“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered.”
— Michael J. Fox, actor
What Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s Personal Commentary:
No one is 100% motivated 100% of the time. We all need to be re-inspired and re-motivated once in a while. And there are two ways to get that extra dose of motivation.
One, depend on other people. Other people can certainly help you get the motivation you need. You know from experience that an amazing partner, a supportive family, or an encouraging manager can make you feel better and do more.
Unfortunately, the “other” people in your life will NEVER be able to feed you all the motivation you need. So whether you like it or not, to some extent, motivation is an inside job. YOU have to DO something to get yourself and keep yourself fully motivated.
Fortunately, I’ve been studying the subject for years, and my program on “Take Charge: Motivating Yourself To Achieve More Than Ever” is filled with instantly do-able techniques that bring instant results.
(If you want to read more about the program, click here. If you want me to deliver the program at your next meeting, give me a call.)
Here are a few tips to pump up your self-motivation.
1. Read for inspiration.
Read things that will make you a better person and a better professional. And sorry, newspapers and novels don’t count in the self-motivation category. Oh you may learn something from a newspaper and you should enjoy a good fiction read once in a while, but they will seldom give you an extra dose of motivation.
Over the years, I’ve noticed an amazing phenomenon. The most motivated people don’t depend on yesterday’s motivation for today’s challenges. They spend at least 15 minutes a day putting positive, inspiring information into their minds … because they know what you think about you bring about.
2. Read for education.
Over the years, I’ve also noticed that leaders are readers. In fact, you can often judge a person’s success by the size of his/her library. So spend another 15 minutes a day acquiring new knowledge because it will make a substantial difference in the results you get. You must never get too busy to get smart.
If you’re not already reading for education, start by buying and reading one book a month. Read a book that is related to your professional field or the goals you want to achieve.
And one of the beautiful things about books is you don’t have to read the non-fiction book from cover to cover. Simply browse through the “Table of Contents” and select the chapters you’re most interested in. Read selectively. Read the best stuff. Read the stuff that will get your mind thinking and your motivational juices flowing.
Just remember: Formal education will help you make you a living, but self-education will help you make you a fortune.
3. Keep a motivation journal.
Note … journal, not diary. In your journal, record great ideas, inspiring quotes, key insights, important learning’s, key phrases, what worked and didn’t work, and all kinds of daily observations that are worth remembering. Too often I’ve had to learn the hard way. I got a great insight, thought I would remember, didn’t write it down, and forget it. Then it took me 2 weeks or 2 months or 2 years to come upon that insight once again.
As I tell my audiences, the shortest pencil is better than the longest memory. Write down the good stuff or you may be forced to learn it all over again … the hard way.
In fact, have some fun with your journal. Write down the humorous lines you hear or read. They’ll give you a laugh, and the laugh will add to your overall motivational energy. Here are a few funny lines I came across and put in my journal … just for the fun of it.
- I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
- I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather, not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
- Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
- Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
- The evening news is where they begin by saying “Good evening” and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
- A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
- How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
- Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the edge of the pool and throw them fish.
- I thought I wanted a career … turns out I just wanted pay checks.
- Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says “In case of an emergency, notify …” I put “Doctor”.
- Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars … but check when you say the paint is wet?
- Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy.
- You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
- The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!
- Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.
- Hospitality: making your guests feel like they’re at home, even if you wish they were.
- Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
- I used to be indecisive; now I’m not sure.
- When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
- To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
- Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
- A bus is a vehicle that travels twice as fast when you run after it as it does when you are in it.
You get the idea. Keep a journal. Put all the good stuff you find in there. And go back and read what you wrote once in a while. You’ll be amazed at the wisdom you accumulate and the high it will give you.
4. Compartmentalize your problems.
I’ve got problems. You’ve got problems. Everybody’s got problems. The difference between the winners and the losers is how they handle those problems.
The losers tend to be consumed by their problems. They think about their financial shortages, their rocky marriage, their friend’s illness, their ballistic boss, and all their other problems … almost constantly. And they often use those problems as an excuse for their lack of motivation or performance.
Not the winners, however. They suck it up. For example, if you were flying to Rome on a Boeing 767, you would expect the pilot to suck it up and do the job he was trained to do … even if he was going through a rough patch in life. You wouldn’t want him to be consumed in worry … forgetting about his flying responsibilities. Oh sure, he can go back and think about his problems and work on his problems later … but not when he’s on the job. It’s what self-directed, self-motivated winners do. They compartmentalize.
Self-motivated winners also know how to tuck their problems away … temporarily. They put them on hold until they can deal with them efficiently and effectively … rather than have their problems color every part of every waking moment. They know they can hang their problems on an imaginary “Trouble Tree” and come back to them at a more convenient time.
To become more self-motivated, don’t sweat the small stuff. And a lot of it is small stuff. As poet Maya Angelou says, “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”
And if it’s not small stuff, learn from them. As one wise person observed, “The difficulties in life are put on our path – not to OBSTRUCT – but to INSTRUCT.” When you look at that way, you will stay motivated.
5. Let go of what’s not working.
Back in the days of Columbus, most everybody thought the world was flat. So the sailors hugged the coastlines so they wouldn’t accidentally fall off the edge of the Earth. Of course, their thinking simply kept them scared and demotivated. And they never discovered anything new.
Unfortunately, too many people still act like Columbus’ contemporaries. They won’t let go of some old system that no longer works or let go of some friendship that is no longer healthy. It just seems easier to keep on with the same old same old … losing their energy, enthusiasm, and motivation in the process.
Listen to Beryl Pfizer, the filmographer, who says, “You have to be careful about being too careful.”
6. Remove negative words from your vocabulary.
What you talk about you tend to bring about. As author Florence Shinn wrote, “The game of life is the game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later, with astounding accuracy.” So be very careful about your choice of words.
Avoid the use of such words as impossible, can’t, won’t, hopeless, and so forth. As the original Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
So you’re responsible for your own motivation. Sure others can help motivate you. But you’re still responsible for your own motivation. It’s an inside job, and here are six ways to get the motivation inside you.
Take the 24-hour word challenge. Try to go 24 hours without uttering a single negative word. It will be difficult, but with practice, you will turn your thinking and your motivation around.
Make it a 10 in 2010!
Dr. Alan Zimmerman
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