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Why you’ve got motivation all wrong




Why you’ve got motivation all wrong

The truth behind your motivation.

Six months ago, I had an epiphany about motivation via Ramit Sethi. He said that researchers and psychologists have gotten it all wrong. We shouldn’t be trying to find the source of motivation because it’s elusive. Indeed, motivation isn’t the cat you call when you stick your head out of the door. Instead, creating momentum is a smarter way of ensuring that you get things done and achieve your goals. I know that from my own experience and in my psychotherapy and coaching work. Here’s how to create momentum.

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Jumpstart your motivation with simple actions

Do you remember the last time you felt paralysed about starting a new project and wasted time worrying; but once you started doing something, it all felt easier? That’s because when we create momentum, we’re likelier to get something done. The trick is shifting out of the headspace of worrying, and getting into active problem-solving mode. To begin, ask yourself what are the three simplest steps required to kick something off. For instance, if I wanted to start a blog, I can (1) speak to a friend who blogs (2) find a book on blogging (3) register my domain name. These simple actions may seem so obvious and make us question “Is that it?”– and that’s precisely the point. Have you heard of productivity expert BJ Fogg’s [] recommendation to floss one tooth? If we can commit to that, we’ll end up flossing all our teeth. The simpler our first steps are, the likelier we are to begin. And we create a virtuous cycle where we’ll do more.

Boost your motivation by facing your goals and fears

Do you dare to be confronted by your goals? We avoid and hide from the things that make us feel uncomfortable, such as our goals. For many of us, eating vitamins or going to the gym aren’t exciting, even if we desire to become healthier. How do we fix that? Make our goals obvious so we remove our excuses, beyond the obvious use of reminders. Like, putting our vitamins somewhere unmissable– next to our morning water jug rather than buried in the drawer. For me, I keep kettlebells in different parts of my house so I’ve no excuse that I’m “too lazy to walk to them”.

Generate motivation from focusing on your goals

It’s one thing to want to be successful but it’s another thing to achieve it, especially if you don’t know what success looks like to you. Indeed, the more ambiguous our goals are, the less likely we’ll know how to achieve them. To solve this, the SMART goal-setting system is especially useful. Ask yourself, is your goal Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-limited? If yes, you’ve set the foundation towards achieving it. Hint: If your goal is Specific enough, you’ll be able to figure out the first three simplest steps to jumpstart them like in (1). Sunlight can only spark flames if you focus it properly.



When motivation knocks, seize it

Motivation doesn’t always pay you a visit when you want it to. Rather than to spend your time figuring out where your motivation comes from, why not ride the wave when it appears without needing to create momentum from scratch? And when it’s done, create a system [] so you can keep repeating that action. Ask yourself, “What can I do ensure I keep doing this again?”. Like, if you want to:-

  • Eat cleaner/more ethically: Set up an automated account with your local farm to deliver vegetables to your doorstep.
  • Commit to a new regime, like therapy/yoga/dance: Block out in advance the dates and times on your calendar. Keep those slots sacred. Nothing can override them.
  • Clean your room more often: Buy or create an organisation system. This way, all you need to do every week is to put your things back into where they belong. Rather than be overwhelmed thinking “Where do I start?”
  • Practise self love: Write a note to yourself. Photograph it and make it your lock screen wallpaper. Look at it especially when you’re feeling self-critical.

Increase motivation by understanding why you procrastinate

Oh, the number of times we beat ourselves up for procrastinating, and then procrastinate even more because we feel awful. But what if I told you it’s never because you’re “just too lazy”. We’re not here to be mean to ourselves all the time. Instead, what if you asked yourself honestly and objectively, “What is really happening here?”. How do we figure that out? By tracking our situation, mood and thoughts. My clients have learned that they’re unable to work on certain evenings because they’ve had a full meal, or because they done a strenuous workout that afternoon. That way, they can change the days they plan to work, eat or exercise so as to achieve their goals without beating themselves up. They learn that sometimes, it’s the difficult situations that they’ve encountered make them exhausted, so they stop blaming themselves. Or, they realise that they’re actually feeling fearful or overwhelmed because they don’t know how to go about doing the task or feel unsupported. By stepping back and understanding what’s going on kindly, we learn more about ourselves and set the foundation for action. It’s a win-win.

Maintain motivation by outsourcing what you can

We are cognitive and energy misers– there’s only so much we can do, think and feel. When there are too many tasks on our plate, we end up feeling like we are firefighting all the time but not getting any real work done. Think about the last time you griped about how you’ve spent half a day answering emails and doing administrative tasks, and then had to put in extra hours for your real work. If you can afford to, perhaps ask yourself what you can outsource. This way, you’ll be able to devote your resources towards achieving your goals.

Automate your motivation by rewarding yourself

Too often, my clients tell me “I need to wait till the big goal is achieved before I can reward myself”. Sometime this deadline is five years later. But here’s the thing. We will burn out if we subscribe to a philosophy of “all work and no play”. By treating ourselves when we’ve done something on the path towards our goal, the journey becomes more memorable. Our reward pathways in our brain also fire away, making us more likely to continue our task. Besides, a good thing is a good thing– what stops us from acknowledging our success is putting a metric on it []. Put it this way– you deserve a reward.

Which of the above would you like to try? Or, what is your view on finding motivation? Leave a comment and help someone with the same experiences.

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Can You Receive A Compliment Without It Getting To Your Head?



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Receiving compliments gracefully isn’t as easy as it should be for some people. How about you: are YOU ready for someone to give you a pat on the back? To be pushed to doing more? To have someone give you a supporting hand? To be picked up when you fall down?

Sure, we may think that’s what we want. But is it what we need to develop, to grow, and to get better?

If someone complimented you on every little improvement you made while learning a new skill, would you not start to feel a bit marginalized? That perhaps they didn’t really think you could do it? What about when you do something that seems pretty easy and everyone made it into a big deal?


Receiving Compliments When You Are Not Ready For It

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

Developing new skills is never free of trouble. We all know the level of foundation that must be built to get from being a novice, before reaching greatness. In the learning process, we all know when we are in that frustrating stage of not being quite as good – but we know what we have to do to get there.

It’s in these moments that receiving compliments on your every action could minimize your efforts. That’s because if they truly knew you, people would be holding out for when you make that big, defining leap. 

As we overcome hurdles in our learning and development, friends, family members, and colleagues will know when the time is right to provide encouragement. They know that when that moment comes, those words will have the right amount of impact on you.

Think back to when you were growing up, playing some elaborate game. Perhaps you spent hours creating this game: building a fort, putting together things that the rest of your characters in the play could use. You pushed through despite the trials and problems.

It would have served absolutely no purpose for someone to congratulate you on every step (and misstep) along the way.  You would have lost your flow as you worked through the problem, constantly being interrupted – all while you were still trying to figure it out and understand where you needed to go.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments


When Receiving Compliments Makes You Content with Present Achievements

You might never have finished if someone patted you on the back early in that moment, content in the knowledge that you “thought up” the idea and that was enough. If everyone was saying you did great simply for thinking up something new, would it have compelled you to stop?

Maybe. Perhaps you would have stopped with that compliment.

As a parent, you learn when to encourage your children. Usually, it’s not when they show up, and not when they do what kids around them are able to do as well. It’s when they push themselves to do more. When they pick themselves up and still lose, when they try something new for the first time, fall over and fail, not sure if they should do it again.

Those are the moments when kids should be receiving compliments – NOT when they have done the same thing over and over again, or when they didn’t try their best but won anyways.

Kids know this. They can feel it when people give false compliments or encouragement because they did something they’ve always done. But when it is something meaningful, something they have worked hard for, they know the encouragement will be there to help them.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

The reason you might not be receiving compliments or encouragement when you want to is because you haven’t earned them or don’t deserve them yet.

Maybe your coaches, leaders, parents, or other people who support you know you are not ready for it. Perhaps they need to see you making that next big leap in your growth and development.

Those compliments might not come today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. But look at those around you – the great people you have chosen to surround yourself with – and you’ll see that they are waiting to give you that push. They are waiting for you to make it happen.

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3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart




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I truly believe that dreams must extend beyond wishes of self-improvement; that its goal should be to contribute to the world around you.

The heart is a fickle thing. Imagine how many amazing things wouldn’t have been accomplished if great minds simply stopped when they “didn’t feel like it”.

It’s human nature. I’m sure that during the course of over 300 bank rejections, Walt Disney had days when he felt like giving up. But he didn’t. He kept going. Why? It was because his dream went far beyond himself.

Here’s how YOU can keep going – even if it feels like your dreams are falling apart.


3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

1.) Remember The “Why”

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

Often times, I find that dreams extend far beyond the simple purpose of making one happy. For example, being a songwriter in and of itself does not make me feel happy and fulfilled. Imagine if my life’s work was to write songs that no one would ever hear. That doesn’t elicit any feelings of happiness or fulfillment (at least to me).

Seeing and hearing the healing effects that come from the songs I create for others to hear? Now you’re talking. Healing and helping others is the part of my dream that keeps it alive. It gives me purpose in this world that goes far beyond myself and my skills.

I’m reminded of the character Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Scrooge’s goal in life was to have money – and lots of it. He set aside love and relationships for that dream. The result of this life goal was a lonely, cold, bitter old man.

I won’t ruin the whole story for the very few of you that may not have heard it. In the end, Scrooge discovered that what brought him fulfillment and happiness were community and generosity.

So what is the “why” to your dream? How is your dream going to affect those around you? Get beyond yourself. As many have said, YOU are your biggest obstacle to success.


2.) Take Off The Rose-Colored Glasses

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

You know what I’m talking about. The “I’m going to make it big” and “I’m going to famous/rich/etc.” I hate to take a pointy realistic needle to your big ideas, but I’m doing it out of love. Here it is:

Your dream isn’t going to look exactly how you pictured it.

Take a minute to take that one in. Still here? Yes. Alive? Yes. Not Bleeding? No? Hurt a bit?

It’s OK. I know. I’ve been there. Dreams are vulnerable. We spend countless hours imagining what it would be like and how we will get there. But the truth is, in my experience, they have never turned out exactly how I have imagined. Why? We live in a world of people and circumstances that we can’t control.

Here is where the “why” comes in. The beautiful thing is that your works are a direct result of your heart’s intention…and what you put out into the world never comes back void. Here’s an example:

As a singer-songwriter, the common idea of making it big for my line of work is to have a hit song or perform in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden (I’m more inclined towards Red Rock Amphitheatre, but you get the picture).

Let’s say that I work and strive tirelessly to do everything I need to do to reach that goal. I release a song, I tour around the US, develop a large following, get on the radio, etc. Along the way, I hear stories of how this song has impacted the people who have heard it. Stories describing how it brought healing, encouragement, and hope.

To go further, what if I never even make it that far? What if circumstances happen and I can’t tour? What if everything “falls apart”? What if I end up playing at open mics for the rest of my life? What if it doesn’t happen in the next year? Two years?

Does that change the fact that my song helped heal and open the heart of a broken and depressed Vietnam Vet? Or how it helped encourage an author to keep going and writing? Or how my song started a conversation on how to look past the labels overshadowing soldiers and their families?

It’s all about your perspective of success, my friend. To me, because my “why” and my heart’s intention are to help people, those stories above are my version of success. It’s what keeps me going. If I get to Madison Square Garden (or Red Rocks), well that’s just icing on top of the cake.

Keep going on your dream. Make a plan, and in the words of .38 Special, “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go.” Roll with the punches and understand that even greater things can come when things don’t go according to your plan.


3.) Make Your Dream Your Job

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

No, I don’t mean quit your job and have no income while you work on your dream. That’s an entirely different article (and completely up to you). I’m talking about treating your dream like it is your job.

For example, if you completely failed at a presentation at work, would you just quit and not go the next day? No! You have a livelihood and an expectation to show up. So why quit on your dream at the first sign of failure?

Treat your dream like your job. Make a plan, show up every day, and understand that it may take a while to see any results. I know many songwriters who wrote hundreds of songs before they wrote a hit. However, they never would have reached it if they didn’t take that first step, made a commitment, and wrote 100 songs first.

Dreams don’t just happen. They take work. So go get started!

My best advice under this theme is check out the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It is by far the best resource I have discovered in my journey of living out my dream.

Here’s the deal. With every goal that I have set and achieved, I never sat at the end and thought to myself, “man, look at what I did”. Believe it or not, I was more overwhelmed with the thoughts of the journey that I had to take to get there – the good and the bad.

I would admire and laugh at the unexpected things that came. I would smile and enjoy the character it built, the person that I became in the process. In the end, the best thing about dreams and goals isn’t their achievement, but the journey that you take to get there.

Never forget that the dream in your heart was put there for a reason. You were made to make an impact on this world.

Enjoy the journey and never, ever give up. Keep going.

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