We all want to improve and create a better life for ourselves and our loved ones. The challenge for many people, however, is finding the motivation to take consistent action in order to make those wants a reality.
We’ve all have moments where we have a burst of motivation, when taking action is easy because both our mind and body are in sync; when they’re both focused on the same thing: Getting things done.
I’m sure you’ve had these moments. All of the sudden, you feel like taking tons of action and it could be on things you normally hate to do like cleaning the house. You can go from not even wanting to pick up your pants off the floor to having the motivation to clean your entire house unless it’s spotless.
So where does this motivation burst come from? How do you get yourself to take consistent action without having to “motivate” yourself?
We All Have a Threshold
We all have point, that threshold, where once we reach, causes us to spring into action. In the cleaning example above, the massive motivation could be caused by finally reaching a level of uncleanliness that your mind just can’t stand anymore.
We all tolerate certain things to a certain point but once that point is crossed, something must change.
That point can be crossed when there’s simply too much of whatever is bugging/frustrating you. This could be hitting that new level on the scale or seeing your savings account hit a new low. It could be a result of reflecting on your life and realizing you’re way to far away from where you want your life to be.
Think of a simple line graph.
The black line represents your ideal life in a certain area be it financial, health, relationship, physical fitness, career, etc. As time goes by, we naturally want to improve, be better than we were a year ago or even yesterday, hence, the gradual incline.
The red line represents where you feel you actually are in life. It also represents your motivation level.
The blue line represents your standards, what you deem acceptable. This line could be close are far away from the “ideal life” line.
As you can see, when we fall below our acceptable line (blue), our motivation tends to shoot up, causing us to take massive action in order to get closer to our ideal line or at least above the acceptable line. Although the graph above shows the red line always going above the black line every time it goes below the blue line, this doesn’t always happen. Many times, it just goes back above the blue line but still stay below the black line.
Also notice that when the red line (motivation) goes above the black line (ideal life), it tends to drop back down. This is because once we do enough, we feel like we don’t have to do as much since we’re satisfied.
Quite a roller coaster ride, right?
So how does this help you get and stay motivated? Well, there are a few different ways.
1. Let your life go under your acceptable level.
Can’t get motivated to start on that research paper? Wait until the last minute, where you have very little time to procrastinate. Assuming it’s absolutely not acceptable for you to not finish your paper, the lack of time will help spring you into action.
Don’t want to clean your room? Wait until it’s absolutely disgusting and smells like something died. Hopefully, you’ll reach your threshold well before that happens and feel motivated enough to clean your room.
Obviously, this isn’t the ideal way to get yourself motivated. For most people, this source of motivation comes from procrastinating for way too long. I mean, it does work but it’s not exactly the most effective way to get things done.
Additionally, when you constantly let yourself drop below your level of what’s acceptable, that level can start to drop. People don’t usually go from having high standards to low standards over night, it happens gradually, over time. Being 5 pounds overweight can be your limit but if you keep hitting that limit, sooner or later, 6 pounds will be okay, then 10, then 20 and so on.
It’s crucial that you don’t let your standards drop lower than it already is. You can do this by absolutely refusing to go below it and doing whatever it takes to stay above it.
Of course, for some people, it takes hitting rock bottom for them to finally make a lasting change and turn their life around.
2. Create pain for not being closer to your ideal life.
You don’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom to produce the intense desire to better your life. You can do this through visualization or various forms of it.
It’s not too hard to see into the future. All you need to do is look at your current daily activities and project the results into the future.
So ask yourself, “If I continue doing what I’ve doing, where will my life be 5 years from now? 10 years from now? 20 years from now?”
For many, this can be an eye opening experience. When visualizing this, don’t just casually see where your life will be, actually feel the emotions you’d feel if that life was your reality. Imagine looking into the mirror and seeing your future self and the life you’ve created. Are you happy, sad, frustrated?
Whatever the emotion is, feel it through your entire body. If it’s horrible, let yourself feel horrible. Let the pain of being letting yourself down break you down. Feel the disappointment not only from present self but from your past self, when you were young and full of dreams and possibilities, and also from your future self, and from all of the people who depend on you such as your future kids.
If that was a painful experience for you, good, because you have the power to change that future you just saw. You can change it by refusing to continue following the path that you’ve been following. You can change by deciding today, that once and for all, you will not allow yourself to fall too far from your ideal life, that you will do everything within your ability to create the life you dream of.
3. Raise yours standards.
In the same way that your standards can drop by constantly letting yourself drop below it, it can be raised by constantly staying far above it. It can also be raised by you simply deciding to raise it, by stating the absolute minimum that you will accomplish in your life and sticking to your word.
Another way you can raise your standards is to surround yourself with people who already hold themselves to a high standard. Just by being around them, it will reinforce the new changes you’re trying to make, helping those changes become a permanent habit.
Here’s a video of Tony Robbins talking about the importance of raising your standards.
I hope this helped by putting you in the right mindset in order to make motivating yourself a bit easier. I’ll write more about specific strategies to motivate yourself in future articles.