Self-Improvement: How can I motivate myself to work hard?

How many times have you read quotes like the following?

“If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”

“Push yourself because no one else is going to do it for you.”

“Wake up with determination. Go to bed with satisfaction.”

These are great words that can get you fired up and ready to do your best, right? But if you are like me, you can feel so motivated at times, and then later lose all that motivation, finding yourself burned out. Is there a more sustainable way to maintain self-motivation than just reading some inspirational quotes and stories? I believe there is.

It is time for some real talk. The difference between success and failure comes down to 3 fundamental traits you absolutely must cultivate – Hunger, Flexibility, and Stubbornness. Wait, aren’t flexibility and stubbornness polar opposites? Can they coexist in our lives? They can and they must; let’s see how in a moment.

Be Hungry

You don’t have to motivate yourself to eat. When you get hungry, you naturally search for some food. No self-help books needed; no motivational quotes necessary. So really, all we need to create a hunger for our goals. Then, just as we are effortlessly drawn to food, we will instinctively peruse our goals until we succeed. How can we create hunger? The simplest way is to know exactly why we want to achieve our goal and to visualize how our life will be better once we succeed.

Be Stubborn

When it comes to the overall goal, you need to be brutally stubborn. When results don’t come fast enough, don’t give up. When friends or family tease you, don’t give up. When you want nothing more than to be done with the whole frustrating process, don’t give up. Be stubborn about the ultimate goal you want.

Be Flexible

However, when it comes to tactics, be intensely flexible. Do not make the mistake of being loyal to a particular method of reaching your goal. Instead, be willing to try various strategies until you find the one that delivers the best results for you.

Let’s see some practical examples of how hunger coupled with stubbornness and flexibility combine to create success in our lives.

Example #1 – Learning a Foreign Language

First, we need to stoke our hunger. Why should I learn a foreign language? What benefits come from learning a foreign language? How will learning a foreign language benefit my career? We need to ask these kinds of questions, consider them carefully, and write our specific answers. We need to know exactly what we are hungry for before we begin. Visualize how your life will be better once you succeed. Hold onto this visualization, and do not stop hungering for that result in your life.

Next, we need to be flexible about our methodology. What is the best way to learn a foreign language. Do I need a language exchange partner? Should I take a class? How many vocabulary words should I learn per day? Is Rosetta Stone worth buying? However you answer questions like these, don’t be afraid to change these responses as you go along. If you aren’t getting much out of your language exchange sessions, find a new partner or try a different method entirely. If you stubbornly stick to a plan that is not helping you, you decrease the chances of success in the long-term.

Finally, you have to be absolutely stubborn about reaching the goal you desire. Didn’t make much progress this week? Don’t give up, just switch up some of your methodologies until you find the winning plan, and then stick to it until you reach your desired endpoint. No excuses; no quitting. Remember how hungry you are, swap out one technique for a new one, and stubbornly keep striving for your dream.

Example #2 – Getting into Shape

Now you know the routine. 1) Stoke hunger. 2) Be flexible about methods. 3) Be stubborn about the outcome. Hunger? I want to be healthy. I want to still be mobile and fit when I get older. I want to be attractive and signal to others that I have the discipline it takes to care for myself. I want to look my best and feel my best. Flexible? I’ll try running. Running gets boring? I’ll swap it out for tennis. My tennis partner keeps canceling at the last minute? I’ll find someone else to play with me. It’s winter and too cold to play outside? I’ll hit the gym. The gym is too expensive? I’ll start a bodyweight program at home. Stubborn? I won’t give up until I reach my weight, strength, and flexibility goals. I. Will. Not. Quit. Why? Because I am hungry to be healthy, mobile, attractive, disciplined, and looking/feeling great.

See how this system works? Be hungry. Be flexible. Be stubborn. Cultivate these three traits and you can achieve your goals.