quality activities.
Motivation to start your goals and projects will never be found in low-quality distractions like social media and TV. They might serve as great periods of rest and relaxation, but only after you spend more time choosing to invest in high-quality activities.
So, start toning down your consumption of low-quality things. Choose to fill your time with high-quality activities that will serve you well and usher in motivation.
Practice in the open
"A lot of people believe in talent. I don’t think something like talent exists. I think the only way to get good at something is to do it over and over again. In front of an audience of people so you can get immediate feedback.” - Yann Girard
You’ll gain a remarkable amount of motivation by publicizing what you’re doing.
Even something as simple as telling a couple of friends what you’re doing will introduce an unparalleled level of accountability and encouragement.
Also, practicing in the open will allow you to gain valuable feedback about what you’re doing.
People will be able to help you in ways you never thought possible when you become inclusive with your projects and goals.
When you share what you’re doing with other people, you open yourself up to the possibility of people knowing if you failed. And that’s ok.
No one expects you to be perfect except for yourself.
You’ll create a vulnerable community that lasts for years when you can begin to trust others to see what you’re building.
Don’t rely on external motivation. Find it within yourself
“Few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows exactly what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it.” - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Don’t become affected by your circumstances… or merely reactionary to your environment.
Cultivate the values within you that will allow you to master your energy and become motivated beyond short, external bursts.
Getting started is tough… I used to search for motivation everywhere until I realized that motivation has always been inside me.
The values for the life you want to live are the only things that can truly empower you.
Once you recognize that, motivation will flow out of practicing your values.
Find the deep values behind the work and goals you have for yourself. Make them crucial elements of a life well lived.
When you begin to recognize the power that values have on your motivation, you’ll never have to search for it.
External motivation will only give you a temporary burst of energy.
Motivation cultivated within yourself, based on what you value, will create endless, distraction-free energy.