People frequently ask me if I’m a motivational speaker.
My answer is, “Not really.”
HERE’S WHY: The only person that can motivate you is yourself.
Sure, outside influences are helpful.
They can educate you into awareness.
They can disturb you into discomfort.
They can inspire you into excitement.
But in the end, the onus is on you. Motivation lies within.
Buddha had it right: “Be a light unto yourself.”
The secret is learning how to kick your own ass. Today we’re going to talk about how:
1. No importance = No motivation. You will always make time for what’s important to you. Therefore: If you want to motivate yourself to do something, either: (1) make it important to you, or (2), connect it with something that’s already important to you. How are your priorities affecting your motivation?
2. Goals drive motivation. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. Wow. Sounds like a Yogi Berra quotation. Lesson learned: If you plan kick your own ass, have the foresight to print a roadmap on the bottom of your shoe.
Here’s how: Set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely, write them out. Carry them in your wallet. Look at them every day. Then make sure everything you’re doing throughout the day is aligned with them. Motivation will occur naturally.
By spending your time where it’s profitable and learning to say no to things (not) on the way to your dream, you will immediately put yourself at the center of action. And you will win. Are your goals in your wallet?
3. Expand self-efficacy. Speaking of goals. Famed psychologist Albert Bandura defines self-efficacy as a belief in our own ability to succeed, and our ability to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. According to his book Self-Efficacy:
“High levels of self-efficacy result in an ability to view difficult goals as a challenge, whereas people with low self-efficacy would likely view the same goals as being beyond their abilities, and might not even attempt to achieve them. “
Lesson learned: Get in touch with your resistance. Know what stops, deflates and derails you. That way, your high resolve will never melt under the heat lamp of temptation. How efficacious are you?
4. Trying jumping first. Ever gone cliff diving? The same thing happens every time: You stand there, shaking in your Tevas, debating whether or not to take the plunge. Meanwhile, your friends cheer you on and/or call you a sissy. Eventually you can’t take it anymore. You realize you’re only delaying the inevitable.
So you jump. No thinking. No motivation needed. You just jump. And as your body cuts into the icy water, your body exhilarates with excitement. It’s the best rush you’ve had in years. So, what do you do? Quickly swim to shore, race back up the mountain and do it again.
The only difference is, NOW you’re motivated – because you’ve already jumped before. Lesson learned: The best motivation for doing something is having already done it once. What cliff do you need to dive off of?
5. Be not overwhelmed by circumstances. Be not imprisoned by the moment. Struggle not against the inevitable. As my friend Neen James says, “Assess whether whatever is happening is in your control or not. If it is, decide whether you want to change it. Then, if so, ponder if it would even be worthwhile to expend the energy doing so.”
By exercising this type of internal communication, you cease to be imprisoned by external conditions. How could you hold your own feet to the fire?
6. Self-motivation stems from self-knowledge. It all depends on the way you talk to yourself before taking action. For example, the silent dialogue I have with myself often includes questions like:
*Is this supporting my empire?
*Will this choice bring me closer to my highest vision for myself?
*Will this choice add to my life force or rob me of my energy?
*Will this action move me closer to honoring my values or further away?
Your mission is to take some time exploring your personal decision making process. Here’s a helpful guide for doing so. Are you the world’s expert on yourself?
7. Enlist active and ongoing encouragement from your environment. In my office, you can’t see the walls. They’re covered (ceiling to floor) with items of motivation: Letters from inspired readers. Testimonials from audience members. Hatemail from people with too much time on their hands. Newspaper clippings from articles I’ve written or been featured in. Pictures of people I love. Quotations from songs that shook my soul. A map of the country with a thumbtack on every city I’ve spoken in. (Just to name a few.)
This is how I motivate myself each day. Of course, I’m a visual learner. This might not work for you. Your mission is to create atmosphere conducive to motivation based on your preferences and style. How does your home turf subtlety kick you in the ass?
8. Trim the fat. It’s easy to motivate yourself when you’re not weighed down by heaps of unimportant, inconsequential debris. Your challenge is to become skilled at dropping the rocks that are slowing you down. Try asking questions like:
*Is what I’m doing right now consistent with my #1 goal?
*Who creates fires you waste time putting out?
*How much time and energy are you wasting on things over which you have absolutely ZERO control?
*What consumes my time but isn’t making any money?
Remember: Motivation means choosing. And choosing means letting other options go. Are you prepared to cut yourself lose from the past and swing into the present.
9. Accept that the planets will never be aligned. Don’t wait until everything’s perfect. Don’t wait until you know what you’re doing. Don’t wait until you’re experienced enough. Don’t wait for overwhelming evidence to trust yourself. Heighten your impatience.
Plunge into the vortex of action. And jump off the high board hoping there’s water below. Otherwise procrastination – the redneck second cousin of self-motivation – will rob you of the motivation you need to carry in the cavalry charge. How will you leverage impatience as fuel for your motivation?
10. Surround yourself with other ass kickers. Self-motivation is contagious. If you hang with people whose footprints are plastered on their own assess, you will have no choice but to become motivated yourself. Therefore: Associate with the generous, gravitate to the cheerful, listen to the inspiring and court the challenging.
Or, if you don’t have friends like that, you can always use dead Italian guys. Take Davinci. He once said, “Rouse yourself from sleep because lying down will not bring thee fame.” Post that quotation next to your alarm clock. Maybe that’ll get your lazy butt out of bed. Are you surrounded by masters of self-motivation?
11. Remember your victory dance. The satisfaction of a job well done isn’t enough. And goals are worthless unless you celebrate their accomplishment. For example, when I swim laps each week, my primary motivation for doing so is relaxing hot tub afterwards.
It’s the best. But I have to earn it. I convince myself that I don’t deserve to soak until I’ve swum up a storm. That’s my victory dance. It’s minor; but it’s motivating. Your challenge is to design customized victory dances that commemorate the fruits of your motivation.
That way you’ll have that celebratory carrot dangling the next time. And the next time. And the next time. You might even spend a few minutes engaged in creative visualization OF your victory dance directly before taking action. I’ve done this before every one of the 300+ speeches I’ve given, and found that it (1) helps set spirit in motion, and (2) equips me to be what the moment requires. What’s your victory dance?
REMEMBER: Motivation lies within.
Start kicking your own ass today.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to my van down by the river.
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.
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