What Does It Take to Get You Going?
Every now and then it dawns on me that I have been a father for nearly two decades–it’s doesn’t seem possible! My story is unique because I had my first son, Brandon, when I was only 16 years old; today I am 34. I was still very much a child when Brandon was born, but I made the very adult decision to man up and raise him the right way. In my late teens and early twenties, I studied business and even started a few small businesses of my own. Kids who experience a “normal” young adult life rarely spend the hundreds of hours reading, learning, and trying new business ideas that I did.
Obviously there are many differences between my story and anyone else’s of a similar age, but the one gigantic difference between me and them is that, at a very early age, I had a reason why I needed to spend time studying and starting businesses. My why was to provide for my son. I didn’t want him to experience the same poverty I had experienced at times when I was a kid. I didn’t want him to not be able to get a good education. But, more than anything, I didn’t want him to be disadvantaged because he had a young dad.
When you meet a teenager who passionately wants to be a doctor, they seem to have a different drive than those who passionately want to be the best PS4 video game player on the planet. That reason “why” is what drives them from good to great. It’s what drives you to sacrifice some amount of pleasure today for the hope of a better tomorrow.
Finding Your Reason Why
Everyone has different motivations for the things that they do. When I was poor and my wife was required to check with me before she could go do any semi-major grocery shopping, just so I could make sure we had enough money in the account, money was a very good motivator. As I have become more successful, money by itself isn’t as motivating as it used to be (don’t get me wrong, it’s still motivating), but when you aren’t sure you have enough money for dinner each evening, the desire to earn more is far more motivating than it is when you’re eating steak every night.
Personally, I find I need a few large goals and a number of small milestones to motivate me. When I am making my large goals, they have to be goals I feel are possible to achieve, but not so easy that I can accomplish them without doing too much hard work. I have discovered that, if the goal is too easy for me to accomplish, it is actually demotivating.
The smaller milestones obviously work towards achieving the larger goal, but they don’t always have a direct impact. Let me give you an example; when I was trying to get selected for (and ultimately win) GKICs Marketer of the Year contest, I worked really hard to create new marketing that ultimately helped me increase sales – but the goal itself was simply to win the contest. The increase in sales was a great additional benefit, but not the reason why I was doing the work. Many times my reasons why have to do with my family and the goals we have together. For example; right now I am building a new house. As a family, we don’t want a mortgage that is so large it would be considered a jumbo mortgage, and we want to pay off any mortgage we do have as quickly as possible (as I am adverse to debt). For me, those two goals are very motivating.
At the end of the day you need to find what works for you… what is your “why?” Is it money, possessions, family, vacation time, a goal to be debt free or retire in the next few years? Whatever your reason why is, once you have it, you’ll find that working hard becomes a whole lot easier.
P.S. One final tip: Just because the last reason why was, for example, “I need more money,” doesn’t mean that “more money” will be enough to get you in gear this time around. If you are finding your reasons why are NOT motivating you, it is time to reevaluate.