A Happiness Journey

Motivation

The second part of Jim Kwik’s triad of Limitlessness is Motivation. Now we all have our Mindset straight, we’ve worked out what it is we want to do, we know we deserve it and we know we can do it. We’ve removed any limiting beliefs we may have holding us back and we’ve sought out our way-showers to expand our subconscious so we know it’s possible. We are ready to find the magical ‘get up and go’ that will drive us forward on this journey to self-betterment, growth and learning.

 

The definition of motivation is the purpose one has for taking action. The energy required for someone to behave in a particular way.

 

In that same way that our mindset is not fixed, neither is our motivation. People say they are unmotivated but that’s not strictly true. They might be extremely motivated to stay on the couch and watch Netflix. You also do not need to enjoy something you are motivated to do, you just need a clear and compelling reason to do it.

 

The thing I found the most interesting is the concept that motivation isn’t something you ‘have’ it’s something you ‘do’. If it’s something you do then it has a process and it can be sustainable. It’s not the same as Willpower so it can’t run out, you just need to apply the correct process and have the right ingredients to keep it going.

 

Jim’s equation for sustained Motivation is: Motivation = Purpose x Energy x S3 (small steps)

 

Purpose is the ‘why’ that drives us to act, energy is the engine that keeps us driving and taking small steps enables us to manage small bite sized chunks that prevents us from becoming overwhelmed along the way.

 

Purpose

Simon Sinek says that people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it. Your ‘Why’ is your greatest driving force and the thing that brings your authenticity out in everything you do. A goal is the thing you want to achieve but the purpose is the reason you want to achieve it, so your ‘why’ needs to be big enough or the goal won’t be attainable. Your passion is not the same as your purpose. Your passion is what lights you up inside, whereas your purpose is what you need to do for the world; it’s how you use your passion. Essentially, the greatest purpose we have in life is to take our passion share it with the world. If you have, and cultivate, a whole bunch of things you are passionate about, then your purpose and your drive to share those things will be easy to find.

 

There is a good reason why you do the things you do, especially the things you don’t necessarily enjoy doing. You may not enjoy cooking a freshly prepared dinner every night but your reason is that eating a fresh healthy diet is important to you, so you make the effort. You may not enjoy setting your alarm at 5am every day to go to the gym before work but your reason is so you can keep up with your kids on a weekend. If your why is big enough it can drive you to do anything. If you’re struggling with the motivation to do something, chances are your why isn’t big enough yet or you haven’t really pinned down what the compelling vision is.

 

Whilst the ‘why’ can be a positive driver it can also be a negative one. If you can’t think of what you’ll have to gain from the experience, there’s nothing stopping you from working out what you stand to lose. If you don’t achieve the goal you’ve set yourself how will that feel? If you ended up just staying exactly the same as you are now how would that feel? Let the emotion of pain provide you with the motivation to drive you to action. We make decisions based on how we feel so really allow yourself to feel the pain of not taking action. Use that pain to propel you. You could consider this ‘dirty’ fuel though and studies show we are more likely to achieve a goal from a positive place, so once you have your negative driver, turn it into a positive. What amazing thing will you have in your life if you achieve your new goal?

 

 

Internal Alignment – Acting consistently with our values

When we consciously decide to identify with our values, habits or goals, or, we consciously decide to un-identify with a habit we no longer want, we find it that much easier to maintain the drive to achieve that goal. For many years I identified as a smoker, even when I quit smoking I was a smoker who had quit smoking. Identifying with that habit that I no longer wanted made it so hard to give it up. Subsequently I fell back into smoking many times over the years. It wasn’t until I consciously decided to un-identify myself with smoking and called my self a non-smoker that it became easier to leave that habit behind. It is important to think about what your values are, because if your values and behaviours are not in alignment with your goal, then it will be that much harder to achieve your goal. Your behaviour has to support your values or you will lack the drive to achieve the goal.

 

Be mindful of the words “I AM”. They are some of the most powerful words in language because they identify you. When you say “I am” something, your brain makes it yours. Saying things like “I am not a morning person” (along with other way more damaging statements) will make them true for you. Fight for your limitations and you’ll get to keep them so be careful what you hitch your identity up to.

 

Energy

Having the physical energy to do a thing is important. It’s already hard enough to achieve those goals without not having the gas in the tank to do them. There are some important things to consider around energy. Are you getting enough sleep, are you fuelling your body with the correct nutrition to make energy in your cells, are you mindful of how your thoughts and emotions affect your energy levels?

 

Nutrition

Your brain and body function the best when they are receiving the highest quality nutrients. If we’re fuelling the tank with junk then we probably can’t expect optimum performance. Eating high quality food packed with high quality nutrients reduces the amount of oxidative stress on the brain. Refined sugar, for example, causes inflammation and contributes to impaired brain function. Whether your goal is a mental or physical one it is still incredibly important to be fuelling the tank effectively.

 

Some top quality Brain Foods:

Avocados (Healthy blood flow aided by monounsaturated fats)

Blueberries (Protect from oxidative stress)

Broccoli (Vitamin K for cognitive function and memory)

Dark chocolate (Flavanoids for improved cognitive function and endorphin release)

Green Leafy Veggies (Choline

Omega 3’s (commonly extracted from fish but there are some amazing vegan alternatives, think where do the fish get theirs from?)

Turmeric

Walnuts (they even look like little brains!)

Water (Don’t want our brains to dehydrate and look like walnuts!)

 

Exercise

When we move we get much needed oxygenated blood to our brain. Whilst we do have a very effective circulatory system powered by our hearts, our muscles also pump blood around by contracting and relaxing around our arteries and veins. Exercise is extremely valuable for brain power as the flush of fresh blood moving through the brain makes us feel sharper. Our learning power is hugely increased by getting moving, and even more so if you get moving outside where you can get fresh oxygen in. When we’ve been sitting for long periods we stagnate, our breathing rate slows, our oxygen consumption goes down and our heart rate slows down. As your body moves, your brain grooves!

 

Negative Thoughts and moods

Your motivation and energy levels are affected by our negative thoughts and moods. If we’re thinking about all the things we can’t do, or we’re bad at then we are less likely to take affirmative action. Thinking about ourselves in a negative way will in turn put us in a negative mood or frame of mind, which will cause us to take a negative body posture (slumped forwards, mopey and defeatist) and instantly drain us of any motivation we had to do something positive for ourselves. Negative thoughts will steal your joy and rob you of happiness, this does not create a conducive environment for motivation!

 

You are the sum of your 8 closest friends

A positive peer group is essential if you want to achieve great things in your life. We are the sum of the people we surround ourselves with. If your peer group doesn’t care about personal growth or a positive lifestyle then you will feel like you’re fighting a never-ending battle. The natural social beings that we are, we want to conform, so we are more likely to conform to our peer group. If we’re surrounded by people who dream big and strive for better then the chances are, so will we. If we surround ourselves with people who have toxic habits then the chances are, so will we.

 

Chill out

Stress management goes a long way to keeping up the energy of your brain and body. If your cortisol levels are high and your running on adrenalin your body will have no extra energy to give you for learning something new, all your resources will be being utilised in preparing to fight or fly. Evidence also shows that chronic stress actually rewires the brain. Because the brain is focused on survival, less activity is sent to the parts of the brain that deal with higher-order tasks.

 

Sleep is not a choice

Quality sleep, getting enough of it and at the right times is as essential to human survival as food and water. I wrote an entire article on sleep and it’s effects on the brain so I won’t go into detail here but if we’re not getting enough good quality sleep then our brain can’t clear out the toxic waste accumulated from the day, it can’t store newly learned materials, and it drains us of our energy the next day as it is the main organ we have in the body that burns the most calories. If you are tired, then your brain is exhausted!

 

Small Simple Steps

When I was studying for my exams at school I remember how overwhelming it seemed having so many subjects to study for and so many exams. A teacher told us to break it all into bite sized chunks so it didn’t seem so overwhelming, and to take one step at a time. Instead of looking at the whole staircase just focus on taking the first step, then the next step etc. A small simple step is working out what the tiniest step you could take would be towards your goal, the step that requires the minimal amount of effort and energy. Add these steps up over time and you have yourself a new habit.

 

Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination

Just start where you’re at. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be. Once you start, you can perfect it over time but stop allowing your days to be stolen by busy nothingness. Procrastination also robs you of the energy to do anything else. When you have something you need to do, and you’re not doing, it constantly weighs heavy on your mind. It then makes it hard to do anything else as you’re wasting precious energy thinking about the thing you haven’t done yet. Studies also show that it leads to unhealthy thought patterns, which can trigger stress, which in turn drains a persons mental and emotional resources. Mark Twain is famous for saying “If it’s your job to eat a frog then do it first thing in the morning. If you have 2 frogs to eat, eat the big one first”. Now I’m not sure why he was regularly tasked with eating frogs but his point was, do the worst thing on your list first, then your day will only get better. You don’t need to waste the whole day dreading the thing you needed to do but you’ve been putting off.

 

Take it easy on yourself

If you regularly struggle to get things done then the chances are you’re probably beating yourself up about it. We already know that unfinished tasks create tension in your brain so layering on a helping of guilt and shame is not going to help the situation. If you feel bad about your lack of progress it will likely make it harder to stop procrastinating. Break the task down, take baby steps, and congratulate yourself for each task completed. That way you can spend the whole day patting yourself on the back and getting stuff done. Imagine how great you’ll feel at the end of the day!

 

Getting in the habit

There is very different literature out there around how long it takes to form a new habit. It tends to vary for everyone, and it can be affected by many different factors but 66 days seems to be the average according to studies done. Dr B.J. Fogg learned that it takes 3 things to change a person’s behaviour long term. One is an epiphany which is not something we can call on demand, one is a change of environment like a move or a new job and the third is to take baby steps to gradually create a new habit. If you’re not in the position to utilise a new move or job then, in the absence of an epiphany, your best bet is to break a new habit down into small steps. It is also largely accepted that it’s easier to replace a less desirable habit with a new habit than it is to just give a habit up. So think about what a replacement behaviour might be that’s healthier than the previous behaviour. Want to break the habit of your mid-afternoon biscuits? Maybe find a healthier alternative to the biscuit, rather than using will power to deprive yourself all together.

 

A morning routine

When interviewing many of the most successful people on the planet, Tony Robbins discovered that the one thing most of them had in common, was they all had a morning routine. Common things they included were movement, even as little as 5 mins to get the body moving and the blood flowing, meditation to clear and focus the mind, a chance to reflect such as journaling, a to do list, something creative like some reading and hydration. All this, whilst NOT looking at your phone. The minute you look at social media, read an email or the news you become responsive and you start your day ‘reacting’ to things, rather than deciding for yourself how your day is going to proceed. To set your day up right is to set yourself up for a successful day. Another good thing about having a robust morning routine is you’re stacking your wins up early. If you leave the house having made your bed, meditated, set your to do list and moved your body, think how accomplished you’ll feel, all before 9am! Go into your day feeling like a winner and you won’t want to do anything to ruin that feeling so you’re more likely to keep kicking goals all day long.

 

Flow

You know that beautiful feeling when you do something you love and you lose all track of time and space. Before you know it you’ve lost the day and achieved so much! There are ways to achieve a flow state regularly, and it makes us a lot more productive when we do. The best way to achieve a flow state is to give yourself at least 2 clear hours, preferably longer. It takes roughly 20 mins to get into a flow state, so you don’t want to have to come out of it too soon. You need to be doing something you enjoy, that is challenging to you but not too hard. If it’s too easy you’ll become bored and if it’s too hard you won’t be able to relax into it as you’ll be stressed and overwhelmed. Eliminate all distractions; each time you are pulled away from flow it will take another 20 mins to get back into it and you may not find it again that day. Turn your phone off or switch off all the notifications, and get yourself somewhere that you won’t be interrupted. Get all the annoying planning done first and set clear goals. If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish then casting around for a mission will hinder flow. Finally, no multitasking. Contrary to what many women will tell you, the ability to multitask is not necessarily a good thing. Studies show that people who multitask are considerably less productive than those who focus on one task at a time. Being able to start and finish a task and cross it off the list is also a big win so you will feel more accomplished and more likely to tackle the next task successfully.

 

Now we have the correct Mindset and the Motivation. To become truly Limitless I will share Jim’s final step, Methods, next week.

 

 

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