There's a question I'm asked a lot. Whether it's someone asking through an Instagram direct message, a YouTube comment, or an e-mail, the question I get asked so often is “how do I stay motivated?” I think the person asking me that question probably watches my fitness routine or active lifestyle each day on social media, and it makes them automatically assume that I'm motivated or stay motivated all the time in order to live my life the way I do. Honestly, I wish that were the case. But, the truth is that I'm definitely not motivated all the time. The routine they see is not a reflection of my motivation, but rather of my self-discipline. I just wrote a blog and posted a YouTube video on self-discipline last week if you'd like to go back and check it out.
Before I answer their question or dive deeper into this though, I'd like for you to think about how you define motivation. I think that's where we need to start. Take a few moments to think about it or even write it down.
I define motivation as anything or anyone that inspires you to the point that you feel energy to do the things you want or feel you need to do. Ultimately, I define motivation as a shot of energy.
Now, I know one could make the argument that you need motivation in order to be self-disciplined. My counter to that argument is motivation, by itself, is incomplete. Motivation has an expiration date, it doesn’t last forever. You know what I'm talking about, because you've experienced it for yourself. You just watched a video or read an inspirational caption that has you fired up and ready to put in the work, but for some reason, that energy you felt, known as motivation, eventually runs out. Now, you find yourself in the repetitive cycle of having to find something to motivate you until it runs its course and no longer motivates you, and then you have to start looking for the next thing to motivate you again. Sometimes, whatever got you motivated before doesn't even have the power to get you motivated again. This can be confusing, frustrating, and absolutely exhausting - which is the exact opposite of the consistent feeling or mindset you're trying to achieve.
This brings me back to my point: motivation, by itself, is incomplete. So what's the rest of the equation? What completes motivation? In my opinion, the answer is passion and purpose. When motivation runs dry and no longer has the power to get us feeling energized to do what we know we need or want to do, it's passion and purpose that will keep us going. True passion and purpose run deeper than motivation.
This may sound elementary or oversimplified, but think of the motivation equation this way. Motivation is like a highly caffeinated energy drink. It will give you a burst of energy that feels great but eventually that energy runs out and your energy levels crash. You would have to drink one energy drink after another to try to sustain that energetic feeling, but I think we can all agree that's not healthy or sustainable. Now think of passion and purpose as healthy food choices. Healthy foods are the real energy our body needs to operate and function at a high level over an extended period of time, it’s how we do our best to ensure longevity. We can't live on energy drinks but we can definitely, and should, live on healthy foods.
Alright, now it's your turn again. I want you to stop and take a few minutes to think about what you feel is your purpose and/or passion. If you didn't write down your definition of motivation, I would encourage you to at least take the time and put in the effort to write down what you feel about your purpose and passion. I know what I'm asking is difficult. Finding or defining your purpose and passion is not a simple task. This could take you some time. It requires deep reflection, humility, and honesty with ourselves to figure out what we are truly passionate about or what we feel our true purpose is. if you're not able to come to a conclusion or a definitive answer as to what your purpose and passion is right now, that's ok, at least I got you thinking in the right direction. Or to reference our food analogy again, you're now focusing on healthy food choices instead of trying to fill a void with energy drinks.
I wouldn't ask you to do something that I'm not willing to do myself. I've spent a lot of time self-reflecting to determine my purpose and passion. I realized during the process that it was very easy to catch myself thinking of my purpose as my career. Your purpose is not your career, but your career can be a part your purpose. For example, I feel my purpose is to use the painful experiences I've faced in my life to relate with others and love them well. It gives purpose to my pain. If I can bring hope to someone going through a difficult time, because I know what that feels like, then my painful experience has purpose and power. I'm passionate about those who are hurting, anxious, and in need. I've learned the way my career at this point serves my purpose is to use my platform, self-discipline, and ability to relate to others to reach those who are hurting.
Of course, I look for content, people, or things to motivate me to give me energy and inspiration to pursue my purpose and passion, but I've learned not to rely on it. When things get difficult, it's not motivation that keeps me going. It's grit and my faith that allow me to take one step after the other to keep pursuing my purpose even when I don't feel like it.
Before I wrap this up, I want to make sure you're not misunderstanding me as saying that motivation is wrong or pointless. I'm simply saying it's not the complete answer. There's absolutely nothing wrong with watching a motivational video to get you amped up for your workout or to go to work. There's nothing wrong with listening to a podcast about someone who achieved something incredible to help you to stay self-disciplined or find courage. Motivation can be useful and powerful, but we must learn how to utilize it properly. We must learn how not to rely on it. We must learn how to find the ability to keep moving forward even when our emotions aren’t giving us boost, or often, are even working against us.
I’ll finish with this. I’m committed to doing what I can to motivate you and lead by example. Your feedback and response by positive action motivate me, but it’s my passion and purpose to love you well that keeps me going, keeps me disciplined, keeps me training, and keeps me reaching out, even when I often feel like no one is listening.
Stay the course. Stay LFTD.