The biggest and most complex obstacle you’ll ever have to overcome is your mind. If you can overcome that, you can overcome anything.
Have you ever lost your motivation?
I know exactly how you feel.
Many moons ago, there was a time when my motivation hit rock bottom. I would look around and see others motivating themselves to do things simply by knowing that these things needed to be done. But not me. For me, motivation was an esoteric, intimidating game where I’d try to make myself do something while my mind simultaneously avoided doing it. If I won, I’d have to do something I didn’t really want to do. And if I lost, I’d be one step closer to ruining the rest of my entire life. At least that’s how I felt. And I never really knew whether I was going to win or lose until the very last minute.
Obviously, I was not being mindful.
The good news is, with daily practice, I’ve come a long way from those rock bottom days of haphazard motivation.
Nowadays, Angel and I coach students on a daily basis who are struggling to motivate themselves in various life situations. And, fittingly, we guide them through many of the same proven strategies I’ve learned and practiced over the years to get my mindset and motivation from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs.
One of those strategies involves mindful daily reflection.
The truth is, motivation can be fleeting, which is why we need to positively recharge our mindset on a regular basis. I was reminded of this a few minutes ago when I received an email from a new course student that opened with:
“I feel drained! I’m stuck… with worry and overwhelm and frustration… and just a general lack of enthusiasm! Any advice? What should I reflect on or try to remember when I’ve completely lost my motivation?”
Today, with our student’s permission, I’ve decided to answer this question publicly, because I know we all need these reminders sometimes. Here are some key things I reflect on regularly to support my practice of nurturing a more mindful, motivated mindset…
- It’s not the weight that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it. You can use pain, frustration and inconvenience to motivate you rather than annoy you. You are in control of the way you look at life. Beautiful things happen when you distance yourself from negative thinking.
- You always have a choice. Choose to be negative and you’ll find plenty of reasons to stop and frown. Choose to be positive and you’ll find plenty of reasons to step forward and smile. Truly, the most powerful weapon against stress and discouragement is our ability to choose one thought over another. Train your mind to see the good in everything.
- One of the most rewarding and important moments in life is the moment you finally find the courage to let go of what you can’t change. When you stop worrying and complaining about what you can’t control, you have more time to change the things you can control. And that changes everything.
- It’s never in your best interests to share lots of time with people who constantly try to discourage you (even if they’re your family). Because, if you’re the kind of person who believes there’s something out there for you beyond whatever it is you’re expected to do – if you want to be extraordinary – you can’t get there by shackling yourself to those who hold you back. Instead, you will very likely become just as ordinary as they expect you to be. And there’s absolutely no reason to do that to yourself. (Angel and I discuss this further in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Long-term success in life is a trifecta of ability, motivation, and attitude. Ability is what you’re capable of doing every day. Motivation determines what you actually do every day. And attitude determines how well you ultimately do it. Keep this in mind, and keep yourself in check.
- Sitting around worrying is a misuse of your incredible creative energy. Instead of imagining the worst, imagine the best and how you can bring it about.
- It’s always better to be exhausted from meaningful work than to be tired of doing nothing. Put in the effort and live the life you’ve imagined. Wake up and remind yourself that you are what you do today, not what you say you’ll do someday. Good things don’t come to those who wait – they come to those who work on meaningful goals. When all is said and done, oftentimes more is said than done. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The way to get going, and feel good about it, is to quit talking and begin doing.
- Imagine how much more effective and happy you’d be if, instead of dreading and fighting against certain tasks, you simply got them done. Remember, the task ahead of you is never greater than the strength within you. Do what’s right, not what’s easy. And when the task is a big one, do just a little bit of it every day. Even the tiniest daily ritual changes everything in the long run. (Angel and I build tiny, life-changing rituals with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
- Effort is never wasted, even when it leads to disappointing results. For it always makes you stronger, more educated, and more experienced. So when the going gets tough, be patient and keep going. Just because you are struggling does NOT mean you are failing. Every great success requires some kind of struggle to get there.
- The next step is always worth taking. Seriously, no matter what happens, no matter how far you seem to be away from where you want to be, never stop believing that you will make it. Have an unrelenting belief that things will work out, that the long road has a purpose, that the things you desire may not happen today, but they will happen. Practice patience. And remember that patience is not about waiting – it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard to make progress every day, and knowing that this journey is worth it.
And now it’s time for a quick reality check…
If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking you’re too young or too old to be successful or to pursue a meaningful path, here’s a short list of people who have accomplished incredible things at various ages – young and old:
- Helen Keller, at the age of 19 months, became deaf and blind. But that didn’t stop her. She was the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
- Mozart was already competent on the keyboard and violin, and he started composing music at the age of 5.
- Shirley Temple was 6 when she became a movie star in “Bright Eyes”.
- Anne Frank was 12 when she wrote “The Diary of Anne Frank”.
- Magnus Carlsen became a chess Grandmaster at the age of 13.
- Nadia Comaneci was a gymnast from Romania that scored seven perfect 10.0 ratings and won three gold medals at the Olympics by age 14.
- Tenzin Gyatso was formally recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama in November 1950, at the age of 15.
- Pele, the soccer superstar, was 17-years-old when he won the world cup in 1958 with Brazil.
- John Lennon was 20-years-old and Paul McCartney was 18-years-old when the Beatles held their first concert in 1961.
- Beethoven was a piano virtuoso by age 23
- Isaac Newton wrote The Principia (containing Newton’s laws of motion), at age 24
- Roger Bannister was 25 when he broke the 4-minute mile record – the first person to ever accomplish this.
- Albert Einstein was 26 when he wrote the “Theory of Relativity”.
- Lance Armstrong was 27 when he won the Tour de France.
- J.K. Rowling was 30-years-old when she finished the first manuscript of “Harry Potter”.
- Amelia Earhart was 31-years-old when she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
- Oprah was 32 when she started her talk show, which became the highest-rated program of its kind in history.
- Martin Luther King Jr. was 34 when he wrote the speech “I Have a Dream”.
- Neil Armstrong was 38 when he became the first human being to set foot on the moon.
- Mark Twain was 40 when he wrote “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, and 49 years old when he wrote “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.
- John F. Kennedy was 43-years-old when he became President of the United States.
- Henry Ford Was 45 when the Ford T came out.
- Suzanne Collins was 46 when she wrote “The Hunger Games”.
- Leonardo Da Vinci was 51-years-old when he painted the Mona Lisa.
- Dr. Seuss was 54 when he wrote “The Cat in the Hat”.
- Colonel Sanders was 61 when he started the KFC Franchise.
- J.R.R Tolkien was 62 when “The Lord of the Rings” book series was published.
- Ronald Reagan was 69 when he became President of the United States.
- Nelson Mandela was 76 when he became President of South Africa.
It’s never too soon or too late to be all you can be. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. You CAN take the next tiniest step forward! I hope that fact alone motivates you to stand back up.