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The motivation effect: Five steps to sustaining energy & imagination

I had the privilege of listening to Roger Black MBE talk about his story of representing Great Britain at the highest level in world athletics. He won 15 major championship medals including winning the Olympic 400m Silver medal in 1996. One of his observations was that motivation is a very personal subject because different things motivate different people. What turns one person on, turns another off. Here are five essential steps for motivation, which you can use and apply.

Develop a clear vision

Imagine waking up one morning full of energy and inspiration. You want to go somewhere. You want do something. You want to speak to someone. But you have no idea where, what or who. What happens? You lose your spark very quickly.

The starting point for harnessing motivation is to know your destination. Once you have a well-formed big picture then you can work out how you’re going to get there. We often fall into the trap of jumping into action before having developed a clear vision. I remember when I wrote my first book; the main discipline was investing the time in working out the vision. I was tempted to just sit down and start writing, but if I hadn’t begun with the end in mind, I would have got lost very quickly.

Another great benefit of vision is that it provides the juice when you want to quit. I was working with a woman who was close to burnout from the demands of her workload. She was questioning her choice of career so I asked her what was most important to her. Upon reflection she replied, “enjoyment, fun, making a difference and service”. I then enquired what would happen if those qualities returned to her work. Immediately she replied that she would be back on track. I suggested that rather than changing her career, how about she changed her focus and made her vision the priority.

Tip: Time invested in creating a clear vision is time well spent. Ensure that you review your vision regularly.

Become a private investigator!

How will you know when you have achieved your vision? What evidence would you require in order to show that you had reached your destination? What would it look, feel, taste, touch and sound like? The failure to create clear measurement for your vision means that you will never know when you reach it. This will have a direct impact on your motivation draining energy, imagination and impetus.

You must ensure that you can obtain proof of your progress and can check that you are on track. I once worked with a world champion cyclist who had a ruthless measurement of her success. Her proof came down to the whisker of a second making all the difference. Thankfully on a normal day the evidence we require doesn’t have to be that intense! But the clearer you are, the more motivated you will be.

Tip: Decide upon the evidence required to recognise your vision.

Don’t just take action, take the right action

The Nike motto captures the heart of motivation. However before you just do it, make sure you are doing the right it! Since we live in busy times it becomes paramount that you decide what is the right course of action to take. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to see what other successful people have done in the past, and then model your behaviour to fit your observations. The only downside of this strategy is, as we noted earlier, what turns one person on may turn another off.

I remember when I first went to hear the great motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Here was this inspirational man, a high achiever talking about modelling yourself on other winners. He has an extraordinary work rate, being able to be on stage for over 16 hours a day, cranking up the pace of his work when most people are flagging. He talked about sleeping less and eating only fruit before midday to increase energy levels. I adopted this behaviour but did not perform well on it. I had to re-evaluate my learning and do what suited my metabolism.

Set achievable actions. State what tasks need to be carried out and make sure that they inspire you. There is nothing worse than being faced with a To Do list filled with activity that you believe you “ought” to or “should” do. If possible, see how you can delegate any tasks that damage your motivation. Of course this is not always realistic, but continuously focusing on how you can work smarter, not harder, increases your energy and effectiveness.

Tip: Be strategic about key actions.

Learn from your results

Sir Winston Churchill once described a successful person as somebody who goes from one failure to another without any loss of enthusiasm! There is no doubt that the ability to surf the waves of results that you get is essential for maintaining motivation levels but it can be challenging. When you have put your heart and soul into a project or idea and it doesn’t work out in the way that you had hoped, it is easy to lose momentum. At this point it’s helpful to remember the work of great inventors such as Edison who famously had about 10,000 failures before inventing the light bulb. Apparently he welcomed each “failure’ because he knew that it was bringing him closer to success.

Recognise that within each result is a valuable lesson, bringing you closer to your vision. Also, getting results means that you are doing something, which means that you are progressing rather than procrastinating!

Tip: Never give up. Persistence pays great dividends.

Have fun as you go

This final step provides the glue that holds all the other steps in place. Your ability to enjoy the journey means that you will continue to be inspired, innovative and imaginative. Fun is the pump that provides the energy for sustainable success. I’m sure that one of your primary motivations for doing what you do is fun, and that when the enjoyment goes out of it, so does the motivation.

When work turns into drudgery – simply a means to keep the debt collector away from the door – it is no fun. Even if you are struggling financially your willingness to stay open to new ideas and new possibilities allows previously unforeseen opportunities to come your way. Follow the advice of the great German writer, Goethe, who wrote: “The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred including material assistance. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it now. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

Tip: Keep a notebook with you and write down your wacky, inspired ideas.

Motivation is the natural result of giving your imagination free rein and following your dreams. Enjoy!

Courtesy of Fitness Professionals UK

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