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Motivation: What It Means and How To Get It!

This article is a summary from a live group discussion (moderated by Ravi Raman) during the April 14th Seattle Personal Development POWERGROUP meeting.

Motivation is not some magic gift reserved only for the exceptional and accomplished few. It is something that each and every one of us can harness to get more done, while enjoying the process. In fact, achieving ANY goal, or completing any task requires some level of motivation.

What is Motivation?

Defined; motivation means: “the PSYCHOLOGICAL feature that arouses an organism to ACTION toward a desired GOAL.”

The letters in capitals are VERY IMPORTANT to internalize.

Motivation is PSYCHOLOGICAL, which means that it is something that comes from within you. It is not some mysterious force that comes and goes as it pleases. It is something that can be understand and indeed CREATED at will.

The results of being motivated are ACTIONS. Action is movement and it is through this movement that actual progress is made. Lastly, all this progress is made toward a desired GOAL. This last part is crucial. Without a clear goal and purpose, it is hard, if not impossible to get motivated.

So it stands that becoming a motivated individual is completely within YOUR CONTROL. It is really a state of mind, that is manifested through the body (via action) toward a specific purpose (goal). Sound simple enough?

The Antithesis of Motivation is Procrastination

Getting motivated on a consistent basis is harder than it sounds. We frequently fall victim to procrastination.

Why do we procrastinate? Ultimately, as dictated through human needs psychology, it comes down to FEAR. This is not inherently bad, but it is somethingthat must be understood. Our brains have evolved in such a way as to ensure that we are safe and protected at all times. Thank goodness for that.

However, while this hard-wiring was great at helping us avoid getting mauled by a saber-toothed tiger thousands of years ago, it is not helpful in pushing you to try new things and drive through fear in a more civilized and modern society. Our SOCIETY has evovled MUCH FASTER than our BIOLOGY. If you want to success in a modern world, you need to be able to cope with this.

Luckily, there are many tools out there to help you.

Tony Robbins, has specifically broken down this notion of fear into two driving forces:

  1. The fear that we won’t be GOOD ENOUGH
  2. The fear that we won’t be LOVED (accepted)

If you think about how people, relationships, families, villages, nations and businesses operate….you can see that these basic fears really do dominate a lot of what happens in our environment. First consider the case of the individual. When was the last time you AVOIDED trying something new because you were afraid that you wouldn’t be successful or accepted by those you cared about?

Weight loss and fitness programs are great examples. People are often afraid to even start a health program because they are worried about not being able to excel at it right off the bat. This is especially true for those who are already achieving success in their business or relationship. Trying something new means PUTTING THE EGO ASIDE.

It means not worrying about what other people think, or even if they will accept “THE NEW YOU.”

In fact, your friends may be the last ones who will be able to accept your newfound health and fitness routine. They might call you “crazy” for working out all the time. They might deride you for not staying out late with them on the weekends. It is tough to do. It is scary. It can lonely (initially at least). Ultimately, they will understand; but the initial stages will be tough.

Businesses are no different. I work at Microsoft, one of the world’s most successful companies. However, even here there are times when we are fearful of changing the way we do things. After all, when a specific business model or product strategy has worked VERY WELL for years…why change? What if the new strategy doesn’t work as well? What if our customers defect? What if….what if…what if? Businesses are no different than individuals when it comes to fear.


Remember this.

When you procrastinate, you let fear DEFINE YOUR LIFE. There are also other symptoms of a PROCRASTINATOR. Do you find yourself doing these things to avoid facing your fear?

  • Procrastinators focus on lesser tasks instead of their big goals. For example, instead of calling that girl you met at the coffee shop yesterday (leading to a potentially fulfilling relationship)….you decide to clean your apartment (again) or surf the Internet.
  • Procrastinators avoid the obvious. They put their tough and looming goals in the background (literally) so their brain “forgets” about them.
  • Procrastinators never ask themselves hard questions. They never take a step back and think if their actions are moving them closer-to or away-from their life goals.

How do we get motivated?

Luckily, we must remember the original definition of Motivation (at the top of this post). Getting motivated is something that comes from inside you. Therefore, you are ultimately in control. In fact,there are some very tangible things you can do help ensure that you have the drive to move, achieve and succeed:


Perhaps the most important thing to do is to act. As Tony Robbins is fond of saying, “emotion comes from motion.” It is really this emotion and drive that gives you the power to push through procrastination. If you find yourself in a rut, immediately change course and do something different. Get outside. Do some pushups or jumping jacks. Put on some good music. Change your venue. Sometimes just changing things up A LITTLE can be enough to get you back on track.

Some other very important tips:

  • Identify goals that you can get motivated about in the first place. This is crucial. If you don’t have very compelling goals, how on earth are you going to get excited about trying to achieve them?
  • Create plans, cues and reminders to keep you on task. I wrote about vision boards already. They are a great tool to keep you goals FRONT AND CENTER. Out of sight is out of mind. Don’t let this happen to your dreams.
  • Make a plan and forgive yourself for imperfections. Don’t let yourself get dejected if you don’t see yourself making rapid and steady progress every day. Progress takes time. Make sure you are patting yourself on the back for just sticking with the plan. Figure out SMALL WINS that you can celebrate on your way to achieving your goal. For example, if you have a goal to run a marathon; celebrate each time you step out the door and go for a run. Celebrate the big stuff and the small stuff. Your brain needs regular and positive reinforcement to stay motivated. It is just like potty training a child or house-breaking a new pet!
  • Observe those who always seem one step ahead. What are they doing? How can you learn from them?
  • Let social proof work in your favor. Surround yourself by other positive and motivated individuals that are achieving what you want to achieve. Interacting with these people will make your goals seem more approachable. Back to our running example, joining a running club is a great way to keep focused and motivated, even if your friends or family don’t seem to understand “why” you are doing what you are doing! You can also check out www.meetup.com for local groups on a variety of topics. If you are Seattle, you are welcome to join my Personal Development POWERGROUP.

If you accomplish even a few of these things is a committed way, you are bound to see a drastic improvement in the level of motivation you have to accomplish great things in your life. To take the next step and really supercharge your drive….complete the short homework assignment below.

Your Homework

Take about 15 minutes and complete the following exercise. It is really easy and will bootstrap your body-mind into a energized and motivated state!

  1. Find a partner! You can do this in person or over the phone. Doing the exercise with someone else will GREATLY INCREASE the chances that you will follow through with your commitments.
  2. For 5 minutes, make a list of all the things you missed out on in the past 12 months because you didn’t take action. Focus on writing a lot….keep your pen moving for the entire 5 minutes. Circle the top three most important missed things (these are missed opportunities).
  3. For 5 more minutes, make a list of things that you would like to achieve in the next 12 months. Again, keep your pen moving! Do not stop! Circle the top three things. Take some time to think about how you will feel when you have successfully accomplished these goals! [what motivates you?]
  4. For each of the goals you identifies in step 3, write down at least 3 things that you are going to do from now on to help you stay motivated. For example, you might find a mentor, join a club/group, go to a training class, etc…
  5. Discuss your plan with you partner. Make a COMMITMENT to stick with it.
  6. TAKE ACTION! Pick one thing on your list that you can do IMMEDIATELY. Take a 5 minute break and do it NOW! Do not wait! Pick up your phone and call someone. Send that e-mail. Sign up for that race or event. Don’t hesitate…just do it!


  1. scott egbejule says:

    i really love your motivational article i will like you to send more to me.
    thank you, and God bless you

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