This morning I didn't want to get out of bed. I REALLY didn't want to get out of bed. For the past two weeks, I've been hitting the treadmill first thing in the morning and this morning, that sounded like the worst idea in the history of the universe. For basically no reason, I felt more tired than usual. The bed felt awesome and all I wanted to do was sleep in.
The problem is that I'm not naturally driven. I get a lot of satisfaction out of achievement, but I have a love/hate relationship with being a lazy piece of junk. I basically love it, but hate the consequences. Fortunately I like success a lot more than I like sleeping and watching TV, but that doesn't mean that I don't really like sleeping and watching TV.
I had to learn how to overcome a lot of negative tendencies when I decided that I wanted to make something of my life. Seven or eight years ago, I have to admit that I would have rolled over and gone back to sleep. I didn't want to be an under-achiever, I just hadn't figured out how to motivate myself. I was in a bad rut and had been for years. I wasn't unusual for me to sleep in until two or three o-clock in the afternoon for weeks or months at a time.
No matter how bad of a rut you find yourself in, you can always change. You can make different decisions and alter your momentum. For me, a big part of my self-reinvention was discovering what actually motivated ME. Growing up, my parents tried to motivate me and frankly, I just didn't give a rip. The problem there was that the things that they thought I should be motivated by didn't interest me. I thought for a long time that I wasn't a motivated person – that misconception fueled a lot of under-achievement but was ultimately untrue. I was eventually able to figure out where my true motivations lie.
Principles of Motivation
1. Needs – My problem with using needs as motivation is that I don't have many needs. Back in the day, I used to work for 15 hours a week and honestly, I was just fine. I had money for food, rent, and clothes. Sure, there were times when money was really tight but I never went hungry. When you're a single person, needs don't always work that great for motivation. I think that most of you would agree, however, that when you're really in a jam, motivation comes a lot more easily.
This principle didn't help me this morning – I don't need to run on the treadmill and I don't need to work today. I will eat, breathe, and have fun with my friends whether I am productive today or not.
2. Interest – Going to college was probably the most boring experience of my life. I would sit down in class and most of the time I would
snap out of my mind-daze right about when my classmates started getting up to leave. I have no problem at all day-dreaming for 50 minutes, or for an hour and 50 minutes for that matter. Learning about concepts that don't matter to me is really difficult. I simply don't care.
On the other hand, I am obsessive about learning about things that I'm interested in. I can read about business, sales, or marketing all day long and it will stick. It sticks because I care. It comes naturally.
The problem with interest is that it's more useful for learning than it is for producing. I know TONS about fitness – I know how to change my body. That doesn't mean that I'm interested in running on the treadmill. I hate running on the treadmill. It's really boring. For that reason, interest didn't help me today.
3. Values – This one is really interesting and is a lot more helpful to me. Being a hard worker is really important to me and this is what causes me to feel like a piece of junk after I'm not productive. I know that I will feel crappy if I sleep through my workout. I know that
I will feel crappy if I don't work hard during a day.
In order to let values work for you, you have to clearly define them. Working hard has become a very clearly defined value for me, in fact it's something that I'm known for among family and friends. However, let me be clear. I wasn't born to be a hard worker. I love being lazy. I want to be a hard worker and I have learned how to be one.
4. Self-actualization – A motivation that works extremely well for me is self-actualization. I want to be a better, stronger, more productive person. For me, it's really helpful to think about what kind of person I want to be when my motivation is lacking. This morning, my physical body didn't want to hit the treadmill – it wanted to sleep. I was also having a moment of mental weakness.
When this happens to me, I have to start thinking about what I want my life to look like. I want to be fit and more importantly – I want to work hard. I like being a hard worker – it's one of my values. I'm a better person if I'm a hard worker and I believe that I'm a better person if I take control of my fitness. For me, thinking about these concepts helps me to overcome my moments of weakness.
5. Ego – Ego is huge, at least it is for me. For that reason, when I committed to hit the treadmill every morning, I found a friend who had the same goals. We made a friendly wager a few weeks ago. We usually bet like $100 but neither one of us actually cares about the money. We care about the competition. We don't want to lose to the other person.
This morning when I didn't want to get on the treadmill, I thought about our bet. I don't want to lose that dang bet. I don't want to lose to my buddy. Competition for me is a huge motivator, one that I personally use well for growth.
6. Acceptance – Everyone wants to be accepted – we want the approval of others. I have to admit that part of the reason that I work so hard is so that others will respect me. I'm not sure if they do, but I want them to.
Social acceptance is something that can motivate you if other methods fail. When people find out how I make my money, they seem to like it. It's impressive to them. I like that. I also have to work really hard to make it work and it doesn't hurt to think about your social circle if your motivation is failing – if that's something that motivates you.
While acceptance does provide me with some motivation, I have learned that it isn't a good motivator for me. My parents liked to use approval and shame to motivate me growing up and ultimately, it didn't work. It's not a powerful enough motivator for me.
How To Use These Principles
This is the hard part. How do you use these principles to find motivation? First, you have to start thinking about them. Think about the rewards of working hard today and every other day. What will you gain? If you don't WANT what you can gain, it's not a good motivator. You need to find a different one.
We're all different. Self-actualization and ego provide me with plenty of motivation but they might do nothing for you. In my case, acceptance isn't a very strong motivator. When my parents showed disappointment in my actions (or lack of actions), it honestly did nothing for me. Actually, I produce a lot more when I'm left alone.
I grew up on a farm and I remember my dad telling me hundreds of times that he was teaching me how to work. It probably had a positive effect overall, but I despised it. Something that I figured out later was that working hard felt natural, if I felt like it made me better. Again, for me, self-actualization is a powerful principle.
Figure out where motivation comes from – for YOU. When you have a moment of weakness, think about the rewards. Thinks about what you want your life to look like. It will get you out of bed or onto a treadmill. It will help you to perform.