Staying motivated and maintaining a course has never come easy for me. From taekwando, to piano, to swimming, to Mandarin. From being an architect, actor, teacher, lawyer, to marketing giant. Maintaining motivation and maintaining the course has been something I have had to learn.
Here is how to stay motivated—ask these 6 questions:
1. Life or death?
When it comes to motivation, there may be nothing greater than the motivation to survive. Though I have no qualifications aside from the stories I hear and the people on the street I see, us humans have an extraordinary will when it comes to survival. Just think of Leo and the bear in The Revenant.
People do not need motivational talks or coaches when it comes to breathing air.
When it comes to motivation in the things we wish to do or not do, maybe the question we first ask is, “is this a matter of life or death for us?”
We all know that life is more than simply physical survival. Yet all of us put in different amounts of effort in doing the things that give true life and we avoid doing the things that bring us to death.
The first step to staying motivated I believe is having a life or death mindset. To whatever you want to stay motivated in, do you believe that you will live/thrive if you continue and that you will decay/die if you do not?
2. Who is at stake?
Another question I would ask, is for what purpose does this affect others? A loving parent will go through hell and back if it means the safety or survival of their child. Love can make people do ridiculous and heroic things.
If parents do not maintain motivation in their work and keep of their home, their children could be taken away by social services, or their quality of life could impinge their children’s growth and happiness.
After asking if this is a matter of life or death for ourselves, the next question in staying motivated then is asking— is this is a matter of life and death for others? Is this part of my purpose?
3. Do I have reminders and relationships?
I believe a big part of maintaining any sort of commitment will require regular reminders as well as relational support (I go more in depth in my Practices to Personhood).
When it comes to certain activities, we need reminders to do so. We may need alarm clocks to wake up. Why not alarms for other things? People need coaches to stay motivated and continue training and moving forward.
Whatever it is in life, would not people benefit more from regular reminders along with coaches and communities?
When it comes to motivation, what are your clocks, who are your coaches, where is your community? What and who do you have to help you remember to keep going?
4. Is my goal SMART?
Have you written SMART goals at work before? Though a bit cheesy and overused, the acronym proves to be helpful. Are your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound?
It’s hard to maintain motivation when the goal itself is vague (e.g. be thinner).
It’s a lot easier to maintain motivation when the goal is specific and has steps (e.g. read X amount of books, walk X number of miles, lift X amount of volume at the gym).
5. Do I know what to do?
It’s hard to maintain motivation at the gym if you don’t know what you’re doing. Going to the gym and then scrolling through instagram isn’t going to do anything.