5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself
5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

1. Get on your deathbed

A number of years ago when I was working with psychotherapist
Devers Branden, she put me through her “deathbed” exercise.
I was asked to clearly imagine myself lying on my own deathbed, and to
fully realize the feelings connected with dying and saying good-bye.

Then she asked me to mentally invite the people in my life who were
important to me to visit my bedside, one at a time. As I visualized each
friend and relative coming in to visit me, I had to speak to them out
loud. I had to say to them what I wanted them to know as I was dying.

As I spoke to each person, I could feel my voice breaking. Somehow I
couldn’t help breaking down. My eyes were filled with tears. I
experienced such a sense of loss. It was not my own life I was
mourning; it was the love I was losing. To be more exact, it was a
communication of love that had never been there.

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

During this difficult exercise, I really got to see how much I’d left out of
my life. How many wonderful feelings I had about my children, for
example, that I’d never explicitly expressed.

At the end of the exercise, I was an emotional mess. I had rarely cried
that hard in my life. But when those emotions cleared, a wonderful
thing happened. I was clear. I knew what was really important, and who
really mattered to me. I understood for the first time what George
Patton meant when he said, “Death can be more exciting than life.”

From that day on I vowed not to leave anything to chance. I made up
my mind never to leave anything unsaid. I wanted to live as if I might
die any moment. The entire experience altered the way I’ve related to
people ever since. And the great point of the exercise wasn’t lost on me:
We don’t have to wait until we’re actually near death to receive these
benefits of being mortal. We can create the experience anytime we

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

A few years later when my mother lay dying in a hospital in Tucson, I
rushed to her side to hold her hand and repeat to her all the love and
gratitude I felt for who she had been for me. When she finally died, my
grieving was very intense, but very short. In a matter of days I felt that
everything great about my mother had entered into me and would live
there as a loving spirit forever.

A year and a half before my father’s death, I began to send him letters
and poems about his contribution to my life. He lived his last months
and died in the grip of chronic illness, so communicating and getting
through to him in person wasn’t always easy. But I always felt good that
he had those letters and poems to read. Once he called me after I’d sent
him a Father’s Day poem, and he said, “Hey, I guess I wasn’t such a bad
father after all.”
Poet William Blake warned us about keeping our thoughts locked up
until we die. “When thought is closed

in caves,” he wrote, “then love will show its roots in deepest hell.”
Pretending you aren’t going to die is detrimental to your enjoyment of
life. It is detrimental in the same way that it would be detrimental for a
basketball player to pretend there was no end to the game he was

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

That player would reduce his intensity, adopt a lazy playing
style, and, of course, end up not having any fun at all. Without an end,
there is no game. Without being conscious of death, you can’t be fully
aware of the gift of life.

Yet many of us (including myself) keep pretending that our life’s game
will have no end. We keep planning to do great things some day when
we feel like it.

We assign our goals and dreams to that imaginary island
in the sea that Denis Waitley calls “Someday Isle.” We find ourselves
saying, “Someday I’ll do this,” and “Someday I’ll do that.”

Confronting our own death doesn’t have to wait until we run out of life.
In fact, being able to vividly imagine our last hours on our deathbed
creates a paradoxical sensation: the feeling of being born all over
again—the first step to fearless self-motivation. “People living deeply,”
wrote poet and diarist Anaïs Nin, “have no fear of death.”
And as Bob Dylan has sung, “He who is not busy being born is busy

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

2. Stay hungry

Arnold Schwarzenegger was not famous yet in 1976 when he and I had
lunch together at the Doubletree Inn in Tucson, Arizona. Not one
person in the restaurant recognized him.

He was in town publicizing the movie Stay Hungry, a box-office
disappointment he had just made with Jeff Bridges and Sally Field. I
was a sports columnist for the Tucson Citizen at the time, and my
assignment was to spend a full day, one-on-one, with Arnold and write a
feature story about him for our newspaper’s Sunday magazine.

I, too, had no idea who he was, or who he was going to become. I
agreed to spend the day with him because I had to—it was an
assignment. And although I took to it with an uninspired attitude, it was
one I’d never forget.

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

Perhaps the most memorable part of that day with Schwarzenegger
occurred when we took an hour for lunch. I had my reporter’s notebook
out and was asking questions for the story while we ate. At one point I
casually asked him, “Now that you have retired from bodybuilding,
what are you going to do next?”

And with a voice as calm as if he were telling me about some mundane
travel plans, he said, “I’m going to be the number-one box-office star in
all of Hollywood.”

Mind you, this was not the slim, aerobic Arnold we know today. This
man was pumped up and huge. And so for my own physical sense of
well-being, I tried to appear to find his goal reasonable.

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

I tried not to show my shock and amusement at his plan. After all, his
first attempt at movies didn’t promise much. And his Austrian accent
and awkward monstrous build didn’t suggest instant acceptance by
movie audiences. I finally managed to match his calm demeanor, and I
asked him just how he planned to become Hollywood’s top star.

“It’s the same process I used in bodybuilding,” he explained. “What you
do is create a vision of who you want to be, and then live into that
picture as if it were already true.”

It sounded ridiculously simple. Too simple to mean anything. But I
wrote it down. And I never forgot it.
I’ll never forget the moment when some entertainment TV show was
saying that box office receipts from his second Terminator movie had
made him the most popular box office draw in the world. Was he
psychic? Or was there something to his formula?

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

Over the years I’ve used Arnold’s idea of creating a vision as a
motivational tool. I’ve also elaborated on it in my corporate training
seminars. I invite people to notice that Arnold said that you create a
vision. He did not say that you wait until you receive a vision. You
create one. In other words, you make it up.

A major part of living a life of self-motivation is having something to
wake up for in the morning—something that you are “up to” in life so
that you will stay hungry.

The vision can be created right now—better now than later. You can
always change it if you want, but don’t live a moment longer without
one. Watch what being hungry to live that vision does to your ability to
motivate yourself.

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

3. Tell yourself a true lie

I remember when my then-12-year-old daughter Margery participated
in a school poetry reading in which all her classmates had to write a “lie
poem” about how great they were.

They were supposed to make up untruths about themselves that made
them sound unbelievably wonderful. I realized as I listened to the poems
that the children were doing an unintended version of what Arnold did
to clarify the picture of his future. By

“lying” to themselves they were creating a vision of who they wanted to
It’s noteworthy, too, that public schools are so out of touch with the
motivational sources of individual achievement and personal success
that in order to invite children to express big visions for themselves they
have to invite the children to “lie.” (As it was said in the movie ET,
“How do you explain school to a higher intelligence?”)

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

Most of us are unable to see the truth of who we could be. My
daughter’s school developed an unintended solution to that difficulty: If
it’s hard for you to imagine the potential in yourself, then you might
want to begin by expressing it as a fantasy, as did the children who
wrote the poems. Think up some stories about who you would like to
be. Your subconscious mind doesn’t know you’re fantasizing (it either
receives pictures or doesn’t).

Soon you will begin to create the necessary blueprint for stretching your
accomplishments. Without a picture of your highest self, you can’t live
into that self. Fake it till you make it. The lie will become the truth.

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

4. Keep your eyes on the prize

Most of us never really focus. We constantly feel a kind of irritating
psychic chaos because we keep trying to think of too many things at
once. There’s always too much up there on the screen.

There was an interesting motivational talk on this subject given by
former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson to his football players
before the 1993 Super Bowl:
“I told them that if I laid a two-by-four across the room, everybody
there would walk across it and not fall, because our focus would be that
we were going to walk

that two-by-four, But if I put that same two-by-four 10 stories high
between two buildings only a few would make it, because the focus
would be on falling. Focus is everything. The team that is more focused
today is the team that will win this game.”

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

Johnson told his team not to be distracted by the crowd, the media, or
the possibility of losing, but to focus on each play of the game itself just
as if it were a good practice session.

The Cowboys won the game 52-17.
There’s a point to that story that goes way beyond football. Most of us
tend to lose our focus in life because we’re perpetually worried about so
many negative possibilities. Rather than focusing on the two-by-four,
we worry about all the ramifications of falling.

Rather than focusing on
our goals, we are distracted by our worries and fears.
But when you focus on what you want, it will come into your life.
When you focus on being a happy and motivated person, that is who
you will be.

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

5. Learn to sweat in peace

The harder you are on yourself, the easier life is on you. Or, as they say
in the Navy Seals, the more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed
in war.

My childhood friend Rett Nichols was the first to show me this principle
in action. When we were playing Little League baseball, we were
always troubled by how fast the pitchers threw the ball. We were in an
especially good league, and the overgrown opposing pitchers, whose
birth certificates we were always demanding to see, fired the ball in to
us at alarming speeds during the games.

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

We began dreading going up to the plate to hit. It wasn’t fun. Batting
had become something we just tried to get through without
embarrassing ourselves too much.

Then Rett got an idea.
“What if the pitches we faced in games were slower than the ones we
face every day in practice?” Rett asked.
“That’s just the problem,” I said. “We don’t know anybody who can
pitch that fast to us. That’s why, in the games, it’s so hard. The ball looks
like an aspirin pill coming in at 200 miles an hour.”
“I know we don’t know anyone who can throw a baseball that fast,” said
Rett. “But what if it wasn’t a baseball?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” I said.

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

Just then Rett pulled from his pocket a little plastic golf ball with holes
in it. The kind our dads used to hit in the backyard for golf practice.
“Get a bat,” Rett said.
I picked up a baseball bat and we walked out to the park near Rett’s
house. Rett went to the pitcher’s mound but came in about three feet
closer than usual. As I stood at the plate, he fired the little golf ball past
me as I tried to swing at it.
“Ha ha!” Rett shouted. “That’s faster than anybody you’ll face in little
league! Let’s get going!”

We then took turns pitching to each other with this bizarre little ball
humming in at incredible speeds. The little plastic ball was not only
hilariously fast, but it curved and dropped more sharply than any little
leaguer’s pitch could do.
By the time Rett and I played our next league game, we were ready.
The pitches looked like they were coming in slow motion. Big white

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

I hit the first and only home run I ever hit after one of Rett’s sessions. It
was off a left-hander whose pitch seemed to hang in the air forever
before I creamed it.

The lesson Rett taught me was one I’ve never forgotten. Whenever I’m
afraid of something coming up, I will find a way to do something that’s
even harder or scarier. Once I do the harder thing, the real thing
becomes fun.

The great boxer Muhammad Ali used to use this principle in choosing
his sparring partners. He’d make sure that the sparring partners he
worked with before a fight were better than the boxer he was going up
against in the real fight. They might not always be better all-around, but
he found sparring partners who were each better in one certain way or
another than his upcoming opponent. After facing them, he knew going
into each fight that he had already fought those skills and won.

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

You can always “stage” a bigger battle than the one you have to face. If
you have to make a presentation in front of someone who scares you,
you can always rehearse it first in front of someone who scares you
more. If you’ve got something hard to do and you’re hesitant to do it,
pick out something even harder and do that first.
Watch what it does to your motivation going into the “real” challenge.

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself
5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself
5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

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5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself
5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself
5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself
5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself
5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself
5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself
5 Amazing Ways To Motivate Yourself

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