The Keys to Unlimited Positive Motivation
Every week I get emails from people asking how to overcome
procrastination and stay motivated. My sense is that
procrastination and motivation are actually opposite sides
of the same coin.
Procrastination is simply avoiding something we don’t want
to do. Rationally, of course, I may want the benefits an
action could bring, but if I also have a sense of fear or
discomfort about doing it, I'll likely procrastinate.
Procrastination is how we cope with situations where we want
a desired outcome, but also expect some discomfort with
doing it, so I view it as a form of negative motivation.
There are many forms of negative motivation. Fear of failure
or punishment can motivate people for brief periods, but
it’s not efficient in the long run. (It may work in the
military, but who wants to live their life that way?) Other
forms of negative motivation include artificial deadlines,
contests, and motivational seminars. These are adrenaline-
based ways to temporarily boost performance, and they all
work to a limited degree.
But they are not a firm foundation upon which to build a
life. Negative motivation works in an emergency, but not for
Positive motivation, on the other hand, is value-driven and
far more efficient. When I’m motivated by a sense of destiny
or desire, my attitudes and my behavior are aligned in the
same direction. And that is the key to success!
When there is consistency between our values (love of
family) and our stated goals (being a good parent), AND we
have a clear path to achieve the goal (books or classes,
good models from our own parents, etc), taking action is not
difficult. It may even be fun--sometimes we call it "play!"
When our values, our goals and our strategies (all three)
are aligned, human beings are incredibly productive! Want
examples? Ask any kid learning to walk, or wanting to stay
up past her bed-time. Ask a teenager who wants to make the
team, or date someone her parents don’t like. Ask any
Olympian about training on a cold, rainy day. When our
values, our goals, and our strategies are aligned, we
It’s only when these things are out of alignment that we
struggle. When one of my key values (to spend more time as a
family) conflicts with my goals (to get that promotion), or
when I don’t have a viable strategy, I get in trouble.
Without an effective strategy, why try?
To achieve more, begin by checking your core values. Many
people get in trouble at this point. We say we value
ambition, but we actually value vacations or relaxation even
more. Or, here’s a common example--most people say they
value a comfortable retirement, but what they actually value
are the short-term satisfactions of a new car, a new gadget,
or eating out.
To increase motivation, start with a rigorous examination of
your core values. What is most IMPORTANT to you?
Second, make sure your daily actions and the "small" goals
of daily life actually reflect your values. Ask most adults
to list their five- or ten-year goals and they’ll sound
pretty good. But ask them to list their daily projects or
their plans for the weekend, and you may see a conflict.
Make sure your value of financial security is reflected on
your monthly bank statement.
Third, always work with tried-and-true strategies, and
remember that "hope is not a strategy." Have a plan, and
work your plan. Make an action list or create a "road map."
(I like the metaphor of a "recipe for success.") And here’s
a hint: Most ambitious people know they should have written
goals, but few take the time to develop a great strategy.
Have a solid, workable plan!
To reach more of your most important goals, make sure your
core values, your short-term daily activities, and your key
strategies are aligned. Make sure you can say, "day by day,
I’m getting better and better." When your daily actions
accurately reflect your core values and you have a solid
strategy, you’ll over-come procrastination and win big every
Dr Humbert is a Success Strategist, author and popular speaker. Imagine what's possible! To inquire about having him speak to your group or organization, or to schedule an initial coaching consultation, contact him
or visit his site at Philip Humbert.com