Happy people plan actions, they do not plan results.
– Denis Waitley
In this article, I reveal the basics of motivation and, above all, a concrete strategy that you can use to develop your motivation to achieve what is really important to you!
In the early seventies, the American sociologist Edward Banfield described in a book1 the results of a major study that focused on personal success.
The goal of his research was ambitious.
Banfield wanted to know why some people became free of fortune while others remained penniless all their lives.
As a good sociologist, Banfield had made several assumptions about the social context of these people that led to financial success.
Among these elements, he had identified the family, the degree of education and the influential people that those who became rich knew.
What was his surprise to discover that beyond all these factors, a personal attitude weighed much more heavily in the balance of success: the ability to act on a long-term plan.
According to the Banfield study, the people most likely to achieve their goals and get rich were those who paid attention to their future.
At each of their daily actions and decisions, these people thought about their future.
They acted so as to realize their dreams through their vision and their objectives.
The findings of this sociologist are very interesting since they illustrate once again the relationship between what we do in the present and the results we get in the future.
For great results, it takes time …
The more we focus long time to achieve distant goals in time and these goals can be important!
Rome was not built in a day, as they say.
You will notice that the people we respect the most in society, those who have achieved the most impressive results, have usually had a long-standing vision of what they wanted and worked for many years.
To achieve great goals and motivate you, you need to sharpen your long-term vision.
Why is it so difficult to motivate yourself, especially in the long run?
There are two major forces that direct the majority of our behaviors.
It is the search for pleasure and desire to avoid everything that makes us suffer.
These forces influence our choices, our actions, our thoughts and therefore … our motivation.
And one of the biggest problems when it comes to realizing us is our motivation to do it!
But first, what is motivation?
Contrary to what we often believe, motivation is not necessarily about doing something constructive.
In fact, we are motivated every day to do a lot of things.
Some are constructive, others not at all!
We always do Something.
Even the person who spends most of his time sitting on his chair watching TV while smoking cigarettes is motivated to do that rather than anything else.
|Motivation is only the mobilization of our energy and attention in a specific direction.|
And what makes us choose the direction?
What we believe which brings us pleasure or allows us to avoid suffering!
Every conviction that drives our motivation implies a series of beliefs.
If you are motivated to eat junk food and sit all day long, it is because you believe that this attitude gives you pleasure.
On the other hand, you do not know the chances that this way of life can hurt you a lot …
So, do you find that you often lack motivation to do constructive things that would improve your life?
If so, you must work to change your beliefs, that is, the meaning you give to things in relation to the pleasure or pain they bring you.
Every action you take every day builds your life or, on the contrary, helps to destroy it.
Remember, you have real power over your life as long as you take responsibility for the results you get.
The single-wheeled car …
Imagine for a moment a car with only one wheel.
Would roll it?
She would drag her bodywork miserably and probably turn around in circles …
So, each of your convictions looks like a car.
To you, however, to install one, two, three, four or why not five wheels!
For you to decide to do one thing over another (your conviction), you must have reasons to do it.
These reasons are equivalent to the wheels that you install to your automobile.
And a car with four wheels could go much further than a single-wheeled car …
The same is true of your convictions.
Do you want to eat better?
Want to quit?
Do you dream of losing weight and not taking it back?
Do you want to exercise more?
Would you like to make more money?
You have the potential to succeed all of this.
But to achieve this, you must motivate and take action.
The example of Lucie and Pierre
To illustrate how the motivation process works, let's take the example of a long-married couple, Lucie and Pierre.
For several years now, Pierre has taken Lucie for granted.
He does not make any more effort to be understanding, pleasant, pleasant, in short, he is less and less easy to live.
Although Lucie shares her suffering with this situation, Pierre does not change his attitude.
He is not motivated to do it because it associates no more suffering in the efforts to change that the pleasure he is currently experiencing to stay as he is.
After a while, Lucie's tolerance reaches its limits and she separates from Peter.
The latter suddenly becomes aware of all the happiness he had to live with her and especially all the suffering he is now experiencing.
He manages to convince Lucie that he is really going to change and she agrees to come back, just to see if he will keep his word.
She does not regret giving him a chance because Pierre begins to improve at once.
He becomes more empathetic and builds the couple with Lucie, which he did not do before.
Quickly, Pierre realizes that he is much happier as he was before.
What motivated Pierre deeply to improve his attitude?
The fact that the separation changed the conviction that he had of what he associated with pleasure and suffering.
He now knows that it is much less painful to make a daily effort to live in harmony with Lucie than anything he will lose if they separate.
This motivational process works the same way in all other facets of our lives!
|If, on a daily basis, your motivation is not at the rendezvous, it is simply that you do not support your convictions of rather good reasons in quite a large number.|
Your convictions are like cars.
It's up to you to install one, two, three or four wheels!
You always have the opportunity to find new reasons to take action for the better.
These reasons consist of information that convinces you that it is the best choice for your health, finances, relationships, etc.
And where can you get such information to nurture your conviction to act and motivate you in the long run?
In books, on the Internet, through discussions with others, in some well-researched television shows on topics such as nutrition, science, etc.
Gradually, you will become aware of all the advantages that you have to reach your goals and to all the suffering that you will experience if you do nothing.
Over time, without realizing it, as you move forward, you will enjoy an iron discipline, you will not have the impression of making any effort and the results will be there.
You will then have a real collection of four-wheel racing cars that will move your life in the right direction. 😉
Get motivated … in the right direction
As you've just seen, when you enrich your beliefs about doing things that build your life, you act directly on your degree of motivation.
But that's not all: you also enrich your vision!
Indeed, nothing is as effective at achieving you as your long-term vision, because your vision supports your beliefs.
In other words, to be happy in all dimensions of your life, you must have a vision long-term consequences that each of your actions bring you.
Because what happens when the looking for pleasure short term significantly increases your risk of suffer long long-term ?
Self-realization involves making small efforts each day.
Decisions to exercise, eat well, save money instead of spending, working on new projects, quitting, etc. cause some suffering in the short term.
And why can not we more easily discipline ourselves to undertake these constructive actions?
Simply because we only see suffering in the short term and we forget to think about the happiness and great satisfaction that we will experience in the long term.
We lack perspective, quite simply … and, therefore, motivation.
But that may hurt us much more in the future!
For example, I believe that the suffering associated with lung cancer and the risk of dying dozens of years earlier is greater than that of quitting smoking …
What do you think ?
And the pain associated with the lack of money in retirement is much greater than spending a little less each week on goods and services that we do not always need …
In other words, to build a truly motivating vision, we must compare the pleasure and the suffering we experience in the short term with those we will experience in the long term.
This is what the following table summarizes:
|Short term||Long term|
|Looking for pleasure and desire to avoid suffering||What we focus on naturally and with little results.||What we forget most often and who gives the most pleasure and allows to avoid the most suffering.|
If you always keep your vision in mind, you will know immediately if every action you take in the present helps you achieve your goals or, on the contrary, moves you away from it.
This way of thinking is that of prevention: Prevention is better than cure…
To this maxim, I would add: it is better to build than to let oneself wither away…
That's also why I wrote at the end of this article that good habits are hard to come by but that it's easy to live with them, while bad habits are easy to take but it's very sad to live in their company.
This is what the following table illustrates:
|Short term||Long term|
|Good habits||Habits that require effort (suffering that lasts a short time).||It's easy to live with these habits (pleasure lived very long).|
|Bad habits||Habits that do not require effort (lack of short-term suffering).||It's hard to live with these habits (great suffering in the long run).|
Catastrophic decisions are made every day simply because we favor a short-term pleasure that causes much more suffering in the long run.
It is a lack of vision that also (many) political decision makers suffer.
Do you want a flagrant example?
Think of the deadly consequences of underinvestment in road infrastructure that has crumbled more than one viaduct …
We must wait for viaducts to collapse and kill people2 for concrete actions to be taken!
And again, the bill to pay for renovating the infrastructure is much higher than if the governments had invested the necessary amounts to measure.
The behavior of large companies that do not care about the environment is exactly the same lack of vision.
So, is there a way to exchange your bad habits for better ones?
Of course !
The solution is to become aware of all the suffering you will experience in the long run if you do nothing.
What happens when you do not do what you need to do to improve your life?
You do this simply because you associate more suffering with taking action than doing nothing…
In this case, your vision is probably limited to short term.
To counter this, you can combine more fun and gratification with what you need to do.
And how to proceed?
Think of all the fun you will experience as a result of the good decisions that will come out of your long-term vision:
- Maintain good relationships with others
- Have excellent health and live in a healthy body you are proud of (self-esteem and confidence);
- Enjoy a rewarding career;
- Possess investments that allow you to retire earlier, etc.
Also think of all you will lose and all the suffering you will experience if you do not act now to achieve your goals.
Think of all that your inaction will cost you (and losses and suffering) …
A strategy to motivate you also consists of you focus more on the result and not on the effort you have to provide (or the fact that you do not want to provide it).
And one way to reinforce your good habits is to become aware of the suffering of those who have not made an effort or maintained long-term vision.
For example, if you meet people older than you who are in poor physical or financial health because of bad choices they made, think that may be your case if you do not do anything every day from now on.
But on the other hand, also find models of people that correspond to what you want in life.
These people are living proof that you can get a lot more if you give yourself the trouble !
The more you know how much satisfaction you will get in the future, and less bad habits that only bring you short-term pleasure will seem attractive to you.
For example, if you save to retire faster, you will gradually have more fun saving your money than if you spent it.
Your long-term vision of your savings will become synonymous with financial freedom, a much greater satisfaction than any small purchase you could make in the short term.
And here is what is most beautiful in this process: a positive reversal will take place !
Which means you will end up experiencing more pleasure in acting according to your good habits that previously caused suffering.
You will not have become masochistic!
It is simply that the perception and conviction of what brings you pleasure and suffering will have turned from short term to long term.
It will be more enjoyable to realize yourself through your long-term vision than to satisfy yourself with the small pleasures of bad habits that prevented you from improving your life.
Thus, the search for pleasure and the escape from suffering are the basis of our personal realization.
If you are able to master these two forces, you will master your life and choose what you want to achieve!
The art of seeing big … and long-term
You now know all you have to gain if you specify your long-term vision and goals.
And to succeed what you do, first, identify the impact of your actions, decisions and goals on your future life.
This strategy is very helpful in helping you choose what will bring the most positive changes to what you expect from life.
For example, if you decide to eat a good diet each week and exercise instead of just watching TV, these decisions and actions for your health will give you great results.
In the short and medium term, you will have more energy, you will feel better about yourself and you will be proud of yourself.
In the long run, you will avoid illness, suffering and increase your life expectancy!
Whenever you think long-term, you build a little more the future you dream of.
If you decide to put money aside and invest well, not only will you avoid unpleasant surprises when you retire, but you will be richer than you would have imagined through compound interest.
This decision may imply less consumption on a daily basis, but you will not regret it because you will get much more in the long term (this perspective corresponds to the exercise to nourish your conviction that I presented to you).
But to expect much from the future, we must develop a personal discipline that is not widespread …
This discipline consists of being able to refuse a little pleasure in the present to get a much bigger one in the future.
To capture the full force of long-term thinking, I invite you to read the results of a surprising experiment I report in this article.
We often tend to choose the ease and pleasure in the short term.
As long as we do not develop the conviction of choosing what is really important in our lives and acting accordingly, we do not get results.
For example, it requires an effort to nurture our interpersonal relationships and manage conflict rather than fleeing it.
It's harder to give yourself goals and work hard than to live from day to day.
Getting the life you want requires effort, but what an incredible satisfaction to succeed!
This is what the great opera singers, astronauts, medical specialists and Olympic athletes have done, among others.
These people had a long-term vision, they disciplined themselves and worked hard to get everything they had.
We do not all have the desire or the abilities to become an astronaut or an Olympian.
Me first. I use it as an example to show all that the long-term vision can build.
This discipline requires a sense of sacrifice.
And I know how much the word "sacrifice" can scare!
So, what kind of sacrifice?
Simply the ability to sacrifice some small, short-term pleasures to get much more out of your life.
That's why I've already talked to you about the importance of giving you goals and defining your priorities.
This personal strategy allows you to choose what you really want in your life.
You then organize your time and activities to make these goals a reality.
The longer you define your vision, the more you will expect from life, and the more it will give you!
I guarantee you that as long as you get the good habit of working to achieve yourself in the long run, the little daily pleasures (doing nothing, eating bad, listening to TV, etc.) will seem bland and unattractive compared to life that you will build and the motivation that will lift you.
If you liked this article, know that it is from my book Unlimited growth. You can get it in ebook version to read it in full.
- Edward C. Banfield (1970), The unheavenly city. The nature and future of our urban crisis. Boston, Little, Brown, 308 p.
- For example, the collapse of the Concorde viaduct: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concorde_Viaduc.
What I recommend to you to go further:
And I speak with full knowledge of the facts! 😉 To continue, here is the following article.