Sustaining Long-term Motivation
Many of us are really good about starting projects and goals. In the beginning, we can have a ton of enthusiasm. We might even come up with a gazillion different ideas we want to pursue. We dream about all the different ways life will be better once we finish a project - or achieve our goal.
But somewhere in between starting the project and finishing it - we can start to lose our motivation. So what are some strategies that we can use to sustain our motivation? How can we manage to take consistent action on our goals - even after the initial excitement wears off?
My first tip is to always keep your goal or vision in front of you. It's easy to lose focus on what's truly important to us. We can get caught up in the day-to-day. It can feel like we're spending all our time and energy "managing" life and putting out fires, rather than consciously creating the ultimate outcomes we desire.
I've learned that when I am most productive, when I am most in alignment with what my heart desires and tapped into taking inspired action - I always have my ultimate vision in front of me.
And for me, that often means going deeper than just the "outward" form of what I want to achieve. It means identifying the emotions or states I want to feel - as a result of achieving my goal.
For example, I may want to start a travel blog and figure out how I can make passive income from it so that I can get paid to travel. But making money while traveling isn't the end goal that I'm hoping to achieve. Rather, what I'm actually looking for might be the freedom I believe that lifestyle may be able to afford me - or the sense of adventure I would have as a successful travel blogger.
So I believe it's important to engage with your goals or vision - EVERY SINGLE DAY. And not just on a superficial level - like yeah, I want to be a travel blogger so that I can make enough money to quit my day job and travel for a living.
Instead, it's important to really connect with your vision on an EMOTIONAL level. When we do that every single day - or even multiple times throughout each day - we are keeping the dream alive through our focus.
How we best are able to do that can vary from person to person. Maybe it's through journaling each morning about our goals. Or having a vision board that we connect with each day. Or maybe it's setting hourly alarms on our smartphones so that we check in throughout each day to determine whether our thoughts, emotions and actions are in alignment with the vision we wish to create.
It doesn't really matter how we stay focused. It's just important that we do.
My second tip is to take DAILY action towards your goals. I'm a firm believer that we should do something EACH AND EVERY DAY - that brings us closer to our vision. When we do this, we build momentum. And with momentum - we start creating and seeing results. We have evidence that the actions we're taking are actually making a difference. And when we have that evidence, we begin to have access to motivation.
Because of this, I'm a strong proponent of daily routines. Daily routines allow us to start building habits that reduce some of the friction we experience while trying to stay consistent with working towards our goals.
One important thing I've discovered for myself is that taking action actually GENERATES motivation. Meaning, it's never served me to wait for motivation to strike - BEFORE taking action. I've found that can take a long time or just never happens at all.
So I really just encourage you to start. As you see progress and start to have small wins - the easier it will be to tap into motivation.
My third and final tip I have for you today is really just a natural extension of my first two tips. And that is to give yourself some kind of ACCOUNTABILITY. With your goals and vision always in front of you, decide what actions you want to take each day to move closer to them. And then each week - EVALUATE how you did. Did you meet your intentions? Fall short? Or maybe you actually exceeded them?
The key here is to be honest with yourself. Really - there is no fooling energy. Energy flows where attention goes. So if you're consistently falling short of moving the needle on your goals and dreams, you have to take a hard look at where your energy is actually going.
Are you entertaining distractions - but convincing yourself that they're actually serving your highest good? Maybe you need to work on setting firmer boundaries for yourself? Or maybe you need to revisit whether the goals you have are even what you really want. Sometimes we may adopt goals for ourselves that are actually what others want from us - like a parent or an employer or "society."
So, use accountability and regularly evaluate how you're progressing towards your goals - not only as a way to build momentum and stay motivated, but also as a way to vet whether the conscious goals you've chosen for yourself are even in alignment with the unconconscious commitments you've been making.
Action is what creates motivation. Talking about the new business you want to start or the next project you want to work on isn't going to get you very far. You have to practice keeping your goals and vision always in front of you and then exercise consistency and focus to take action. Only by doing this will you be able to build momentum - and thus create sustainable motivation long-term.
And lastly, always be evaluating whether your actions are actually getting you closer to your desired outcomes. If not, it may be time to reflect on whether you've been distracting yourself, or whether there may be some doubts and fears that are holding you back.