By Adam Griffin, Author and Entrepreneur
As the ride creeps and creaks its way to the top of the roller coaster, the horizon opens up ahead and you can see for miles in any direction. Reaching the top of the ride, you inch forward and feel amazing. That is until the bottom drops out and you find yourself plunging back toward earth, a little scared, a little frozen, and ready to get back to the top. This is par for the course for a day at the amusement park, but when it comes to our own motivation, a roller coaster of ups and downs will leave you drained and wanting to get off the ride altogether. Steady and sustained is the name of the game when it comes to motivation. I’ll show you how to get there.
First, let’s break down what motivation actually is and where it comes from. At its core, it’s the force that gets you moving. It’s what creates initial inertia, which turns into momentum, and eventually flow. And this motivation can come from two distinct places – internal and external. External motivators generally include reward-based incentives such as a commission check, a new car, financial security, and anything else that can be a driving force to get sh*t done. External motivators are usually tangible and temporary, and while they certainly have their place in a successful and satisfying career, they fall short if you rely on them for a foundation of sustainable motivation. Enter internal motivators.
If external motivation is a spark, internal motivation is a flame. The former fizzles while the latter sustains with just a little oxygen. Internal motivation is that aspirational, higher version of ourselves that both consciously, and many times subconsciously, drives our decisions and thought processes. When you harness the power of our internal motivators and align them with our daily work, that’s when you capture the true power of the flame, and allow it to continually sustain us day in and day out. So how do you do it? Here are 4 quick steps to get you there.
Seriously, dream. What does your ultimate career and life look like 10 or 20 years from now? Make it concrete. Think about your income, your lifestyle, your title, your network, everything. Once you have a clear vision of what those things are, you can reverse engineer how to get there. Let’s say your goal is to be the CEO of a high growth SaaS startup. What skills do you need to learn to get there? What kind of team do you need to surround yourself with? What city is it built in? Who is a role model in a similar position that you can emulate or learn from? When these dreams are painted clearly in your mind they can translate into a motivation to achieve them, as well as give you much needed intuition to know if you’re on the right path or not.
Many times we dream without asking the all important why? Dreaming inherently involves the external motivator, but rarely the internal. We have to probe a bit to reveal the internal amidst the external. A very simple example would be this – “I want $10,000,000 in savings and investments.” This, in and of itself, is an external motivator. But let’s dig deeper – “Why do I want $10,000,000 in savings and investments? Because when I pass away I want to leave my kids and grandkids enough money to have financial security and resources to pursue their own dreams, just like I did.” This external motivator has now become internalized, turned into a mission larger than ourselves, and become a much more sustainable internal motivator. This applies to anything, not just financial goals.
Our dreams and ambitions will forever be stagnant if we don’t truly believe we have what it takes to pull them off. How do we create confidence where there appears to be none currently? Ask yourself these questions. Has someone less intelligent than you reached their dreams? Has someone less driven than you achieved great things? Has someone with fewer resources than you built something incredible? The answer is without a doubt yes, yes, yes. If you need the proof, read biographies of some of the great achievers of our time. You’ll find their stories are riddled with setbacks, limited resources, and less than desirable profiles of what we think a great achiever looks like. They were normal people with ambitious dreams, relentless internal motivation, and a profound “why” driving them every day.
Each morning before you start your day, think deeply about what I mentioned above. Focus on your big, hairy, audacious goals. Analyze the reasons why you have these dreams. Meditate on your genuine belief that you’re the person who can pull them off. Reflection is just another way of saying “repetition,” and habits are only developed by repeating things over and over. Creating internal motivators is no less of a habit than anything else, and reflection is what makes it stick.
Much of our day is dictated by the frame of mind we take into it. By reflecting, which in turn reinforces the internalization process, you can start our day by not just creating a quick spark of motivation, but by creating a durable flame that simply needs our oxygen to keep it burning. How do you keep yourself motivated in your own life and business? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments!