Three months ago I couldn’t muster up the strength to accomplish any goals I had set. During my month of laziness I was eating poorly and not exercising as much as I usually do. I lacked motivation which lead to a decrease in work productivity. I was a little depressed to say the least. So I did some research and tried to find out what was responsible for my lack of motivation. After countless articles read, I came to the conclusion that dopamine is a big influencer of motivation and that if you wanted to become more motivated you needed to increase this powerful brain chemical. Dopamine is a neurotransmitters that is responsible for learning, motivation, curiosity, pattern recognition and habit formation. Writing, reading, exercising, sleeping, and a healthy diet increase dopamine levels in the brain. Nevertheless, increasing your dopamine it isn’t everything. From a genetic standpoint, some people are born with higher or lower levels of dopamine, which means they are wired to learn more or learn less. However, your genetics aren’t everything and don’t determine your fate. Drugs like caffeine, alcohol and cocaine increase dopamine and our energy levels, but we don’t necessarily get motivated to accomplish our goals, unless those goals involve reproduction, but I digress. Therefore, there must be a missing link and that missing link is focus. In order to master motivation, you must increase your dopamine levels through physical and mental activity. The four activities below will help you do just that.
*(Head to 23andme.com and order your kit to figure out your dopamine levels) .
1. Guided Meditation
In order to have high levels of motivation, you must be able to focus on one thing at a time. As I stated above, we live in a world filled with distractions and if you can’t practice deep focus on one subject then how do ever expect to get any work done? I have been meditating for three years with the Headspace App and it has transformed my life. However, after moving to California and living on my cousin's floor for three months it was hard to get my daily meditation in. And as my practice decreased so did my focus. I found it harder to focus on one thing and it took me a while to realize that meditation was the reason for my focus. As I stated above, the mind is no different than how you train your body. If you stop training a muscle it will atrophy (get smaller) and so will the mind. It is important to realize that meditation is not about stopping your mind and the crazy thoughts that come with it. Rather, your goal is to listen to those crazy thoughts and learn how to focus on just one thought, to be present with that one thought. Meditation, just like motivation, is a learned behavior, it is a skill that requires constant practice. If you want to become more motivated than go to headspace.com and get started with the 10 day-10 minute challenge.
2. Five Minute Journal
Meditation has drastically changed my life and I consider it one of the most important things you can do. But journaling is right up there and could be just as important, especially in today's distraction filled world. I can’t stress enough the importance of journaling, especially the five minute journal.
To do the journal correctly, you must do it in the morning and night. Each morning you are asked the following:
What three things you are grateful for?
What would make today great?
Daily affirmations. I am… ?
When it comes to the daily affirmations I like to write down things that I want to accomplish that day. It could involve me being a better coach to my clients or a more courageous person that day. Find one thing you want to improve that day and write it down. There is power in writing down your goals because it makes you focus on the goal you want to achieve.And there is even more power in it if you hold yourself accountable which is exactly what the 5 minute journal does.
At night time it will ask you two more questions:
What three amazing things happened today?
How could I have made today better?
I understand that everyday won’t be amazing, but that isn’t the point of the journal, the point is to take a look at your day and see what went right and what went wrong. Too many people in this world go through their day without ever reflecting and then have the audacity to complain that life isn’t fair. Life isn’t always fair, but we can learn from those moment and train ourselves to not let it happen again. Writing down and taking ownership of your mistakes is the key to motivation. If you want to get motivated and achieve something in this lifetime then there must be goal setting with reflection.
3. Find a mentor and be a student
It is 2017, the internet is booming and millions of successful people have podcasts or written books where they explain how they did it, so why not reach out to someone who has accomplished what you want to achieve? And if you can’t talk to them directly then buy one of their books or listen to their podcast. The easiest way to increase motivation is through success, and success is much easier to achieve with a guide map and a coach or a teacher is that mat. As Lord Chesterfield advised his son: “Surely it is of great use to a young man, before he sets out for that country, full of mazes, windings, and turnings, to have at least a general map of it, made by some experienced traveler.” This coach doesn’t have to be in person or cost you any money. I have learned a ton of valuable information through podcasts, books, and blog posts. Nevertheless, nothing will ever replace person to person coaching, so if you have the chance to mentor under someone, do not let that opportunity pass up. If you want to achieve something there must be repetition after repetition and you will fail, but that is when you learn from your mistake and fix it. Either you think of a way to fix your mistake or your coach does and usually two minds tend smarter than one. So hire a coach, listen to some podcasts and buy some books.
4. Be Patient, have a fun day of rest and recovery
Patience is a virtue. For thousands of years the brightest and smartest minds have preached the importance of patience, yet people want to be successful overnight. Evolution took millions of years and success is no different. Over the last couple of months I have learned to relax more and not force things to happen. I have realized that our minds can only learn so much at once and we have a limited capacity to learn new information. In a world where we can learn 24/7 it is important to take a day off and give your mind a break. We can equate this to muscle growth in a gym. The body only becomes stronger with adequate rest and the mind is no different. You can only do so much before the stress becomes too great. So let go for a day and have some fun. Go on an adventure and let your mind take a break. But it is imperative that you don’t become addicted to this lifestyle and get back to work the next day. Recently I have started adding in “fun” days where I don’t do anything work related. I try to hangout with friends, go hiking, see a movie or just go to the beach and relax all day. The best part about a fun day is that you never know what you are going to do. The point is to get outside your comfort zone and have fun with people you care about.
To sum up, motivation will only happen if you want it to happen. You must take responsibility for your actions and your lack of motivation. If you want to increase your motivation then create a new morning routine where you do a 10 minute meditation practice and a 5 minute journal entry. We all have an extra 15 minutes it our day, it just requires you to prioritize it and have the discipline to do it. The hardest part is getting started but overtime it will become a routine. The beginning is going to be tough and uncomfortable. You will question yourself whether or not you made the right decision. But you must trust the process and stay the course. Above all, you have to ask yourself the following question:
“What are you willing to suffer for?”
Once you have that answer, you will be on your way.
The 10 Step Motivation Guide
Order 5 minute journal HERE
Download the headspace.com app HERE
Perform a 10 minute guided meditation daily
Complete your 5 minute journal daily
Find a mentor or teacher to learn from (books, podcasts, or a coach)
Strength train 2 to 3 times per week and doing more won’t hurt !
Sleep 7-9 hours a night
Consume a diet high in vegetables
Be patient and have a fun day with friends
Above all, take extreme ownership of your actions and be disciplined!