A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step but for some it’s a journey never taken. From the start, they lack clarity of purpose and instead of leading with the courage to take chances, they are overcome with the fear of failure. They forget the path to success lies in motivation, gratitude and a positive self-image.
At the heart of motivation is our Why, the inspiration that pushes us forward and makes us feel good about ourselves and the work we do. When we’re motivated, our tasks have more meaning, we feel in control, and we develop resilience and a positive outlook. So let’s find a way to understand what motivates us.
We can start by expressing gratitude. Gratitude fuels motivation. It’s that simple. When we’re thankful for what we have, we’ll end up having more, and that ultimately leads to a greater sense of satisfaction. Shawn Achor, one of the world’s leading authorities on positive psychology, explains in The Happiness Advantage that it’s possible to rewire our brain and start thinking more positively through expressing gratitude. In his study, Achor concluded that after 21 days you form a habit when you commit yourself to expressing gratitude, the brain begins to change and respond more positively to its environment and this has an impact on your outlook, your relationships, your productivity, and your overall satisfaction both personally and professionally.
So let’s apply this habit to motivation by developing a what I did list. Rather than staring down a long list of incomplete tasks, we can look at all the tasks we actually accomplished. In the process, we can identify any obstacles along the way, the skills needed, and the inspiration that makes that first step possible. Whenever we look at that list, we’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and gratitude, and that just fuels more motivation.
All that gratitude and motivation will do wonders for your self-image as well. Remember, it’s not just your work that matters, you matter. Your what I did list will drive a greater sense of purpose and you’ll realize that you make a difference. As you focus on your contributions at home and in the workplace, look inside of you and listen to that inner voice. Don’t ruminate over shortcomings and uncompleted work tasks letting them creep into your personal time; instead, shut down your mental hard drive when you leave the office by turning off work email and other notifications. Your list of accomplishments will enable you to silence the inner critic and turn them into a cheerleader.
Finally, remember that you’re not alone, seek constant feedback from a trusted network of colleagues and family and be open to criticism, it’ll help you grow. As they say in Toastmasters, find the glow and the grow points, get out of your comfort zone by turning shortcomings into opportunities to learn something new.
Gratitude and motivation are a state of mind, so reflect often on your accomplishments and find reasons to feel good about yourself. With clarity and a positive mindset, you’ll be able to take that first step on your journey to become a better version of yourself every day.