Driven, single-minded, focused, hard-working, A-type, perfectionist — whatever you want to call them, chances are good that you know at least one person in your life who always seems to be hitting “go” at all times. It’s inspiring, sure, but it also seems exhausting sometimes. (As a certified workaholic, I know. I get it. I’m exhausted by me, too.) But there are some things I’ve gleaned from the people around me who are just plain motivated. They know how to make their focus work for them. And while you needn’t go 110% in every area of your life starting Now!, learning how to craft motivation where there was none is something we can all benefit from, whether in small doses when you need to ace a project, or as a way to rev up whatever dreams and goals you have for your life.
1. They are always learning.
Not only so they can reinvigorate and remind themselves why they’re going after whatever it is that moves them in the first place, but also because reacquainting yourself with all of the new ideas and practices in the field is a way to learn how to streamline your process. It’s how you learn new tricks so that you work smarter, not necessarily harder (and being able to conserve your energy so that you can tackle key components of whatever it is you’re working on is always a good idea.)
2. They develop routines.
Whatever it is, the minute you get into the habit of doing it, chances are good that everything else will fall into place. Routines enable you to think less about certain things that shouldn’t require as much thought — giving 100% to everything you do is laudable, but a good recipe for burnout. Routines set a tone for when you know you’re supposed to switch gears and focus on your work. It’s that shift that helps you get into a groove faster.
3. They find productive ways to release their stress.
Whether it’s a daily workout — I personally hit it hard in spin classes not just to exercise, but to also let go of a lot of pent-up energy I accumulate — or a 10 minute walk around the block whenever things get frustrating in the office. It helps to funnel your stress in a way that’s productive and not destructive. Turn your daily coffee run into a minute to take a few deep breaths. Get a cookie if you want. Just figure out how to siphon off some of that stress before it boils over into things that you really should be level-headed about.
4. They visualize.
If you act like something’s already come to be, it’s actually not going to make you work less because you feel like you’ve already accomplished it. Rather, it makes you feel like it’s possible, and because you’ve put it out in the world already, you know you can achieve it. So you do. Close your eyes, dream big, and allow yourself to wonder what it would be like if you actually had whatever it is that you’re aiming for.
5.They learn when to listen.
And by that, I mean both that they are open to advice and help from those who have been there before — but also that they know when to shut their ears off from detractors and people who doubt them and would love to see them fail. You don’t need that negativity in your life, especially if you’re already wondering if you’re going to be able to make it happen as it is.
6. And to whom they should listen.
Because even the people with the best intentions — those who believe in you and your goals — are sometimes blinded by the fact that there might be a few reality checks along your journey. While people might have the best intentions, they don’t always have the best advice, and it’s worth seeking out the people who will be honest with you and help guide you, not just those who rally behind you and are good for your ego.
7. They trust that things are going to work out.
While of course they put in their share of hard work, if you doubt yourself the entire way, the chances that you mess up are that much greater. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, and really, it benefits no one. Sure, it might sound a little faith-y, but that’s why religion has stuck around for as long as it has (read: for. ev. er.) Sometimes, it helps to just believe that what you’re doing is the right thing to do.
8. They don’t waste their time being motivated about everything.
Rather, they pick and choose what means the most to them, so that they hit it hard. It’s rare to find someone who is motivated in every area of their lives — and for sure, there are those rare unicorns — but most people have some portions of their lives where they’re all-or-nothing. Motivated people know how to use this to their advantage, and funnel their whole beings into the things that matter the most to them. Life is too short to care about absolutely everything, and that’s not your responsibility anyway. Find what moves you, and commit yourself wholeheartedly to it. Being motivated will come naturally.