The Power Of Little Motivations

Ice Cream Cone
Remember when mom told you that you had to eat your broccoli before you got dessert? As adults, we have to use this same tactic to motivate ourselves.

One thing I love doing is listening to successful people.

Listening to them in interviews.

Reading their autobiographies and biographies.

Recently I’ve been hearing a little trick that it seems more than a few successful people use to push through to the next goal on their list.

It’s not the first time I heard it, but what sparked my interest in writing about it was an interview Vince Vaughn did on the Tim Ferriss podcast.

Vince Vaughn

Vince talked about how when he came to Hollywood that he had some initial success. He had been working hard and got a job in a commercial. That would bring in some good money.

But one secret he did with himself was to not buy things.

Not because he couldn’t afford it, but because he wanted to keep himself motivated.

Let’s say he wanted to go on vacation. He could avoid it as far as money goes, but he would tell himself things like, “I have to get a part before I go on this vacation…” or “I have to go to 50 auditions before I look at buying a new car…”

Justin Thomas

Then I heard this again recently on a No Laying Up podcast with Justin Thomas. Justin talked about his recent success and how when he earned his Tour card…either that or his first win…that he bought a car that he had always wanted.

He could afford to buy it before he reached his goal, but he held back to keep himself motivated. Justin also did the same with building on to his house or something to that effect. He pushed himself to win a major first. And then he did that this summer.

David Geffen

And even when I think back to reading about David Geffen recently he also did this throughout his life. Buying houses. Buying cars. Buying art. He focused on building his business first before buying those things.

Delayed Gratification

Top performers in many areas of life seem to use what Jim Collins calls The Genius of the And.

They’re able to focus on both the long and short-term.

They have long-term goals, but they also have short-term goals to fuel their work that will eventually build into their long-term achievements.

Little Motivation Leads To Breakout Success

Here’s another golf story.

Around 2003 or so Phil Mickelson was known as the best golfer to never win a major. He was in his thirties. Seemingly in his prime, but he had been a phenom for several years.

There was a press conference where he made the comment that he wasn’t trying to win one major, but a bunch of majors.

That’s a long-term goal. You can’t win multiple majors at the same time.

Then sometime late 2003 or early 2004, Phil started a few new things. A short game focus and a putting focus.

The putting was interesting. He would putt until he made 100 3-foot putts in a row. He wouldn’t leave the putting green until he did it.

He won the 2004 Masters.

By 2004, Phil had enough money to last a lifetime. He was comfortable. He had achieved an incredible amount in golf.

That’s all wonderful, but it makes motivation challenging.

Phil found a couple little motivations. A few little rewards to push him through to win his first major.

And then he went on to win two more in two years and another two a few years later. He got his bunch, but it all started with a little motivation.

Finding Your Little Motivations

Little motivations are all around you.

What are the things you like or love doing or having?

That’s pretty much it.

Today we’re very fortunate for all the little things we have. All the access we have. We don’t even realize it. Myself included.

I’ll stop writing a blog post to read an article. To check Twitter. Whatever.

What I try to do is delay reading that article or watching that video until the work is done. Until the post is written or those emails are sent.

This might be more important going forward. We can have so much stimulation in our lives today. We crave it. Our minds and bodies want it. And it’s easy to get and will get easier.

But to succeed and keep getting work done we have to delay the gratification. We have to hold off and use that gratification to motivate us.

It’s nothing new. Successful people get it.

We just have to follow their lead.

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