You Won’t Stay Motivated On Your Goals If You Don’t Follow These 7 Principles
In my life, I have duplicated success multiple times, in multiple industries.
The same habits that helped me go from being a skinny kid to a bodybuilder were originally discovered playing World of Warcraft. At 14 years old, I made my first character, and by the time I was 17 years old I was one of the highest ranked World of Warcraft players in North America (while simultaneously undiagnosed with celiac disease, sick every single day). I wrote a book about it called Confessions of a Teenage Gamer.
And then after bodybuilding, I applied these same principles to writing.
I graduated college with a degree in creative writing in 2013, with no portfolio to my name except for a few poems that got published in the school newspaper, and a short story my senior year that was included in the department’s anthology.
I started writing on Quora shortly after, and treated my writing there with the same discipline I treated World of Warcraft and bodybuilding. I pushed myself to write a very meticulously crafted article every single day for a year straight (that was my original goal, but I have tried to keep to that habit for the past 4 years).
In less than 9 months, I became a Top Writer with several million views, work republished in TIME, Forbes, Fortune, Apple News, Business Insider, and many more.
3 months after that, I ended up getting a column in Inc Magazine.
By the middle of my second year writing on Quora, I was starting to get more and more freelance writing opportunities, and by the third year I was able to leave my 9–5 job to write full-time.
Once I had more time to write, CEOs and serial entrepreneurs started reaching out to me, asking if I would be their ghostwriter (from reading my material on Quora and my columns on Inc). And then once it got to the point where I was getting so many ghostwriting requests, I decided to launch a an agency specifically focused around the art of content writing, called Digital Press.
Part of “success” is being able to stay motivated and work toward one goal for a long period of time.
Which means that part of staying motivated is remembering what you’re aiming for, and also WHY you’re aiming for it.
The WHY is the most important part.
I have replicated the same “0 to 100” success for myself multiple times, and over the past decade I have come to realize that I can (and probably will) continue to change industries and interests, but will always be able to climb the ladder and become “successful” because I understand the fundamental habits that get you there in the first place.
These are the 7 principles you need to follow:
1. Motivation stays when you are present.
When I first got into lifting weights, I learned very fast that the days I walked into the gym, looked at myself in the mirror, and said to myself, “You’re still not there yet. You’re small and it’s going to take forever to get to where you want to be,” I had a horrible lift.
I was starting off on the wrong foot, and the entire lift everything felt so much heavier because my thoughts were heavy. I was making the entire process more difficult for myself because I wasn’t living in the present — I was wishing for the future.
Over time, I slowly changed my mentality to being as present as possible in the gym.
I didn’t think about how my arms weren’t the size I wanted them to be — I focused only on the single rep that I was doing, right now.
What happens when you shift your mentality to the moment is you end up growing and moving significantly faster, because you are making so much better use of your time.
So, it’s ironic then, because the people who live in the future and wish they would get there faster, actually end up slowing themselves down.
Meanwhile, the people who are entirely present and “in the moment,” end up getting to their future goal faster.
2. Motivation is what you remind yourself of, every single day.
After I graduated from college, I read the book Think and Grow Rich. And in the book, Hill (the author) explains why it’s important to have a “Chief Aim.”
A Chief Aim is what you want to become.
It’s that future vision of yourself. And Hill instructs the reader to imagine that future self and then write it down on a piece of paper.
Write down where you want to go, who you want to be, what you want to achieve, what you want to attract into your life, and then every morning and every night, read it aloud to yourself. The intention here, he says, is to embed it into your subconscious, so the law of attraction can bring what you desire into your life.
I have never believed “wishing” for what you want is a very viable strategy, but I did believe and see the value in Hill’s suggestion. So I wrote down my Chief Aim, and read it aloud to myself every morning and every night for over a year.
And guess what? I started to see things shift in my life.
But more importantly, I felt more motivated than ever.
Motivation takes effort. You have to remind yourself of what you are working toward and why. And writing it down and reading it (out loud — that’s the key) every day will reinforce that desire deeper and deeper into who you are.
3. Motivation compounds based on the people in your life.
A huge part of staying motivated has to do with the people you keep around you.
I became a pro-level gamer as a teenager because I only played with pro-level gamers. I worked my way up the ladder and continued to seek out better and better competition, until eventually I was part of that elite group.
When I started lifting weights, I did the exact same thing. I found people in the gym who looked how I wanted to look, lifted what I wanted to lift. I asked them questions. I learned from them. I lifted with them. I “climbed the ranks” and put myself in a position to grow by proximity.
And the same could be said for what I have done with my writing. I don’t spend my time like most 26-year-olds. I don’t go to the bars often, or prioritize Sunday brunch. I invest heavily in spending time with people ten, twenty, thirty years older than me, picking their brain, having coffee with them, doing anything I can to continue learning and investing in myself.
My closest friends fall into this group. And when you are surrounded by people who are as motivated as you, and who share similar life goals (like becoming the best version of themselves they can be), you stay motivated yourself.
4. Motivation is a reflection of what you put in your brain.
How do you expect to stay motivated if everything you look at all day is surface level content?
How does scrolling through Instagram enrich your life?
How does watching Facebook video after Facebook video make you any better at your craft?
Our brains are like our bodies. If we feed them garbage, they get unhealthy.
In order to stay motivated, you have to give your brain the good stuff. You can’t eat sugar and expect to be driven, or to grow at a rampant rate — and yet, that’s what everyone expects.
Staying motivated is actually about challenging your brain. Eat the greens, so to speak. Read material that takes a lot of focus. Work on your craft. Turn off your phone and practice being in the moment, present, and deeply immersed in whatever you’re working on.
The more you challenge yourself, the more motivated you will be to continue.
5. Motivation is a habit, not a carrot.
People think staying motivated has to do with seeing your goal dangled in front of you and then chasing it.
And sure, sometimes that helps.
If you really feel off-track one day you can always pull up a movie or something that really inspires you to keep going. But that sort of external motivation should be used very intermittently. It shouldn’t be the driving force behind what you do.
Getting in the habit of doing is what will keep you motivated over long periods of time.
Because the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. The better you get at it, the more you’ll want to do it.
This is the cycle you want, because it just keeps going and going.
6. Motivation requires a balance of input and output.
Trust me, this is where 99% of people fail.
It’s not always about doing something. It’s also not about planning and planning and thinking and imagining.
There is a time for putting your nose to the grind stone, and a time for stepping back and allowing yourself to recharge.
True success doesn’t happen overnight.
The really big wins don’t happen in a month, or three months, or sometimes even a year or two years.
Which means the name of the game is endurance.
In order to play the long game, you have to know when to grind and when to rest. Take writing for example. I write A LOT. What most people write in a week, or even a month, I write in a day. But I also know that I can’t write all day every day, because then I’ll get burned out. So as much as I write, I also need to read. I need to take in information. I need to feed myself. (In the same way you can’t just lift and lift and lift in the gym but never eat. You have to have both).
7. Motivation takes knowing yourself, and what you’re truly searching for.
If you chase something for the external reward, you’ve already lost. That’s the kind of motivation you can’t sustain.
Now, that’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t be motivated by external rewards. They will be there. They are fun to aim for. They’re great to point at as milestones. They just shouldn’t be the root of the root, the true driving force.
Real motivation comes from curiosity.
We do things over long periods of time because they fascinate us, and because we want to explore something new within ourselves.
This is what it means to know your WHY. Why are you doing what you’re doing?
The more your motives are intrinsic, and come from a place of exploration and curiosity within yourself, the farther you’ll go. Because you aren’t doing it for some sort of external approval.
You’re doing it from a deep, genuine part of yourself.
Thanks for reading! :)
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