As a side job I am currently teaching German through Skype on an online learning platform. During one of the lessons we were talking about motivation. My student asked me for my opinion on how to best stay motivated while studying a foreign language. Actually often when you desperately search for motivation you won’t find it, it rather finds you when you are least expecting it: During the last few days ahead of the deadline for your piece of work. When reaching out for support. Or when you are inspired by other people around you. The key ingredient to motivation however is having a vision in my opinion and to not stop dreaming about it.
Have a vision to inspire you
A vision is a goal you aspire to achieve. This can be anything. It is the result you aim for when getting to work. If you were to start a business your vision could be to add massive value to other people’s life through your products or services. If it’s a personal vision it could be to master a skill or to achieve a certain degree of freedom in your life. A vision is not something that is easy to achieve. It’s something that makes you feel inspired, a compelling future you like to imagine yourself to be in.
A vision is not a plan on how to achieve the goal. This is something you can develop along the way while moving towards the vision. It fine if you do not know yet how to achieve that goal and if it seems to be nearly impossible to do so. Still you should be able to believe that it might come true one day.
An example for a vision could be to achieve fluency in a foreign language, if you are learning a language. Fluency might be something that seems very far ahead and that requires a lot of effort to achieve. Still if fluency in a foreign language is something that inspires you this would be a good vision to go with.
A vision motivates you through giving you a mental picture
One of the books I am currently reading is “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Despite being nearly a hundred years old it is still a bestseller. A key element in the book that is introduced in the first chapter is to have ‘desire’. Desire is described as having an accurate and detailed picture of were you want to be in life. According to the book this desire can not be tentative. It needs to be definite and you need to be committed to achieving it.
Napoleon Hill portrays desire as the starting step to any achievement in life. If you do not have the desire to achieve your goal, you won’t be able to make much out of it. I do think that desire very closely resembles a vision. Both point you at creating a mental picture of your goal.
How to make the motivation last?
When we start out with something new, usually we have a lot of motivation. This motivation however quickly wears of after some time and you are running after the next thing. Its because what you mistake for motivation is often just temporary excitement. Motivation needs to be created by you when you are getting started. If you only create motivation once, it will not stay. You need to create lasting motivation through repetition over time.
At this point our vision comes back to the picture. It is what you remind yourself over and over again. As your vision has a positive mental picture attached to it, every time you bring it back to your consciousness it gives you motivation to get to work.
This is also the reason why you will never able to find motivation when you are looking for it. When you search for motivation you are usually just more demotivated then before. Your role needs to be an active one in creating motivation. So when someone tells you they can not find motivation for something it is because they have not taken the effort yet to create it through a positive and compelling vision.
When you keep doing repetitions, at some point you won’t notice you are doing them
The good news is that at some point you will automatically remind yourself of your positive vision without making any effort. At this point of time it has become a habit for you to think of your vision. Motivation has become a habit for you. If you are steadily motivated for doing something in your life this is the reason for it. In the past you have (unconsciously) been thinking about your vision for something and it has stuck with you. Now you will stay motivated without any conscious effort on your side.
So how to get started?
Here is what you need to do in three steps:
- Create a positive and compelling vision of what you are planning to achieve. You don’t need to know how exactly to get there.
- Create a detailed mental picture. See yourself achieving your vision and feel the positive
- Keep reminding yourself of your vision on a regular basis (at best daily). Do not try to search motivation but create it through your thoughts. It will become a habit.
Even though all three steps are important I do think that the first step is what will enable you to complete the next two steps. If your vision is not compelling and positive you won’t be drawn to completing the other two steps.