I’ve seen too many people struggling with their motivation, or losing their mojo and wondering how to find it again. Whether they’ve been given bad advice or have simply created bad habits, I want to help fix that. If you know the habits of highly motivated people, you can try more things, start more ventures, get back up when you get knocked down, and inspire yourself and others to do great things.
What is motivation?
My favorite definition of inspire is “to breathe life into.” So, effective motivation is the ability to continuously breathe life into whatever you do. There are two types of motivation:
- Intrinsic– Internal motivation
- Extrinsic– External motivation
Intrinsic motivation is more about finding your drive from the inside out, while extrinsic motivation is more about “carrots and sticks” (i.e., rewards and punishments). The real key to motivation is to use a combination of positive reinforcement combined with internal drive.
Here are seven timeless habits of highly motivated people you can follow:
1. Find your WHY.
Highly motivated people start with their WHY. WHY do you do what you do?
If you climb a mountain simply because it’s there, that’s probably not enough to keep you going when the going gets tough. If you know WHY you do what you do, and it matters deeply to you, then you will find your strength in any situation.
For example, my WHY is pretty simple: I want to improve the quality of life for as many people as I can for as long as I can. So, I connect the work I do on a daily basis back to my WHY. At work, I try to lift those around me, and I try to help customers succeed in amazing ways.
2. Change your beliefs about what’s possible.
I find that so many people don’t really lack motivation. Instead, they lack models of what’s possible; they have limited beliefs of what’s achievable. That’s why stories and role models can be so powerful—they open our eyes to a whole new realm of possibilities.
If you’ve ever seen a performance of the Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats or Cirque du Soleil, you know what I mean. If you want to be amazed by what people can do, flip through the Guinness Book of World Records. You can draw from those around you for amazing stories of possibility. But if you come up dry, then don’t stop there. Fill your head with books, movies, stories and scenes that remind you of the power of possibility.
3. Change your beliefs that limit you.
Limiting beliefs show up in our minds in insidious ways. For example, we might whisper to ourselves: That’s not me; I can’t do that; or, I’m not good enough.
A popular story is about the flea in a jar. If you put a lid on the jar, the flea bumps its head. It will keep bumping its head all through the day, hour after hour. Eventually, it will jump just shy of hitting its head. Then, if you remove the lid, the flea will continue to jump below where the lid used to be.
Can the flea jump out of the jar now? It could if it didn’t have this new limiting belief.
Don’t be the flea in the jar.
4. Spend more time in your values.
This habit is like two-for-the-price-of-one. Not only does it help you find your motivation, it also helps you live the good life.
But, first you need to find your values. With your values in hand, you can connect your daily work back to your values. For example, I value adventure, learning, and excellence. When I lead a project, I don’t just drive the project. I lead an epic adventure. When I work on a task that I might not otherwise enjoy, I find a way to learn something new. Better yet, I try to find somebody who can show me their favorite shortcuts or ways to do it better, faster, or cheaper. The simplest value that I connect to is excellence.
5. Surround yourself with catalysts.
Just like there are some tasks that drain you and other tasks that excite you, there are people who drain you and people who catalyze you.
First and foremost though, make sure that you are your own catalyst. Be a coach, not a critic. When you fail, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, look for the wisdom. Don’t ask yourself, Why am I such an idiot? Instead ask yourself, How can I do better next time?
Find the catalysts who lift you up and bring out the best in you.
You don’t have to overthink this one. Simply identify the people that somehow give you energy and help you find your mojo. It might be the way they focus on your unique gifts. It might be the way they see what others don’t see. It might be the way they say just the right words of encouragement that help you get back on your feet again or inspire you to take on the world.
6. Build better feedback loops.
Progress is progress no matter how small. This is another powerful habit: if you can focus on progress, you improve both your happiness and your motivation.
There are three aspects of building better feedback loops:
- Tighten the feedback loop. The closer you can have the feedback to the actual activity, the better.
- Make it accurate and relevant. If it’s not relevant, then it’s noise. If it’s not accurate, it doesn’t help.
- Focus on actionable insight. There’s no sense in getting feedback if you don’t have any way to act on it.
Have you ever been stuck on something and then suddenly somebody revealed to you the missing ingredient? Not only was it an ‘aha’ moment, but you were probably excited about how this new discovery would help you be more effective, and you couldn’t wait to try it.
Create more moments like that and use feedback as your friend.
7. “Pull” yourself forward with compelling goals.
Imagine the goals that inspire you from the inside out. Word your goals in such a way that they automatically “pull” you toward them.
If it feels like you are trying to “push” yourself, then there is something getting in the way. You could be experiencing a conflict of values or interests, internally or externally. It could even be fear. Or perhaps you just need a smaller hurdle to start with that you can easily jump and build your momentum. Or maybe you need a big audacious goal to inspire you.
If a goal is imposed on you, don’t take it at face value. Look at it as a gift and find the challenge that inspires you. Frame the goal in such a way that you are drawn to both the outcome and the journey as an adventure that you will enjoy—challenges and all. Hopefully, what you notice here is just how much motivation and inspiration are inside jobs. You don’t want to have to depend on people or external circumstances to light your fire for you. Instead, learn how to push your own buttons and motivate yourself with skill.
I look forward to your stories of how you found your motivation mojo, got your eye of the tiger back, and found your personal way to thrive in work and life.
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This piece originally appeared on Sources of Insight