The answer may lie in your end goal. You may think, “I know why I'm working twelve-hour days: I want to get my goal off the ground.” And to that, I respond: “Yeah, but…”
-Yeah, but… why do you want to do what you have in mind?
-Yeah, but… how will you know when you've reached your game?
-Yeah, but… what after your goal is accomplished. What then?
Think of a group of metal workers in a mid-Twentieth-century steel factory. The first group knows that each day they're working to build airplanes and ships to liberate occupied Western Europe. They go to work knowing their labor and very sweat and lifeblood are being put to use for a greater good.
Now there's a second group of metal workers. They have no idea what their daily effort is going towards. They show up, put in their ten hours, and clock out without any understanding of how their work will be used.
Finally, we've got a third group. Unfortunately, these workers are greeted at the gates every morning with a large flag flying overhead – and the red, white, and black flag has a large swastika emblazoned in the middle. As they work, they are blasted with Nazi propaganda, being constantly reminded that the products of their labors are going to protect the world from the scourge of Jews, gypsies, and other “undesirables.” Whether or not the workers share this perspective, they are forced to salute the Nazi flag and claim allegiance. Those who don't are punished and might even lose their jobs.
Which group of workers do you think feels most motivated during the day? If you haven't figured it out yet, having a goal isn't enough. Sometimes your goal is fantastic, perfect – the perfect combination of motivational and inspirational. But if you're not feeling the love, there's a good chance your lack of motivation comes from a lack of vision. Put it this way: Having a goal that is misdirected, unclear, or not motivating enough can be worse than having no goal at all.
So if you're not waking up psyched for the day ahead, lack of vision could be the issue. Thank goodness, there's an easy way to rectify this issue…
Get Clear on Your Why
Today's culture is full with rags-to-riches stories, those now-successful entrepreneurs who were able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, inserting themselves into a life of leisure and umbrella drinks. Analyzing these stories – at least the ones that seem to be true – show that one thing many of these self-made successes had a big reason to succeed.
- Financial guru Dave Ramsey had faced bankruptcy and was at risk of losing his family.
- Music phenom Jewel was living in a car.
- Motivational coach Carrie Wilkerson was $100,000 in debt and 100 pounds overweight.
All of these people had huge reasons for working hard, day in and day out. Like explorers who had burned their ships after arriving at the New World to take away any option of retreat, success was not an option; it was an imperative.
So to bring this home, if you're working to put food on the table, you're not going to worry too much about motivation. You're going to get up every morning and start hustling because you have no other option. But what if you're not in this back-against-the-wall position?
You can still create a strong “why,” one that motivates and inspires you. Money is rarely sufficient; instead, think of what you'll do with the money you earn. Take your family on a trip? Ensure your parents' comfortable retirement? Build houses for the homeless? Take your goal beyond a number in the bank,
If you're trying to lose weight, why did you pick your goal weight? To look sexy and get a new girl or boy friend? To be able to shop in any store you want? To be around when your kids have their children? You need to know the why behind the goal in order for it to successfully motivate you.
During this exercise, you might determine that your goal is misaligned with your values. You may need to re-align your goals, find a different “why,” or find a new goal altogether. Don't let that discourage you, though – better to re-evaluate now than to reach your goals only to look around and wonder why you bothered.
Photo – Flickr:Sean MacEntee