Where Most Motivation Come From: The Hidden Aspects to Staying Focused
(The following is an excerpt from Ch. 4 of my book, How to Conquer Yourself, available on Amazon now.)
“Just as 75% of communication is non-verbal – just as most of what you communicate stems from your body language, tone of voice and the situation, or context, you say it within – rather than simply the words themselves, 75% of motivation is non-motivational as well: most of how motivated you are stems from your perspective towards life, your habitual behaviors and the people you associate with rather than simply what you do, or fail to do, in order to ‘motivate’ yourself.
Motivation, a lot like willpower, builds itself indirectly, as a response to factors that seem unrelated to it, and these factors have more to do with your identity than they do with your source of inspiration or encouragement.
When it comes to long-term motivation, you can’t force, encourage or logically convince yourself to be (or stay) focused any more then you can force, encourage or logically convince someone to be (or stay) with you romantically. Long-term motivation is a type of “chemistry” that happens on its own accord, as an offset to the type of person you are and consequential to the type of life you choose to lead.
You can only build motivation, therefore, by reverse-engineering it; by building it into your character and into your subconscious mind.
Again, just as 75% of communication is non-verbal, 75% of motivation is non-motivational, and that 75% is internal, subtle and unconscious. You can’t gain long-term motivation by merely watching an inspirational movie, reading a New York Times Bestseller or placing affirmations on your bathroom wall, because the mere consumption of information (or the mere replication of mechanical routine) is not enough to translate into a persistent sense of drive and ambition…these things have to be derived from within your own psyche and from within your own intuitive, cognitive nature.
Examples of Such Internal, Subtle and Unconscious Aspects
Don’t get me wrong: books, movies, quotes and tactics of that sort are a great place to start, but long-term motivation begins with re-thinking and re-considering the deeper aspects of life we tend to leave on auto-pilot, or wholeheartedly ignore. For example:
Do you know your purpose in life? Because without a clear sense of purpose, it’s difficult to have a clear sense of order and direction, and without a clear sense of order and direction, it’s difficult to feel as though anything is worth the effort and hence, it’s difficult to remain motivated.
You can’t be motivated to act without purpose in life any more than you’d be motivated to hop on a subway train without an event or end-destination in mind, and that’s why people who manage their time well and stay focused tend to orient their careers and talents around a calling that drives them.
Do you know, and capitalize off of, your unique talents and strengths? Because a goal that revolves around natural skill is far more conducive to superior performance (and superior results) than a goal that revolves around monotonous labor or the drudgery of a resented task, as a goal that revolves around natural skill creates a feedback loop that amplifies into even more ambition to begin with.
So although most people tend to focus on weakness – most people try to compensate for what they’re poor at and make up for what they don’t have – motivated people, conversely, tend to focus on strength, and by capitalizing off of their natural, unique talents and skills, their entire work-process becomes more optimistic, energizing, and motivating as well.
Do you know, and tailor your life towards, your own personal values? Because a man who follows a sense of principle and internal code, rather than just the social norms and expectations others pressure him to have, will develop a sense of personal dignity and self-empowerment, rather than hypocrisy and fraud (the operating system you find more prevalent in today’s world, mind you).
People who have a zest and hunger for life tend to also live, think and behave in ways that reflect what they’re truly about, and they find courage to do this by overcoming the need for social acceptance and peer-validation.
The idea here is that long-term, external motivation is founded upon a certain level of deep-rooted, internal strength; upon a certain level of emotional stability, mental poise, self-definition and related traits that seem to be on the verge of becoming extinct.
Once you begin to think of motivation as this internal, “motive” power (and not just inspiration or encouragement), you’ll also begin to diagnose your lack of motivation at a higher plateau: as a by-product of how you feel about the world, your place within it and your capacity to fulfill that role, for instance. In this way, building motivation, like attaining discipline, then becomes a matter of building character, or building one’s self.
It’s for this reason that motivation is constructed internally, from one’s sense of identity, and can never be derived from an external point of reference.
Again, just as 75% of communication is non-verbal, 75% of motivation is non-motivational: most of it’s determined by factors we’d rarely associate with our sense of ambition; very little by what we commonly do to “get motivated,” find inspiration or encourage ourselves. Specifically…
2 – developing your unique talents and skills towards that aim and
3 – adhering to your higher sense of personal code
…are key factors to this overall concern. Let’s now cover the frame of mind most favorable towards this approach.” ~ (continued in my book, How to Conquer Yourself: Discipline & Willpower for the Conscious, Creative Thinker, available on Amazon now. Download a print-ready, PDF version of this article here)