It’s hard to maintain motivation especially when it is a task where instant results are not always visible. How do you do it? Keep it up until it becomes routine? I remember the Billy Ocean theme song from the film, “The Jewel in the Nile” – “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going” and the internet abounds with memes of a similar theme. You know – Keep On, Keeping ON. All of these motivational calls to action can be very irritating when life keeps kicking you in the teeth.
Maintain motivation to move your business forward
Motivation equals momentum and sometimes our business and our lives get stuck and it all seems as if nothing will ever change. When you cannot see any results for all your hard work it can be very dispiriting. So how do you shift gears and maintain motivation in the face of this impasse?
A simple metaphor: I was so badly injured after the crash that I was unable to move around very much for almost 4 years. By then I had put on so much weight due to lack of movement and the medications I was on, that I looked like a round ball. I knew exercise was the answer to shift the weight and more importantly, to regain my health, but the pain I now suffered made it difficult. It was easier not to do anything, blame my pain or find other things I had to do so I could ignore the exercise call.
Eventually I knuckled down to it and split it into short bursts a few times a day so I could accommodate the pain. Progress was slow, which sapped my motivation every day, but I gritted my teeth and kept it up. Eventually after several months of teeth gritting I began to find it had become part of my normal daily routine. I wouldn’t even stop to think, it was sort of automatic pilot to start the sessions and I actually missed doing them if time did not allow.
Teeth gritting is not a very popular strategy in these days of instant gratification and instant results but it is what the most successful businesses are truly built on. To maintain motivation in your work and life I strongly suggest closing your ears to the cries of, “success in 7 days” and try hard to ignore the instant fix merchants peddling impossible dreams.
Maintain motivation by establishing a routine
You probably know the Lao Tzu quote about the thousand-mile journey…sometimes making that one step is the tipping point to fuelling progress, but I would argue that it is around the 500th step when it gets difficult. To maintain motivation you have to keep taking those steps, every day, and grit those teeth. Iteration is the key, repeat, repeat, keep at it. There is a myth that it takes 21 days to create a new habit, erroneously taken from a scientists’ observation that 21 days was the minimum time for people to adjust to something new in their lives, A more comprehensive study has shown it can take anywhere between two to eight months to build a new habit into your life.
“On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit. 
In other words, if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days.”
This should not put you off when trying to achieve momentum, maintain motivation and move forward. If you give yourself permission to achieve a longer-term goal over a length of time it actually takes the pressure off trying to be whizz bang every day and hit the top of the mountain before you are ready. There will be days when your motivation deserts you but don’t beat yourself up about it. Keep taking those steps and forgive yourself those slow days.
Maintain motivation for the long haul by breaking goals down into bite sized pieces
In my case, it took years to shift the weight down to a level I was happy with but my overall fitness improved, as did my health. I still keep up the daily exercise routines to this day to maintain the improvements.
I remembered this lesson when I moved back into work and I apply the same strategy to everything I do in business too. I grit my teeth, split it into manageable chunks, keep it up and eventually it becomes part of the fabric and can be done without thinking. And the results? I hit my goals – Success!