Brian is an aspiring writer that seeks to inform and educate the public through informative and educational pieces from various categories.
Dream Big, Start Small
Do I Need Motivation?
Before we start delving deeper into the topic of motivation, I would like to take this opportunity to point out something quite important. We all have to understand that every one of us has our good days and bad days; it is a normal thing and there is really nothing to be ashamed of. In those down days, we would of course appreciate a pick me up to get through it and distract us from the issue that may have sparked a negative emotion. When you are experiencing downtime, listening to an inspirational talk or watching a motivational video can do wonders by re-wiring your brain and forcing you out of the lackadaisical zone.
However, if you seem to have persistent mood swings and constantly feel down without any legitimate reason causing it to adversely affect your ability to perform, I would suggest getting professional help instead. This may be a different concern altogether, which might require an alternative approach. It could possibly be the signs of depression or melancholy, although it cannot be ascertained unless you get an expert opinion. Hence, it would come in handy to be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression so that you can bring it to light and save a life. The reason I brought this up is because mental health is often underestimated until it is too late or when it hits too close to home. Anyways, that will be a topic for another time.
Nevertheless, I am trying to make a point that seeking motivation and requiring medical intervention is two contrary concerns, which ought to be handled differently. Just as you would not take the same medicine to cure two separate ailments, you should never do the same in this case. Hopefully, this gives you a clear idea on how to apply motivation based on the relevancy of the context and situation.
You First Have to Start
When we have clearly distinguished the problem and established a clear cause, then we can go about approaching the issue with an appropriate solution. The principles and arguments that are featured throughout this article will address the common problems that you and I would generally come across at some point of our life. Most of us can attest that there will be days when we plan to be productive, but, our mind and body cannot seem to cooperate. At the end of the day, we end up doing something entirely different, which usually comprise activities that requires the least effort and often times turn out to be things that we love and have interest in.
What contributed to the phenomena as discussed above? Well, we humans are naturally more inclined towards things that are uncomplicated. Studies have shown that our brains are actually wired to take the easy way out and simplify our actions so that we do not have to think so much. On the other hand, there is also a part of our brain that wants us to constantly be better, which may sometimes be triggered when we see someone else doing well at certain things. For instance, when we see somebody with a fit body, we aspire to be like that too. The difference that sets people apart is basically the effort and conviction that it takes to be the person we want to be.
This is where the root of motivation comes into play. When we want to get fit, it does not just happen overnight without lifting a finger. There will be sacrifices and hard work to get there. Motivation arises when we have a need or desire that we want to fulfil. Simply put, it is a thought which you want to become your reality. The process of transforming the thought then has to be supported with solid action. The ‘action’ that follows after is the distinguishing factor of becoming, in which many people do not become who they want to be because they never bring themselves around to even start. Just as how Mark Twain put it “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. When you realise the situation you are in is not where you want to be, the next step would be to find a way to break free of the shackles of guilt and fear that seeks to tie you down.
No matter how hard it may seem, you will have to always take the first step. It may feel impossible at first, but, never underestimate what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. Take for instance my situation; I was born a chubby kid and have been throughout my teenage years. I was extremely unhappy with the way I look and my weight has caused me to have a low self esteem. My confidence level took a toll, which spilled into other areas of my life and caused me to doubt myself at every turn. I was falling into the pit of self-loathing and peer pressure made it even worse.
It wasn’t until my varsity year, that I decided to do something about the predicament I was in. Well, the change of environment was definitely a good start; entering varsity got me new friends and a new set of challenges that put my mind off my insecurities. It was then that I vowed to transform myself physically to boost my confidence. I enrolled into a military volunteer team as a cadet, which was the beginning of the journey that I slowly step out the shadow of my old self.
The trainings and routine I had to go through were short of brutal and was physically and mentally demanding. Our weekends were devoted to trainings and filled with classes ranging from map reading, weaponry and arms handling, tactical lessons and tons of physical exercises. When our mates were on holidays, my comrades and I were busy setting up plan of attacks against the other platoon and putting camouflages on each other in some dense forest in nowhere. All the rough days I have seen was worth it, as I managed to bring my weight down and improve my physique drastically through the intense routine that lasted over three years until my graduation.
The change came from me taking the first step, motivated by my desire to improve my appearance and look. I then choose to surround myself in the environment that will bring out the best in me. Thus, the sustainability of the efforts in keeping fit came from the habits that I acquired throughout the years as a cadet. Hence, the ultimate change can only begin when it starts from your own desire to change and stay true to the vow by being consistent.
Here is the thing – getting fit and healthy is one of the many desires that we can aspire to do. There could be other dreams and goals that you personally might have for yourself, it could be setting up a business, getting rich and retiring early or even having a successful business empire. Any of these are possible when you motivate yourself to start and put in the commitment to be consistent until you see the result.
What is Your Goal?
In order to head somewhere, we must first know our destination so that we can set the navigation to lead us there. It is just the same concept here, whereby in order to start putting in the effort, you must be very clear of your goal. In order to do that, write it down and put it somewhere visible to remind you every day as you work towards it. When you clearly know where you are headed, it would help to have a plan that outlines the actions and path you will engage in to get you to your end destination. Having a meaning attached to that goal gives it the more reason for you to push towards it.
Why is it important to have a goal? Well, this has something to do with our behaviour mostly. When you set a clear goal, it helps to promote new behaviours that will facilitate the achievement of that said goal. The new set of behaviours is meant to align your focus and encourage sustainability of the momentum once you get started. The goal that you set is supposed to be a blueprint that will detail your journey towards a changed person for the better. Of course, the blueprint has to highlight the courses of action and even the counter measures in case things do not go your way. At the end of the day, it only makes sense to have a form of regulatory method to determine your progress as well. The phrase “What gets measured gets done” truly resonates with this principle. Otherwise, how would you expect to improve when you cannot even manage the expectations and see your way around it?
There is another thing that you will need to be mindful as well here. For most, setting a goal can be the easiest thing to do. The true challenge only comes when it is time to get down and dirty and pull the weight to get things done. One critical reminder before you begin is that, it is imperative to stay committed to your goals and decisions, but always be flexible in your approach. There is no guaranteed success without the pain, as well as there is no assurance of victory even if we thought that we had all bases covered. Thus, we must not be so rigid in executing our plans but embrace the fact that change is inevitable and we manoeuvre around it without letting our goals off our sight.
The beauty of successfully achieving the goal you have set for yourself is not in the achievement itself. Bear in mind that the journey is worth the recognition as well, because whatever you did along the way helped shaped you into the person that brought you closer to your dreams. So, never lose sight of that.
Nurture a Habit
Every successful person has a good habit that they stick to without fail. A habit is a tendency to repeat an action on a regular basis without missing a beat. When you act out of habit, you are partaking in an action that is second nature to you. You do not need to remind yourself to do it, although it does requires consistent application in the very beginning until it becomes part of you. The reason we need a habit is because, even as we have managed to jump start our journey with a little motivation, the act of repeating it forms the essence of consistency leading to sustainability.
When you want to achieve something, you have to start somewhere. The desire to achieve it and perhaps witnessing others’ success stories may catapult you to take the first step. However, results do not materialise overnight. You will feel good when you manage to take the first step or even pull through the first day. However, it is the thought of doing the same thing for the rest of your life that makes many people give up halfway.
Based on numerous studies and opinions, it is said that 21 days is the approximate duration needed to form a habit. It can be pretty intimidating and overwhelming to know that it takes so much as 21 days for a habit to set in. This is not the end of the story, however, because a research done by Phillippa Lally - a health psychology researcher at University College London, revealed that it takes about eighteen to 254 days approximately, for a habit to actually set in! Hence, it is equivalent of taking a month to eight months to have a habit properly instilled. Hearing this itself makes one with a weak heart to give up instantly. Nevertheless, if we see it as something impossible, it will remain as it is. If we take it as a challenge and believe it is possible, nothing can stand in our way. See a habit as being a way of life and you will not be overcome by the urge to surrender so easily.
A habit when practised long enough will stay with you for life. As such, it is important to choose wisely which habit to integrate into your life. A good habit will lead you towards success, whilst a bad habit can bring you down and affect your life adversely. It is hard to enforce a good habit but, it will be even harder to rid yourselves a bad habit if you cannot tell the difference by now.
How do I Start?
At this point, perhaps some of you might be thinking, “What if I am only starting out and I do not have the confidence that I can do it on my own?” Truthfully, you are not alone as many people find it hard to stick to a habit dependent on extrinsic motivation. Naturally, this calls for a solution beyond your own self ability. Thus, do not be shy to ask for help and look to someone as a role model and get your own team of cheerleader to push you when you feel like giving up.
The thing you need to be clear about here is this; it is not about doing things that are easy, but conquering the hard things consistently that over time it becomes easy for you. For instance, if you want to shed some extra pounds, is it easy to start a workout out of the blue and totally change your diet? It might happen for maybe a day or two, but sustaining the act will be a tough one to commit. Thus, you have to begin with baby steps first and ensure you keep to it every single day to strengthen your willpower.
Ultimately, the key here is to have your goal identified and your actions planned out so you can put in the work to see the results. Having a solid goal and nurturing a habit is just the tip of the iceberg. The real test comes from having a conviction strong enough to make you stay true to the end goal that nothing can stand in your way.
Discipline is KEY
One thing I have learned in life is that discipline is the foundation that helps you persevere through the worst of times. Without discipline, it is very easy to fall back to bad habits and self-limiting behaviour. It is impossible to amount to anything if you lack discipline and focus. You may begin with a project all excited and pumped up, but, lack of discipline and giving in to temptations will get you nowhere.
The lack of discipline will give room for distractions to take you off balance and bad habits will have the chance to rear their ugly heads. Since 95% of what we think, say, and do is habit-driven, it is usually impossible to keep going without discipline. If you really want to succeed and keep your promise to yourself, you will need to make some sacrifices to later enjoy the fruits of your persistency.
It is tough to build discipline, but you can always turn the situation to your favour. It can be very simple such as setting up your environment to increase your chances of succeeding and keeping to your commitment. You remove any distractions or temptations that you foresee will cause you to lose focus. Slot in activities and filter your social circle to ensure that you only allow things and people that will drive you towards the correct direction that you seek to go. To put it simply, mingle with like-minded people or perhaps someone a level or two ahead of you so you can learn and apply their ways too.
Have you ever wondered why there are just some people that are so full of energy every day? This kind of people seemed to be constantly achieving milestones after milestones that they set for themselves. Yet, you are here feeling miserable for yourself wishing that you can do the same. It may seem like taking a jab at your pride, but, the truth is wishing and sitting doing nothing does not get you any closer to your dream. Acting on it is what gets you the result.
Now that you know where you are headed to, it is time to walk the talk. Everyone is fairly given 24 hours a day to make the best of it. Those who get things done are the ones that really put the effort in, regardless if it is something that they liked or disliked doing. These are the kind of people that put their money where their mouth is and reap the rewards at the end of the day.
I know that getting started is hard, but, staying in the course until we reach the destination is even harder. There will always be something out there that will be a temptation to distract us no matter how committed we are to our goals. This is just part and parcel of life and we just have to learn ways to adapt to it. Make optimum use of your day, leveraging on every minute to partake in activities that will direct you towards the direction you seek to go. At times, we may be fully aware what needs to be done, but, getting up and doing it can be a drag. This brings us back to square one where you have to remind yourself of the goal you had set in the beginning. Once that is reinforced, focus your energy and thoughts on implementing good habits with a little discipline to keep you in line. Last but not least, you will have act more and talk less. Let your result speak for you!
© 2021 Brian
Brian (author) from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on May 26, 2021:
Yes indeed, Ms Dora. I have gone through many moments in my life where I really needed motivation to push myself and get out of my comfort zone. It's not easy, but, that is what life is about. We just got to keep going and moving.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 26, 2021:
Brian, I suspect that you have tons of information in your head about this topic. Thank you for sharing.