The Ultimate Guide to Motivation – How to Achieve Any Goal | Zen Habits

Posted on June 30, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The Ultimate Guide to Motivation – How to Achieve Any Goal | Zen Habits

Photo courtesy of Looking Glass

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

One of the biggest challenges in meeting any goal, whether it be related to productivity, waking early, changing a habit, exercising, or just becoming happier, is finding the motivation to stick with it.

If you can stick with a goal for long enough, you’ll almost always get there eventually. It just takes patience, and motivation.

Motivation is the key, but it’s not always easy, day in and day out, to find that motivation.

What follows is a guide to motivation using what I’ve learned over the last few years in a series of successful accomplishments, goals and habit changes. I’ve had many failures, but also many successes, and I’ve learned a lot from all of them. Motivation has been a particularly important topic of exploration for me.

What Motivation Can Achieve
What have I accomplished using these motivation methods? Too much to mention, just in the last 3 years: running two marathons, learning to become an early riser, losing 40 pounds, completing a triathlon, becoming vegetarian, becoming more productive, starting a successful blog, writing a book, becoming organized, simplifying my life, quitting my day job, tripling my income, eliminating my debt, and much more.

That’s not intended to sound like bragging, but to show you what can be accomplished (just to start) if you find the right motivation.

How Does Motivation Work?
Before we get into specific methods, it’s useful to examine what motivation is, what it does, and how it works.

Motivation is what drives you toward a goal, what keeps you going when things get tough, the reason you get up early to exercise or work late to finish a project. There are all kinds of motivations, of course, from positive to negative. Having a boss threaten to fire you is motivation — you’ll likely work harder to complete a project with that kind of pressure. But I find that positive motivation works better — if it’s something you really want to do, you’ll do a much better job than to avoid something you don’t want (such as being fired).

So motivation, in its best form, is a way for you to want to do something. There may be times, for example, when you don’t feel like getting up early, and in those times you may seriously just want to sleep in (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But if you have a reason to want to get up early, something you really really want to do, you’ll jump up out of bed with excitement.

The best motivation, then, is a way for you to really want something, to get excited about it, to be passionate about it. Remember that, as there are many other types of motivation (especially negative), but in my experience, this is the kind that works the best.

There is only so long that you can go trying to motivate yourself to do something you don’t like to do, something you don’t want to do. But if you find ways to really want to do something, you can sustain your effort for much, much longer.

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