Great things in life were not achieved easily. Joseph Schooling winning the Olympic gold, Warren Buffet becoming CEO of a company worth almost 500 billion dollars, or even running a 2.4 under seven and a half minutes. Imagine the time and effort all these individuals spent on training, the unearthly hours Schooling has to get up for swim practice, and the hours upon hours Buffet spends poring over annual reports. What keeps these individuals going, doing what they do over months and years? What keeps them so motivated? Honestly, I don’t know. What I do know is that their motivation is so strong that it pushes them to accomplish all the training and tasks required, day-in and day-out, for years and years.
Let me give you an example. If I told you to be on the jetty at Pulau Ubin at exactly 3.30 AM tomorrow, would you be there? More often than not, you would say no, and come up with excuses like ‘I have work tomorrow’, or ‘Tomorrow is family time’ or ‘I scared ghost’.
Now, what if I told you on if you stepped onto the jetty at exactly 3.30 AM tomorrow, I would give you $1 million? All of a sudden, everything changes. You can take MC, your family time can be postponed, you can pay someone $100 to come with you. And you would definitely, triple confirm plus chop be on the jetty at 3.30 AM on the dot, even if it means camping there overnight or rowing yourself to the jetty.
So what changed? What made the probability of you being there jump from almost 0% to almost 100%? The only difference was the $1 million, which was your motivation. Think about the difference motivation makes.
The motivation in the previous example was external. What is the point of going to the jetty in Pulau Ubin in the middle of the night? Likely just for the million bucks. I believe we should find our own internal motivation, and reflect on our own beliefs, ideals and goals in life to determine what drives us. Is it financial independence? A long and healthy life? More time to spend with loved ones? To travel the world? These intrinsic motivations help to remind us daily and push us to do what needs to be done to achieve what we want.
Intrinsic motivation will also help us to recognise and get rid of excuses which are stopping us from reaching our goal. Differentiating between excuses (‘I don’t want to go jogging because the weather is hot’ or ‘I look weird when jogging’) and real reasons (‘I cannot jog because I broke my ankle’) will help work towards our goal much faster.
If you want to achieve your goal but are unable to find intrinsic motivation, you can use external motivation. Look for those types that are free but effective. Want to get fit? Find some friends (or make new ones!) to exercise regularly. Want to cook more? Make themed meals, like Mexican food one week, Japanese food the next, and so on. Another way of using external motivation is announcing your goal to everyone. This makes you accountable to all the people knowing about your goal, and will force you to keep pushing and working towards it.
So what do you want to achieve? How badly do you want it? Take some time to think about these questions.