How To "Stay" "Motivated"

The way we approach motivation is all wrong, and this is obvious because even with all the data, tools, and methods, people still are not motivated.

Hi, I'm Michael

I started this blog to help people find their path in life—from finding your passion to just getting a better job. Read my story here.

There's something I know about you that you may or may not know about yourself. You have within you more resources of energy than have ever been tapped, more talent than has ever been exploited, more strength than has ever been tested, more to give than you have ever given.” - John W. Gardner

People have asked me how to “stay” “motivated” while trying to change their career or job. 

You’ll notice by where I placed the quotations that I have a problem with this phrase. It’s like asking “How do I remain in the same emotional state until I achieve my goal?” The answer to this question is you don’t. Emotions are always in flux and to address this would be a separate article.

Now let’s explore the true question, the one that is born out of the pain they’re experiencing: 

“How do I stop giving up?"

What is Your Grand Prize?

If I told you there were ten million dollars buried in your backyard and you would need to dig six feet into the ground to get it, would you pause to consult your level of “motivation”? Would you worry about giving up?

You would do whatever needed to get six feet into the dirt. 

A neighbor, unaware of the buried cash, might look over the fence and call you a “hard worker” and “motivated”. But to you, this is no matter of hard work or motivation. It’s the simple fact that there’s a lot of money in the ground and as far as you’re concerned, it’s already yours.

If you sincerely desire the prize, you'll do whatever is necessary to get it. Society will tell you that this level of desire isn’t “healthy” or is “not a good look”. But to the person whose desire is sincere, who knows what it is that they’re drawn to, those words will mean nothing. 

This is true of creators of the past, many of which worked relentlessly. Maya Angelou said “I have always got to be the best. I’m absolutely compulsive, I admit it. I don’t see that’s a negative.” 

The Journey is Defined by The Destination

There is a misinterpreted eastern idea that “It’s all about the journey, not the destination.”

For a human life in general this statement is true—there is no destination. There isn’t an address you’ll need to go to when you’re about to die and there isn’t a secret location of happiness. 

But for everything else there is a destination. For a musician the destination is a finished song, for the author it is a finished book, for the artist it is a finished painting. 

The Buddha himself pursued enlightenment. After that his goal was to spread what he had learned.

First you must discover a worthy destination, and if you choose one that is true for your life, you will naturally be immersed in the journey.

Imagine an Unbounded Life

A person who limits his or her potential success will limit what he or she will do to create it and keep it. - Grant Cardone, The 10x Rule

People who find themselves not “motivated” in reality don’t actually want the thing they’re pursuing. They either mistakenly chose what they think they should want, or they lowered their ambition based on what they’ve been taught is “realistic” and “practical”.

To know what you want you must first get past all the things you think you should want and the things others want you to want. Then you can rediscover your long-forgotten, but truest desires. 

I’m sure you’ve caught glimpses before. Maybe after an inspiring movie your mind races with all the things you could have and the person you could be. But by the time you wake up the next morning, normal life seeps back into you.

Here are a few questions that can help discover what it is you desire:

What’s the best version of my life that I can imagine? What is it that I sincerely want? What is it that I insist on having in this life? 

Write your thoughts down and revisit them constantly. 

Be unrestricted and unbound about what you want—don’t be realistic. Your vision might be so grand that if you shared it with a peer, they would almost feel attacked. You yourself might feel fear of writing it down. 

Whenever you’re not feeling “motivated”, ask yourself “Why is has my desire waned?” 

Were you wrong about something you thought you thought you wanted and you need to revise what you wrote? 

Were you being too “realistic” and made a small version of the goal, which isn’t what you really want? If you wrote down “Make a salary of 70k, but you really want 120K, write down 120k. That doesn’t mean you have to get it this year or next year. You just need to be clear about what you truly want. 

It’s perfectly normal to update your vision. Remember, this is a process of discovery. 

And to revise the original question as to how to stop giving up, you might ask “Why does my desire wane?"

Only you can answer these questions, and it will take time. These questions are not like a math problem that you find the answer to then walk away from. 

The truest questions are objects of rumination. Meditating on them will lead to better understanding, which will lead to real changes. 

All that being said, understanding the truth about why your “motivation” wanes, must also be something you sincerely desire.

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