When was the last time you smiled, not because you felt like it, but just for the sake of smiling? You’d probably do it more often if you knew that smiling was making you happier. That’s right! If you made all the facial expressions you make when you’re excited, elated and thrilled, even when you don’t actually feel those emotions, the truth is that you’d see an immediate improvement in your mood. Why does this matter? Because your mood is everything, especially when it comes to accomplishing your goals.
In fact, take a moment to smile right now. Why does something as simple as a grin have so much power to dictate what motivates you? How do you feel, physically and emotionally, when you allow yourself to smile?
Your mind interprets the events we experience within the framework you set for yourself, meaning that whether an experience is positive or negative is largely determined by our mood and state of mind. Think about it: the emotion and meaning our minds attach to events ultimately counts more than the experiences themselves, since they condition our willingness to experience and pursue them.
Examining your mood
A positive state of mind can be what motivates you in life, and a negative state of mind can be what holds you back.
Mood is affected by two different things: your physiology and your energy. What does it mean to say that your mood is partially determined by your physiology? Consider the signs and vibes that a motivated person radiates. They smile, laugh and they more often than not shine with unbridled optimism. They often have better posture and more approachable body language than someone who’s not as motivated. It’s true that certain goals and experiences cause these reactions, but this is only half the truth. Being happy, open to change and optimistic also work the other way, making you predisposed to positively evaluating the task at hand, your life and what the future brings if you accomplish your objectives. This can help you get motivated and discover what drives you.
Evaluating your energy levels
Mood is influenced by energy levels, too. It’s important to eat right, exercise and to otherwise take great care of yourself. Think about it: How can we expect our minds and bodies to tackle our responsibilities and ambitions when we starve them of nutrients and TLC? When you make the commitment to maintain your energy levels through natural means, like healthy eating and exercise, you’ll find that your state of mind will improve over time as well.
Good energy levels, got it – but how exactly do you maintain them? Treating your body and mind right via exercise and diet plays a big part in finding out how to be motivated. There are other factors as well, like making sure to breathe correctly. You’d be surprised how much of your energy comes down to breathing and to giving yourself enough time to reflect through morning meditation. If you really are serious about restoring that passion, that motivation, to succeed — not just professionally, but within all aspects of your life — you can start by taking the 10 Day Energy Challenge, which is built to comprehensively tackle this part of improving your mood and your day-to-day drive.
If you want to get motivated, you have to start by being in the mindset that you already are motivated. Remember the emotions you feel when you’re passionate about something and bring those to mind when tackling new projects and objectives. Finally, treat your body right — keep your chemical balance in line, eat the right foods and remember to breathe. Now you’re ready to turn your experiences into beliefs, and your beliefs into convictions.
The three levels of beliefs
“Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.” – Tony Robbins
Our beliefs have varying levels of emotional intensity and they possess the power to change our actions. We can pinpoint at least three categories of beliefs based on their ability to influence action in you. Understanding each of the three categories will empower you to create healthy and positive changes in your life by beginning to adjust your beliefs.
1. Opinions are something we feel relatively certain about, but the certainty is only temporary and can be changed easily. For example, you might think that the head of your company’s accounting department is not qualified for his position, but your opinion may change quickly when you see how effectively he manages his staff.
2. A belief, on the other hand, is formed when you develop a much larger base of reference, one that’s often associated with strong emotions and based on experience. Beliefs can create such a level of certainty that they close people off to new ideas. For example, some people believe that money equals success. Other people may have a different — yet equally passionate — belief as to what success truly means.
3. A conviction, however, eclipses a belief, primarily because of the emotional intensity a person links to the idea. A person holding a conviction feels so certain that he or she will be completely resistant to new input, often to the point of obsession. One of the best things you can do to create mastery in any area of your life is to raise a belief to the level of conviction. Convictions are at the core of what motivates you in life.
Conviction, because of the passion it inspires in us, has the power to drive you to action and push you through all kinds of obstacles. For example, the conviction to never let yourself become out of shape will compel you to make consistently healthy lifestyle choices, empowering you to get more enjoyment out of your life in the long run. The conviction that you are an intelligent and resourceful person can help steer you through incredibly tough times.
So how can you reinforce a belief and turn it into a conviction that will help you make a positive, lasting change in your life?
- Identify the basic belief that you want to elevate.
- Reinforce your belief by adding powerful references. To create a conviction around a healthy lifestyle, you might research the medical consequences of gaining weight. Then talk to people who have lost weight and kept it off. The more references you develop, the stronger your conviction.
- Then find a triggering event — or make one of your own. You need to raise the emotional intensity of the belief. If you were trying to give up smoking, you might visit the intensive care wing of a hospital to see the first-hand effects of emphysema.
- Finally, take action. Each action you take strengthens your commitment and raises the level of your emotional intensity and conviction.
What change will you create today by raising one of your beliefs to a conviction? Pick one and create an action plan, using the four steps above to influence what motivates you. Remember to put dates on your plan to keep yourself moving forward and track your progress.
Quick tips to get motivated now
Sometimes you’re working toward a long-term goal, but need a burst of motivation in the moment. As you consider what motivates you right now, get and stay empowered for success with these quick motivation tips:
- Turn shoulds into musts. If you won’t make your goal a priority, it won’t get done. As Tony says, “Don’t should all over yourself.”
- Set specific goals. If you want to write a book, set a concrete objective, such as, “I want to write 200 pages.” Don’t lose steam tracking undefined goals. By setting metrics, you can better gauge your progress and get the positive feedback you need to feel motivated to continue. When you reach your goals, celebrate! Happiness and optimism breed productivity, so the more you achieve, the better you feel, and the more you can do moving forward.
- Chunk your tasks into manageable, actionable goals. This way, you resist feeling overwhelmed, but even more importantly, you attach emotional significance to your goals.
- Make a commitment. When you achieve a goal that is part of your action plan, reward yourself with something meaningful — and don’t skip it. Still not feeling motivated? Try a commitment device: Penalize yourself monetarily if you don’t complete your task. Whether you donate the money to charity, your kids or a friend, you’re out $50 (at least for a good cause). Follow through!
- Get inspired as you consider what motivates you in life. Every day, ordinary people do extraordinary things. Read success stories, books, blogs and inspirational quotes to keep your motivational fire burning bright. Tell yourself that if people you admire can accomplish their goals, so can you.
- Get results coaching. Sometimes it’s tough to get a neutral perspective on your goals, your progress, and your strengths and weaknesses. A Results Coach can give you the sound feedback and motivation you may be missing now, and can also serve as an objective sounding board.
Connect your mood and physiological goals for better results. The reason so many people struggle with reaching their goals is the same reason they struggle with unhappiness and feeling unfulfilled. Make the link between your emotions and your physiology and achieve a moment of authentic decision and clarity that can help you stay happier and healthier for life.