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5 Things I Wish People Understood About Real Motivation



5 Things I Wish People Understood About Real Motivation

Let me guess – you are frustrated with the lack of progress towards your goals. Your happiness, better health, satisfying relationships, career achievement – still not much closer than when you first set off to achieve those dreams? Achievement motivation is about more than dreaming.

The truth behind getting motivated and staying motivated on the journey towards your goals

You’re blaming yourself for not being ‘motivated enough’. You fear there is something wrong with you, because your motivation never seems to last long. So you try harder: you visualize your goals, remind yourself of them daily, think about the benefits, search for inspirational quotes. And while these strategies help, their effects never seem to last long. And after a few days, maybe a couple of weeks, your motivation dwindles again, and you’re back to your old habits.

Here’s a discovery I made a while ago: lack of motivation is not really the reason you stop progressing towards your goals.


Since you’re here, you are aware you have an issue and working to change it. That clearly indicates – you’re already motivated. What halts your progress is the way you use motivation. In this post I want to tell you about common misconceptions people have about real motivation, and how these hinder their success. If you’re trapped in the vicious cycle of having to constantly motivate yourself – keep reading. I’ll show you how to shift your approach and get unstuck – once and for all.


1. Your motivation rises and falls – naturally. Accept it.

If you feel your motivation comes and goes – you’re right. That’s the way it is. We seem to have a lot of it when we first declare war on old habits or make bold decisions to change the way we’re living. But motivation is an emotion and so it’s capricious. There are so many reasons why this may be the way it is, but the bottom line is: your motivation will continue to fluctuate. That’s why relying on achievement motivation to fulfill your goals it is a bad idea.

A lot of people struggle to carry on with the new behaviors after a while. Bad days – when you’re tired, sleep-deprived, feeling down, or sick they are bound to come. It’s just life. Fighting against it by ‘getting motivated’ is not a very good use of the little energy you have on that day. Moreover, it makes you feel like there is something wrong with your motivation, or worse – with you.

Let me stress it again: achievement motivation comes and goes and does it because it’s the nature of it. There is nothing wrong with you. And the best thing you can do is to accept it and change the way you use your motivation.


2. Using achievement motivation to push yourself towards your goals is a waste – do this instead.

After the initial burst of energy to pursue your newly set goals, comes a motivational low. This is natural (remember what I’ve said above?), and this is also the point when many people give up.

But if you’re dedicated to your goals, you will push yourself harder, and try to ‘motivate yourself’ to go to the gym or eat healthier, even though your body is aching and all your mind can think is something sweet and comforting.

Motivation is a source of energy – it charges your internal batteries. But the problem is – you don’t really know how long it will last and when you will be able to charge your batteries again.And if you had a battery like that, feeding your vital organs, would you think twice before using it, carefully considering what’s the best way to use it, to get most out of its limited life? I would. Well, I do – because this is the way it is for me.


Don’t waste your limited supplies

People who are aware of the limits to their motivation and willpower don’t waste their limited supplies on ‘getting motivated’ or ‘pushing on’. They use whatever energy and enthusiasm they have at the beginning to build systems instead. And those systems allow them to carry on with their work, when they’re low on motivation or willpower.

I’m writing this post on a tiny kitchen table, in a dark, humid room. I’m jet lagged and sticky, and I’d rather go back to bed or stand in the shower for hours, but I want to work on this post. When I got up this early morning, I knew my energy and motivation to carry out my writing plan would wear out quickly. That’s why, I used the limited energy I had on awakening to set up my ‘workstation’ the way that all I could do is writing.

I can’t stress enough the power of using your initial energy to set a system that will make you do ‘the right thing’, regardless of the level of motivation you have on the day.


3. What motivates others doesn’t have to motivate you

Have you ever felt inspired by other people’s pursuits? I have. And I’ve met many people who fell for other people’s dreams. I’ve had a friend who, inspired by her parents, both in healthcare careers, decided to become a nurse to help people. In nursing school, she was a good student, eager to learn, and a very caring person. Her tutors were always full of praise for her. But as she progressed, she felt less and less happy. But she kept pushing on.

Everyone around her – patients, their families and her colleagues, were telling her she would be an awesome nurse. ‘I must be doing a really good job’, she kept telling herself and pushed on.  But at the bottom of her heart, she wasn’t feeling happy. For whatever strange reason, despite overwhelming evidence that her work was doing a lot of good for others, she was feeling unfulfilled. Shortly after graduation, she started slipping into a big black hole. She went to seek professional help.

Analysis of motivation

During this exploration, she discovered that her deepest desire, the motivation that pushed her through life was being independent, being the driving force in her life. Even though she enjoyed being part of hospital teams, working in healthcare systems, highly hierarchical and structured was killing her soul. Moreover, she was missing her artistic pursuits so much; she felt she’s lost all her feelings.

‘It was a very strange, but incredibly liberating discovery, she said. I’ve became inspired by my parents’ great work and their passion for helping others. And I still want to help others, but first of all – I need to make sure I’m happy and fulfilled.’ Still working part time, she set up a side craft business and worked on expanding it until she was ready to quit her nursing job.

Yes, she is a much happier person now.

‘Successful people set goals congruent with their personality, their values, interests, strengths, skills, mission and purpose’ writes Ch. Friesen, PhD, a psychologist experienced in helping athletes, entrepreneurs, and professionals achieve their top performance.
You’ve heard that so many times – we only have one life, why wasting it on pursuing the goals that don’t really feed your soul?
But I warn you against pursuing goals and dreams that are not really aligned with who you are, no matter how inspirational and good they sound. If it doesn’t feed your soul, it doesn’t feed your soul. Regardless of how big the reward you’re getting is, if you don’t care about it – you will feel unrewarded and deprived.
You will crash and burn.


4. Being realistic about your goals is key to success

Following daring dreams is important. This is what pushes us to achieve the unimaginable and as a result we grow. But to succeed in a long-haul pursuit, you need to also be realistic.
There will be obstacles. There will be bad days on your journey. To overcome them, you need to accept it and adjust your plan.

Envision your obstacles to check if you’re able to overcome them. If you do – go ahead, but if you don’t feel you have what it takes – don’t waste your energy and time on chasing what’s unrealistic. People who use this method are much more likely to achieve their goals, than those who ‘dream big’, but are unrealistic.

Bolder Approach

I’ve got an even bolder approach. I know how exhilarating it is to feel you want to pursue a goal. You feel full of energy, and feel like you can move mountains. This is a great feeling. It can also be misleading.Even though I may set my goals when I’m feeling like this, I review them and make my plan on a day I feel ‘average’, or even – on a bad day. Why? Because, when we feel ‘pumped’ and full of energy, we’re more likely to reach for the stars and assume we’ll always feel like today.  If you plan your steps on a bad day, you’re more likely to plan for days like this one. And if you can do it on a bad day – imagine how much easier this is going to be on a day when you are feeling ‘pumped’ again!


5. Motivation kills achievement motivation

Have you ever heard of people who stopped enjoying their job once they started doing it for money? No, I’m not kidding you – it’s real, and psychologists even have a name for it – motivation crowding theory.

Multiple studies showed that rewarding people for things they enjoy doing decreases the likelihood of people actually doing this thing. The strange reality of people who turned their hobbies into paid work. This issue is particularly important when motivating others, but I’ve seen it at play when motivating self. And if you’re using rewards to boost your motivation, you need to be careful, too.

Extrinsic rewards, such as money, praise or favorite treats, are good to get us started, on a bad day, or when there is a tight deadline, but they have a dark side, too. At some point, extrinsic rewards, more money, or praise, or thread of being ‘named and shamed’ lose their effectiveness and we just don’t care anymore. Daniel Pink wrote a book (‘Drive’) and gave an excellent TED talk on this issue – people are in search of a deeper meaning and rewards that appeal to their inner needs – of autonomy, mastery or purpose, rather than material rewards or avoidance of punishment.

If you use extrinsic, material rewards to boost your motivation – be careful. Watch for that moment when you start doing whatever you’re working on (e.g. regular exercise, healthy eating, reading more books, etc.) for the sheer pleasure of doing it. This is definitely the point when you need to stop rewarding yourself extrinsically.


Don’t work for motivation – make it work for you

I don’t know about you, but discovering how motivation works was an eye-opener and the beginning for a new era for me. All of a sudden, my motivational ups and downs didn’t matter any more. Sure they still came and still come (and go), but I can carry on on my journey towards a better me.

Those things are within your reach. Now you know how real motivation operates, you can use this knowledge to your advantage, too. Just imagine, how much easier your journey to your goals would be, how much more enjoyable without those constant struggles to keep at it. No more frustration with ‘running out of motivation’, no more fears that there is something wrong with you.

Not only you can achieve your goals faster, but also – have fun on the way! Your goals are waiting for you. Achievement motivation is just a step away!

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



a compliment (1)

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




when your dreams are falling apart (1)

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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