How To Get Motivated

Dr. Purushothaman
December 14, 2013

Most of the articles I see that discuss motivation talk about sports. But we average Joes and Jills are not playing sports. We just have to get out of bed everyday, go to work, and try to live. We don't have a coach working with us and a bunch of fans cheering us on. There are no big endorsement contracts, no uniforms, and seldom the thrill of victory. How do we find motivation?

It seems to me that most people want to find the motivation to do something (or to stop doing something). Let me give you some examples:

Lose weight or eat healthier. Stop smoking. Get rid of clutter or be more organized. Get out of debt. Exercise. Make better use of their time.

I don't think what is needed is necessarily motivation. I think what is needed is true desire, discipline, and information.

What do I mean? True desire - you have to really, truly want it. It starts here. It's not going to be easy, but don't lie to yourself. If deep down you really would rather have that new pair of shoes than pay off that credit card - I can't help you. You've got to get this straight in your own head. You have to decide what you really want and go for it. When athletes take the field they want to win. Period. You have to have that level of clarity and desire.

You don't hear much about discipline anymore and that's a damn shame. Because discipline is what you're going to need. The discipline to get out of bed when you don't feel like it and go to the gym. The discipline to not buy those shoes and put that money in the bank. The discipline to go to night school when your friends are out partying. Every successful person in the history of the world could practice discipline. Discipline is doing what might suck in the short term to get you where you want to go in the long term. No discipline equals no success. There is no easy way out.

Information is vital. Too many people fail because they don't know what they need to do to succeed. They don't realize they will NEVER get out of debt paying the minimum balance on their credit cards. They don't know that salad dressing, cheese and bacon they just dumped on their salad destroyed their diet. You don't need more motivation - you need more information.

Here's your "motivation:"

1. Commit or let it go. You have got to be able to say "I will do whatever it takes to do ______________." And you have to mean this. If there is any doubt in your mind, come back when you're ready. Don't waste your time until then.

2. Get smart. You obviously aren't that smart about this particular topic. Hey - there's no shame in that!! If you could see my library, you'd know there's a whole lotta stuff I'm not too smart about! But you need to quit thinking you have all the answers. Get a basic book on managing your finances or on weight lost or organization. Whatever it is you think you need "motivation" for. Anything that promises you a quick fix is a lie and a bad source. You are not going to become rich, skinny or organized overnight. You need to get smart, not suckered.

3. Set up systems. Automatic payroll deduction, making your lunch the night before, immediately sorting the mail over the trash can, deleting all email by the end of the day - you have got to make this a no brainer. Your systems will start to form habits and the new behaviors will become easier.

4. DISCIPLINE!!!!!!!!!!!!! These systems are going to be hard at first, they may be hard for a long time. Even the life long athlete has days when they don't want to workout. That's where discipline comes in. You have to work your system even when you don't want to. Now - I don't mean that if you have an injury, you keep working out. I mean if it's cold outside and you just don't feel like it, you man up and go. There's a difference between taking care of yourself and being undisciplined, and we all know it. This is the difference between those who get what they want out of life and those who don't. And the only person who can do this for you is you.

Don't get discouraged - what I find is that the more you practice discipline - the easier it gets. You become stronger. Your self-esteem rises. You realize that you CAN get out there and do anything - you just have to push yourself.

5. Keep on top of it. Life happens - sometimes things will occur that will throw you off track. You may have a health issue or you may have to go out of town for work and things may pile up on your desk. This has nothing to do with your discipline. The clutter comes back, the exercise regime can't be completed, you regain some weight. That will happen, it's okay. As soon as you can, get those systems going again. The longer you wait, the harder it will be. Do what you can as soon as you can.

6. Fight the P Sisters - procrastination and perfectionism. Don't put it off till tomorrow. Better to do a little today than nothing. It DOES NOT have to be perfect. A short workout is better than no workout. A small binge is better than a huge binge. Get back on track as soon as you can.

You might read this and think - but I just want motivation to get out of bed and go to work or to be a better parent. You know what I'm going to say? Look at those steps in that context - are you really committed to loving your job? If not, don't look for me to motivate you into it! If you are, are there things you could learn to make you better at it? To help you advance? If you don't know, learn the answer!

Set up systems - if you love your co-workers, make sure you have a fun lunch planned with one each day. The discipline is that you have to fight to keep your fire about anything - you have to keep learning, keep growing, keep reminding yourself of what you like, etc. etc.

Do you see? These steps really do apply to anything you want to be "motivated" about. So there it is - stop waiting for that magic "motivation" and get on it!

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