February 2014 marks my 17th year in business, and I've had a lot of great questions about my history in business and my experiences along the way.
Including this one:
"What motivates you to do the things you do to become successful?"
That seems like a simple question that deserves a simple answer. Self Motivation isn't exactly a simple topic though, as you've likely discovered by now. I'll give you MY answer to that question, along with the things I do to STAY motivated - or to continue achieving goals even when I don't feel particularly motivated...
What Motivates You?
My source of motivation has changed over the years, or evolved with the changes in my life I should say. In the beginning what really drove me was simple: I wanted more for my family. I had a vision for what I wanted, and I was willing to sacrifice everything to make that vision a reality. You can read that story here.
I did achieve a certain level of "success" with that original goal. I didn't get a chance to see my vision become a reality, but I was able to completely change our lifestyle and go from "below poverty level" to a six figure income. That brings us around to "defining success" of course, which I'll address in detail in my next post.
The quote above by Les Brown really speaks to me. That's exactly the kind of motivation I had. I was willing to do ANYthing to have a better life - which to me was more about being happy. Another simple word that can be a very complex topic...
As I mentioned, my source of motivation changed a lot over the years. After my unexpected divorce it was about getting back on my feet after a financially painful split, and figuring out a way to be a full-time (at home) parent.
My oldest child was sick at the time and I had to home school, so getting a job outside the home was not an option. FAILING at earning an income from home was NOT an option. Unless I wanted us all to be homeless and starve. lol.
At times I've envied the people that DID have the option to fail. But at the same time, I know from personal experience that it's much harder to succeed (at anything) from a point of complacency.
I got to a place of comfort myself at one point. Or to a point where I'd achieved the vision that drove me so hard for so long. It was an odd place to be. As in "what do I do now??" without that constant driving force.
Of course, by then I was more confident and more educated - enough so to have even bigger dreams and create more ambitious goals!
What motivates me now? 17 years later, with a successful business and my two children raised, my life is totally different. And so is my source of motivation.
The kids are happy and healthy, and they both work. I'm stepping into a new phase where I get to focus on myself, and specifically the things I want to enjoy in life now that I have that freedom and flexibility to pursue whatever I please.
In the last few years I've done a lot of traveling, including five trips to Australia, and adopted a Great Dane and have fostered four others. Financially speaking, they're basically a "car payment" each. I have other things I want to do still, all of which require the means. Some are purely for personal enjoyment, other goals are based around the work I want to do before I leave this world.
So... new phase of life, new goals, fresh source of motivation!
Just like 17 years ago, I want it bad enough to get up every single day and work toward seeing it through. Even if it is hard work. Even if it takes years (like before - because that was SO worth it!!). No matter what. Because it's what I want, and because you only have one shot to make the most of the live you're given.
Self Motivation: Pushing Yourself When You Don't FEEL Motivated
All that ( ^ above) makes it sounds like I'm this super-motivated highly driven woman with unlimited energy. That's not the case. lol.
I have days I don't feel motivated at all. There are days my mind goes blank and I have zero creative inspiration or energy. There are even days I feel frustrated, or want to bang my head against the wall or cry my eyes out. And sometimes I just want to crawl in a hole and pull the hole in behind me! On those days... I unplug from my goals and go do something totally different. Even if it's just to go back to bed.
That said, you can't live in that space. Not if you want to be happy.
While it's okay to take breaks, take downtime, pout and fuss even... you don't want to get stuck there. It's just like losing weight. You can be frustrated and disappointed and drown your sorrows in an entire large pizza. But ultimately you have to get off your ass and force yourself to go to the gym and to the grocery store and go through the steps of making the change you know you really want. (Nobody is going to go to the gym FOR you. And even if they did... um, it wouldn't do YOU much good. lol.)
The term Self Motivation is an interesting one. I think most of my motivation came from external sources in the beginning. Wanting more for my family. Proving everyone - or certain people - wrong (lol). Wanting to give my children a better life, etc. Of course, I suppose I could have just stayed broke and blamed my circumstances. "This is the life I was dealt" kind of thinking. I suppose some people do.
The thing is, I've been hungry. I've been COLD. I've done without. I won't even list or describe some of those situations because they were horrific experiences I don't even want to relive myself. I know in the back of my mind that you can lose everything in the blink of an eye. You can go from healthy to sick/injured. You can go from happy to devastated. You can go from rich to broke. It can happen fast, totally blindside you. Life strikes. And it does not discriminate. (Poor Job!)
So maybe "fear" is my source of self-motivation. Interesting. Motivation is a feeling too of course, an intangible thing just like fear. And if we're going to talk feelings, throw in "anger" and "hurt" as a couple of sources that really drove me - especially in the beginning. I refused to live the life I felt like I was dealt.
I'm past all of that now of course, so you ask "what motivates you" and you really have me thinking! I'm no longer angry, I no longer have anything to prove to anyone, I no longer have the responsibility of making sure two innocent children get properly fed. I do perhaps still hold a bit of "healthy fear" in the back of my mind though, which I consider a GOOD thing. It pushes me to stay committed to the goal of a secure and safe environment.
My biggest source of self motivation these days is that I want more. I'm not done living. I'm only 40 and I have a whole new phase of life in front of me - to do anything I want! Plus... I truly love my work. I enjoy what I do. I can't imagine NOT doing it.
My drive for my work is strong, and not entirely selfish. I love that it has a positive impact on the world, that it's a positive influence for other people. With my low carb blog for example, I'm helping others become a happier healthier version of themselves - and that totally makes my day!
Still, I have those days like I mentioned where I don't "feel" motivated, or particularly inspired. On those days, I get up and do the work anyway. I may not have a kick-ass hyper productive day, but I at least do what I can. I choose a high priority task, or a necessary task even, and just do it. I don't care if I only work for a single hour out of the whole day, as long as I do something toward my goals.
In fact, we were just discussing this on Facebook this week:
Goals are work, whether you feel motivated or not. You either want it, or you don't.
C.A. said: "I have worked hard my whole life, and it seems that everything I want to do is an uphill battle.. Nothing comes easy, I mean nothing... I don't mind working at all, but when does one get a freakin break? lol I guess it is just overwhelming some days to try and focus when there is so much work to do."
My life has been anything but easy, so I can totally relate. In fact I talked about that recently in my post on Making Things Happen! For what it's worth, I'm not where I want to be in my life yet either - as you'll see from reading that post.
It's a constant work in progress.
Personally, I think it's the struggles and the hurdles that each person has with their own individual circumstances... that really PUSH us to make positive change. And it seems to me that the more you do push yourself, the more you step out of your comfort zone, the more challenges you'll face. Life seems to be wired that way.
You have two options when you get blocked. You can throw your hands up and give in - and retreat back to your comfort zone. Or you can get pissed off and plow through the block. Or I guess you have a third option - you can just stay right where you are and do nothing, and change nothing.
I find getting pissed off and plowing through works exceptionally well.
Life is not going to make it easy on you. PEOPLE are not going to make it easy on you. What's that saying- Nothing worth having is easy? I like this quote from Theodore Roosevelt too. It at least confirms that I'm on the right track when the going gets tough, or when I'm feeling frustrated but pushing myself forward anyway.
I'm not sure that anyone thinks life is easy. Everyone has their struggles, frustrations, desires, fears, etc. I'm not sure life is even meant to be easy.
I guess you were hoping for a short, simple answer. Apologies for the verbose response. As I said in the beginning, motivation is quite the complex topic.
I could have given you a simple answer to what motivates me, like:
- Keeping the IRS paid
- Seeing my daughter though college
- Maintaining what is my only source of income
- Keeping my home
- Buying a cabin on the lake
- Continuing to travel the world
- Paying off some debts I incurred (house, medical, etc)
- Padding my financial "security net"
- Contributing to causes I believe in
- Affording the time to write the books I want to publish
All of those are current goals, yes. But my real motivation is to be... more happy. If I boiled this entire conversation down into a single sentence, it would be:
What motivates me most is: Happiness.
Speaking of, I love this quote from Craig Ballantyne:
"The Ballantyne Rule of Happiness: You need to have lots of good things going on in your life. The busier you are with projects and events that you anticipate will bring good things into your life, the happier you will be." -Craig Ballantyne of EarlyToRise.com
That's my answer. What motivates YOU? Leave a comment below and share YOUR source of self motivation, and how you keep things moving in the right direction... even when you don't necessarily feel like it.
p.s. Like the beautiful quote graphics in this post? See that link to learn how to create your own - free!
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