Throughout my life, from elementary school to post-employment activities (commonly known as retirement), I have been self-motivated. I wanted to learn. In high school I enjoyed going to classes so much that I had perfect attendance. Though my first year in college, away from family and friends, was emotionally tough, I stayed with it and graduated in four years as planned. The federal government has reported an unemployment rate of about 70 percent among blind and visually impaired adults; I was out of work only one month during my thirty-three employment years from 1977 to 2010.
I was in the third grade at McKinley Elementary School in Compton, California, when I decided that I would go to college and would major in math. Nothing and no one could deter me from my goal to attend college. I changed courses from math to law upon graduation from Yale, but I did not take a break. I finished law school seven years after graduating from high school. I even failed the bar exam twice. For me, the third time was the charm.
Though I needed support from others in gaining admission to Yale and the University of Southern California, I needed little encouragement from others to complete my courses of study. The same was true for taking the bar examination and for seeking employment. However, after obtaining a decent and steady job, getting married, and having children, I got comfortable. I stopped setting for myself new goals. My wife helped me to avoid stagnation by suggesting new projects for me.
Do you have the motivation to act in your own best interest?
Motivation is the heart's and mind's ability to convince the body to act when you encounter a moment of inertia. It is the force that keeps you going when circumstances compel you to stop. You can maintain the motivation to act if you have reasons, reminders, revisions, rejuvenescence, and reinforcements.
To be motivated is to have a reason to act--a reason that is so compelling that it moves you forward. Such a reason has to come from within you. That is, it must emanate from your heart. The idea can come from someone else. Your friends, relatives, counselor, or spiritual guide can suggest reasons or plant ideas in your mind, but those external prompts will not be a compelling reason for you to act if they aren't what you desire. Your life partner, a friend, a coach, or a motivational speaker might suggest to you reasons for moving forward, but for those reasons to be compelling, you must adopt them as your own.
What do you want? The answer to this question is your compelling reason to act. To know what you want is to understand your needs and feelings and what circumstances or actions would satisfy them. When you know what you want, (a) you can easily make decisions when you are presented with options, (b) you have a goal toward which to set your plans, (c) you can ignore distractions, (c) you can avoid having others push or lead you down paths that don't reach your goal.
Motivation will be lacking if you don't know what you want and you have no goals toward which to work.
To retain motivation requires that you have reminders of the outcomes you want. It is possible for you to know what you want and to set your goals yet fail to attain success because you lose focus. You can lose focus if to reach your goal will take time--a goal such as saving to make a major purchase. You can lose your focus if a crisis causes you to delay your pursuit. You can lose focus if the journey to your goal is arduous.
Establish a system for reminders. Write down your desires and goals. Post them in a conspicuous place. Read them often. Commit them to memory. Share them with a friend who will harass you about them.
To maintain motivation may require revisions to your plans and goals. What we plan today determines our steps for tomorrow. However, our plans are not the only factor. There are circumstances over which we have no control. Weather. Nature. Proper functioning of equipment and machines. Actions of other people. When our plans collide with external circumstances, sometimes the course is to persist with patience; other times it is to revise the plan.
Don't let circumstances change your mind about your goal. Your goal should be revised if, and only if, what you want has changed. If you still have the desire, you should only revise the plan if circumstances over which you have no control get in the way. Unfulfilled desire can zap you of motivation. Doing what someone else wants instead of what you want may be a reason to act but cannot be a compelling reason to act.
Motivation needs rejuvenescence. Your desire for your goal must be regularly stoked; your will to move forward despite adverse circumstances needs to be strengthened. You were born with the capacity to motivate yourself. However, that innate ability is blunted by constant bombardment with negative words and disappointing events. Because your mind can become cluttered with deprecating thoughts, feelings of inadequacy, or recollections of failure, you need help at times to find the reasons for moving forward.
To maintain your forward motion, you must devise a way to keep fresh in your mind the reasons for acting. You have to focus on the objectives not the obstacles. You must recount your achievements not your failures. When you share with another, you have to emphasize the positive not the negative.
Take a break from your pursuit of your established goals. Schedule time for recreation of the body. Seek out entertainment for the mind. Regularly nurture the spirit. Be careful not to break so long that you lose focus of the goal and become enwrapped in inertia.
Keeping your motivating abilities in tune requires positive reinforcement. Motivation comes from within, but external sources can be supportive through your struggling times. A book can be reinforcement. You can expand your knowledge and clarify your understanding of yourself, your purpose, and/or your goal. Sermons or inspirational speeches can be reinforcements; they can open your heart and stoke your desire. A friend can be reinforcement; he or she can offer encouragement, feedback, advice, and cheers. Reinforcement provides you with revitalization and enthusiasm to act in your own interest.
When on your own you find the reasons, reminders, revisions, and rejuvenescence to move forward, you are self-motivated. You were born with the power to do it on your own. However, it is not uncommon that we need someone else to help up to identify and develop our innate abilities. Ultimately, you must act in your own best interest.