I am highly motivated to work hard for someone I love. Because I don't want to disappoint them, I put in the effort necessary to produce the best result I can. The stronger the love, the harder I work. If you are not motivated to do the work, maybe it's because there's no love for the one you are doing it for. And here's the kicker: It doesn't feel like hard work when you are doing it for the love.

An important reminder of how motivation works... I'm highly motivated to work for people I like and those who appreciate the work I do. Those who succeed in this world understand this. Appreciation may not be tangible, but it's extremely valuable. It's an important aspect to understand when you are depending on others to complete work on your behalf (delegation).

I mention this because if you're not getting the results you seek, if people are slow to respond to your requests... ask yourself if you've acknowledged them them in the past.

When we don't feel appreciated for the work we do, watch how quickly our enthusiasm falls away.

Appreciation may not be tangible, but it's extremely valuable.

"Those who fantasize about how wonderful life could be are ill prepared for the setbacks that frequently occur along the rock road to success, or perhaps they enjoy indulging in escapism and so become reluctant to put in the effort required to achieve their goals."

So it's not about visualizing the result, it's about creating an image of what it looks like to do the work that leads to the result you seek.

You don't want to visualize becoming a bestseller...

...instead, visualize doing the work that proceeds becoming a bestseller. What are the actions that lead to a bestseller? Interview best sellers and focus your questions on the actions that led up to them becoming one.

Focus on the actions, not the result

Reflect on the result, but think about the biggest hurdle you will face to achieving it. Focus on what you need to do when you face the challenge. Do this for each challenge you can shape.

Consider what it takes to complete a triathlon. You want the feeling of accomplishing a difficult task and the improved physique that many triathletes have. When asked 'why do you do it' near the end of his 4th Ironman triathlon, his answer was that it's all about setting out to complete what you started. If you've never done it before, ask someone who has.

This process can be applied to any outcome you want to produce.

Visualize the outcome, but focus more on the actions that lead to that outcome rather than the result itself.

Bob Parsons explained to me that until you can accept the worse possible outcome and still be ok with it, you'll never take the steps needed to achieve it.

Confidence is the key to success

If you don't possess the confidence, nothing will get you there. Beginners mind has an element of naive enthusiasm. It's when we get excited about something before we understand the steps to get it.

For visualization to work, we must believe we can achieve whatever it is we are committed to. We will gain confidence along the way not because of the absence of roadblocks, but because of our ability to triumph over those roadblocks. What's key here is to possess the confidence that you have the ability to overcome whatever obstacles stands between you and the result you seek.

Real Life Example

I'm going to try this myself with an area of my life I've been struggling with for years - sleep. I know how good it feels to have a good night's rest. I achieve it maybe once/month. Now I want to have that feeling everyday. So here's what I'm gonna do about it.

  1. Remind myself of how good I feel when I'm well rested.
  2. Focus on the obstacles that get in my way of getting a decent night's rest.
  3. Visualize how I will overcome those obstacles when they appear.

The problem is that by the time you are not sleeping, it's too late. It's far more challenging (perhaps impossible) to get back to sleep once you're awake. The best you can do is try again tomorrow and avoid the actions that led up to the sleeplessness.

Last night, I got caught up in a project after 9pm. Normally I'm getting ready for bed by 9... but tonight, my mind was highly engaged in a project. I rushed through my pre-sleep ritual and lied in bed awake. Even once I did fall asleep, I awoke several times throughout the night.

5 Steps to Achieve Any Result

  1. Make a step-by-step detailed plan (milestones).
  2. Commit to it publicly (accountability).
  3. Remind yourself of the benefits of completion (your why).
  4. Reward yourself for completing the milestones in your plan (celebrate tiny wins).
  5. Record your progress (when we measure what matters, what we measure matters more).

Notes from 59 Seconds

Concrete plans lead to major life changes.

The Owl and the Cheese

Research participants were given mazes on paper.

The goal was to get the cartoon mouse from one side of the maze to the other.

In one version of the maze, a cartoon owl loomed over the page, hunting the mouse. In another version, a morsel of cheese awaited the mouse at its destination.

Which group completed the maze faster, the ones who were moving toward the cheese, or the ones who were fleeing from the owl?

The cheese group dominated. Participants completed more mazes, more quickly, when their imaginations were propelled toward a reward even as mild as cartoon cheese, than when running away from an uncomfortable state even as subtle as the threat of a cartoon owl.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it. If you're moving toward a specific, desired goal, your attention and efforts are focused on that single outcome. But if you're moving away from a threat, it hardly matters where you end up, as long as it's somewhere safe from the threat.

The point: We thrive when we have a positive goal to move toward, not just a negative state we're trying to move away from.

If we hate where we are, our first instinct often is to run aimlessly away from the owl of our present circumstances, which may lead us somewhere not much better than where we started. We need something positive to move toward. We need the cheese.

Recommended Reading on Motivation