Have you wondered why some people are motivated and others aren’t?
Can you increase or develop personal motivation? Why do some people experience all sorts of setbacks, tragedies, and discouragement yet still accomplish their dreams?
I was watching a movie the other night called Fighting With My Family. It inspired me and gave me some insight into motivation. The film is a true story about the WWE wrestler Paige (aka Saraya-Jade Bevis). Disclaimer: I am not a big wrestling fan, but I am a fan of people who accomplish their dreams and live with purpose. I will watch any movie about somebody achieving their goals.
Paige grew up in a wrestling family. Her dad, mom, and brothers owned a small wrestling business in Norwich, England. They all had a dream to become professional wrestlers in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
This dream was a long shot for sure. Paige's father, Ricky Knight, had been involved in gangs and served time in prison as a young man. “I'd done eight years in prison before I was 25,” tells Ricky. “Mainly [for] violence.” He said that he found himself at a crossroads in his life and could have gone to prison for a long time. Ricky credits meeting his wife and wrestling as a source of purpose which led him in a better direction.
One day the WWE had try-outs in London. Despite all odds, Paige made it and her brother Zak didn’t. Zak was devastated, but he encouraged his sister to keep their family dream alive.
Paige moved from London to America and began training on the Junior Circuit. She overcame several lonely years and discouraging times to become the two-time Divas WWE champion, among many other accomplishments.
Why was Paige successful in her dream despite the long odds and discouraging times?
The entire family was crazy about wrestling and dreamed of being successful in WWE. She worked hard every day and took her training seriously, and she had family members supporting and encouraging her every step of her journey.
What is the source of motivation?
I watched a YouTube video the other day by Mitch Manly called My Motivational Story Will Change Your Life. I can't be 100% sure that the story is true, but it illustrates a critical point that most people discover when met with a severe illness. Mitch tells a story about David, who at 30 years old, found out he had brain cancer that required intense surgery.
Mitch explains the discouragement and difficulties David had preparing for surgery and handling the difficult news. During the operation, David had a dream and realized he wasn't living his best life. David was living the life his parents or others wanted him to live. He was living a false self.
David survived the brain surgery and remembered the learnings from the dream. He wanted to live out his dream, so he motivated himself to change.
AARP research found 5 big lessons from people who almost died and what they would do differently. The number 1 lesson learned was: “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Many people come out of life-threatening surgeries and illnesses kinder and with a newfound clarity on their priorities. They begin living with a sense of urgency and purpose and no longer waste time on activities that don’t count.
People who have come close to death feel as though they have a new lease on life. The new outlook on life results in working diligently to make a difference and impact their families and those close to them. The trials bring motivation.
Do you have to have a lifelong family dream to accomplish excellence and high degrees of motivation? Not necessarily.
Does it take a terminal illness to become highly motivated and live your best life? Certainly not!
I believe there are three common elements for those who have extreme motivation:
- Have big dreams and purpose
- Systematize your motivation
- Build a positive reinforcement cycle (PRC)
Have big dreams and purpose
We may not all have a family that dreams of fame like Paige had. And hopefully we don’t need to get sick to live our best life.
Steve Jobs and the top folks at Apple worked 100+ hour work weeks because they knew their products would change the world.
Elon Musk, the CEO and founder of Tesla, talks about how he hires and keeps the most talented engineers in the world: by promoting a great cause! Musk also said, “People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It’s important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working. And “People should pursue what they're passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.”
What is your dream, cause, and passion? And how do you discover it?
One way to discover and live your dreams is by taking the time to articulate it. Stephen Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, recommends writing a personal mission statement to find your purpose.
I have created some helpful resources to help you discover your purpose:
- Check out my blog on finding your purpose
- Watch this video on how I discovered my personal mission
- Use this template to help you develop your personal mission statement
When you clearly articulate your dreams and purpose, you become focused and extremely motivated.
Systematize your motivation
Another key to extreme motivation is to have a system that keeps you moving towards your dreams and goals, even on bad or hard days.
Break down your dream into bite-size pieces. Getting overwhelmed and discouraged is easy when you have so much to do and don't know where to start.
Dr. Robert Maurer, author of One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, talks about how he cracked the code to help patients move towards their goals, despite being unmotivated.
Dr. Maurer asked a patient who struggled with her health and couldn’t exercise to start small—start doing short exercises during commercials at night. She started small and soon found motivation to eat right and lost 20 pounds. This significantly impacted her health and her life. See the full story here on this podcast.
You can order Dr. Maurer’s book here.
Build a planning system to help you accomplish your cause and big dreams. Get excited about the process of accomplishing big things. When you build a weekly and daily planning system to accomplish your goals, it's easy to stay motivated and on task.
Make your system visual and regular. Here is a short demo of a weekly and planning system we recommend:
Grab your free trial on our weekly planning system here.
Build a positive reinforcement cycle (PRC)
“Even the very best and most successful experience adversity, get discouraged and need reinforcement towards their dreams.”
For extreme motivation, the brain needs positive reinforcement towards your goals and dreams. You need to receive positive reinforcement from others and yourself.
Tali Sharot is a professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London. Professor Sharot says we need three things to stay motivated and change our behavior:
- Positive social incentives
- Positive immediate rewards
- Progress monitoring
Check out Tali’s YouTube video about the research.
Here is a personal example that illustrates the PRC beautifully. When I started marathon training, I couldn't run a mile. A childhood friend had just run a marathon and invited me to join him on the next one (positive social incentive).
Today we have Strava and other apps to share our successes and find social incentives. I downloaded a training plan and tracked my progress versus that plan (progress monitoring), and I started feeling the positive rewards (positive immediate rewards).
I started to get in better shape, lose weight, and feel great. Of course, on race day, hundreds of people came to cheer us along the running route (positive rewards).
Building an internal positive reinforcement cycle
Your external cheerleaders won’t always be with you. Researchers know that the most motivated people are self-motivated or internally motivated.
You could be motivated by the dream or cause of your life. But you can also build practices into your life that create positive self-reinforcement. Regular exercise, gratitude lists, and other positive attributes build internal capacity to maintain positivity and focus on your goals.
Check out my blog about four sustainable renewal practices.
How do you find extreme motivation?
I hope that none of us must get a terminal illness or any other tragic event to find and live your very best life in a highly motivating way. Instead, take time today to:
If you need help finding extreme motivation, schedule your free consultation with me.