One of my favorite sayings is a Chinese proverb that says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. As a fitness professional, I am always working with those who are highly motivated or who are seeking to be motivated. But what exactly does it mean to be motivated and is there a difference between those that are and those that are not? The answer is really quite simple: those that are successful have taken that critical first step.
The root word of motivation is “motive.” The definition of motive is, “a reason to act.” Most can pinpoint a “reason to act”: need for better health; wish for more money; want to lose a few pounds; a desire to play more, work less, etc. While it is certainly important to have a reason to be motivated, most only identify the reason but fail on the follow through, or the first step. The first step is not simply identifying the motive; that’s just lip service. The real and first critical step is taking action and taking action requires a thought process that comes to some naturally and to others requires a little nudge. These lessons can easily be learned by simply observing a baby.
Imagine a baby who on its own learns to crawl, then learns to stand, then ultimately learns to walk. Does the baby have to be motivated to take those steps? No. They come naturally. But when the baby wants to eat, it will take the necessary steps to ensure that he/she is fed (parents are all too familiar with this). The lesson here is that if you are comfortable with a crawl, then you will watch everyone else go by. But if you are truly hungry, you will do whatever it takes to accomplish the task. Getting motivated has more to do with seeing the end result, the benefit, than it does the steps involved in the process. However, to begin that journey, you still must take those initial and critical steps in getting and staying motivated.
- Have a vision for your life. This is the cognitive or rational side of motivation. It is your vision. You have to have a vision that is big enough to motivate you. If you are making $50,000 a year, it isn’t going to motivate you to set your goal at $52,000 a year. You just won’t get motivated for that because the reward isn’t enough. Maybe $70,000 a year would work for you. Set out a vision and a strategy for getting there. Have a plan and work the plan.
- Get motivated every day. It is possible that your initial motivation doesn’t last for whatever reason. Therefore, you should renew it each and every day. It doesn’t make motivation a bad thing. You simply have to realize that if you want to stay motivated over the long term, it is something you will have to apply to each and every day.
- Fuel your passion. Much of motivation is emotional. Emotion is a powerful force in getting us going. Passion is an emotion, so fuel your passion. Set yourself on a course to have a consuming desire for your goal, whatever it is. Do whatever you can to feel the emotion and use it to your advantage!
- Work hard enough to get results. You can build on your motivation by getting results. People want the quick fix; the prize; the instant gratification of achieving something without doing the necessary or required ground work. But there is simply no denying it – the harder you work, the more results you will get and the more results you get, the more you will be motivated to get more. These things all build on one another.
- Ride the momentum when it comes. Sometimes you will just be “on” and sometimes you won’t. It is the cycle of life. When you aren’t clicking, put your head down and plug away. When you are clicking, pour it on because momentum will help you get larger gains in a shorter period of time with less energy. That is the Momentum Equation! When you are feeling good about how your work is going, ride the momentum and get as much out of it as you can!
- Put good materials into your mind. Read and listen. Read good books. Read books that teach you new ideas and skills. Read books that tell the stories of successful people. Buy them, read them, and get motivated! Buy great music and listen to it. Listen to podcasts, radio shows, lectures, seminars, or motivational tapes that do more to inspire your mind than aggravate it.
Success is just a step away. Take it one step at a time and the journey will be worth the trip.
Featured in September 2008 Issue of 422 Business Advisor