motivation and identity; how to work with yourself

Today’s post is going to be around motivation, specifically the importance of identity. Simply put, we can jeopardise what we want in the long-term if it doesn’t align to who we think we are. That might sound a little complicated, so let me give you an example. Say for instance you think of yourself as a lazy person, then it’s naturally going to be hard for you to find the motivation to hit the gym, or do the work that you need to do and so on. Because your mind’s biggest priority is to maintain the identity that you’re lazy.

So the answer is obvious, change how you perceive yourself, and you’ll naturally pull yourself towards doing the things you know you should be. Great, so the way you get started is by asking yourself questions. The brain loves to solve problems, and our minds are constantly stuck on this negative loop of questioning why you’re not good enough. Behind your awareness, your brain is probably saying,

  • Why am I so lazy?
  • Why do I self-sabotage?
  • Why do I consistently make mistakes?
  • Why do I always shoot myself in the foot?
  • Why does no one like me?

Your brain asks a lot of internal questions, of that nature. Your brain being a problem solver, tries to find answers to these questions. When your brain is constantly thinking about your flaws and how you aren’t good enough, it’s very hard to feel good about yourself.

So to change how we think, we have to change the questions we ask ourselves. Set the subject of these questions on the positive traits you’d like the build. For example, questions like:

  • Why do I feel so motivated to work out today?
  • Why do I so effortlessly exercise hard at the gym?
  • Why is it so easy for me to get exercising?
  • Why is the feeling of exercising so enjoyable?

The net result of these questions is that is you bring to your conscious, memories of the times you felt this way, even for a very small amount of time. And by briefly experiencing these memories, you’ll realise that if you felt that way once, you can feel that way again. Again, phrase these questions with the assumption that you feel the way you desire. The brain will solve the problem for you, and the purpose of this exercise is to give you a burst of motivation, and opening your eyes up to the thought that you are capable.

To be honest, that’s the gist of this exercise but while I have you here I’d like to discuss something important. Books, YouTube videos, Ted Talks, motivational speeches, inspiring interviews and this huge self-help industry can help you feel motivated. These resources can help you feel motivated, but motivation is just the first step. Real willpower, discipline and drive, the type of force that can really transform your life requires hard-work. There’s no secret for that. The sooner you realise, the sooner you can achieve your true potential. That being said, I want to give you a few quick strategies to make that journey as easy as possible.

Habits drive success. Habits take time to form. It’s very easy to hype yourself up, thinking that one action plan is going to transform your life in 30 days, 60 days or 90 days. Reality is, that’s not the way the world works, and that’s not the way human nature works. Take brushing your teeth for example. It’s good for you but does the thought of brushing your teeth make you anxious and stressed? Probably not because you’ve been practicing for years. It’s second nature. That’s the way to approach the actions you need to take, consistently, to get to where you want to be in life. Start small, set sustainable habits and execute, execute and execute.

Want to be able to do 100 pushups in a day? Figure out where you are first, and set small milestones accordingly. Maybe you can do 15 pushups in a row, do that consistently, every single day, for a week. Then add 2 more push ups each week. And keep going. If you feel like it’s too much, take a step back and maybe have no increase for a 2 week period, then increase again. Take baby steps, and slowly move towards the ultimate goal but be determined. Hitting your daily quota isn’t all of the picture, do more research into the effect of sleep on performance, proper hydration, proper diet, stress management and so on. Go above and beyond with the full conviction you will hit the target, and you will.

If you want to improve your finances, figure out where you are first. Then look into cutting down your expenses, and growing your income by working more, or starting a side business, picking up a weekend job, leasing something you own, selling a service to people, researching property/stocks, growing and profiting off a social media presence. In today’s day and age, the possibilities surrounding finance are quite endless, it’s all a matter of knowledge which all can be accessed 100% for free on YouTube and Google. Consistently, every single day dedicate 30 minutes to researching and creating a plan for your financial goals.

The next strategy is to put your distractions away. The saying out of sight out of mind is relevant now more than ever. With hundreds and thousands of distractions bombarding our focus every single day, it could be a phone notification, it could be the gaming console, it could be your comfy bed. Put the things you know will distract you out of sight, or move to a different location with the tools you need for your work. The brain takes 10-20 minutes to get into the flow of something, throwing a distraction in every 5 minutes means you can never get any meaningful work done, nor can you actually be focused. Distractions happen, but it’s been scientifically proven, putting possible distractions away is the easiest way to maintain focus on what happens. An example is if you want to cut down on cookies, don’t buy them or put them far away in the opposite side of your house.

Don’t overcomplicate things and just get started. The biggest hurdle for anyone’s motivation is just getting started. A lot of people have a condition called paralysis by analysis. I’m sure that you, or people you know, are affected by this condition. Almost all of the time, we heavily exaggerate how difficult and challenging a task would be. Let’s be real, thinking about it will not, and will never, make it easer. So, to put it bluntly, stop whining and just get started.

Lastly, and quite honestly the most important thing that I’ve found is that motivation momentum exists, and it’s powerful. The more important things you get done, the stronger the confidence in yourself and the more strength you have in accepting and taking on more challenges. I really strongly want to clarify something here, I don’t mean ticking off meaningless things from your to-do list because we’ve all been there. I mean scheduling your day on your calender, setting time for your most important priorities first and then the lesser important ones. I don’t need to give an example, because universally we know what this means and looks like. Prioritise the important stuff, the stuff that’s significant to you.

As much as productivity is important, set aside dedicated time for your loved ones, set aside time for your creative side, set aside time for you. Like Yin and Yang we need balance, high levels of productivity require you to ensure you set aside time to slow down or guess what, you’ll burn out. In a nutshell, have balance, focus on the important stuff first and smashing tasks helps build your momentum, which helps you tackle more tasks with ease and confidence. Motivation momentum is a strong force, but have the discipline to take advantage of it and get things done.

I know this was a long one, and I hope you read it all. If not, that’s okay too.

Best wishes and catch you next time,

Anandu Pradeep

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