15 de julio de 2020 por Eduard Moreno – emoreno@eduardmoreno.com

Staying motivated and with high levels of energy is something that seems to be required in our day-to-day to keep moving forward with high levels of performance. Regardless of whether it is about your professional or personal life, the motivation you have will impact on what you do, and therefore the final result you will get is directly related to the motivation you have along the way.

The motivation we have is in some cases the reason why we decide to undertake new projects or to give up on them. Motivation can be transferred to others, and does not have to be just an individual parameter. Motivation can even be measured in a whole team.

The situation we are currently going through, clearly marked by uncertainty and quick changes, might affect our motivation. Therefore, it could impact directly on the outcome desired.

We should learn and understand: how we can ensure our motivation is at the right level to perform at our best; how our motivation can be lifted when it is required; and even what we can do to transfer our motivation to the people we are surrounded by.

What venture have you worked on, where you know your motivation impacted its evolution, either positively or negatively?

Well, in my opinion, each adventure or project you want to embark on will need a different approach depending on its duration. However, most of them can be fueled by motivation focusing on the following three main ideas: 

  • Fueling yourself with Success
  • Focusing on the Positive Outcome
  • Playing the Ball rather than the Game

Here I will focus on managing your motivation while engaged in long-term undertakings, where the desired outcome is not just there around the corner, but somehow further on, and to get there you will need a good dose of power to ensure you achieve what you expect. For instance: reaching your sales quota; getting through a crisis successfully; evolving in your professional career; learning a new language; etc.

Fueling yourself with Success

There is nothing more powerful to get your levels of motivation at the very top, than knowing how it feels reaching your goals and having enjoyed those feelings and sensations of achievement once you cross the final line. It might have been a really rough and tough journey to get to the end of that enterprise you undertook, but when you get there at the final line, everything transforms into joy, happiness, success, and a kind of power travelling through your veins.

We all have great examples of achievement in our lives, and not always they should be related to our professional lives; our personal lives are full of great successes. It could be that day you got your first job, or the day you finished that course you always wanted to do, and took you that much to go through whilst also working. The day you got your driver licence or the day you reached your first quarterly quota. We all have lots of examples.

What and how did you feel when passing that metaphorical finishing line, and getting what you wanted?

Let’s use those great moments you have had in your life to charge the batteries for future ones. Let’s use that “happiness of achievement” that you lived there, and leverage it to help with the upcoming undertakings in your life.

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Reflection and feeding forward are how you do it. Use reflection to think about everything you have gone through to get to where you are now, and try to identify those moments that made the difference in your day-to-day. Once you have identified them, go to the moment you felt that “happiness of achievement” and try to live those seconds, maybe minutes, in your brain again. You may have been surrounded by other people, you might have said something, you might have even listened to a song that day. Well, now try to repeat those words, listen to that song or see yourself with the people you were surrounded by. That will release great sensations in your brain and body, which is exactly fueling yourself with your own successes.

Here is where feeding forward comes in. You do this by projecting your future sensations into your future successes. If you have felt that before, and you felt that good, you will feel it again once you reach your next achievement.

Have you tried to imagine how you will feel once you pass that final line of that venture you are undertaking?

Focusing on the Positive Outcome

It might be easy to maintain a high level of motivation if we knew that everything is going to be positive for us; that could be one good reason to keep going until we reach our desired outcome. However, nobody can ensure that everything will certainly happen as you envisaged beforehand. Even worse when not planned in advance, as for example going through an unexpected crisis.

Sometimes our mind plays a really important role here. Thoughts reminding us of the possibility of failing or just not succeeding as we expected can pop up from time to time, and they could decide whether we think it is worth it to keep going or not, or even worse to perform at not the optimum level we could. There are always two faces of the coin to look at, and how we manage to focus on one or the other is key for success.

What do you feel when looking ahead and seeing the potential positives outcomes of your venture?

And how I recommend doing it is by applying 20% of your focus on the positive final outcome. When focusing your mind on the final outcome you can feel a strange sensation in your body that mixes excitement with nervousness. That sensation is aptly identified by Eve and Harry with the word nervcitement. So you feel nervcited when seeing what you are capable of achieving.

If at the end of any great sports achievement you go and ask the winners whether they were feeling nervous or excited whilst training and preparing the competition, most of the answers will fall into the second feeling, excitement. Feeling excitement is part of the positive outcome, feeling nervous is part of the negative one. And the key here is to train your brain to stay as much as possible on the positive side. It will be difficult to always stay 100% on the positive side, but the more you work on it, the easier it will be for you.

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Where do we focus the remaining 80%? On the other great positive outcome you always have when undertaking any new venture in your life: the learning. Any long term venture you decide to embark on will give you the possibility of learning new things. Going through all that process of learning will not just help you to get closer to your desired outcome this time round but also to be much better prepared for future challenges. And if wondering why 80% of your focus is on learning and 20% is on the final outcome, it is because you are going to be learning all the way along, and you will have more chances to be motivated and increase your levels of motivation thanks to what you learn everyday than just by focusing on the positive at the end of the journey.

Let me offer an example based on my own experience about a year ago. In May, about a year ago, I was in the middle of a hiring process which involved around four interviews, as well as several questions and different exercises to work on. Since the first moment I spoke with the company, I knew there was a lot to gain if I were the one chosen for the role. But at the same time my brain reminded me that all that I had to win was at the same time all I had to lose in the case of not achieving my goal of being hired, and that was a bit scary.

Here is when focusing on the positive outcome came in. Rather than just focusing on all the benefits of emerging successfully from that two-month run, which at the same time would remind me of all the downsides of not succeeding, my focus was always on the journey and learning experience I was having. In each interaction I had with the company, I had the chance to learn. In every task I had to do to get ready for the next step, I learnt. In all the conversations I had with recruiters and hiring managers, I learnt. In all the time I spent on my own and also with others preparing interviews, I learnt.

That focus was the key for me to ensure that in each of the steps I was giving my best, my mind was focused on excitement rather than on all I had to win or lose.

Playing the Ball rather than the Game

When undertaking new ventures whose end is quite far away in terms of either time or distance, we could also use the fuel of our successes by focusing our goals on the process rather than on the final result. There are two main reasons to do this, as I will explain below.

The first reason is related to your performance, as focusing on the process will allow you to take actions when the result obtained does not match the outcome desired. You will have the chance to do this on a small scale allowing you to adjust course whilst still aiming at your final destination. If something does not work, you can change it. Even better, if you see something which works really well, it may be worth focusing more on it, repeating it or maybe making some improvements. Whatever choice you make, focusing on the process will get you closer to your final objective.

The second reason is related to your chances of celebrating and fueling yourself with your own successes. If you properly define the small steps you want to achieve, you will be able to witness how successful you are along the way, not simply waiting until the end. This is done by breaking down the final goal into small pieces (which are sometimes called milestones), setting them as your real targets as you pursue your venture, and aiming at them as if you were aiming at the final destination. You do this because you know that by reaching them you will reach the final desired outcome. In this way you will frequently get some good doses of motivation.

Which small step have you recently achieved that helps you make progress with the venture you have embarked on, and how have you celebrated it?

The main idea here is that having a target to reach in three months time is somehow quite disconnected from the actions you take in your day to day if you just focus on the final target itself. So, the key is to break down that target into small pieces, and to dig deeper into the process that allows you to get to the target. We can always find the small pieces that combine together to get us to our final goal.

Let’s go back to the sports world again, and think for example about the goal of winning a grand slam in tennis. There is a lot to go through before getting to the moment when the winner lifts the beloved trophy. If the athlete were just focused on winning the tournament, that would be so overwhelming; there is no simple set of action their can take in a one day that will in itself lead to them winning.

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A grand slam in tennis is won by the player who wins the final match; getting to the final match involves winning all the previous matches; those matches are won by winning sets, which are won by winning games, which in turn are won by scoring points, which is done by putting the ball in the right area. And that must be done over and over again from the first match in the tournament.

What are the balls you have clear in order to focus on them and ensure you put them in the right area? Remember, you choose the ball, the area and the goal.

Recovering from setbacks

What about those times when the motivation drops and everything even looks darker and worse than just the day before? This last part – let’s call it “recovery,” – will give you back the energy you need to keep going, allowing you to just have a rest and yet somehow to keep working passively on your enterprise. Unfortunately we cannot be at high levels of motivation all the time. There is a lot going on in our lives, and we cannot have everything under control.

When was the last time you had a setback, and how did you recover from it? Would you be able to repeat how you got upright again and kept going?

Well, in those cases it is also important that you work on your own techniques to get up to speed again as soon as possible, whilst at the same time recognizing that there is nothing wrong with having some downs on the journey.

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The technique I use is based on reviewing all the work I have done, and giving time to the project that is not strictly related to the core activity itself. It could be re-organizing the notes, completing the logs, developing a tracking system, or it could be just having a wider look at the plan and seeing the progress made. I focus on where I was at the beginning, and reflect on how I felt when deciding to embark on the venture, and on where I am now.


Now that you know about the three main ideas to get your motivation at a optimum level, plus the recovery technique, it is time to start working on them. Do not wait until tomorrow but start today, as your motivation will be much more powerful that any other resource you might have or find. With your motivation at a high and appropriate level, you will feel – and be – capable of anything you want to undertake.

Once you set your goal, you already know that it is going to be a long trip until you get to your final destination. So it is worth planning how you will ensure that you will give your best, whilst at the same time enjoying the journey and gaining energy to keep going and moving forward in your venture towards your desired outcome.

The best thing now would be that you could apply those three main ideas for motivation to different enterprises you want to embark on, whether they are professional or personal ones.

Set the goal, draw up the plan, and don’t forget to ensure you stay motivated along the way.

Have you thought about what you do to stay motivated? I would like to hear about it to keep learning from you.