You’re at the final keynote of the weekend event, and man, you are pumped! You are going to change your life—you are going to change the world! You head home, ready for anything.
Monday morning, you’re still feeling jazzed from the weekend. You’re fearless. You start your day with a healthy breakfast and some exercise, and then you start making calls with enthusiasm like you’ve never had before. By Friday, you’re still doing it, but you don’t have quite the same energy—you’re ready for the weekend. A week goes by, a month, and you’re back to your old ways.
Leaders and trainers in the direct selling industry really like to focus on purpose—“What’s your ‘why’?” Purpose is important—it’s one piece of the motivation puzzle—but for many people, it’s simply not enough. Purpose helps you clarify and strengthen your intention, but it’s often not enough to help you day in and day out, moment to moment, to turn that intention to action. And that is what I call true motivation—not your “why”, not your vision, not your grand life purpose, but whatever it is that gets it out of your head and into the rest of your body.
Over the course of the past few months, I’ve talked to dozens of people about this concept, and I’ve found that there are nearly as many ideas on this as there are people. You may read something about the “right” and “wrong” ways to be motivated, but the truth is, if what you’re trying to achieve is a good thing, then there’s no right or wrong—there’s what works and what doesn’t for you. Sometimes, what works for one person is the exact opposite of what works for someone else.
Here are a few ideas to demonstrate just how diverse true motivation can be. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but maybe you’ll find something in here you haven’t thought of before, or perhaps it will cause you to rethink something you’ve been told is wrong, but may actually work for you.
Do it for yourself, not someone else.
One of the surest ways to lose motivation is to be going after something that someone else wants that you really don’t. Are you getting a degree to please your parents? Losing weight for a mate? Making extra money to support your family’s expensive tastes? Make sure this is something you really want for yourself, and not just because it’s what you think you ought to do.
Do it for someone else.
Sometimes there are things you know will be good for you, but doing it for your own sake isn’t enough. Maybe money’s not a big deal to you personally, but you want to provide well for your family. Your health issues may be a minor nuisance now, but you know they can lead to larger, potentially fatal problems, and you want to be there for your kids in the long run. Put a picture of your family as the background on your computer to help remind you throughout the day. If the end result is a good thing, whatever helps you achieve it is a good thing. You can deal with the codependency issues later, when you’re healthier, wealthier and happier.
Get your family and friends on board. Whether they want to make similar changes themselves or not, they can support you in your positive choices and stop offering you the things you don’t want. Find a sponsor or a coach or an accountability partner—someone you can call and talk to when you’re having a hard time staying with the program.
Make it easy.
Do everything you can to make it easier on yourself to make the right choice. Put your running shoes by the front door. Keep your nutritional supplements at your desk, not in the pantry. Hang your guitar on the wall, rather than in a case in the closet. Set reminders in your calendar. Exercise at home instead of having to make a trip to the gym. Don’t keep junk food in the house (the kids can live without it too) and make sure you always have healthy snacks in stock. Willpower is hard enough to maintain—use every tool you can to make it easier.
Make it a challenge.
Some people love a challenge. A Google search for the exact phrase “30 day challenge” produces nearly a million results; “90 day challenge” brings up almost half a million. Whether it’s a competitive challenge with others or just a personal test, many people respond well to having a specific goal with a limited time frame.
Make it a habit.
Other people don’t respond well to goals and deadlines , but do better focusing on building the habits that ultimately achieve the goal. Measure your food. Meditate every morning. Track your tasks. Make the calls. Small, simple things, repeated over time, can achieve big results.
Just do it.
Those three little words are very powerful. Of course, that’s the whole challenge, isn’t it? Maybe a better way to say it is, “Just start.” Don’t think about the end result. Don’t even think about the whole task at hand. Just focus on the first step. Don’t think about how hard running a mile is going to be—just put on your running shoes. Once you do, you’re going to go ahead and run. Don’t think about making 10 phone calls today—just pick up the phone. Don’t think about the 1,000-word article you need to write; just start writing. The more you do, the easier it becomes.
You are a unique individual. While other people may be able to offer you ideas on how to stay motivated, only you can determine what works for you. If something’s not working, change it up, even to the point of trying nearly the exact opposite. And there’s nothing noble in paying your dues or suffering for the cause. Does it help you achieve the results you want without hurting anyone else in the process? Let that be the ultimate measure of your success.