The following is adapted from The Standout Experience.
Maybe you want to lose weight or exercise more. Maybe you want to learn a new skill. Or perhaps you want to switch careers.
Whatever your goal might be, if you wish to succeed, you need motivation.
When you first start working toward a goal, motivation is easy. You’re fired up and excited about the goal, making it easy to put in the work.
But big, life-changing goals are a marathon, not a sprint. When a goal requires a few weeks, months, or even years of work, you start to lose your motivation. You stop pushing yourself, and your goal remains just out of sight.
To stay on the right path, you need to identify and tap into what motivates you. Here are six of the most effective motivators to keep you moving forward.
#1: Your Past
Your past, whether negative or positive, can be fuel for your present and future goals.
Previous successes have the potential to breed more success, again and again. Past victories prove that you are capable of success and encourage you to work toward even greater goals.
Negative events can also drive you forward. They can serve as examples of what you are no longer willing to tolerate or accept in your life, pushing you to build the life you really want. They also offer evidence of your ability to overcome adversity.
In the past, you’ve overcome hardships, and you’ve experienced great victories. If you’ve done it before, you can do it again.
#2: Your Future
A particularly powerful origin of motivation is your vision for the future.
A clear goal with a compelling why (reason) can inspire you to leverage your unique strengths and special abilities to accomplish great feats.
In order to achieve any goal, you have to really want it. If you set a goal to learn French but have no desire or intention of using French, then of course you’ll struggle with motivation. If, on the other hand, you wish to learn French because you’re an aspiring chef and want to study in France, then motivation will come more easily.
If you’re struggling with motivation, picture in your head what it will feel like in the future when you achieve that goal.
#3: Your Present
Change doesn’t come easily to everyone. Some people are only motivated to make a change once their present has become sufficiently uncomfortable.
If you are dissatisfied with your present, use it as motivation. A burning deep inside you that something must change about your current situation is a very powerful motivator.
Take some time to assess your current life. What are you unhappy with? What needs to change? It’s natural to want to avoid unpleasant feelings, but it’s important to let yourself sit with this unhappiness for a while so that you can transform it to motivation.
#4: The Needs of Someone Else
One of the highest forms of motivation is when you’re driven by the needs of someone else.
We’re often willing to do far more for the people we love than for ourselves. As a small example, if you’re at the store and they’re out of your favorite ice cream, you might simply choose a different flavor. But if you’re there to get ice cream for your spouse, you might instead ask an employee to check in the back or even go to another store to find the right flavor.
You have a spouse, a family member, a friend, or someone else who relies on you and needs you to be at your best every day. When you can’t find it in you to put in the work for yourself, do it for them.
When you just love something, motivation is easy. Whatever it is that you have a passion for, you can’t wait to get up and do it again.
Your passion is something you always think about and would do it even if you didn’t get paid for it. You’re always trying to get better at it and want to be the best in the world.
The enjoyment and fulfillment you get from your passion moves you to consistent action.
#6: The Thrill of Discovery
One of the best things about life is that it’s always changing. There are always new things to try and do, and that thrill of discovery can be great motivation.
This source of motivation is especially important for when you don’t already have a clear goal. People always talk about how important purpose is, and it can be frustrating when you don’t know your purpose.
By keeping an open mind, while moving in a positive direction towards something, you will discover purpose and, with it, motivation. With right intent and a desire to be better, you will undoubtedly find something you love, something that moves you, and something you can’t stop thinking about.
That thrill of discovery gives a powerful motivational high.
A Multitude of Motivations
Life is challenging, and you won’t always feel like moving towards your future. To embrace the challenge and keep moving forward, you need to find and use what motivates you.
It only takes one strong motivator to do amazing things in your future, but it’s even better if you combine motivators. The more driving forces you have working together in unison, the more motivated you’ll be.
You’ll only reach your destination if you have enough fuel to get there. Tapping into these six sources of motivation is how you fill up your symbolic gas tank.
For more advice on motivation, you can find The Standout Experience on Amazon.
John Walsh is an inspirational and successful executive, entrepreneur, author, husband and dad with a passion for impacting the lives of others. John faced many challenges, uncertainty and failures early in his life but he created a purposeful and happy life with a lot of hard work and help from others. Over time, he created a playbook that allowed him to make the journey from homeless in high school to a senior executive with Disney and Madison Square Garden. He is also the founder and CEO of a company whose mission is to inspire and help millions of young adults stand out in their own lives and careers.