How to get motivated — a top performer’s secrets

Procrastination is a big enemy of accomplishing your big goals. Learn how to become motivated enough to defeat it.

By Ed Latimore Last modified

Everyone is motivated when they have a good idea. Less than 10% will attempt to make it a reality. Of those, only 10% will see a project through to the point where it brings a return on the investment of time/money.

When it comes to how people set goals, form new habits, change their life, it breaks down like this.

  • 100% of people want a better life.
  • 10% of people actually try to be better
  • 1% succeed

This means that out of 100 people, only 1 will achieve the big goal of improving their life. Only 1% of people will ever succeed. This means that out of 100 people, only 1 will achieve the big goal of improving their life. This may seem exaggerated, but research shows this is not too far from the truth.

At some point along the way, people lose motivation. They spend too much time procrastinating and not enough time making decisions. They settle into a life of mediocrity disguised as conformity, never finding any meaningful work that fires them up.

Fitting in is the most comfortable form of failure there is, and it is the direct result of a lack of motivation.

The challenge many people face is finding a compelling reason to act. Finding motivation is hard, but it’s necessary if you want to be like the successful people you idolize on social media. Most people would rather watch a clip of Gary Vee, Grant Cardone, or Tony Robbins instead of becoming the type of person that other people quote and get inspired by instead.

Many Small Things Can Make You More Motivated

If your basic needs are met and your peers aren’t pushing you to do better, you learn to accept “subpar” as “normal”. In fact, you don’t even consider it subpar. It is just life.

It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut of endless despair. When you have endless entertainment, high-speed porn, and no one around you who works on a daily basis, it’s hard to get motivated. If that’s your situation, that’s alright.

Maybe you want better than what you see around you. If you do, you’ve come to the right place. 

Instead of watching the life of your idols, you want to have that life instead. And to make that happen, you need to replace your procrastination and daydreaming with motivation and action.

If you can do this, nothing will stop you.

Whenever I’ve felt like calling it quits, these are some of the tips and tricks I’ve used to get my fire going and go back after what I want out of life.

How To Get Motivated

How Successful People Get Motivated

1. Necessity

This is the lowest level of motivation.

Almost every adult exists at this stage, which is why so many of them have settled into lives of mediocrity. It’s a purely reactionary level.

At this level, a person does only what is needed to keep a roof over their head and food in their belly.

They lack self-control. There is no ambition for something greater. There is no dream for more.

It’s only survival, instant gratification, and living in the moment.

I hesitated to even list this as a type of motivation.

Then I remembered that many of us have improved our lives out of sheer necessity. An essential part of any goal setting strategy is not just running towards something, but also having something to run away from. Wanting to be great is awesome, but wanting to avoid becoming a piece of shit is effective.

However, there are also people who work just to exist and are one emergency away from financial ruin.

The only thing that motivates the latter group is fulfilling the basic necessities of life. They only work when their source of income is threatened.

While this is better than doing nothing, we must all aim to be more than this.

2. Fear

Fear is a double-edged sword that can paralyze or propel.

A great source of motivation is the fear that you’ll be in the exact same place one year from now that you are today.

The average person lives for about 80 years. Each moment spent in mediocrity is a moment you can never be great. Every second spent in a situation you don’t like is a second lost enjoying one that you do.

Imagine talking to yourself 10 years ago and explaining your current situation. Will you be excited about the conversation or will you dread it? Will you have an inspiring story or a worthless excuse?

If it’s the latter, let that fear drive you.

Begin living in a way that will make you excited to hear from your future self as he or she tells you about all the things you’ll accomplish.

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3. Revenge

Using revenge to get motivated

Success is the best revenge and getting that revenge is the best way to get motivated.

Success is the best revenge.

There are people who don’t think you can do anything and that you will amount to nothing. These are the people who think that you AND your dreams are stupid, unrealistic, and likely to fail.

They think you’re a joke and your plans are a game.

Proving these people wrong is powerful and liberating. When people pass on you, reject you, or view you as less than capable, your success reminds them of the mistake they made.

Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but it’s also a hot fuel that can drive to success.

(Read: “5 Reasons You Have Haters If You Aren’t An Asshole”)

4. Unrequited Love

What drove Gatsby to accumulate great wealth? It was a girl that he wanted to make fall in love with him.

What drove Paris of Troy to kidnap Helen and Menelaus to start a Ten Year War to get her back? A girl they wanted so badly that thousands of men died in support of an end goal they had nothing to do with.

Unrequited love can be a powerful motivating force.

People have gained a skill or changed dramatically in an attempt to impress someone special. Some may argue that it’s not healthy, but none can argue that trying to make a certain person fall in love with you can inspire a superhuman level of drive and resolve.

Become the best version of yourself to attract the people you want. The magic is that self-improvement leads to confidence, which leads to attraction to people with common values or shared goals.

Your original person may or may not match your improved idea of the perfect partner.

(Read: “You Can’t Force Relationships To Develop”)

5. Vanity

Some people are so worried about how others perceive them that they’ll do anything to look good.

Don’t feel bad if you’re motivated by attention and flashy objects. Use it as motivation to work your ass off so that you can live a life of extravagance.

If you have opulent taste, then you need to get off your ass and get creative to earn  a commensurate income. You need to be able to afford good food to be in shape.

Once you’re in shape, you need the best fitting clothes, a fly set of shoes.

Vanity isn’t cheap and it can be destructive, but to upgrade your lifestyle you have to upgrade your work ethic.

(Read: “How To Be An Attractive Man”)

6. Travel 

Most people see a vacation as a once or twice a year activity. Even if you don’t desire to travel, it can motivate you to acquire more resources so that you can make it a regular part of your life.

The type of trip you take doesn’t need to be expensive and you don’t need to go far. You just need to experience a different location.

It’s one thing to see a picture of the beach or visit the train station. It’s another experience entirely to feel the sand beneath your feet or take a train across the country.

If you can’t justify the time or expense of a longer adventure, commit to a short trip to an unfamiliar location at least 50 miles from home.

Anyone can make this work.

Even something as small as trying a different kind of restaurant than you normally visit can make you curious and motivated to see more of the world. It can also make you better at solving problems, which contributes to your level of confidence and motivation.

Research shows that travel is also excellent for your mental health, making you more creative, open-minded, and resilient. This leads to mental strength.

It’s easier to feel motivated when you feel capable of taking on the world.

How To Get And Stay Motivated

7. Altruism

If you want to donate resources, you’ll need to accumulate them first.

Most people are content to make a few $20 donations to their favorite cause, however, you can do more. If you want to do more, you need to have more, and knowing this can make you more motivated.

You will work harder to earn more money. More money allows you to make bigger donations. Or it will push you to build a bigger network so that you can have more effective fundraisers.

You will produce work to get your time back to do what’s important to you without relying on the charity of others.

If you want to be generous, you have to first be motivated.

(Read: “So You Want To Be Part Of The 1%”)

8. Confidence 

Confidence comes from the ability to do.

It comes from the ability to handle your business. The desire to be a competent adult can be extremely motivating for some people.

This drive has nothing to do with how the world perceives the individual. It’s all about how the individual perceives himself.

We all want to be good at something.

For some, it’s a unique skill that few possess. For others, it’s simply the ability to pay bills on time and cook a meal.

This drive has can make you a superstar but at the very least, it can be harnessed to give you control over your life.

More powerful ways to build confidence

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9. Exceptionalism

There are people who want to be more than competent.

Exceptionalism focuses on being better than those around you. It is motivation via the fear of being average.

Most people just go through the motions in life. Few strive to be the best at whatever they do. If you can harness this need to stand out, then you’ll have no problem outworking those around you.

In your quest to demonstrate your superiority, you’ll inevitably do great things that will improve your life.

(Read: “How To Be Competitive”)

How To Use Motivation

10. Adrenaline Rush

This is my least favorite way to get motivated. However, I must admit that some people do great things because they’re chasing a rush.

The problem is that if you aren’t disciplined, you will chase the rush anywhere you can. This results in drugs, thrill-seeking, and questionable choices.

Chasing an adrenaline rush can range from  a basic workout to get the endorphins flowing to high stakes gambling.

Some people don’t know how to slow down because to them, there are only two modes: standing still and all out.

11. Mastery

This is the purest motivation.

This is the place of obsession and perfectionism. You won’t start here but all paths converge at this point. You will move past vanity, revenge or exceptionalism. You will simply be driven to master your craft.

Once you commit to mastery, you’re on a never-ending journey.

This journey may not consume your every waking moment, but it’s what you build your life around. Very often, we refer to what we seek to master as our “life’s purpose”.

Mastery is never the beginning goal. It’s only when one motive has taken you as far as it can that mastery moves in to carry you to the finish line.

Summary Of Ways To Get Motivated

  1. Necessity
  2. Fear
  3. Revenge
  4. Unrequited Love
  5. Vanity
  6. Travel
  7. Altruism
  8. Confidence
  9. Exceptionalism
  10. Adrenaline Rush
  11. Mastery

One or a combination of a few of these motives can get you the life you want. If not, then stop complaining and get comfortable living a life of mediocrity. It’s not so bad. Life is easy.

That’s why you aren’t motivated in the first place.

And next, read this: 10 Secrets to Success

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