I was recently interviewed on a podcast discussing motivation.
Stephen, the host of the podcast, knows that I had two near death experiences in a two month span and that those events are a huge source for my motivation – both for my success, and for the lifestyle I choose to live.
Stephen also had an event in his life that helped motivate him to change. So we had a conversation about whether it takes a life-altering event to find the motivation to succeed or if anyone could just choose to be motivated…without having to nearly die first.
As we were talking I had an “ah ha” moment about the genesis of motivation. Where it comes from and how everyone can experience it – life altering event or not.
We Are All Emotional Beings
We all have days when we just aren’t super motivated. Some days we’re on fire and clean the whole house, write 3 chapters in a book, get a new client, hit a new PR at the gym, whatever.
We wake up with a burning in our gut and nothing can stop us…at least not that day.
But then there are other days were we wake up we can’t seem to get anything done. Maybe something happened the day before, or maybe for no reason at all, we just can’t seem to make things happen that day.
So what do we do on days like these to find the motivation to make the day a success? And how do we stay motivated going forward?
Why Is Motivation Important?
First question I asked myself: why is motivation important? And the answer is pretty obvious: we don’t do things we aren’t motivated to do.
Forcing ourselves through the motion of some task we have no motivation to complete is painful and nearly impossible to do, especially in the context of entrepreneurship. If your job depends on completing certain tasks, then you find the motivation to complete these duties because your job is on the line.
But, what about those of us that are entrepreneurs and have to hold ourselves accountable? Or, what about the tasks that are not business or work related? Like hitting the gym? Or quitting a bad habit? Or starting a new good habit? We can’t do any of those things with out the motivation to start and complete it.
Examining Motivation Deeper
So, if success is directly related to an individual’s motivation, then we need to examine motivation itself. Where does it come from? How do we sustain and maintain it? How do we get more of it? And as I was considering this during the interview I had my ah ha moment.
I believe that motivation comes from urgency.
If you really think about what motivation feels like, it’s a sense of urgency to get something done. The more motivated a person is, the greater a sense of urgency they have for accomplishing things. So, now let’s take it one level deeper. If success comes from motivation, and motivation from urgency, then how do we get the sense of urgency we need?
In examining urgency I believe that there are two types: natural urgency, and manufactured urgency.
An example of natural urgency would be seeing my 2 year old daughter on the edge of a bed about to fall off. Knowing that if she fell she would be hurt, I would feel a sense of urgency to jump up out of my chair and save her. It wouldn’t matter what else was going on in my life that day, any other distractions in the room, nothing else would be as important or as urgent as jumping up and catching her.
That is an example of natural urgency and that is something that all of us experience. We don’t need to learn how to do this, it just happens. And when that urgency hits us, nothing stops us, and things get done.
Now let’s talk about what I am calling manufactured urgency. An example of manufactured urgency would be something that most of us have experienced at some point in school. It’s the first day of the quarter, and we’re given an assignment that is due the last day of the quarter.
So when do we finally get around to working on that project? Of course, the day before it’s due. Now, failing to complete the project has no risk of physical injury as in the above example, yet we experience a great deal of urgency to finish the project because it’s due tomorrow.
We know that if the project isn’t done, we might fail the class. It doesn’t matter what invitations we receive the evening before the due date, we have now manufactured an urgency that makes completing this project paramount to anything else.
All other things in life become less important than finishing this project. All of us, whether employee, entrepreneur, or unemployed can manufacture a sense of urgency around the things we want to accomplish or complete.
It is in this urgency, whether natural or manufactured, that we find our motivation for our success. If we can manufacture urgency around the completion of a task weather it be business or in life it becomes easier to find the motivation to get the task done.
How To Manufacture Urgency
The fact that I have literally almost lost my life on several occasions, I have a natural urgency inside me to get things done and I live my life with an intensity that has benefited me greatly. But how does one create manufactured urgency, and on days I’m not feeling motivated, how do I manufacture it myself?
How can we make accomplishing or completing something so important and so urgent that nothing else in that day or in life matters?
For me, it’s focusing on two of the greatest human emotions we experience: hope for gain, and fear of loss.
Hope For Gain
Let’s start with hope for gain. I focus intensely on the benefits that completing this goal will do for me and my life. Whether a business goal, or life goal, I focus on the improvements this will have on me and my family.
Almost like a visualization exercise, I practice and experience the emotions in my mind of what having this accomplishment done will feel like until it becomes so real in my mind it feels like it’s already happened. I also will put up daily visual reminders of this goal or task I want to accomplish so it’s in my face reminding me every day.
Napoleon Hill says, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” I don’t just believe or conceive, I practice what it feels like to have already done it. And there is something powerful about the sense of urgency this practice creates.
Fear Of Loss
Let’s talk about fear of loss. This is one of the greatest human emotions we experience, and at times can completely paralyze people. However, we can also learn to harness this emotion to create massive urgency to benefit our lives tremendously.
Here is how I use fear of loss for personal gain: I will play horror movies in my mind of absolute worst-case scenarios of what my life will look like if this thing, this goal or activity, is not accomplished.
I’ll imagine consequences that might be unrealistic, but choose to believe that they are an absolute certainty if I fail. Now I know the law of attraction, and I also know what you think about you bring about, but this is something different. This is a reality check, and a reminder that failure to take action costs dearly. And it is this reminder that creates massive urgency so that truly, failure is not an option.
And I’ve found that as I continue to visualize my hope for gain, all the benefits of completing the task at hand, and be realistic about the consequence of failing to take action, therefore my fear of loss, I’m able to manufacture an urgency that is unstoppable.
So the next time you want to set off to do something, Something that needs to be done, or something you’ve always wanted to do, or something you’ve never been able to do before, set yourself up for success by creating enough urgency to get it done.
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