A lot of the time, when we move towards self-improvement we find ourselves seeking one thing above all others: motivation. That push, that little boost to move us out of inertia and get us to act.
We seem to think that when we find our motivation everything else will just fall neatly into place. After all, that’s what we’ve been told: that we just need to get motivated. But in reality, motivation is only one part of the puzzle to being successful.
You can be as motivated as you like, but if that’s all you’ve got, you’ll get nowhere. A person playing a two-day video game marathon is motivated. A person robbing a bank is motivated. But are they going anywhere?
Hell, everyone, in our day to day lives, experiences motivation. You wouldn’t do anything at all if you weren’t motivated. The real difference between mediocre people and successful people is that successful people are motivated by self-improvement, by things that make them do better in life.
So the real key isn’t to just become motivated. The real key is to take the motivation you already have and to apply it to the things that really matter. Which means you need to start by working out what really matters to you.
Not the generic responses either.
Ask yourself what you truly could not live without, what you would always put in effort to keep. Most of us will answer with a list mostly composed of things we consume, which is normal and healthy. But there will be things in there that are productive, which are actions with a purpose. You may have a passion for dirt bike racing, painting, or dancing. These are the things we should focus on.
Next, we need to ask ourselves how these things can be turned from a passion into a purposeful activity. For example, if your passion is painting, you could use your love of art to attend art groups and classes and meet others with your same interests, fostering friendships and potentially finding a soulmate.
Or you could hone your skills and build connections, maybe get a few certificates, and make money off your art. Or you could make sure to do a little art every day to help you unwind after working, distract you from your diet, or give yourself a mental health break.
In these ways, and many more, you can turn painting into something that motivates you to be successful.
And the same is the case with every hobby: If you find a way of using it to reward yourself, or using it as a means to attaining your goals, you will be more likely to succeed. I’m not an advocate of making a living out of your passion, because it might quickly cease to be one, and also, nobody wants to pay me for eating pizza (something I love doing). But nothing feels as good as playing my guitar or producing an electronic track after business hours.
And it keeps me going.
The reverse is also true though: If you choose to pursue money in a job you hate, motivation will wear thin, and if you choose to paint aimlessly to take your mind off things, all that motivation will be wasted.
You can’t just set yourself a goal and expect the motivation to come from the potential payout in a decade’s time. And you can’t treat all your passions as pure and simple hobbies and never use them for your goals.
You need to focus and direct your motivation by choosing a path that works for you. You need to craft a life you can live, where you could keep doing the same thing every day forever and not be drained.
And, finally, you need to make sure your path is going somewhere. You can never truly tell if a path goes anywhere early on. Think of it as walking through a forest, where you choose a path, but can never know if it leads out of the forest until you try it.
Maybe you think you love what you’re doing, but things change and you’re tired of it after a few years. Maybe you thought you were headed somewhere, but you revisit your goals and realize you aren’t getting there. Whatever it is, often we need to look at our path and make sure that we are still on track.
And if we aren’t, like rearranging furniture for feng shui to channel energy in our homes, we need to rearrange the elements of our life to channel our motivation towards our goals.
Maybe you can focus on the short term of your daily or weekly goals. Or maybe you can focus on building a six figure business over the next ten years, to get yourself that early retirement where you can fully indulge your passions. Or, even better, a combination of both approaches.
In short: motivation is great, and necessary. But on its own it will never be enough.
Source: Positive Psychology Coaching