If there’s something we all share, is that desire to make our lives better. Different people have different goals and dreams, but we all have some goals and some dreams.
So why is it that some people stick to their goals, while others just can’t find the will to pursue their own objectives?
Most of us start, but few manage to stay motivated.
To find patterns and actionable tips, I have asked 38 high-achieving entrepreneurs one question:
How do you stay motivated when working on a goal?
From Chris Guillebeau, bestselling author who travelled 193 countries, to clean-energy-from-space entrepreneur Peter Sage, their stories and achievements are different, but their advice can be applied to any goal.
All the principles and secrets are very actionable, and you can use them to get yourself closer to your own objectives by following their example.
So without further ado, let me introduce the 38 experts.
Meet the experts:
Evan Carmichael | John Lee Dumas | Marie Forleo | Chris Ducker | Brian Tracy
Jaime Masters | Peter Sage | Ramsay Taplin | Tor Refsland | Justin Jackson | Neil Patel
Joe Pulizzi | Sarah Peterson | Grant Cardone | Stu McLaren | Lewis Howes | Steve Chou
Neville Medhora | Andrea Beltrami | Shawn Stevenson | Graham Allcott | Annie Mueller
Mike Vardy | Martina McGowan | Brandon Epstein | Scott Eddy | Pauline Cabrera
Joshua Coffy | Sam Parr | Chris Bailey | Chase Jarvis | Tim Bourquin | Joel Brown
Jeff Goins | Jordan Harbinger | Chris Guillebeau | Hal Elrod | Matt Sandrini
The key to staying motivated is doing something that you’re passionate about.
Too many entrepreneurs start a business just because they see an opportunity to make money. Once they realize it’s way harder than they thought, they quit. The most successful entrepreneurs in the world didn’t start their businesses with the sole intention of just making money. They wanted to change the way something was done. They wanted to make an impact. They loved what they did.
Find the thing that makes you come alive. Find the business that you would do even if you never got paid to do it because you love it so much. That’s where you need to be because the only thing that is going to get you through the hard times of running your business is the insane passion and love for what you do.Find the thing that makes you come alive. Click To Tweet
John Lee Dumas
I think of the bigger picture, of how the ripple effect I do is going to impact the world. How if I am able to inspire 100 people, and they are able to inspire 10 people each, NOW we are talking IMPACT!Think of how the ripple effect I do is going to impact the world. Click To Tweet
Forget about motivation: losers wait for motivation, winners get shit done.
So many people wait to feel “motivated” before they do anything. Here’s a newsflash: happy productive people do not wait for motivation, they just get on with it.
Read more tips from Marie on motivation here.Losers wait for motivation, winners get shit done. Click To Tweet
One of the things I do to make sure I’m focusing on a goal properly is to simply not allow any outside distractions.
When I’m working towards the end of a project, for example, I’ll have nothing else on my calendar. No calls, no meetings, no content creation – nothing.
Just all-out focus on attaining the goal of finishing the project. It sounds simple enough – but, it’s harder that you might think. However, I remind myself that whenever I say ‘yes’ to something, I’m instantly saying ‘no’ to something else, and go into ‘head down’ mode!Whenever you say yes to something, you're instantly saying no to something else. Click To Tweet
The greatest motivating factor when working towards achieving your goal is deciding what you want for every aspect of your life. Imagine that there are no limitations on what you can be, have or do. Imagine that you have all the time and money, all the friends and contacts, all the education and experience that you need to accomplish any goal you can set for yourself. What does your life look like?
Once you have a clear vision on what you want to achieve and can envision what that looks like, you’ll be more likely to work towards those goals daily because they will be more tangible and concrete.Imagine there are no limitations. What does your life look like? #motivation Click To Tweet
I break a goal into small chunks and then specific action steps. I also visualize and meditate on the outcome almost daily. And then I have other people beat me over the head if I’m not making progress on something 😉 (either my team or a coach I’ve hired or my mastermind group!)Break a goal into small chunks and then specific action steps. Click To Tweet
To begin with one has to recognise there is a big difference between Motivation and Inspiration.
Motivation is temporary. Like gas in a car, it burns hot, applies good energy in the moment but always runs out and needs topping up. Motivation is useful to get out of states such as apathy, lethargy or procrastination. But those states will usually return when the motivational fuel tank runs dry. Motivation is about two things. Moving away from pain (most common) or towards pleasure and is usually linked to having your reasons ‘Why’ focused on you. I.e You having a better life than the one you perceive right now. Or having people see You in a better light, or getting out of Your state of scarcity, or moving towards You having more certainty etc. etc.
Inspiration is different. Inspiration does not have a finite fuel tank that is subject to the temporary states and vicissitudes of motivation and will power. Inspiration is self perpetuating. It powers you towards goals from a different source. It is the nuclear fusion of the human spirit and it is found in one place. Outside of your own focus. When you are focused on yourself you can be very motivated. But when you are focused on serving a bigger picture and a greater cause than just yourself, then the wellspring of action comes from a deeper place. One only has to look at a standard Marathon and see the numbers of people who are running for the first time. Not the athletes who run because it is part of their identity but those who are stretching themselves beyond their previous limits. Far more make it when they are running for someone or something else. A charity, a memory of a fallen colleague, to inspire their family or friends by showing what is possible. You get the idea. If you find yourself lacking in energy for your goals, the answer is simple. Which garden is your ‘Why’ planted in. The garden of yourself will need constant tending. The garden of contribution beyond yourself has a far richer climate. You reap what you sow. Plant wisely.Motivation is temporary. Inspiration is self perpetuating. Click To Tweet
The biggest motivation for me is when I think about using my blog to help people.
When I write articles I try to solve problems for people as best as I can, and I always commit to using some of the money I make to donate to charities that I am passionate about.
I’ve noticed that when I think like this it’s a bit easier to stay motivated when things get stressful or boring.
“Crushing your goals is not rocket science. But you need 4 essential things:
- Thing #1 is having a strong why. The stronger your why is, the bigger is the chance that you will actually achieve your goal.
- Thing #2 is the willingness to sacrifice. You only have 24 hours in a day, and you can´t do it all.
- Thing #3 is ability to move forward and complete the important tasks, regardless of whether you feel like it or not. You need to turn yourself into a machine, and complete the uncomfortable tasks, regardless of what happens in your life (yeah, it´s the hard part, I know).
- Thing #4 is having the ability to take a big hairy goal and break it down into smaller manageable goals. I created a system on this that I call the DUMB SMART system.
You might be thinking “Okay, Tor. That sounds cool, and all that. But does that REALLY work?”
Judge for yourself. I got featured on 158 top blogs in my first 14 months of blogging and built an email list of 3645 subscribers. I built a coaching business from 0 to $3000 per month in less than 3 months, and I earned $5500+ in my first launch to a very small email list.
Want to crush your next goal? Find your strong why, be willing to sacrifice, turn yourself into a goal crushing machine and break your big goals into smaller manageable goals.
When a guy from Norway with English as his third language can do this from his home office. Then guess what?
So can you!
Stop talking, and start hustling. I believe in you!Stop talking, and start hustling. Click To Tweet
Two months before I released my book, I was floundering. I was 90% finished the project, but that last 10% was taking me forever (sound familiar?). I’d forgotten a crucial piece of startup wisdom:
“When you set a deadline, you gain clarity” – Jason Fried and DHH
Once I set my deadline everything changed. I knew that every day that passed brought me closer to launch. I couldn’t afford to waste days.
Vague launch plans like “I’ll launch sometime next year” aren’t good enough. Put a date in the calendar!Once I set my deadline everything changed. I couldn’t afford to waste days. Click To Tweet
I keep my goals small.
Over the years I’ve learned that when goals take too long to achieve or are extremely hard, it is easy to lose focus. So I now break larger goals into smaller ones, which allows me to maintain focus, hit the goals faster, and stay motivated.I break larger goals into smaller ones to stay motivated. Click To Tweet
I believe the key to staying motivated to reach a goal is two-fold – first, write down the goal and include an “accomplish by” date – second, review that goal every day. If you start your day with these two small things, you’ll be more focused on turning your goal into a reality.Write down the goal and review it everyday. Click To Tweet
I’m motivated by a lot of things, but I find that making the goal really big and then chunking it out into an actionable plan (quant based marketing, except it can be applied to all goals) keeps me the most motivated.
I also try to listen to myself and my past patterns. When was the last time I had success on a similar goal (even if it was just one single successful day)? How can I reverse engineer that?Make the goal really big and chunk it out into an actionable plan. Click To Tweet
I don’t focus on one goal I focus on monster goals to make my life what I want it to be. I want it all! If aren’t working to have it all you will end up working on goals that consume parts of your life and leave you dissatisfied. I write goals to create a monster Super Life not accomplish a single goal.
Here are few tips that have worked for me:
- Make sure your goals serve all parts of your life not just one. The right goals should improve all of your life not just a part of it.
- Have MONSTER sized goals. Most people have goals so small that while they may be attainable they aren’t big enough to keep your excited through the obstacles, rejection and disappointments.
- Write your goals down everyday to remind yourself where you are going and what you are doing and why. If you aren’t focused on your goals everyday you will cease to pay attention to your goals and simply get caught up in whatever is in front of you.
Lastly “have goals so big your problems are pale in comparison” This has never let me down. When I am consumed by problems and annoyances I know my goals are not big enough.Have goals so big your problems pale in comparison. Click To Tweet
I stay motivated by doing two things:
- I stay connected to the WHY of the goal.
- I keep the WHY front and center.
I ask myself, “what’s the root reason you’re working towards the goal in the first place?” and “why is that so important?”
My friend Gail Hyatt says “when you lose your why, you lose your way”. And it’s so true. You will always face obstacles that will give you every reason to quit or settle. But if your why is big enough, it will pull you through.
And the bigger the goal, the more visual reminders you need. Posters, images, screensavers, quotes, music… anything that reminds you of your WHY must be front and center so that you see it everyday. I personally like to create images that give me a visual of the “finish line”. Then I just put them where I’ll see them every day. I also have automated text messages that get sent daily to remind me of my WHY.
So I get connected to the WHY and then I keep it front and center.Connect to the WHY of the goal and keep it front and center. Click To Tweet
I focus on my vision and think about the legacy I want to leave behind. My vision is more powerful than my excuses.My vision is more powerful than my excuses. Click To Tweet
The main way I stay motivated towards a goal is reminding myself that I’m learning a ton in the process.
Worse case scenario if everything were to go wrong is that I would still have the knowledge I gained on my journey.
Ha! I’d love to think it’s constant, but it goes in waves.
One weird thing I do: If I know I need to keep my brain super active, I actually just don’t eat all day. Sometimes I’ll go till 2pm or beyond eating nothing all day, with maybe the exception of coffee. I don’t know why but on those days I’m constantly motivated and work hard (and am maybe a little hungy, but I doubt it’ll kill me) 🙂
I also use this same to-do list method for years now….it’s saved me a million times:
I'd love to think motivation is constant, but it goes in waves. Click To Tweet
To stay motivated when working towards a goal I always keep my eye on the day to day and not the goal as a whole, which saves me from paralyzing overwhelm. I break my main goal down into actionable pieces and then break those actionable pieces into daily tasks…and tackle things one baby step at a time.
Before I know it, I’ve made huge progress and sooner than later I meet my goal with motivation and spunk still left in the tank. It’s all about making things doable and giving yourself daily and weekly wins. Those wins will carry you to the finish line in the quickest amount of time. Efficiency, baby!Daily and weekly wins will carry you to the finish line. Click To Tweet
To me, motivation is all about energy.
So, to keep myself motivated when working on my biggest goals, I make sure to be relentless with my personal health practices. I stay hydrated, I do some physical activity each morning, I eat nutritious foods, I make sure that I get amazing sleep; I basically stack the conditions in my favor to ensure that I’m on top of my game energetically.
As an added motivation bonus, I’ll tune into some motivating content or conversations that motivate me even more on my mission. Whether I’m listening to an inspiring podcast, or having a powerful conversation with a successful friend, I always find a way to fill my cup with a little added motivation each day to take me over the top.I make sure to be relentless with my personal health practices. #motivation Click To Tweet
The best way I find to stay motivated is to regularly review progress.
I think of it as like being your own project manager. Put something in your calendar so that once a week, you take yourself off for a meeting. Ask yourself what progress you made in the last week, what’s scaring you about what you’re trying to achieve, what’s getting in the way, what’s working, what’s not – and what next.
Getting clarity on the “next physical actions” you need to take is surprisingly powerful – without it, your brain tends to focus only on the end result that you’re NOT yet achieving (!), and all the reasons why you’re NOT taking action, but having a clear idea of the exact next steps (and being able to picture yourself in your mind, physically working on it) will help you generate momentum.Have a clear idea of the next steps to generate momentum. #motivation Click To Tweet
It’s important to track progress, and to love the process. I need to see forward movement, even if it’s just a little bit at a time. So when I’m after a goal, whether it’s financial, or writing, or fitness, or how I spend my time, I set up a little tracker either in my bullet journal or using an app. Either way works, just as long as there’s a way for me to see what I’m accomplishing.
It’s also important for me to enjoy the process that gets me to the goal. Ultimately, these processes are what make up most of life. You reach a goal, boom! That’s great… and over in about a minute. But the process of reaching the goals is what takes up our days and hours. So I’m not shy about tweaking the process so I enjoy it, creating rituals that support my process, investing in tools or training needed, or otherwise making the process as enjoyable and important as the goal itself.Enjoy the process that gets you to the goal. #motivation Click To Tweet
I stay motivated when working towards a goal through one simple tactic: time theming.
I theme my time (months and days, primarily) so that I have an overarching focus with every moment of my time that hasn’t been specifically scheduled for meetings and other time-based objectives.
Every day of the week has a theme so my mind knows exactly what to focus on.
I also theme my months so that my mind can make faster decisions on what larger goal or project to apply my daily theme to. For example, if Tuesday is my Writing Day and my monthly theme is “Develop The Productivity Diet product” then my primary focus is to write something for The Productivity Diet. Time theming is simple to do, flexible enough to be freeing, and durable enough to weather anything that tries to derail it.I stay motivated when through one tactic: time theming. #motivation Click To Tweet
Martina McGowan, MD
I stay focused on the end – goal itself.
If it is a stretch goal, I lay out the steps methodically, so that I can have a sense of renewed enthusiasm as I conquer each round.
Small rewards along the way are helpful. These need to be aligned with the goal as well.
If things are not working out perfectly, and they rarely do, I take a step back, breathe, reassess and change the plan of attack without changing the goal itself.Reassess and change the plan of attack without changing the #goal itself. Click To Tweet
I have a clear vision of what I want to create and embody the necessary identity daily to get me there.Have a clear vision of what you want to create. #motivation Click To Tweet
Motivation is not magic. It does not come in a bottle. Everyone is looking for a shortcut when it comes to success, and those are the people that normally fail. The key to hitting your goals is setting them just above your comfort zone, but not so far that is seems unrealistic.
I’m very competitive, so I keep a close eye on others in my industry, that is a big motivation factor for me. Also, I am constantly thinking of what it will look like when I hit my target, that paints a very detailed picture in your head, which always keeps you on the right track.Everyone is looking for shortcuts when it comes to success, and normally fail. Click To Tweet
I usually write the end result on a paper and put it in front of my workspace, then I use a planner to write down my to-do list. Sometimes, I would put a deadline for each so I’m more motivated.
Also, I make sure I get enough sleep before working on something because I know I won’t be as productive when I lack sleep. In some days that I don’t really feel like working at all, I would go out and get a fresh air, then I’ll get back to being inspired.Make sure to get enough #sleep before working on something. #motivation Click To Tweet
Goals are merely the end result of a series of small victories.
That’s why I create ‘victory milestones’ between where I am and my end-goal. For example, when I started Flight Media, I wanted to do $1 million in annual revenue within the first five years, so I made the goal of doing $100,000 my first year, $300,000 my second year, $500,000 my third year, $750,000 my fourth year, and $1,000,000 my fifth year.
The first year, we were off track, but we kept pushing. Year two, we nailed it on the dot. We lucked out and in year three, we broke our 5-year goal, but had I compared each year against my 5-year goal, I would have felt like it was out of reach and too unrealistic.
But just like in the Tortoise and the Hare, persistency, in small steps, wins the game – so celebrate the small victories.#Goals are the end result of a series of small victories. Click To Tweet
I’d say I’m very goal oriented but I’m not exactly sure why. I think it started when I was a kid and playing sports. In high school and college I was a track and field athlete. I wanted to win every race. It was all on me to do well, not a referee or teammates and I didn’t want to get embarrassed. However, winning wasn’t really the goal, more so crushing the competition and proving that I want it more and am willing to work harder/smarter and do more to make that happen. In other words, winning felt OK but losing felt like death.
During training I had anxiety that the other runners were doing more than I was so that drove me to work harder. I think that strategy carried over to business, because to me this is all just a game. So now in business I like to find the metrics of the fastest growing media companies when they were at our stage and aim to destroy those numbers.
It’s all about competing for me, and that’s what drives me.
For me, setting daily intentions works better than almost anything else.
It’s on a daily basis that we actually act toward our big, long-term goals, and thinking each day, and each week, about how you’re going to achieve them works wonders!
Passion doesn’t lie. When other photographer’s show me their work and I can hear an undeniable sense of excitement in their voice, it gets me interested in what they have to say. Instead of pretending to be excited about work that’s several years old, it’s much better just to go out and create something new that keeps your blood pumping.
There is a way better vibe, and it is easier to be productive around motivated people.Create something new that keeps your blood pumping. #motivation Click To Tweet
The only way I know how to accomplish big goals is to break them down into very small goals that I can achieve on a daily basis. Every day on my calendar gets one small piece of the larger goal and when I accomplish that I’m done for the day.
I also schedule a specific time of the day to work on it. If I don’t schedule that time and block it out on my calendar, it doesn’t happen. Each step should take no longer than one hour per day to accomplish. If I find it’s going to take longer than an hour to do that step, I haven’t broken it down enough.
Even if I finish that’s day’s steps early, I keep myself from doing the next step.
I know that sounds counterintuitive, but doing so keeps me from getting burned out and I’m more motivated for the next day’s hour of work. This strategy also keeps me from getting a step “half done” which doesn’t feel as good as getting everything done that was planned for that day.
I check in with myself on a daily basis to make sue my Values, Beliefs, Habits and Skills are all primed and in line with the goal I am aiming for. I also have a 10 Year Vision game plan in place and my faith is fed by my vision.
When you are in alignment and clear on where your headed you are going to hit your goals with high energy and precision.My Values, Beliefs, Habits and Skills are all in line with my #goals. Click To Tweet
I think you have to give yourself little wins. Instead of worrying about writing a whole chapter, I’ll shoot for just 500 words or so, and when I finish that, I can celebrate a win. Bribe yourself with little celebrations along the way.Bribe yourself with little celebrations along the way. Click To Tweet
I never needed help with motivation really, BUT one thing I do to keep going or get excited about something is I think long-game. Like, “sure. I want to sleep in now or take the day off, but in 3 years, if I do x habit 3x/week, I’ll be able to speak Chinese, which is pretty cool.” – so I get up and work at it. Usually though, at this stage of the game, almost everything I do is fun. Even email.
I also schedule things when I know I won’t need motivation. Like right now I’m outside on my roofdeck in the sun doing email because it’s brainless and I knew I’d have a block on friday to do 3 hours of email because that’s what I do every friday afternoon. No need for me to “get psyched” – it’s already planned for when I’m naturally psyched 😉Almost everything I do is fun. #motivation Click To Tweet
Author of Born For This & The $100 Startup
I don’t try to “stay motivated”—I do what I’m motivated about in the first place. Trust me, it’s much easier. 🙂Don't try to 'stay motivated' - do what you're motivated about in the first place. Click To Tweet
Author of The Miracle Morning
We have all been conditioned by society to think that if we want more for our lives, then we have to do more. Work harder. Network more. Do more.
However, when you study the world’s most successful people, you find that the real secret/key to taking your success to the next level isn’t doing more, it’s becoming more. So, the way to “stay” motivated when working towards a goal is to “start” motivated everyday, by creating a morning ritual that is dedicated to you becoming the person you need to be to easily and consistently achieve your goals.The key to taking your success to the next level isn't doing more, it's becoming more. Click To Tweet
My motivation is created by setting the right goals, and maintained by daily gratitude.
When I set longer-term goals that really matter to me, I can constantly remind myself of how privileged I am to be able to pursue them. When I frame it that way, it just feels very arrogant to be down and not put in the work.
A rush of happiness picks me up and I am suddenly fuelled by gratitude.
I like to collect big and small wins in my jar of awesome and my journal, so I can celebrate my progress and go back to those special moments whenever I need a boost.#Motivation is maintained by daily gratitude. Click To Tweet
Principles to stay motivated.
Wow. That was very inspiring, and I learnt A TON of principles while putting together this post.
I can spot patterns on how to keep motivated, and they’re triggered in two key moments: when you set your goals at the start, and while you work towards your objectives daily.
Before you start: set goals that keep you pumped.
Most of the work is done right at the start, to make sure you have the right goals.
Grant Cardone talked about setting monster goals that are so big your problems go away, while Chris Guillebeau and Evan Carmichael stressed how following your true passion is the best way to make sure you won’t give up along the way.
Thinking long term and considering your legacy is another way to create goals that will stay. Lewis Howes said how thinking about the legacy he wants to leave behind is fundamental to strong goals, and Brian Tracy suggests having a clear vision of what you want your life to look like in the future.
The daily work: set yourself up for success.
Although strong goals tend to be longer-term, it’s important to break goals down into smaller chunks and track the daily progress.
Martina McGowan, Andrea Beltrami, and Joshua Coffy, all talked about the importance of acknowledging your daily small wins, while Graham Allcott suggested scheduling regular progress reviews to make sure you’re on top of things.
Having other people support you can be an important part of this process, and Jaime Masters shared how valuable it is to be able to count on the support of her team and her mastermind group to keep on track.
Creating the right conditions for you to move forward is a choice that will make the daily grind a lot easier.
Shawn Stevenson mentioned the importance of health, fitness, and sleep, as well as listening to motivational podcasts. Jordan Harbinger put emphasis of only doing things that are fun, while Mike Vardy boosts his productivity by focusing on one thing at a time using the principle of time theming.
Lastly, contemplate the impact you are making. Ramsay Taplin explained how considering the impact his work makes on other people’s lives is a great way to pick yourself up when you feel a bit demotivated.
Ready to smash your own goals?
To help you create solid goals that are structured for you to succeed, I have created a free ebook on how and why to set goals that matter to you. To download your copy of The Goal Setting Handbook, click the button below and you’ll be ready to smash your own goals.
I can’t wait to hear about your progress.
What was your favourite piece of advice in the post? And how do you stay motivated?
Email me now and let me know.