How to Stay Motivated Throughout Your Hectic Schedule
It is not uncommon to find oneself in a situation, where staying motivated is just not possible. It is one of those things that seem so out of control and it happens at crucial moments, making it something we may (or may not) regret later. So the key question in such a situation would be, "How does one stay motivated?"
Before understanding the 'HOW', it is essential to understand the 'What' and 'Why'. What exactly is motivation? What does it mean to be motivated?
To answer the above question, I will give you two definitions, The first is by eminent author and Professor of Psychology, Jeffrey. S. Nevid. "The term motivation refers to factors that activate, direct, and sustain goal-directed behaviour. Motives are the "whys" of behaviour - the needs or wants that drive behaviour and explain what we do. We don't actually observe a motive; rather, we infer that one exists based on the behaviour we observe."
The second is by eminent nobody, Me. "Motivation is that driving force which leads us to do things and/or make decisions, which lead to subsequent achievement of our goals. It is the act of acting on our 'motives' or 'reasons for doing something'. It is primarily a change in behaviour."
From the above, we can infer two things clearly. The first is, Motivation is a change in behaviour and the second, to be motivated there must be a motive.
Now that we know what motivation involves, let us talk about another important question we must ask ourselves,
"Why do we lose motivation?"
If you've ever had a goal or a dream, you know that simply desiring it, is not enough. Irrespective of what your object of desire may be, it is easy to fall in love with it, but when it comes to obtaining it, that's no walk in the park. And this is where the motivation and your motives, come into the picture.
You see, when you started to desire, all you saw was your want for something and that thing itself. The psychological realization of all the obstacles that lie in your path, don't occur immediately. The reason it happens in that order is because we are ultimately (social) animals. We see, we want, we get. End of story.
But in life, that concept doesn't always apply. In life there are other concepts that come into play, like struggle, competition, hindrances and what not. All these things are blows to the mind. The mind, which naïvely thought that simply wanting something was enough, starts to realize that there are many other forces acting against it. It begins to see the 'price' it has to pay, to get to the objective. Slowly but steadily, the motives begin to lose their initial charm. Mind you, the desire is still very much there; but for some unexplainable reason, the drive seems to go missing. Suddenly, it is only the wanting part which remains. That's because ladies and gentlemen, motivation has left the building.
If you recall, it is pretty clear in the definition that motivation is simply two things, a change in behaviour and the existence of a motive. The moment one or even both these things cease, motivation ceases.
Finally, we can come to the last and most motivating part of this whole story,
"How does one stay motivated?"
The million dollar question. How does one, not lose sight of the goal and keep charging towards it without losing drive?
Fortunately, the answer is far less dramatic and far easier to understand and apply. Stated below are a few of the most tried and tested methods to stay motivated irrespective of what the situation might be.
1. Write down the goal
How many times have you started out something, with enough motivation to rule the world and less than a week later, you're asking yourself, "Why did I even start doing this in the first place?" And when you don't remember the reason, what do you do? You, quite obviously, quit.
We assume that if we don't remember, it is simply because the reason was not strong enough in the first place. That my friends, is the first step to becoming unsuccessful.
The moment you have a goal, clear out all the extra information in the background and then write down the core reason why you are doing or going to do it. Leave no room for ambiguity. Every time you see that piece of paper and read your goal, it must be clear and it must hit you in the right spot (heart)!
2. Divide and Conquer
Since time unknown, the world's greatest rulers have used this strategy and won battles. From Julius Caesar to the British Empire, everyone followed this strategy. Then why shouldn't we?
There is a famous adage, "Rome wasn't built in a day"
It emphasises the importance of giving things time. Rushing into something is easy, rushing out, not so much. You need to understand what all steps will be involved in achieving your goals and then divide those steps into smaller time periods.
For example, lets say you decide to lose 10 kgs. That isn't going to happen, with the regular exercise and diet method, in 1 day. In most scenarios, it won't happen in 1 month either. But if planned properly and divided into smaller achievable targets like, 1kg in 5 to 7 days, you have a pretty good chance of losing 10 kgs in 2 months or maybe even more.
So the idea is simple. Divide the steps to achieve the ultimate goal, into small periods. Then one by one, you can take down all the steps and conquer it!
3. Understand and accept all possible outcomes
In one word I mean be 'rational'.
More than often, we lose motivation because we don't understand that some things are not going to happen no matter what we do. There exists some loophole that may pull our goal out of our hands. But that does not mean we stop trying.
You want to be the first ranker in a competitive exam. Will you stop trying simply because there is a possibility, that someone somewhere has photographic memory and is also going to write the same exam? No, right?
In that spirit, you need to stay open to all the possibilities. You may come within inches of winning and lose Or you may have every chance of losing and still end up winning!
Why discount that?
4. Lose the pessimism
There's a saying, "A pessimist is someone who, when smells flowers begins looking for a grave!"
Nobody, I repeat, nobody can help someone who has decided in advance that they are going to lose. You can take the losing horse in a race and make him a winner; but a horse that refuses to run, has no future.
Pessimism is that one disease which can turn the most capable person into an absolutely worthless person. So there is really no room for motivation in a mind where pessimistic thoughts breed.
The moment you take an optimistic approach, motivation will follow.
5. Surround yourself with motivation
If you sit in a room full of sad, sobbing people, it is natural that you'll end up feeling depressed. It's plain logic, not rocket science.
Surround yourself with inspiring, motivated, happy, energetic go-getters and you will find it rubbing off on you! Because the human mind is a copycat. When the mind sees sad, it feels sad. When it sees happy, it feels happy.
Unless you are a sadist or a masochist, you will find yourself automatically feeling energised when in company of the energised.
Read books about being motivated and biographies of successful people. Listening to songs that have fast beats also help.
They make you feel like Muhammad Ali in the ring!
Ready to knock down the obstacles, one punch at a time.
6. Stop making excuses
Motivation is like that awesome friend; who when leaves the party, people begin to follow suit.
But you say, "No"
Nobody leaves after the party. Why?
Because you need the party to end, so that the After-Party can begin!!
You need to stop finding excuses to quit and start finding reasons to stay in the game. If you have 5 main motives to being with, add 5 motives that will act as the 'After-Party Motives'.
Have a simple rule. You snooze, you lose. If you want something, you have to go and get it. So pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get the after-party started!
I will end this with a simple analogy someone once drew for me when I was really demotivated.
They said, "When you begin something, it is like bringing home a baby. Initially it is always fun and so amazing! There is nothing like it. But slowly as the wailing and sleepless nights begin, you feel exhausted. In such a scenario, you have the permission to question your abilities. But you don't have the permission to quit."
From then onwards, every project I've taken up, I've treated it like my baby. There are moments when I feel like it just can't be done anymore. But I go back to the drawing board and ask myself, "Are you going to quit on your baby?"
And the answer has always been, "Not in a million years!"