The 3 Most Powerful Ways to Get and Stay Motivated

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August 3, 2014 in Peak Performance
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Imagine if you could be motivated all the time – you’d be rich, fit, and happy.

This idea is virtually impossible due to things like fear, doubt, skepticism, unnecessary expectations and negative peer pressure. In fact these things often cause most of us to be unmotivated more than we are motivated – which leads us to live a reactive, stressful life instead to going out and conquering it.

But wouldn’t it be absolutely amazing if we knew exactly how to get motivated, and how to stay that way all the time? Well studies have shown that there are three main ways that people get and stay motivated. The best part is two of them you can start today.

But before we get into that, what’s take a look at the day of a typical guy in America. We will call him ‘Jim’:

Jim wakes up every weekday at about 7:30am. He has to be at work at 8:30am, so after a quick shower, shave and a stop to get coffee, he’s off to work for a 20 minute commute on the subway. When he gets to work, he finds his email bursting with 50 emails that he has to sift through that will dictate what he has to do that day. Jim is an Account Specialist at a manufacturing company and is responsible for keeping clients happy, and most importantly, keeping them paying. His job relies on other people’s needs and goals, so he has to jump when his bosses (or his clients) say ‘jump’.

After a morning filled with putting out client fires and drinking about 6 cups of coffee, Jim realizes his stomach is aching with hunger pangs. He is so hungry that no matter what it is he needs to eat the first thing that he sees, just to stop his stomach from screaming at him. That usually means a couple of highly-processed hot dogs from the stand outside his office, along with greasy fries and a giant Coke. Then because he has starved his body since dinner last night, and his brain hasn’t caught up with the meal he just had, his brain craves the sugar in the hot fudge sundae from the ice cream truck driving by.

When he returns to work he feels happy because he’s full, but now he starts to feel a little sluggish because of the amount of food he ate and he is crashing from the sugar. It’s tough to get through the rest of the day with any sort of motivation because it got a bit of a ‘food baby’ going on. But he cranks out a few phone calls, has a few meetings, and punches the clock around 5 o’clock to head home.

By the time he gets home he is completely exhausted and unmotivated to do anything else, and even though he wishes to go out with friends or do something fun, he ends up sitting on the couch watching TV. After a few hours of SportsCenter, some sitcom TV, and late night shows, Jim falls asleep on the couch. This happens every week for five days in a row.

When it’s time to wrap up the work-week on Friday, Jim as a bit more motivation because he knows he doesn’t have to work the next two days. So he meets some friends out for happy hour, gets a little tipsy, goes to dinner and then heads home to relax with his girlfriend to figure out what they are going to do all weekend.

They talk about doing something super fun that weekend like traveling, but they’re trying to watch their finances, which are deeply in debt. They don’t have a lot of spare money to do anything fun. So the best thing that they can come up with is to go out to dinner Saturday night with a movie afterwards.

Because they have a few drinks at dinner Saturday night, most of Sunday morning is used to deal with the hangover. In the afternoon they have to dive into chores like laundry, mowing the lawn and figuring out how to pay the bills.

For many of us just like Jim, our lives are the same every day, every week, every year for the rest of his life.

Let’s wind back the story to the beginning of Jim’s week, and let’s imagine Jim is super motivated to make the best out of his life. Let’s imagine that Jim wants to feel amazingly healthy and fit, let’s imagine Jim doesn’t just want to go to work every day and work for someone else. He wants to do something that he loves, is passionate about, and that could make him a ton of money while helping other people. Let’s imagine that Jim and his girlfriend are motivated to get completely out of debt so that all that money that they were spending bills can be spent on things like traveling the world, experiencing new things and living the life of their dreams.

But how is Jim and his girlfriend going to get motivated to do all this? It seems so overwhelming and they have no idea where to start.

1. Have an Epiphany

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This is the most powerful way to get motivated. When an epiphany happens in your life, it completely changes the way your brain sees things. If you’ve ever had a major medical issue arise in your life, or had someone close to you suffer with one, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever had a heart attack, chances are you thought about changing your lifestyle to make sure that that doesn’t happen again.  If you’ve ever had a loved one die from respiratory disease due to smoking, chances are you’ve thought about quitting yourself and even become an advocate for helping those around you quit as well.

If you’ve gotten so far in debt that you had to claim bankruptcy, you had your house or car seized, or creditors have been calling our house every night at dinner time, you’ve had some sort of epiphany – realizing you can’t live this way forever. And you certainly can’t be happy with immense financial burden like this.

It can also happen with positive events, like seeing someone we love lose 100 lbs, or watching our friends build wealth in a certain type of business. These events can also strike us as motivating and we might view them as an “Ah Ha!” moment.

The epiphany effect is very very strong, but we don’t necessarily want to wait for something bad to happen in our lives to get us to change. In fact, we want to try to take action before we get to this point.

But what we can do is surround ourselves with people that are succeeding in life in the areas that we need motivation in. That leads us to the next section.

2. Construct your community

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Peer pressure is a large portion of why we do the things that we do in life. Think all the way back to grade school when kids would tease and poke fun at people that were different. Or trends that were set in fashion to make you dress a certain way. Or what it took to be a ‘cool kid’.

There was a cool standard that kids tried to live up to which formed the choices that we made and who we hung out with. Those standards change as we get older but still guide how we live. The way we dress, the way we act, the jobs we get, the cars we drive, how much money we make – all of these things have “standards that people need to live up to.

The community that were part of, or the people that we hang out with often determine how we live our lives. So if all your friends go out every night, drink hard, party their asses off, and go to work hungover every morning, chances are you live that way too. If all your friends are runners, and hikers, and love outdoor activities chances are you live that way too. And if all your friends are successful entrepreneurs, and business owners, chances are you live that way too.

The peer pressure, and sense of community with the groups you associate with can also elicit large changes in your life. So if you’re currently hanging out with people who have a negative impact on your life, you can find a community that lives the way you want to live and begin to hang out with them in order to make changes in your life.

3. Map out your baby steps

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The third very powerful way to get motivated is to have a roadmap of baby steps that you can follow each and every day.

This is one of the most widely used tactics used to motivate people. Making small achievable steps that people can follow is very effective in guiding them down the path of education.

Whether it’s to get fit, start something new, learn a new trade, get out of debt, or just about anything else, baby steps are a great way to do it.

The harder the steps however, the less likely it is for people to stick to following it. That is why our program Project: Awesome Life uses small, daily changes to achieve crazy long term results.

Having motivation all the time is unrealistic, and frankly, unnecessary – we all need a day off to relax and reflect. But if you want to live a life of success, it takes hanging out with the right people, who help you learn from positive experiences and following the right steps to achieve the life of your dreams.

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John Timmerman
About the author

John Timmerman

John Timmerman is the founder of Good Monster, a digital agency in Syracuse, NY. He is a former strength & conditioning coach and personal trainer who has trained NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, UFC athletes, executives and everyone else for 10 years. When he's not burning the house down trying to cook up healthy ways to eat bacon, he's traveling and enjoying life to the fullest!