I find that it’s the days that I have the least motivation that I need to get the most things done. While I’d love to say that I’m always go-go-go, I won’t lie, there are days that I’m not motivated to get anything done. If that sounds familiar, please know that you’re not alone.
When you can’t find external motivation, you’ll need to pull it out from deep within yourself. For you to do that, you’ll need to identify with what motivates you because it’s unique to everyone.
The Game of Hockey
A few years ago, a friend/client from Canada was kind enough to take me to my first hockey game after wrapping a project he hired me to photograph.
For the context of this story, you’ll need to know that Mark, my friend, is the co-founder of a technology company whose last round of capital investment was in the seven figures. Mark and his co-founders have built a successful business from the ground up and have avidly supported one another through that process.
Nevertheless, midway through the game, I turned to Mark and jokingly asked him if all Canadians had played Hockey as kids. He chuckled and acknowledged that he had loved playing Hockey as a kid. I asked him why that was, and his answer was simply: “…every time I scored a point, the entire team would cheer me on. We’d all relish that specific moment.”
While it may not have occurred to Mark at the time, I took those words to heart. Arguably, he’s the same little boy who played Hockey, but his love for Hockey has transitioned to his growing business. He’s still the same little boy motivated by his teammates, or now, his co-founders.
I don’t think Mark’s motivation is inherently unique. If you think of sports, everyone on the field or Hockey rink is motivated by something different. Some are motivated by money. Others for the love of the game. Others for fame. Every player is motivated by something drastically different.
Shortly after his answer, Mark turned to me and asked why I would play a game like Hockey. If you know me personally, my answer shouldn’t surprise you. I turned to Mark and asked him who the best player on the ice was. He pointed at someone who had just been passed the puck and was quickly making his way towards the opposing team’s goal and said, “that one.” I looked back at Mark and said, “…if my skates hit the ice and that guy was scared of me, it didn’t matter who knew about it or how much money I made, that would make me happy.”
I’m competitive. Scarily competitive. I’ve been that way since I was a kid.
As a child, I can identify quite a few times that lose a game to a friend, and I’d spend the entire next week quietly practicing in my room so that I wouldn’t lose again.
Even today, that’s still the case. I will always have humility in victory and be humble in defeat. However, I will take every single measure to get in the ring and keep fighting. It’s what motivates me every single day.
I cannot tell you what motivates you. However, I can provide you with a couple of recommendations that can help steer you in the right direction. Here are 5 ways to stay motivated:
IDENTIFY WHAT MOTIVATES YOU
Motivation is what drives you to keep going towards your goal. But do you know what motivates you? Think of all of the moments that you found excitement or felt accomplishment in the past. What motivated you, then? What made the situation you were in before better than what you’re facing now? The” why” behind those feelings is the answer to which motivates you.
FOCUS ON 168
There are not enough hours in a day, but there is enough time in the week (168 hours). Benjamin Franklin once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” While I understand the sentiment, not all of us are as driven, motivated, or have the irregular sleeping habits that he did.
I recommend focusing on creating a PHYSICAL weekly to-do list and cross off things as you get them done. Little wins and progress over time are how you accomplish large tasks. Prioritize your most important tasks first with quick small victories in between them to keep you motivated.
There is no such thing as multitasking. It’s a myth. You’re just switching between two or three tasks and statistically aren’t accomplishing anything faster by doing it that way. In fact, it may actually take MORE TIME to accomplish things that way.
REWARD YOURSELF WITHIN REASON
As you stare at that long list of things to do, set up a reward system for completing tasks. As an example, I reward myself to a 30-minute time slot of guilt-free YouTube binging if I can accomplish something that has been plaguing me all day. Consider options like:
- Watching a movie
- Taking an extra break
- Eating out for dinner
- Buying a new book
- Setting up an “under $10” wish list on Amazon and buying something from it.
My point is, don’t forget to reward yourself.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE
You are the company you keep, so choose wisely. I don’t know about you, but I found that if I spend time with friends who eat healthily, I’m almost guilted into eating healthy, which in the long run, benefits my overall health. Adversely, if I spend time with friends who don’t care about health-conscious meals, I’m probably going to order something that I should have.
That cannot be any more true in business. Eliminate people around you who are negative, unproductive, and unmotivated to chase their dreams. Surround yourself with people who are driven, focused, and motivated at going after their dreams. You are the company that you keep.
Jeff Rojas is an American Photographer and author based in New York City. His primary body of work includes portrait and fashion photography that has been published in both Elle and Esquire. Jeff also frequents as a photography instructor. His teaching experience includes platforms like CreativeLive, WPPI, the Photo Plus Expo, Imaging USA and APA.