Getting Motivated – It’s all in the Details, Part 1

By Jon Rumens on 28 October 2019

About last time…a small recap

As you might remember, a while back we talked about motivation. I explained to you all the myths surrounding motivation – what it was and what it wasn’t – and how you can achieve more motivation yourself.

At the end I even gave you a little assignment (sincerely hope you actually did that). Now I’m hoping that, as a result, you’ve become motivated enough to try out some of the other things I’ll recommend to you.

Because today, we’re going to delve a little bit deeper into the systems you can set up for yourself that will enable you to gain more motivation, almost automatically.

So lend me your ears and listen carefully…here’s the next step in the plan to create your personal motivation machine.

Set the goalpost

Here’s a simple and obvious truth: without a destination, there is no journey. If you don’t know exactly where you want to end up, it’s hard to figure out what you need to do to make it happen.

Shortly put: you need to set a goal.

A goal, in itself, can be very motivating because of the positive feedback you receive each time you take a step closer to it.

But a proper goal has to meet certain requirements to get the desired effect.

They are the following…

  • Make it specific and measurable

First of all, a goal has to be specific. You need to be able to put a number on it If you want to climb a mountain, you have to know when you’ve climbed the peak.

You can’t just go and say: I want to be rich. You have to define what being rich means for you. You have to be able to say: ‘I want to have a million dollars’ . That’s a real goal. Since it’s possible to have a million dollars and still not think you’re rich enough, putting a specific number on top of it will allow you to track your progress and create motivation each time you get closer to your goal.

The same goes for every other goal you want to set for yourself.

Instead of saying ‘I want to be an influencer, create a set amount of Instagram followers you want to have.’

Your goal should not be ‘my very own cult of personality’, but instead something like ‘200.000 Instagram followers’. Set required amount of selfies and drama accordingly.

Instead of saying ‘I want to be in good physical shape, say how much weight you want to be able to lift.’

Now, at first sight, not all goals seem easily quantifiable. Say your goal is to get a girlfriend, how do you quantify the steps in between? One option is to set a fixed target amount of Tinder matches you want to hit every week, and through the magical power of math, end up finding love. (statistics and romance, they’re like peas in a pod)

The truth is, some goals tend to lend themselves to easy quantification, for others, you need to create a more indirect approach. Set a secondary goal that will likely lead to your main goal having more chances of succeeding.

  • Make it realistic and attainable

For a goal to be motivating, you have to be able to convince yourself that you can attain it. When you set the goalpost too high, you risk making it sound far fetched, and subconsciously, you’re not going to really believe in it. As a result, you won’t be likely to take action with some serious intent behind it, setting yourself up for failure.

Let’s take our example of becoming rich. Making a million dollars, that’s something most middle-class people can do if they set their mind to it. When we keep in mind that the average market return of stocks is about 8 percent, it merely takes investing 200 dollars per month for about 50 years for you to get to one million dollars.

Sure, by then that money is going to be worth much less due to inflation, and you’re not going to be around for a very long time to enjoy it, but you’ll get to six figures nonetheless.

Now, unless you’re living in Zimbabwe or Venezuela, where extreme hyperinflation is a thing, becoming a billionaire is something that’s located in an entirely different layer of the atmosphere, and requires not only a lot of hard work and an innate talent for business, but also a very decent amount of luck and the right circumstances.

While not entirely impossible, it’s going to be a significant order of magnitude harder to become a billionaire than it is to become a millionaire.

Zimbabwe – a land where everybody is a trillionaire and dreams come true…

Compare it to doing a 5K or doing an ultramarathon. Even if you’re in relatively bad shape, running 5 kilometres, while still being pretty exhausting, is perfectly doable. Because you know it lies within the realm of possibilities, you’ll be more likely to start, and you’ll be likely to finish too. But that ultramarathon? It’s hardly likely that you’re even going to try because you won’t believe it can be done.

A realistic goal is going to be something you will have more belief in, and that will make it more motivating to start.

  • Most important, make it something you really want to do

There are many different goals for you to achieve. Some are essential to us, some are important, some are ‘nice to haves’ and others are just ‘meh’.

If you look deep down into your soul and deep down you know you’re just not a very materialistic person, making it your goal to earn a million dollars might not be the right goal for you.

We only have a limited time on this earth, and there are only so many goals you’re going to be able to achieve. You can achieve a lot in your lifetime if you put your mind to it, but you can only achieve so much. It’s also not a very good idea to try to achieve too many goals at the same time.

The key idea here is that you have to filter out goals that aren’t important enough, because the ‘meh’ goals are just not going to be very motivating.

Does it make sense to make it your goal to learn French if you don’t need it for professional reasons, you’ve only been to France one time and don’t plan to go there every year? Wouldn’t it be better to achieve another goal, one that is more relevant to you and will create more value in your life than learning French?

If you’re not a foodie but just want to learn to cook ‘because it seems cool’, wouldn’t it be better to focus on a goal that is about something that’s really close to your heart? You can always learn how to cook later, but you have to set priorities first.

That being said, you might find your passion while doing something new. That is a thing. You might only realize you’re a foodie once you’re starting to cook, and it’s possible that you become extremely passionate about the French language and the French culture by starting to learn French. Passion, motivation and interest often usually only come after doing the thing.

But it’s likely that you already have passions and interests and you want to achieve things in that field first. First, aspire to achieve the goals that are essential to you. You can always do the ‘nice to haves’, but do them later.

A final word about goals…

You should have a goal. Yes, I’ve said that and it’s true.

On the other hand, once you’ve set a goal, you should not be focused on it all the time. The goal has to be there, it has to ‘exist’, but it doesn’t have to be ever-present. When you’re thinking about the finish line all the time, you’re thinking about something you haven’t achieved yet, and that can actually be quite demotivating, because it’s something you lack, something you don’t have.

You have to focus on what you’re doing right now, on the process, and on what you have achieved already. On the things you do have.

You don’t think about that million dollars that you don’t have, but on the 200K that’s already in your account and the 200 you’ve just saved this month. That is what will motivate you, not the 800K you’ve still got to earn.

The distance you’ve already gone, the step you’re taking right now…that’s what keeps you going

The same goes for writing a book. You’ve just written 500 words, and your current total is 25.000 words. While you’ve still got 75.000 words to write, it’s what you already have that will motivate you to push on.

You’re not able to read Les Miserables in French yet? Doesn’t matter, you’re able to ask directions and hold a simple conversation ‘dans la langue française’ and that is what will push you to keep going forward. Each new word you learn will create positive feedback, which translates into motivation. The end goal in itself does not create positive feedback, because once you’ve reached that point, you don’t have to do anything anymore.

The object of a goal is not to motivate you. It is to allow for you to create a process to achieve it. It is that process that will motivate you. The destination creates the journey. It’s that journey that will change you, not the destination.

So pack your bags, start your road trip to motivational Nirvana, and I’ll meet you along the way with some more spiritual guidance.

Safe and happy travels,