Every one of us working on our personal development has one thing in common. We seem to go through these cycles of either being super-motivated or not. It’s a struggle. We get pumped up and move quickly in the right direction, then it seems that we start losing steam. If we allow that lull to continue, we can lose valuable momentum. Worse yet, we could forfeit some of the progress made during our high-motivation phase.
If we can master the art of maintaining momentum, we can accomplish pretty much anything. Let’s talk about ways to keep our motivation fire burning.
Years ago, I was explaining to a coworker about my journey to building my side business. As we exchanged stories, one thing became apparently clear to him. We both had dreams about “starting our own thing” but his dream was now a memory while mine was close to becoming a reality. The difference, according to him, was that I continued to move forward while he completely lost momentum.
When I was still in the dream building phase, I had major challenges in keeping momentum. There was always something that seemed to stand in the way. I worked countless hours. It was nearly impossible to stay motivated on my side project (especially when my results were minimal). Luckily for me, I had an extremely stressful job. This provided just the external motivation I needed. The more stress I experienced at work, the harder I worked to get out of the situation. If I had a comfy 9-5 job, I’d probably still inching my way to freedom. My advice for you is this, if you’re unhappy with your current situation, use that as fuel to propel you to your destination. Whenever I had exceptionally bad days, I’d take even greater action towards my business and that strategy worked beautifully.
Years later, the dream became a reality. One of the biggest challenges I face as an entrepreneur is staying motivated. Not just motivated but motivated enough to engage in the level of action required to continue producing adequate results.
The very first thing I do when I start losing motivation is to remind myself that it’s perfectly normal. Motivation isn’t everlasting. So, I no longer get down on myself for losing steam. I see it as a normal part of the process. If we showered yesterday, do we get depressed for having to take another shower today? No. It’s because we understand the temporary nature of effects of showering. I look at being motivated in the same way.
Once I realized the truth behind our “motivation cycle,” I began to take a different approach. I knew that I had figure out ways to refuel my drive. The methods that worked best for me included:
1.) Staying very connected to the desired outcome.
2.) Tracking my progress
3.) Creating a system that moves the process forward.
4.) Connecting with others who were on a similar journey.
Wanting to leave my job was the end goal but I wasn’t really pushing for it to happen like I should have. It wasn’t until I became completely obsessed with it that things really changed. Most of us, if we’re honest, don’t think about our goals enough. Those who mastered goal achievement often talk about writing their goals down every day. This is to keep it at top of mind. The more our intentions are top of mind, the more actions we take to move us closer.
I can say that my motivation dipped this year because I’m not really connected to my big goal. Although I’m currently on track to reach this goal, I haven’t really taken an active role lately in ensuring it happens. But, what I am doing is employing method #2 which means that I’m closely monitoring & tracking my progress. If you go too long without checking in on your progress, you will quickly lose momentum.
When I really want to regain my focus, I have to implement some of my most powerful motivators. Your job is to learn and understand what gets you motivated! Pay close attention to what gets you pumped so you can implement it when needed. I realize that when I meditate or workout out, I’m more likely to be more productive. When I’m productive, it motivates me to do more! When I listen to stories of others who reached their goals, I get pumped!
I looked up the definition of momentum and this one really spoke to me:
“strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events”
Notice that it says that force (or momentum) can be gained via a series of events. The first thought that comes to mind is the Domino Effect. When I’m feeling really unproductive, I start to implement a series of events in motion. I’ll pick out the smallest task I can do that requires little effort. When it’s done, I get a tiny jolt of motivation. It’s just enough to take care of the next smallest thing on my list. Before I know it, I’ve completed a series of tasks and I’m motivated to take on larger responsibilities.
When I lose momentum, I regain it taking a series of steps in the right direction. When you know and understand your most effective series of events, you can generate your own source of momentum at will.
Another tactic I’ll sometimes use to regain momentum is to take an “inspiration break.” Basically, this is when I step away from the grind and do something that will inspire and reignite my momentum. Sometimes I’ll go check out someone’s travel vlog or I’ll treat myself to lunch at a cute cafe. I’ll think of a place or an experience that’s closely related to my goal and I try to immerse myself in it. When I get back to work, I’m full of inspiration.
Bottom line, maintaining momentum takes work on our part. Don’t get bummed about it. Accept that it’s a normal part of the journey and adjust your plan accordingly. When your momentum drops, you should already have a series of actions in mind that you can take to reignite your motivation. Or, better yet, skip out on motivation altogether and focus on this.