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