Motivation is a leaky bucket for many people.
It’s why so many of us become couch potatoes and drown in endless seasons of whatever the latest mind-numbing Netflix show is.
Yesterday I got a direct message from the CEO of one of the biggest newsletters in the world.
My motivation levels went through the roof. I could walk on the ceiling of my poverty shack of a home. Immediately after I sat down to work, ideas were coming from everywhere.
It felt like I’d won an Oscar.
Today I woke up and the motivation that experience produced is gone. Luckily, I don’t rely on these once-in-a-lifetime events to stay motivated, or I’d already be dead from mental illness.
Here are a few practical strategies I use to be highly motivated.
Let tiny actions snowball
I never feel like working.
Yet I’m known as a working machine with superhuman productivity skills. How’s that possible?
I’m a man of tiny actions. I have a to-do list of daily actions that have low difficulty levels.
By starting on easy mode I gradually build up to hard mode later in the day. Motivation becomes a snowball. I’ve repeated this process for 9 years because I’m too dumb to start with hard things.
Start taking smaller actions that automate the path to bigger actions.
Personal motivation instead of materialistic motivation
Making money used to be my 9–5 job motivation.
I became a lukewarm corporate soldier. I wasn’t demotivated but I wasn’t bouncing out of bed either. Over time an unconscious shift happened.
I became more motivated to no longer be told what to do, quit my job, work out in the afternoon when the gym is quiet, wear t-shirts and jeans instead of uncomfortable pinstripe suits, and have a calendar with zero meetings.
This fantasy drove me to productivity insanity.
I found personal motivation fuelled by freedom to motivate me more than the idea of buying another BMW, like the one I gave up in 2011.
Money gives you the worst form of motivation in history.
Fear is a powerful driver many don’t understand
My book publisher said something interesting to me.
“You seem so damn fearless.”
I’d never thought of myself like that before. It made me think of what author Ankur Warikoo said: “We procrastinate not out of laziness, but out of fear.”
Around 10 years ago I stopped letting fear use and abuse me. I started using it as a form of motivation. If I didn’t fear my goals then I knew they weren’t big enough.
If I tried to avoid fear, I knew I’d pay for it later.
But if I made sure I always had a baseline level of fear then the motivation I’d need to succeed would be enough. Strangely, that’s how it’s worked out. I have a fear list full of conquered fears and I ensure I’m always adding to it.
Use fear as free motivation. Fear is energy.
Write a contract with yourself
The contract should include your musts.
One must for me is I have to write for two full days a week. If I break this personal contract then I risk losing my personal freedom and going back to a cubicle with no natural light.
Business mogul Shaan Puri had a goal to get fit. After five attempts he failed five times in a row. On attempt number six he finally got fit.
“It became a must to work out.”
Wanting to be motivated is useless. It gets you nowhere. When we have goals that are musts it’s easy to be motivated. The biggest trap is being obsessed with the “hows” and the “whens” and the endless strategies.
None of the processes matter because when a goal is a must you figure stuff out real fast without much help.
Make goals a must.
Reinforce goals with systems that automate motivation.
“Dopamine is the molecule of motivation”
According to the book “The Molecule of More” by Daniel Z. Lieberman, you must study dopamine.
It’s a deep topic that explains everything you need to know about motivation. Screw up dopamine, and you’ll never be motivated no matter how hard you try.
Get used to doing things you don’t feel like doing
There are many things I don’t like to do.
But I push through anyway and I’ve found it’s built up a kind of “dealing with hard sh*t” muscle. I expect most tasks to be hard.
Author Ryan Holiday says hard tasks create the real value. That value is scarce because not everyone will do it. Therefore, the rewards are artificially much higher for those who can become masters of hard things.
Get pissed off
There are times when I become an angry mofo.
My wife calls it devil mode. I become a bull in a china shop. Once I’m let loose everything breaks. Any roadblock-humans are blown up.
I’ve found devil mode to produce some of the best levels of motivation. Being pissed off is highly underrated. When the world feels unfair and you seek to make it fair, you get powerful reasons to take action.
Think about how far you’ve come
I often find myself losing motivation when a huge roadblock is in my path and I can’t figure out a solution.
It happened when I tried to buy my first house. Every auction I went to I lost by a lot. There were only a small amount of homes for sale.
What helps in a moment like this is to think about how far I’ve come. Nine years ago I had dark mental illness, couldn’t get on a plane, and was too scared to go on romantic dates. I worked an email job I hated too.
Now I don’t have mental illness anymore, quit my job to write online, fly on planes with no issue, and have a wife and daughter. That’s a huge amount of progress. Roadblocks look small when I consider this transformation.
If I can do all that, surely, I can buy a house. Good news … I did!
Want more than you currently have
There’s a societal trend that tells us it’s bad to want more.
This is BS. A dangerously motivated person loves to want more. It’s the cornerstone of the American Dream. Right now I have to want more to provide for my daughter.
When I feel unmotivated I just think of her and what she needs, and like magic, I’m motivated again.
Use family as motivation then you’ll live life on easy mode.
It’s easier to be motivated when you have strong goals tied to a system. And a reason for doing the work in the first place.
Chase high motivation and see your results in life transform.