There are two types of motivation:
- Your motivational baseline connects you with your True Will: what you truly want to do and what you want to achieve from a long-term perspective.
- Your motivational feelings help you actualize your True Will in the present moment.
Your motivational baseline is high when you generally love what you do.
Your motivational feelings are strong when you feel driven to take action right now.
To build your motivational baseline, discover your True Will.
You can discover your True Will, passion, and purpose in life by answering these questions about yourself: What did you enjoy doing as a kid? Who inspires you deeply and what makes this person so amazing? Is there a thematic pattern in the books you’ve been reading throughout your life? Is there a thematic pattern in the bookmarks you’ve saved in your browser? What about the videos you’ve favorited on YouTube? Which activities would make your day so great that you could repeat the same day over and over again—till kingdom come?
Knowing yourself and your True Will is crucial for your willpower: to keep going when times are tough, when momentum is gone, and when motivational feelings are sparse.
To optimize your motivational feelings, take care of your bodymind.
Whenever you absolutely don’t feel like doing something, consider how you’ve been treating your bodymind lately: Did you nourish it with enough fresh water, steaks, eggs, and vegetables? Did you vitalize it with meditation and exercise? Did you overfuel with caffeine? Did you give yourself enough time to rest and sleep? (Keep in mind, however, that fatigue is just a feeling.) Even in this very moment: Look at your body posture! Look at how it allows you to move, how it allows you to breathe, and how it allows you to think.
Although you can easily manipulate your motivational feelings by changing how you treat your bodymind, you don’t want to rely on them to get shit done.
Motivational feelings are overrated.
Motivational feelings fluctuate. If you wait for them to take you from start to finish, you won’t achieve most of your goals. The fire of motivation gets you started by igniting a powerful momentum, but discipline gets the job done by helping you keep up the momentum and keep moving when you feel stuck.
When you’ve lost momentum and your motivational feelings are feeble, only willpower can help you get back on track. To empower your Will, remember: If you don’t change now, you won’t change later. If you don’t feel like it now, you won’t feel like it later. If you’re weak now, you’ll be weak later.
You won’t be less stressed tomorrow, next week, or next month. You won’t have more energy tomorrow, next week, or next month. You won’t have more motivation tomorrow, next week, or next month. You won’t have more willpower tomorrow, next week, or next month. Unless you discipline yourself now!
If you choose to wait until it feels right, you choose failure.
Still, adopting a more powerful mindset doesn’t always do the trick. In that case, use this simple method to jumpstart your willpower momentum:
Just take one little step!
You can always work on a boring project (or study a boring subject) for 15 minutes. You can always energize your body with exercise for 10 minutes. You can always refresh your focus with meditative breath-observation for 5 minutes. You can always get into a more social state by talking to 1 sexy lady in public. Allow yourself to quit afterwards!
You will find that getting started is usually enough to put you in a momentum that makes you completely forget about quitting. If not, that’s fine, too: Quit without shame.
Doing what’s hard for you every single day, no matter for how long, maintains your goal focus, improves your self-control skills, and gives you the opportunity to set in motion a powerful willpower momentum—regardless of your motivational feelings. What’s there to lose in 5, 10, or 15 minutes? You either get into a positive momentum that makes you continue with ease, or you’ve at least done something and not wasted time idly thinking about it.
How hard is it to focus for 15 minutes on a goal that’s important to you? Set a timer on your phone. After 15 minutes, you may quit or continue—do what you want: You’ve already exercised your discipline. You’ve already used your motivational baseline to free yourself from your dependence on motivational feelings.