10 Things Successful People Do to Motivate Themselves

REPOST from ceolifestyle by Nelson Wang. 

When I was 20 years old and studying at UCLA, I flunked an Economics class. I was devastated. Guess what happened? I bounced back. I got an A when I retook the course.

When I was 22, I interviewed with 4 different managers at a Fortune 100 company and was ranked pretty much last in every interview. I didn’t get a single job offer. I was frustrated. Guess what happened? I bounced back. I have my dream job now.

When I was 25, I created 9 iPhone apps, all of which failed miserably. I spent a ridiculous amount of time and money building them and felt really bummed. Guess what happened? Since then, I’ve built another 4 iPhone apps and all 4 of them hit the top 100 in the Business, Lifestyle and Entertainment section.

When I was 28, I found out my mentor and friend Erik, who was like a brother to me, passed away from cancer. That was one of the toughest times in my life. Guess what happened? I bounced back. Because that’s what Erik would have wanted.

What I’ve noticed over the last 33 years of my life is that there is a recurring pattern to successfully motivating myself. This pattern helped me get back on track, even during times that felt like rock bottom. I’ve also asked numerous executives from Cisco, MTV, Bank of America, VMware, Box and Optimizely what their secrets to motivation are. In addition to that, I’ve also read numerous books on motivation from authors like Tony Robbins to Daniel Pink (Author of “Drive”).

I’ve put together a list of the 10 things successful people do to motivate themselves.

I’ve never shared this list – until now.

Here are the top 10:

1. Understand your why.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

Understand your purpose and it will fuel your drive.

If I told you that it was your job to sort through a box of potatoes and to throw away the rotten ones, would you feel a strong sense of purpose? Or would you feel like a cog in a machine? Now–what if I told you that by sorting out the bad potatoes you were helping out the local food bank in supplying fresh food to needy families in the area–would that change your perspective and your sense of purpose in the work?

Now that you understand the purpose of the work, does it potentially change your attitude or perhaps even your choice of work?

I’m not here to dictate what purpose is. Everyone’s got a different definition based on their experiences in life and their own set of values.

But what I do want to ask you is:

What does purpose mean to you?

Find your why. If you don’t know what it is, create it. That will motivate you to make a difference.

2. Stay focused on the big picture.

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” – Oprah Winfrey

Admit it. There will be days when work will feel boring. When tasks feel repetitive. When you feel like you have 100 things to do on your checklist. Or when you’re just plain irritated. The easy thing to do is to feel frustrated and to give up. Or you could stay focused on the big picture.

When I worked at VMware, I started a weekly partner training program that quickly grew from 20 attendees to well over 150 sales reps at its peak. One of my co-workers was upset because he felt like it would end up creating more work for him (i.e., if Nelson is doing it, then we’ll all have to start doing this!).

If I caved and stopped doing the trainings so that my co-worker wouldn’t feel obligated to do more work, do you know what would have happened?

We wouldn’t have created $1.6M in pipeline, that’s for sure.

That’s why you’ve got to keep your eye on the big picture.

3. Get active.

A lot of times it’s hard to get motivated if you’re not in a good mood. Research has shown that working out multiple times a week for a reasonable period of time can reduce the symptoms of depression. Exercising for 30 minutes can also increase levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine which can help to reduce stress.

I’ve noticed that when I exercise for at least 30 minutes (especially in the morning), I’m a lot more relaxed throughout the day, less stressed out, and am able to think much more clearly.

Also, if you’re pushing yourself in your workouts, you’re testing your boundaries, and this can be really healthy. For example, I had never run a half marathon before and I decided to step up to the challenge this year. It was painful, but after I finished, I immediately thought, “If I can do this, what else am I capable of?”

Pushing yourself physically will also motivate you to push yourself intellectually and in other parts of your life, like your career. #WorkoutsElevateYourGame.

4. Have an accountability buddy.

“Surround yourself with people who push you, who challenge you, who make you laugh, who make you better, who make you happy.” – Anonymous

Let’s say you set a goal of signing on 100 new customers within a year. Now share that goal with some of your closest friends and colleagues. Guess what? You’ve just signed up for peer pressure and this is a great way to keep yourself motivated at work. Don’t believe me? Just wait until you hear someone down the hall say, “Hey (Insert Your Name Here), how are you doing in your goal of 100 new customers?”

Still don’t think that’s motivating?

How about an additional 50 coworkers also asking that same question? I think that’ll motivate you.

Just a hunch.

5. Motivational quotes.

I know, I’m writing a post on how to get motivated and included motivational quotes and then suggested that you use motivational quotes to get motivated. This just got meta on you.

Whatever motivational quote you decide on, print it out and tape it to your mirror. Or if you want to get fancy with it, take a marker and write it on the mirror!

That’ll get you going in the morning!

6. Create small, bite-sized goals.

There’s a reason donut holes are so lovable. They’re easy to eat. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a dozen of them.

This is how goals should be too. Of course you should have a really big, audacious goal.

But make sure you break down that goal into bite-sized, consumable goals. This way you’ll feel like you’re making progress in your journey and you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete the smaller goals. A feeling of progress and achievement is a beautiful combination.

7. Have the time of your life.

“There’s no fun in a perfect life. So make a risk. Take a chance. Go where the wind takes you. Have fun.” – Jenny C.

If you’re having fun, you’re going to be more motivated to do great work. This is true for 90% of the people. Okay, I have no proof that is statistically true, but I’m pretty sure for most people this holds true.

Do you notice that when you’re having fun, you’re more charismatic, upbeat and optimistic? Do you notice that you’re more productive because you’re actually enjoying the work? Do you notice you’re motivating other team members because you’re making the work environment awesome?

Thought so.

Go out there and have the time of your life!(Go to 3:19 for the good part)

8. Meditate.

“Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

We live in a world of information overload. Because of that, our brains sometimes get overstimulated, and that’s not a good thing. That’s why we need to meditate.

Calm down. Close your eyes. Lie down.

Okay, fine, you’re probably sitting in front of a computer. Just sit up straight, then. Breathe slowly in and out. Do you feel a sense of calm wash over you? Do you notice thoughts starting to creep in? Push them out and focus only on your breathing.

Meditation will help you motivate yourself in a few different ways:

By clearing your mind, you’ll have a renewed sense of focus.

By meditating, you’ll likely feel happier since your stress will be reduced. When we’re happy, we tend to be more optimistic about the future. That optimism can often be a very powerful motivational force.

9. Brainstorm your ideas and write them down.

Not all of your ideas will be good. It doesn’t matter. Write them down anyway. I got this idea from James Altucher (the guy is brilliant!).

Your great ideas will come when you least expect them.

Eventually, after you jot down 100 ideas, chances are that you’ll have at least one good idea. That’s incredibly motivating when you discover you can come up with good ideas. So start jotting them down. Now.

10. Visualize the future and go make it happen.

Need motivation?

Think about what you’re going to achieve. Think about the impact you’re going to make. Think of the future you’re going to create.

Visualize it.

Go make it happen. NOW.

Because it’s never too late to be awesome.

Is Virtual Reality a Good Idea?

Have you seen the trailer for the movie Ready Player One? If you haven’t, watch it below.

I bring this up because it got me thinking about the future of Virtual Reality and its benefits and implications for continuing to advance this technology. I decided to continue exploring this topic and begin creating a Pecha Kucha presentation for one of my master’s classes this semester. I’m particularly interested in learning more about its current uses in gaming, technology, and education.

Currently, VR is making a comeback and trending in delivering immersive experiences to learning with many benefits in information retention and learner engagement; however, there are some questions about VR that we can’t possibly know the answer to just yet, so we’re forced to speculate and imagine. After watching the trailer for Ready Player One, I began asking myself the following questions:

  • As VR’s technology improves and develops, could the level of stimulation experienced in VR lead to confusion in the real world?
  • Since VR is physically risk-free, might we get too used to being able to survive large falls and end up having more accidents? Or,
  • Could virtual reality prove to be so compelling in the future that we end up choosing it over the real world?

Although these questions do scare me a bit, my stance is definitely pro-VR. Do I think VR will be the doom of our society? No, I think our leaders should be concerned with other issues.

With this project, I hope to address current and future benefits of VR as well as potential implications. Since VR is an emerging trend in the learning community, I believe educators and workplace trainers will find this insightful.

Learning Objectives:

With this project, I hope viewers will…

  1. Identify differences between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
  2. Recognize VR benefits in immersive learning.
  3. Seek VR devices to implement as potential learning solutions in workplace and classroom settings.

Tools and Technologies

Here is where I need your help. If you haven’t looked it up by now, a Pecha Kucha is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). To do this, I need an easy-to-use video editing tool. I plan on using a program called Filmora, but I’m curious to know any opinions about this program from anyone that has used it.

So what do you think about VR? Sound scary or exciting? Let me know below. 

How to Prevent Stifled Creativity

This week I was tasked to tell a story using only 5 photos without any written explanation as to what is happening. To be quite honest, I had a hard time trying to decide what I wanted to share. Rather than letting creativity flow, I focused too much on the logistics behind my story. Stifling creativity in myself and others is something I have been made aware of so I decided to challenged myself by participating in creative activities like improv, brainstorming, and creative writing.

Here is my 5-Photo Story

*I’m the one with The Flash shirt

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Are you stifling your creativity?

Learn about 5 bad habits that stifle creativity and how to prevent them.

1. Creating and Evaluating at the Same Time

Guilty! I am the type of person that is often observing and evaluating EVERYTHING. And when it comes to creating, generating new ideas, visualizing, looking ahead, and considering the possibilities, I get into a blocked mental state because my brain is also trying to evaluate, analyze, or pick apart ideas into those that are possible and impossible, thus stifling the creative process.

Rather than evaluating too soon or too often, separate creation from evaluation. Start by throwing out ideas first then judging their worth later.

2. Fear of Ambiguity

I like things to make sense. If you were to ask any person that knows me well to tell you something about me, I can guarantee they will say I am a neat and tidy person; however, life is not neat and tidy. There are things I don’t understand and problems I can’t solve which really bother me, but I have realize that some things won’t make sense and I need to be ok with that.

Most great creative ideas emerge from a swirl of chaos. It’s important to develop a part of yourself that is comfortable with mess and confusion, and become comfortable with things that work even when you don’t understand why.

3. Lack of Confidence

For years I have been expecting perfection with every creative act. Let’s be honest, I know I’m not the only one that expects every attempt at Pinterest recipes or crafts to come out perfectly.

You must have confidence in your abilities in order to create and carry out effective solutions to problems. It’s healthy to have self-doubt and fail. This experience builds confidence and increases understanding of how creativity works.

When you understand that ideas often seem crazy at first, that failure is just a learning experience, and that nothing is impossible, you are on your way to becoming more confident and more creative.

4. Being Overwhelmed by Information 

Have you been stuck thinking about a problem and the information you gathered but end up with a mental block that you lose the ability to act? “Analysis paralysis” is caused by overthinking.

Successful people know when to when to stop collecting information and start taking action. Many subscribe to the “ready – fire – aim” philosophy of business success, knowing that acting on a good plan today is better than waiting for a perfect plan tomorrow.

5. Discouragement from Other People

Although it’s easy to take the easy route and conform, be sensible, and not rock the boat, you must ignore the naysayers and carry out with your creative endeavors.

The path to every victory is paved with predictions of failure. Embrace a “growth mindset.” You’ll begin seeing failure as a way to grow and therefore embrace challenges, persevere against setbacks, learn from criticism, and reach higher levels of achievement.

Once you have a big win under your belt, all the naysayers will shut their noise and see you for what you are — a creative force to be reckoned with.

If you recognize some of these problems in yourself, give yourself a pat on the back! Knowing what’s holding you back is the first step toward breaking down the barriers of creativity.

How about you? What mental habit has been hardest on your creativity? Comment below. 

Hand-drawn Infographics

I recently watched the following TED talk about using pictures like hand drawings to convey complex information which makes it easier for our brains to grasp. There was something that the speaker, Ole Qvist-Sørensen, mentioned that really inspired me to implement drawings when communicating at work or delivering training. He mentioned three main points about creative drawing:

  1. We are all visual thinkers
  2. We can ALL draw (it’s just a matter of perspective)
  3. Drawing TOGETHER is an important practice if we want to create movement

My Creative Designs professor challenged us to create a hand-drawn infographic with the steps to make toast. Take a look at what I came up with.

Infographic_Hand drawn_How to make toast

I love how simple it was to draw this out after watching this TED talk. Although this was a drawing I made myself, I’m excited to collaborate with others by drawing out our ideas. As Ole mentioned, when drawing together we start to think differently, listen differently, and collaborate differently. And we don’t have to be artists to communicate with drawings.

Another great video to watch about drawing: Why people believe they can’t draw – and how to prove they can | Graham Shaw | TEDxHull

What inspires you to draw?

Gamified Learning: Pros and Cons

I’ve always been excited about gamified learning. Instructors (and designers) have seen an increase in student engagement when learning is made fun; however, this trend has also received some backlash because according to critics…

“Gamification is a fad that doesn’t help teach students anything meaningful and many professors scoff at using games in their college classrooms since they do not see it as serious learning.”

I bring this up because my department (a health care call center) would like to implement gamification into our workforce management system and I have the option to enable the gamification feature in the LMS I manage.

I’m hoping I could get your opinion about the pros and cons of using gamified learning. 

From what I gathered…

Pros: Increases learner engagement, creates enthusiasm, provides instant feedback, and makes social connections.

Cons: decreases learner attention span, cost, student assessment (not easy to track progress), game logistics (Is it accessible, additional costs?).

I think the best way to make this backlash less likely or severe is by taking the time to ask questions prior to implementation and not overusing it when delivering training. Most of the backlash that comes from this trend is because of poor planning.

What experience have you had with gamification? What did you find successful?