What Gets You Going?

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

man celebrating sunset

How many sunsets have been this satisfying for you?

What gets you going in the morning? What pushes you through the tough times, gets you to press harder, go farther, or even just roll out of bed when you can’t see anything in your physical life that points towards better days? I realize these are really different questions, but so often the most interesting conversations or changes in life don’t come because of one stated fact or one small exact practice, but because of the questions you are willing to wrestle with and where they lead you.

So I want to ask you a question that I myself like to re-visit frequently: What gets you going?

Shame set me back so far

man with bag over head

Try to avoid too many days like this.

Shame is right up there with depression as some of the most insidious slavers that I think anyone will ever find themselves dealing with. And just like depression, so often I find the shame that is so devastating is also extremely unwarranted. Let’s start with a basic fact: you’re human. That means sometimes you are going to screw up. Sometimes you are going to be selfish. Sometimes you will be guilt-tripped by other people. Maybe what they say has some legitimacy, and gives you an opportunity to work on some problem areas and grow.

Or maybe it doesn’t have any merit at all.

This is a hard balance to create, but it’s an important one. Getting some feedback on where you’re failing yourself can be helpful if it moves you in the right direction – but not if it’s being used to beat you over the head. That’s never a good sign when it comes to deciding whether criticism is constructive or destructive.

Does it propel you towards positive action? Towards something that makes you better? Towards something that makes the lives of other people better? If not, then it’s probably time to ignore what people are saying. That road to happiness and self-improvement is a tricky balance between taking information that can help you or send you on a right path and balancing that with when you need to completely ignore what everyone is saying.

Can you make your dreams easy to see?

One of the most important parts to being motivated, to self improvement, to finding your passion, whatever related term or motivational type phrasing you prefer, is being able to see things really clearly. I’m a strong believer in this. If you can see what you want: travel, dream house, adventure, family, wealth – it’s a lot easier to get yourself to that place in life and to become the person you need to be to get there if you can see it in your head.

Images are powerful. That’s why movies and TV beat out radio, why the Internet and multi-media have evolved from print. Giving your mind the ability to actually see the change and see the difference is crucial to success.

I’m not someone who believes “The Secret” that just thinking is enough, but having a visual picture that you can focus in on or meditate on when you’re feeling tired, depressed, frustrated, or rundown can make a huge difference between succeeding and failing.

“To be a champ you have to believe in yourself when no one else will.” –ย Sugar Ray Robinson

How do you fight the fear?

Being afraid of failing is human nature. There aren’t many experiences that everyone shares, but being afraid of failure is one of those. No matter how confident you are, no matter how capable you are, at some point your brain will find 1,001 reasons why things aren’t going well or why you’re going to fail.

Everyone goes through this. Some people have these doubtful thoughts much more often than others, and this tendency can be especially frustrating when you realize you are doubting yourself about something who have successfully done before.

Sometimes multiple times.

Sometimes for years at a time.

Depression, shame, and fear really are bitches, aren’t they?

Footprints on tropical beach

Travel pictures like this – or snowy skiing slopes.

Learn to fight your own fear. If old images of what used to help excite you, use them. If you feel lost but know there are certain things you enjoy, dive into that. Travel has always been one of my greatest passions, so even at times when I struggle to “feel” anything, I always look for beautiful pictures that would normally get me excited for travel.

Those images always stir up something, or even when they don’t, they help me get as encouraged as I can be. Even when I’m struggling to feel excited or encouraged about anything, I can still accept that I love travel.

That’s what I try to surround myself with during those times, until something excites me again. Other people can get purely excited by money. Others like a very specific type of travel or maybe a favorite toy for a new hobby (like a brand new Nikon camera for photography – travel or otherwise). Each person’s motivations are going to be different, and you need to figure out what you enjoy, what has brought you joy in the past and hold onto that.

I fully admit, sometimes it works better than others. Still, you need to keep making the effort to get that done.

Don’t care what others think

Some people swear by motivational speakers. Other people mock anyone who makes any type of an effort at self help or self improvement. Some people swear by Tony Robbins, others mock anyone who listens to his stuff.

I think that was something that really set me back during my major depression. Why should it matter if someone else doesn’t believe in self help or motivational speaking? If it is something that helps me, that stabilizes my worst moods, helps me build myself up and remember how to look for my dreams and my passion, then once again: why should I care?

If it’s something that helps you out, then go for it. Listen to motivational videos on YouTube, read books on topics that hit you as being useful and interesting. Make playlists that focus on

Some of my favorite encouraging and motivational speeches on YouTube:

“You’ve Gotta Be Hungry” speech by Les Brown

“How Bad Do You Want It” speech by Eric Thomas (original speech @ Michigan State)

“Your Best Year Ever” by Jim Rohn (long – over 4 hours but great stuff)

“Why Do We Fail” is a great quick 6 minute compilation worth playing on repeat

There are actually a lot of great channels and videos out there, but these four are a great start that cover the gamut and deliver some really different styles to help you find the ones that will work best for you.

I finally appreciate the FREEDOM of habit & scheduling

If you naturally get flustered at the idea of scheduling, of creating multiple daily habits that “eat up” your time day after day, I fully understand where you are coming from. This was me throughout my twenties and even most of my thirties, and it’s something I still struggle with.

I LOVE freedom – and I HATE the feeling of being constrained. Obviously this makes it really hard to form long-term habits when you hate schedules. This is one of those prime examples where logic and intuition aren’t correct.

When I really measured free time and how much I could get done in a day, there’s no question that having a schedule not only allows me to get more done in less time, but that means more free time to pursue my other interests.

Does this mean I’m consistently great at scheduling and building positive habits?

No, not even close. But I’m trying, lol.

Learnย to love the process. It’s a long climb and it’s tough – but it is definitely worth it.

In Conclusion (although is there really ever a final say on this topic?)

There’s no question that when it comes to finding inspiration or chasing a dream, it’s not always an easy process. I’m sure there will be many more posts on this because it is something that we all have to wrestle with time and time again – and maybe along the way I’ll pick up a few answers to go along with these questions.

So maybe I’ll end by throwing the question back to you: what do you do to get going when you’re not motivated at all? What keeps you going or even starts you off in the right direction when motivation seems so far away?

Leave a comment to let me know what your favorite strategies are and until then keep fighting the good fight!



  • Hey Shane,

    I struggle with this a lot too, with anxiety and depression, with low self-esteem and with zero self-confidence. But I have my good days too.

    In terms of getting going with working at home, writing articles, etc. — after 4+ years of mediocre results, I finally broke down and bought…A WHITEBOARD! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ Actually, I bought two: one is a calendar and the other is a little silver dry-erase board. So on the calendar I’m tracking my freelance writing earnings and # of articles written each day, and then on the other board I make a checklist of all the bills I need to pay for the month.

    I know a lot of freelance writers fill up their board with a million things to do, deadlines, etc., but I just use mine to track the MAIN THINGS…the things that really matter and are likely to help me stay focused on my goals and get back up every time I fall down. It seems to be working, so far.

    So I guess what gets me going with restarting my freelance writing “career” is to keep my most important monthly goals right in front of my face every day. Fifty times a day, I look up from my laptop and see how much money I’ve made every day this month, how much money I made for the month to date, how many articles I’ve written each day and in total for the month to date. I also look up and see all those bills that need to be paid in order for my family to have a roof over their head and a car and electricity and everything else we need to get by.

    I’m still a long way from where I need to be, financially, but using these basic tools to keep me focused on my goals has really helped me stay on track. My best month of freelance writing income used to be just under $150 — that was all from Textbroker a couple years back. But last month I did $165 and this month I’ve cleared $180 with 10 days still to go. Again — chump change — but that’s enough to keep the AC running (we’re in Vegas now!), and by the end of the month it’ll also be enough to pay for my car insurance and Internet connection.

    So…one day at a time. One article at a time.

  • Master Dayton

    Funny you should mention that, brother, because I have a dry erase calendar whiteboard on my wall now, too! I’ve always hated scheduling but truth is, I really do get more done when it’s up there. It’s all about finding out what works at the end. I tried the overwhelming huge goal stuff and while I’d get some stuff done, I’d stress and often fail to get the most important things done. Five check marks a day don’t mean much if you can’t make rent. Hit the main goals, keep building, and always do a little bit that you know will pay off down the line. Good to hear from you, man. I love Vegas (of course I’m totally the tourist, but still) – many good memories there.

  • Dude, you need to come out here again to visit and meet up for coffee or whatever. Couch space is available, if needed haha ๐Ÿ™‚

    Patrick (TheFreedomBlogger.com, SkinnyNinja from TKA) and I finally got together a few months ago when he came out here from Michigan with his family. We’d been in touch quite a bit over the years, but it was nice to finally meet in person. I sure do miss his stuff on TKA and his old MMNW blog.

    I also recently got to meet up with Karen Hellier — a fellow freelance writer and eBay seller — who I became friends with on HubPages several years back. Was fun to “talk shop” with her over lunch.

    I love being out here in Vegas this past year. That’s the cool thing about Vegas…everyone comes out here at some point in their lives haha. Not so with Hawaii (although they do dream about it).

    Anyway, good to talk with you again and see you back on here. Your old freelance writing blog was awesome, and even though freelancing online might not be your focus right now, I sure do look forward to reading more posts from you on the subject when the time comes.

  • Hello Shane, thanks a lot for this amazing blog post dear. You really tried well to spread positive thoughts here at your blog. Actually I am touched and definitely going to share.

    Thanks a lot once again,

    Best Regards,