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The Essential and Timeless Guide to Motivating Yourself

How to Take More Action: 10 Powerful Tips
Image by goodsurfers2008 (license).

.“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Mark Twain

Motivation can be a huge help for you to achieve what you want in life. But how can you find all that motivation you need?

Well, looking at timeless advice from time to time helps me. And in this article I’ll share four of my favorite timeless thoughts on motivation, four thoughts that motivate and inspire me.

Make a conscious choice.

“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”
Wayne Dyer

“I was thinking one day and I realized that if I just had somebody behind me all the way to motivate me I could make a big difference. Nobody came along like that so I just became that person for myself.”
Unknown

Help, accountability and motivation from others is always good. But in the end you to be able to rely on yourself. And there is really no escaping it, because as Dyer says, it’s always your choice what to do.

So you have to consciously choose to motivate yourself. You can do that by:

  • Doing what you really, really like to do. When you really like doing something then the motivation to do it comes automatically (most of the time). And when you really want something then it simply becomes easier to push through any inner resistance you feel. You are so motivated to achieve whatever it is you want that the risks you may encounter may be scary but smaller than your desire.
  • Make a list of upsides. Write down all the benefits you will get from achieving something, like for example getting into better shape or making more money. Save it and pull that list out of the drawer whenever your motivation is lacking and review it. Or put it somewhere where you will see it every day. This is a powerful way to reconnect with your motivation and reasons for taking action.
  • Compare yourself with yourself. Comparing what you have and your results to what other people have and have accomplished can really kill your motivation. There are always people ahead of you. Most likely quite a bit of people. And a few of them are miles ahead.
    So focus on you. On your results. And how you can and have improved your results. Reviewing your results is important so you see where you have gone wrong in the past to avoid similar missteps further on. But it’s also important because it’s a great motivator to see how much you have improved and how far you have come. Often you can be pleasantly surprised when you do such a review.

But the most important thing is to take responsibility for your own motivation and feelings and not wait around for someone else to do it. When you do that you will most often find a way to get yourself to start moving towards what you want.

Walk your talk.

“Walking your talk is a great way to motivate yourself. No one likes to live a lie. Be honest with yourself, and you will find the motivation to do what you advise others to do.”
Vince Poscente

This is great tip. Whenever you don’t follow your own talk or just your inner rules of how you want to behave you tend to feel bad. Your esteem of yourself sinks and your motivation to get going does too.

So you have to be honest with yourself when you feel like you are out of alignment. You have to get up and get started again. When your talk and inner standards you have set for yourself align with what you do then you your self-esteem goes up.

You feel great because you are living like you deep down want to. And you are getting all these important things done and can enjoy the results. And then you want more of that good stuff, you sometimes feel so motivated that you can’t wait to get going.

This is not always easy. In the short run it’s often easier and less uncomfortable and scary to lie to yourself a bit and hold yourself back. But the rewards for walking your talk are big. Both on the outside and the inside.

Set big goals that really inspire you.

“Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us. They are essential to really keep us alive.”
Robert H. Schuller

Without inspiring goals you tend wander around aimlessly in a confused funk.

I think the most important thing about setting goals is to find goals that really inspire and motivate you.

What are your goals? As much as possible, you have to set the goals for yourself. Should and ought to-goals aren’t good enough. Or goals that other people have set for you.

Think about your goals. Think about who has set them. Then think about what you really want in life. Then set your own goals. Write them down.

I also don’t think one should be afraid of setting big goals. Set a big goal that inspires you even if it may seem a tad unrealistic at the moment. If you have too easily achievable goals then you may find that they don’t give you that motivational spark and drive. When you start to think a bit bigger then you get motivated and your mind starts looking for the solutions that will help you achieve that goal. Thinking too small can leave you with a “meh…” feeling or make you feel like you can do it later.

And a benefit of doing things this way – even if you don’t quite achieve your big, big goal or it takes a while longer than you may have hoped for – can be found in a quote from Les Brown:

“Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars.”

Don’t get too hung up on being motivated to get started.

“The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar, or whatever. Do it without motivation. And then, guess what? After you start doing the thing, that’s when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it.”
John C. Maxwell

Here’s another view on motivation. Maybe you don’t need it to get started? Maybe you can create it along the way?

Many times I have found it better to just do it and start working instead of trying to motivate myself to get going. At first what you do may suck quite a bit and it’s hard going. But after a while inspiration and motivation seems to catch up with you. Things start to flow easier and your work is of a higher quality.

And after you have kept going for a while you become more and more motivated. Because you start to feel like you can actually do this and you can keep going to achieve your goal. And now you are also walking your talk which boosts your motivation.

On some days you may not seem to be able motivate yourself into action. Even if you review your goals or reasons to achieve something.

That’s ok. You can still make a conscious choice based on what you know deep down is right and just start moving your hands and feet anyway. No matter how you feel inside, no matter what negative thoughts may be circling around in your head.

Try both to get yourself motivated before you begin and to just do it and find the motivation along the way. Try both ways and see what works best for you.

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  • Lilian Saum May 31, 2011, 12:10 pm

    Hi!
    Great post, Henrik!
    I like the way you began it, with the quotation from Mark Twain- it’s so obviously true, because regrets weigh tons while action and discipline weigh ounces !
    Isn’t it interesting that we’re using timeless advice and perennial wisdom (the gem of all there is human wisdom) in order to motivate ourselves to some basic things like going to the gym, jogging, reading, staying honest, taking action towards our goals?
    Thank you,
    Lilian Saum
    Personal Development For Savvy Consumers-http://www.stretchersandthrivers.com

  • LotusFoodLtd June 3, 2011, 7:14 pm

    Yes, that last point, especially. I always forget that trying to make a perfect beginning is a recipe for failure. Just get going and it will get better in time. Patience is often a key to self-motivation.

  • Allan Gregoire June 4, 2011, 6:52 am

    The single most important thing to stay motivated is to do what you love. When I first started my website, it was all I could think of and I couldn’t wait to get home after a hard day at work to work on it. When you follow your passion you don’t have to motivate yourself.

  • Torey June 8, 2011, 4:14 am

    I really enjoy your articles. I am a therapist and can use a lot of your positivity for not only my clients but also myself. Thank you.

  • Social Natural June 29, 2011, 7:15 pm

    I got to admit Henrik…your photo for this post got my attention. :) Huge surfer addict!

    Motivation is one of those temporary fire you need to take advantage of, it’s an emotion and emotion changes everyday. That’s why it’s important to have external motivation whether that is as Anthony Robbin best put it “move away from pain, or seek pleasure”.