How to Stay Motivated in Life?(The Practical Way)
Motivation is that magic spell that can make the sunrise in the west and set in the east, that can move the mountains, empty the oceans, stop the wind, and control the time. Ok Ok, maybe I should take the drama down a notch. Nevertheless, there’s no denying the fact that motivation is a powerful potion, which can undoubtedly change one’s life for good. And the secret of staying motivated in life all the time, is perhaps, the jackpot you might be searching for all your life. But not anymore.
What typically happens in a common man’s life is that he sets x,y,z goals to complete in life, but sooner than later loses the motivation to keep pursuing it and ultimately calls it quits. I suppose this is a predicament that has been and will be faced by more or less the entire humanity. Perhaps, this makes the quest for searching that never-ending stream of motivation all the more important.
‘I don’t feel like doing it’, ‘I am bored going to the gym’, ‘This has become so repetitive so I am gonna quit.’ We have all been there and know what it feels like. It’s definitely not a pleasant feeling.
Learning Will Keep You Motivated
So, what’s the secret recipe to stay motivated all the time? Simple. Keep learning about whatever it is you are doing. Things get boring, repetitive, dull, and monotonous when we stop intaking new information to act upon and keep on responding to the dated and stale set of data. Yes, it’s actually that easy and straightforward. We expect some out-of-the-box solutions to problems like these. But well, guess what, sometimes outside the box thinking involves looking inside the box—advice that sounds simple and obvious and pretty generic.
The more you get to know about the positive side of your work, the more motivated you will become. The more you learn from the negative side of your work, the more motivation you will get. Failing to do either of them will ultimately result in you running out of motivation.
If you don’t even know all the goodies of a particular task, needless to say, you will automatically be discouraged from doing it. Humans love incentives, and without them, you are gonna have a hard time continuing whatever it is you are doing. One way to incentivize the shit out of your fickle mind is to look at those people in the field you are in on who are at the peak of it. That will act as a booster to push you and will keep on reminding you of what you can achieve if you continue doing what you are doing.
Likewise, if you shift your center of focus towards the negatives then obviously you will lose your interest in it in a snap of your fingers. You don’t get a ready-made goldmine out of any career from which you straightaway start reaping the benefits, you have to dig your own gold mine diligently and meticulously in whatever it is you aspire to do.
A Real-Life Example
Let’s say you want to start gymming, but you feel unmotivated and lazy after a couple of days. So, the best way to invigorate motivation in you is for you to learn as much as you can about the particular field. All the new exercises, techniques, training methods—learn as much as can about them. There’s so much information out there, that you can theoretically never run out of them.
But if you don’t, which is what most people fall prey to, you are bound to pay heed to the drawbacks and the ‘not so fancy’ side of it, ultimately resulting in you draining all your motivation down the sewer and regressing to square one.
With new streams of data coming in, you will always be engaged in the activity for a more prolonged period of time as your mind will always have something new and fresh to process and keep itself busy with. Failing to do so and you will resort to the ‘negatives’ of the particular task, which will obliterate your leftover motivation for good.
The science behind this technique is simple and straightforward. The more you learn about a field, the more interested you become—the more interested you get, the more you actually indulge in that field—the more you indulge, the better you will get in that particular arena, eventually; and who doesn’t like the taste to be the best at whatever one’s doing. That’s my hypothesis, maybe it makes sense, maybe it’s horseshit. No harm in giving it a try though, just saying.
All Good Things Take Time
As the legend goes, “Good things come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” Well, I would like to paraphrase the above proverb and say, “Great things come to those who hustle and wait.”
The world is full of people who hustle and work their asses off but are still unsuccessful because they don’t know how to wait—they lose motivation and patience. It’s of paramount importance that we stay motivated to reap the benefits of our hard work, dedication, and passion.
Motivation also comes with the right understanding of how the world works. But, no one even bats an eye in working towards upgrading our own outlook of how we look at things. Everybody just expects to have a full-blown tree the very next second they plant a seed, and when they see no results in their narrow time frame, they lose motivation and tap out.
What they miss out on is the fact that you don’t get a full-fledged tree dropped right in front of you directly from the blue sky. It takes time. You gotta first sow the required seed on a suitable land with favorable conditions, look after it like one looks after her baby, and wait. But hey, who’s gonna wait for that long? We want that teensy tiny seed to burst into the sky overnight, or else we are ever ready to quit without shedding a sweat. And that’s the whole problem.
You stay motivated and extend your patience when you become more and more thorough about your work or the target you are pursuing. More information and data and numbers and facts will help you stay grounded, keep you from daydreaming, and will stop you from being a victim of your own expectations. When you intake the right set of data points, you become clearer regarding what opportunities and exposure you can get out of it. You will become all the more charged up and excited when you have all the ‘positives’ about the particular work, stored in your mind, and you won’t cramp up anything unrealistic or superficial.
Motivation to Develop Motivation
Now, some people might argue that they don’t have the motivation to develop motivation. Well, let me give it to you straight without any sugar coatings: if you don’t wanna do what it takes, you are gonna run in a rat race and live an ordinary life like the rest of the 7 billion people are. If this doesn’t motivate your sorry ass, nothing ever will.
Though there’s nothing wrong with living an ordinary life, you shouldn’t whine or complain later on about the fact that why my life is so dull and boring. Remember your life is what you chose it to be. If you decide against this and come to the conclusion that you don’t wanna live an ordinary life, then this in itself will serve as the base ground of motivation, which will define how strong your foundations in life are.
The idea of doing something new or innovative or simply what’s good for your life is the breeding ground for motivation. The simple fact that you are trying to do something which has never been done before, no matter how small or inconsequential it may seem, will fill your vessel with motivation up to the brim. Embarking your journey on this path will spontaneously make sure that you stay motivated. And once you take the first step, then this very initiative will become the grounds for motivation and it will take the form of a chain reaction. Herein, your previous actions will become the biggest source of your motivation.
All it takes is that one small step to innovate, to improve, to learn more, to become better, to upgrade, to enhance, and the rest will take care of itself. Essentially you don’t need buckets of motivation you thought you needed to turn around your life. To sum up this analogy:
Right understanding->little motivation->small actions->big motivation->big actions
What’s the right understanding again? The simple idea or a thought to make your life worthwhile in any and every way possible. This should be enough for you to get started to take the first step, and the rest of the cycle will follow for itself.
Now, one major hiccup that you may find following this strategy is that, though initially, it will look fun and exciting in the beginning, after some time the ‘small actions’ might not be enough to give you the ‘big motivation’ you need, ultimately making you relapse into your old demotivated state.
At that particular instance, you gotta step back and go to phase one of the motivation cycle aka ‘right understanding’. With the new onset of facts and figures, you will keep the flame of motivation alive and glowing. The feeling that you have a lot to do, so much new to discover ultimately keeps you charged up and fresh. But when you don’t do this, you will sit idle and the negative thoughts will destroy your momentum which will push you into the vicious and life-sucking cycle of demotivation.
Motivation in Career
Let’s take it one step further. Say you applied the above-mentioned methodology, set a proper goal setting, even took that first step to get going, only to, later on, find out that you are more distracted than ever and can’t put your head around your work because there are just so many distractions.
Well, my answer to this predicament will again be the same as before. You will only be able to focus on your career wholeheartedly when you acquire in-depth knowledge of your work, the ins and outs, the nuts and bolts, and the nitty-gritty details of your field. Perhaps this, in my humble opinion, is the permanent no-BS way to stay motivated in your career and truly fall in love with your work.
When you go in-depth about it, you will come across both the pros and the cons of your career. That’s when you need to figure out how to not let the cons overwhelm you. Take any field of work or career. You will always find a segment of people who are getting crumbled under the heavy mountain of negativities of that career. But on the other hand, you will always find people who are adept at shaking it off and concentrating on the goodies, which is what keeps them motivated and consequently resulting in succeeding.
You must see to it that though you are acknowledging both the plus and the minus, of your career, your complete focus, energy, and attention should always be towards the solutions over problems. That’s the secret of staying motivated in a career.
Now you will be filled with a positive vibe because you’d know it in your heart that you are on the right track, and we always like the idea of being on the ‘right’ side of something for once. The majority of people will never look at things this way, which is why there are a lot more unsuccessful and miserable people on the planet than successful and happy ones.
Typically, whatever field of work you are gonna choose, there are gonna be a handful of people who would be at the top of the spectrum, some at the bottom, and the rest of the bulk in the middle spectrum. So, what most of us do is that they develop jealousy for the ones above them, and take great pride and inflate their egos by looking at the ones below them.
Probably the stupidest and the fastest way to lose motivation in life. And that’s what the majority of us are stuck at. Mediocrity has killed more people than the rest of the wars, natural disasters, and diseases combined. And it’s continuing its massacre in open sight which is what makes it all the more obscure and treacherous. You don’t wanna get crumbled here.
The ideal approach that in my opinion, everyone should follow and diligently practice is to learn what not to do from the people who are at the bottom-most rung of the ladder, and learn what to do from the people who are at the topmost rung.
There is No ‘IDEAL’ Career
In a nutshell, again, learning is directly proportional to motivation. The more you learn, the more you stay motivated. Come out of this illusion that there’s so and so career in this world which is all shiny, glittery, and easy, choosing which you will be motivated all the time. You won’t find any career path which is all positive and fluffy, walking on which you will be showered with sunshine and rainbows at every turn, and there aren’t gonna be any problems in them.
Though it’s not impossible to have it that way, it’s gonna take a hell of a lot of work from your side to see your fantasies come alive. But if you are unhappy with your career or contemplate switching it just because you think it’s the ‘ideal’ one, you might wanna reconsider it.
The right way of thinking is that there’s no upper limit in any career. It depends solely on your potential and your vision of how much you can surge ahead in it. Also, there’s no lower limit to a career as well. You can be rotting in a dingy corner and no one would give a damn.
Take lawyers. You will be able to find millionaire lawyers living their hotshot life in metro cities, wearing branded clothes, driving sports cars, owning a penthouse. Basically like Harvey Specter. But at the same time, you will also see a ton of lawyers who are barely scraping the bottom of a barrel.
The career is the same, and yet the situations have a world of difference. You can see this inequality of hierarchy in almost every career there is. So, ultimately it depends on you, how far down the rabbit hole are you ready to go? How motivated are you to keep up with your learning attitude? The more your center of focus is towards learning from anyone and everyone involved in your career to make yourself extraordinary, then you wouldn’t have to look for motivation, your career itself will keep you motivated effortlessly.
GOLDILOCKS’s RULE To Stay Motivated
How do you like your coffee? Too hot or too cold? Or neither of them and just the right temperature? Yeah, that’s what the Goldilocks rule is all about. If followed correctly, it can prove to be the golden rule of motivation for you.
As you could have probably guessed, this rule implies that as long as you face challenges or choose the tasks of ‘just the right amount’, you will climb that mountain. Just like our Earth’s temperature is just right, neither too hot nor too cold, to sustain life; similarly you gotta be very careful before choosing a particular work or activity.
As humans, we love doing things that are right at the fences of our potential. Doing something that’s either way beyond our paygrade or way below our potential, will result in you losing your motivation and calling it quits.
Playing chess with a grandmaster, and playing chess with a 5yr old—neither of the instances will be able to hold your interests for long. The ‘just right’ analogy is the kind of analogy that should be embraced by everyone in every field to keep on pushing your boundaries and never run out of motivation. You don’t have to do a thousand burpees on day 1 of your gym, you don’t have to become JK Rowling on your first attempt at becoming an author, you don’t have to be Usain Bolt after running your first 100m race. Apply the rule.
An Interesting Study on Motivation
Let me take you back in time. In 1998, a rather interesting experiment1 was conducted by Columbia University, which involved a couple of hundred students, aged from 10 to 12. A professor asked the students to solve some puzzles. Amongst those puzzles, some were easy, some were a tad tricky.
After the children solved the puzzles, they were all applauded irrespective of the results. But there’s a catch. Half of the students were applauded for their intelligence, and the other half were applauded for their hard work. And this made all the difference.
Now, they were again given some puzzles, some of which were again hard and some not so hard. And the results of this experiment were quite astonishing. Turned out that the first half of the students who were touted to be ‘intelligent and smart’ left the hard puzzles and went for the easier puzzles and later on even gave up on that as well. On the flip hand, the other set of students who were told to be ‘hard working’ didn’t only solve the easy ones but also the hard ones as well.
When the whole experiment winded up, the professor asked the students if they enjoyed doing the puzzles. The first set of students didn’t enjoy the experiment, which means that they weren’t motivated at all to do the same. While the second set of students remained motivated throughout the end and were delighted.
This study brought so many new facts and thought processes to challenge our old belief system. Society, our parents, relatives, and everyone believe that if they praise the students about how incredibly smart and intelligent they are, they would perform better. But the study showed the exact opposite results.
The Takeaway from the Experiment
So, what the hell actually happened here? The students who were told that they are smart and intelligent—their center of control was outside them. They didn’t know how to control the tags like ‘smart’ and ‘intelligent’. Whereas, the students who were told that they are hard-working—their center of control resided inside them. They could literally turn the knob of hard work as high and low as they desire.
We can infer from this research that if we wanna stay motivated, then this control needs to be always within us.
Let’s now try to understand what exactly happens that we lose this control from ourselves. Whenever we talk about our external situations, whenever we shift our attention to the surroundings, we lose control. But the moment our focus shifts towards what we can do—our capabilities, our potential, our skills, our strengths—that’s when we regain control, and that’s how we stay motivated.
For instance, whatever career you are in, some people are at the top of their field. Now, if you cite the reasons that “they were lucky or their fate was sealed or they had a godfather, and since I don’t have any of it, I am destined to fail” then there’s no chance in hell that you can stay motivated in pursuing that career. But, if your focus is on the fact that the people who are at the top achieved what they achieved because of their hard work, smart work, dedication, and passion; all of which you can also do then you are more likely to remain motivated.
Make sure you have the control inside you, and not on external things.
Motivation is like a 3 Wheeler
Motivation is like a 3 wheeler, for which to sustain we need to pay attention to all the three wheels supporting it, failing any one of which will result in the crashing of the whole vehicle. The three wheels of this vehicle are BODY, MIND, & INTELLECT.
The body is the foremost wheel. There is no way on God’s green earth that you can stay motivated for long if your body is in ruins. It’s a no-brainer. The way you eat, sleep, walk, drink, watch mobile and TV, carry yourself around—they all play a vital role in determining the condition of your body.
If you eat like a whale, perform no physical exercises, binge-watch TV series on Netflix, read my blog all day long, then how on earth can you expect to stay motivated? You are practically destroying your body. You have no right to whine about the fact that you are distracted and can’t concentrate. This is your own doing.
So, often the problem lies at the level of the body only and we being ignorant people blame our mind or something else. Get it through your thick head, having a fit and physically active body isn’t a choice anymore, it’s a prerequisite if you wanna achieve anything worthwhile.
Some people on the other hand are perfect physically but are lacking in the ‘mind’ part. One needs a pretty calm and observant mind to understand one’s self. No one else can do it for you. No doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or family member of yours can correctly analyze your own life better than you. If you don’t feel like doing something or you see yourself losing motivation, then you have to judge yourself for what actually is going on with you. Are you feeling lethargic? Do you feel sleepy? Energyless? Mentally tired?
You gotta introspect and figure it out for yourself.
I don’t know how many of you noticed it but when you keep your bodies fit and active, you are automatically bestowed with the required energy it is gonna take to get the vehicle moving. And then maybe you don’t need any external motivation altogether.
If you feel like you need a plethora of external stimuli and a daily dose of motivation or some fluffy positivity to get your body moving, then it clearly states the fact that your body is in a dire state of rejuvenation or an upgrade. You need the right kind of fuel to keep your body tip top. And what’s the right fuel? A culmination of diet, sleep, and workouts—the right balance of each of which you need to figure out. Nobody, be it a doctor, books, Google, or any nutritionist, can judge your body type better than you yourself.
Take their advice, but don’t follow any of them blindly. You gotta experiment on your body cum laboratory on your own, performing different permutations and combinations within the threshold limit of your body, and see for yourself what’s really working for your body type and what isn’t.
Your emotions and feelings are what make up your mind. If all you are doing is appeasing your mind, by watching all the ‘feel-good’ stuff, reading the numerous superficial positivity blogs, or watching the motivational videos on YouTube, then you may be motivated for some hours or so, but you can’t prolong it if the basic foundations are shaky.
You may imagine being the best footballer in your mind, get all the good and positive sensations imagining yourself playing the best game no one ever played, but all of this isn’t gonna bear any fruits if your body is unfit. Being the best coder in your mind, and actually being the best coder in the real world have no common grounds whatsoever. They both are two different things.
Having said that, they both actually compliment each other. Emotions and feelings can give you the first push needed to let it snowball into something massive. And consequently, your actions can further aggravate your emotions and feelings, and the loop repeats itself.
Working solely on either your body or your mind won’t be enough to keep you motivated for long. Just keeping your body active doesn’t guarantee actions in the right direction, nor does just having all the right emotions and feelings enough to get you started. When both of them converge, that’s where the magic happens.
Most of the time we either feel fairly excited or mildly depressed. Both are temporary and aren’t gonna take you anywhere. You can’t be pumped up all the time, day in and day out. And likewise, you can’t feel low all the time too. That’s the basic psyche of the mind. You gotta rise above them if you wanna stay motivated and do something worthwhile. But in reality, the exact opposite is going on. We have become prisoners of the mind.
Something good happens or someone praises us, we become excited and charged up. But when something bad happens or someone criticizes us, we get all depressed and gloomy. They both are a trap we should avoid. Only the right kind of understanding at the level of the intellect, which is mostly ignored, is the one-stop solution to more or less all the problems in one’s life.
The final wheel, and yet the most powerful one. Increasing your understanding at the level of intellect can go a long way in keeping yourself motivated in life. With this arena in check, your emotions and feelings will be given the right direction to surge in which coupled with your fit body can work wonders. If one can balance all the 3, well, then what’s more to ask.
You will give only as much importance to particular things as they deserve, no more no less. Health, relationships, career, name, fame, money—your ability to balance them all will increase multiple folds.
Intellect is something that can make even the most complicated activities in the eyes of the world into easy-going and lucid tasks for you. To simplify things is the beauty of elevating your intellectual capabilities. Intellect helps us stay grounded, neither too excited nor too dull. Most of the mistakes we made in life were when we were either too excited for something or too depressed to think clearly, ultimately resulting in losing motivation.
Motivation is not just about doing things 24*7, day in and day out. It’s about how much time you are investing in upgrading yourself in all areas and becoming the best version of yourself.