For the most part of 2018, I started my day listening to motivational videos on YouTube. Listening to inspiring messages from Tony Robbins, Mel Robbins, Jim Rohn, Zig Zigler, Les Brown, Eric Thomas and others. I finally understood how "motivation" and "success" are closely interconnected.

First off, let's establish that "motivation" and "success" are very intimately defined by each individual, but at the very core of these concepts, motivation can be distilled to the how; success to the what.

In my own path to define what success looks like for me, I have come away with three important rules to be able to maintain the motivation to be able to accomplish the goals I've set my self to accomplish and become successful.

  1. Be grateful
  2. Set clear goals
  3. Make time

Be grateful

How often do we really sit down and acknowledge what is going good with our life? For me, It had been a long while. Comparing myself to others and looking at what was missing from my life did nothing but make me feel empty and grasping at nothing. If we start our day from a place of lack, all our focus and attention will gravitate to look for more examples of what else is lacking: the project that isn't finished, the emails that were not sent, the chores left undone. The list expands to infinity.

Flip the script! There is ample evidence that demonstrates how the Reticular Activating System (RAS) in the brain will respond to how your program it, consciously or unconsciously. A classic example of this is how a big ticket item we recently purchased sticks out like a yellow bill on a green hat everywhere we go.

Our reality is constructed of tiny interactions we have with ourselves each and every day. If we start our day with gratitude, reflect on what we already have, our mind will be immediately programmed to continue looking for the things in our life that are already present that make our life great. Being content with what already is here makes life brighter and expands to other parts of our life as well. It might be hard at first to come up with a list of things to be grateful for. Unfortunately that seems to be the case for the majority of people. I highly encourage anyone to listen to this short excerpt from one of Zig Ziglar's motivational speeches.

Have you ever noticed that whenever someone is about to lose something they have been complaining about ... it takes on brand new value? -Zig Ziglar

The importance of gratitude

Set clear goals

Admittedly, this is still an area where I am continuing to learn and is not my strongest skill. However, setting clear goals is instrumental to achieving success, however you may define it. The key is in being able to visualize what the end outcome looks like as if it had already been achieved with as much detail as possible. Where one person may say they want to have more money, or that they want to lose weight, would finding a dollar on the street, or losing 2lbs meet your expectation for those goals?

A better goal would be to concretely define how much money you would like to have, and set a reasonable deadline by when you would like to achieve your vision. The best goals seem to also describe how one's life will become better as a result for achieving those goals.

  • I will lose 15 lbs by March 31, 2019 by eating healthier and exercising 3 times per week. I will then have more energy and boost my confidence.
  • I will save $1200 by the second week of April 2019, by setting aside $180 each paycheck starting January 4th. I will then have enough money to take a vacation to a beach in Hawaii as a reward for being disciplined with my money.

Having a clear marker to let you know whether you have achieved it or not will bea a great help to stay on track to meeting one's desired outcome. Each day we are able to check where we are against where you want to be and decide if any corrective action is needed. Keeping gratitude journal, as in step number one, it will become easier to know what assets we have at our disposal to help us move forward in our progress. The key is to review our goals often and adjust them just as often to meet our current reality.

Below is a short video with three different perspectives and strategies on how to set goals from my favorite motivational speakers.

  • Set goals that will help you grow. How will accomplishing your goal make you better?
  • Make a list of reasons why failure is not possible and read them when we get stuck or need extra motivation
  • Make your goal something that will be personally exciting and pull us toward it rather than something we have to push ourselves to do
Setting goals lays down an important blueprint for achieving success

Make time

Once we have decided what success looks like, it is time to take actionable steps towards making our goals a reality. It won't always be easy. In fact it is guaranteed that there will be obstacles outside of our control. Despite the fact that no matter who you are, everyone gets the same 24 hours, some people seem to have greater freedom as to where they can allocate their time. however, we all have some degree of choice. Should we watch another episode of Game of Thrones? What harm is there in spending another 10 minutes scrolling through facebook, instagram or twitter?

There is nothing wrong with using social media to decompress at the end of the day, or watching our favorite episode of our favorite show. However there is power in knowing that we are in control of deciding what we do and when we do it. When I say "make time" I mean, finding the areas where we are spending time and we're not getting a return having spent time on that activity.

If the outcome of playing video games for 4 hours straight is feeling more relaxed and recharged, great! If on the otherhand it leaves the feeling of guilt and anxiety because we still have to complete that report that is due tomorrow morning, it is time to make better choices.

The first step to getting motivated and achieving your definition of success, is to understand what are the mental barriers that are preventing you from spending time on those things that will get you closer to your goals. Is your focus on the discomfort doing a task will cause you? Are you thinking of the process instead of the outcome? How are you mentally breaking down the steps to getting it done?

Some strategies to reclaim your time:

  • Make a plan for your day
  • Chose at least ONE action each day that will make you feel fulfilled, but no more than three
  • Be present in the moment, when you are at work, be at work, when you are on vacation, be on vacation
  • Work smarter, delegate when you can, learn new skills to optimize your time when you can't

The biggest part of life and time management is knowing what you want and having enough reasons to follow through -Tony Robbins

It takes a great deal of effort to put these three steps into practice, but if we do them consistently, they will continue to propel us forward towards a more fulfilling future.

To close with an analogy, motivation is the engine that moves us forward to our destination, and the fuel is small wins over time. How do you keep your engine going? What motivates you to get up in the morning? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.