Being motivated is awesome. It’s exciting. Things get accomplished. Progress is made. Life is beautiful.
The problem is, motivation doesn’t usually last.
Maybe you’re working towards some personal goal, like getting in better shape or developing a new habit.
Or maybe you’ve got a big project in the works, something that takes a lot of time and dedication to complete.
Or maybe you’re just dealing with daily activities like school and chores and spending time with God.
Whatever area it is, the odds are you struggle to stay motivated. One day you’ve got momentum and the next… you don’t.
This is a topic we spent a lot of time during Do Hard Things University. It was a big issue for my students. And to be totally honestly, it’s a big issue for me too.
How do we stay motivated?
How do we see things through to the end?
The first thing we have to recognize is that motivation comes and goes — and that’s okay.
We won’t always feel excited about doing hard things. That’s part of what makes them so hard.
But motivation is a good thing. We should try to stay motivated. And there are practical things we can do to increase our motivation.
The most productive people I know aren’t always excited about everything they do. They get discouraged and lose focus just like the rest of us.
And yet, they don’t stay off-track for long. They don’t let discouragement and a lack of motivation stop them.
Instead, they’ve learned to push through the pain by looking forward to the reward.
This is the secret to staying motivated.
If you can learn to do this your productivity will skyrocket, you will start finishing more of what you start, and you will find new reservoirs of motivation to carry you through hard tasks.
So what does this phrase mean? What does it mean to push through the pain by looking forward to the reward?
Well, the next time you find yourself discouraged about a project, or stalling on a personal goal, or just lacking motivation to do what you need to do…
Look to the reward. Look to the outcome. Revisit “why” you are doing what you are doing.
Ask yourself these questions:
“What’s at stake here? What good things will happen if I follow through and complete this task? And what bad things will happen if I don’t?”
For example, over the last few years I’ve been working on a book. This project has dealt with setback after setback — things totally outside of my control.
As a result, I’ve fallen off the horse time and time again.
With all the adversity, I struggled to find motivation — until I sat down with a sheet paper and wrote out WHY I needed to finish this book.
And there were all sorts of really good reasons… Reasons I’d totally lost sight of… Reasons I just didn’t think about on a day-to-day basis.
As I kept listing these reasons and focusing on them, I felt motivation rising within me.
That 20-minute exercise propelled me into three months of extraordinary productivity as a writer — and all because I reconnected with “why” I was writing my book.
You see, when we’re doing hard things, we won’t always feel excited about the hard things themselves. After all, they’re hard!
But we can be excited about the good that will result from having completed them. We can look forward to the reward.
We may not feel like exercising, but we can look forward to being stronger and healthier.
We may not feel like writing, but we can look forward to impacting other people with our words.
We may not feel like cleaning our room, but we can look forward to the end result.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of this principle.
In Hebrews 12:1-2 we read:
“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”
Our Savior certainly didn’t feel like being crucified. Of course not! But He knew what was at stake. He knew “why” the cross was necessary. And He pushed through the pain by looking to the reward.
We must do the same thing with the difficult tasks God gives us.
Staying motivated isn’t just a luxury. It is often the difference between obedience and disobedience; between giving up and following through.
So the next time you run out-of-steam on a project or goal — sit down and reconnect with what is at stake. Reconnect with “why” you’re doing what you’re doing. And then…
Push through the pain by looking to that reward.
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