How to Ignite Your Motivational Fire

There’s an old story about three men working on a project in France. A tourist walking by asks them, “What are you working on?” The first man says, “I’m hauling rocks.” The second man says, “I building a wall.” The third man says with pride, “I building a cathedral.” This third man had a vision of the bigger picture and was enthusiastic and gratified by his work.

Which of the three men do you think was most motivated to do the job? It would be tough to dispute that it was the third man with a vision. Having big and important plans, being confident, and working toward goals can be a wavering process. Motivation is what drives us toward our goals and spurs us forward in these tough times. Whether you’re a coach, manager, or just personally need to take more initiative, motivation is a key part of working with others and achieving what we want. Here are a few suggestions to ignite your motivational fire!

What’s your dream self

Take a moment to picture yourself at your best. What are you doing? What situation are you in, and what skills are you using? We all have an “ideal” self and “real” self, and most of time there is incongruence between these, leaving us anxious, fearful, and unconfident. However, the ideal self doesn’t have to be an unrealistic pipe dream that’s all fantasy. We can begin to strive to reach this potential within us by knowing what are strengths are and recalling the times we have been at our peak in the past. Realizing this potential within us can offer some serious motivation. Sometimes we just need to stop and think about how things would be if we were at our best. There is one disclaimer here. Be careful that fantasy doesn’t lead to complaisance, or that your ideal self doesn’t totally eclipse your actual belief about what is possible. Dan Gilbert explains in his book Stumbling on Happiness that when we bask in the glory of our future fantasies it can actually decrease motivation. Living in a fantasy has all the positive emotions without the hard work. We can revert back to our fantasy without having to actually put in the effort of developing and growing. Make sure to stay grounded with this exercise of considering your ideal self. This can be done by focusing on specific goals and not just fame, fortune, and recognition.

Setting goals for motivation

Whether we’re striving to make our dreams come true or simply want to make a small life improvement, setting and achieving goals along the way is what keeps us going. Goals give us direction and provide feedback about how we’re doing. They are milestones of success that help us maintain a positive outlook and hope of achieving our bigger dreams. Begin to make your dreams a reality by plotting out what you want in the long-term. What are your goals and life mission for the future? With this awareness, consider what you can begin to do now to reach this dream? Set some short-term goals to begin working immediately toward this aim. Remember to set goals that are specific and describe action, and keep in mind the visualization of your final goal and ideal life.

Find your passion and follow

What fills you with energy and expands your view of life? If it’s something you do for a living you’re a very blessed person. Many people give up their passions because they don’t see external reward and recognition. Though, a master source of motivation is finding what excites and enlivens you intrinsically. We are intrinsically motivated when driven by our own sense of interest, curiosity, and passion, and when we appreciate the challenges that arise from these tasks. According to psychologist Carl Rogers people have an inner motivation to grow and expand as human beings. People want to become self-actualized and seek their greatest selves. We are all motivated by our needs at the time, but once we get to a point where we are safe, secure, and comfortable, we can begin to strive to reach our full potential. Uncover your potential for self-actualization by discovering what you feel good about, and what provides you with growth and personal satisfaction.

“Awfulizing” isn’t always so bad

If visualizing all the amazing benefits that come from achieving your goals isn’t enough, how about getting in touch with the pain that will persist from staying put and never making progress? It’s true that looking at the worst case scenario can be debilitating if it becomes a habit, but sometimes when the pain is bad enough it’s just the motivation we need to change. The moment we get too comfortable and complaisant, is the moment our motivation is extinguished. Having uncertainty and anxiety can offer a natural motivator. It provides a natural drive to alleviate the pain and make things better. When something scary happens at a young age that makes us realize we’re not totally secure and safe, it can be an important moment to really trigger success. The book the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle provides the example of how many of the world’s elite figures had a parent die at an early age. They realized that things aren’t always going to go smoothly and that they needed to take charge of their life. Staying on easy street for too long can really extinguish motivation, and lead to playing a passive role in life. What pain or negative situations are you currently dealing with that can ignite your motivation? How will life be if you don’t take action and make some changes?

What motivates you?

These are just a few ideas of how motivation can play a role in life. Motivation can come from many other sources such as the care of loved ones, getting our needs met, getting rewarded, or what our expectations are. The point is, learning what motivates us past the level of basic needs is crucial to tapping into what we’re really capable of. Start thinking about it. What needs motivate you at this time? What area of life is your biggest priority? What do you think will motivate you in 5 or 10 years from now? Please leave any thoughts or comments below! I would love to hear from you! Photo credit: Svetlana Zhukova