How to motivate yourself in the face of despair.

113/365 Don't look at the lightphoto © 2008 stuartpilbrow | more info (via: Wylio)
In continuation of the last article, here are a few tips on how to keep yourself motivated along the path to your goal.

Reminder of your goal/why you are doing this. Keep a written statement of your goals with you, always. There is great power in writing down your goals, there is great power in repeatedly feeding yourself the same statements.

When ever your legs start shaking, whenever your will starts doubting you, have a look at your goals. Remind yourself why you are doing this and why this is important to you. There were some very good reasons that made you tread on this difficult journey alone, that made you dare out into the unknown like this. Bring your focus back to those reasons. When doubts arise, counter them with thoughts and visions of achieving your goal, living your goal.

Self suggestion and visualization. A person creating his/her own life, has to be good at imagination. If you can imagine having it, you will have it. Imagine relentlessly about living your goal. When you do this, think as if you have achieved your goal. Think of how you are enjoying it. Stick around images and quotes in your workplace that help you with your imagination. Use a vision board.

In fact, it’s best to go over your goals daily. Read them, feel them. Imagine and feel the same way you would feel when the goal is achieved. Bring this practice into daily routine. This is a powerful technique called self-suggestion.

Cultivating discipline and inner strength. Discipline is the hand that pulls you out when you are drowning. Cultivate it. Decide and maintain a schedule you work on. Set short term, mini-goals(around 90 days) and promise yourself to work on them without fail. If this seems too long, take a shorter period. Then, when you become comfortable with that, increase the time. Discipline and inner strength can be built just like muscles. You use progressive training – you start with what feels comfortable and then keep adding on to it as you see progress.

Understand that, in essence, your doubts are just tricks that your mind plays on you. When you make continuous and relentless effort towards your goal, you are bound to achieve it. There can be no other way things can go, there can be no other results. Get over these doubts with discipline.

When you cultivate the habit of working at a fixed schedule everyday, day in and day out, your mind understands that it’s tantrums are no longer rewarded. It might sulk a bit in the beginning, it might try to cause some trouble but, with an iron hand, it gets tamed quickly and gets used to the routine. In time, it will get very comfortable with it. So much so that it will feel uneasy without the schedule. It is all about forming the habit. Once this habit is formed, you can’t stop continuing on your work, even if you are not in the mood. It has become your natural instinct, a way of life.

Showing up, everyday. Since leaving the corporate life last year and starting this website, I have been writing for at least 6 Pomodoro’s(25 minute work blocks) each day(excluding weekends). Doing it repeatedly over a few months has made it a habit for me. When I get up on any given day, I don’t have to think whether I am going to work or not. That I will work is a given, whether I am in the mood or not. Even on bad days, when I don’t feel like writing, I go ahead and sit on the chair anyway. I ‘show up’. I feel my feelings, I don’t fight the low mood, I experience it fully. Sometimes, in a few minutes, I start getting ideas to write about. I start writing and soon am totally engulfed in it. Some of my very good articles have come this way. Other times, I get a feeling I would be better off doing something else. I don’t fight it, I flow with it and get on to other things I have to do. This way, I am not burdened with being productive with my writing everyday. I just show up with sincerity every time. The rest takes care of itself. No matter what, I never miss showing up.

It’s OK to not do your best every time. Don’t try to make yourself give the same high output every day. While having high expectations of yourself is good, too much of it can bring down your motivation. Find the right balance through trial and error. If you can’t do your best someday, don’t despair. Do whatever you can and let it go. As long as you keep showing up, you will find the answers.

Take a break. A lot of times, a dip in motivation is caused just by overwork. Have you been thinking continuously about your life, your project? Our mind needs rest and change to function well. If you over burden it, you will neither perform well, nor feel very motivated. Create schedules that allow for proper rest and recreation too. Thinking and deciding about your life and work can be kept for fixed periods(read journal writing), for the rest of the time, keep it out of your mind for your own good.

Deal only with the best. Expect the best, from yourself and from others. Deal with only the best. Meet with the best people for your work, read the best literature to motivate yourself, watch the most motivating movies, eat the most healthy food, keep the best health habits…

Attitudes are generally similar in different areas of our lives. If we allow ourselves to eat shoddy food, it’s unlikely we will have the best exercise routine or the best aims, efforts and motivation in life. When you have decided to go out for the best aims in life, start making that change in other areas of your life too.

Cultivate Self reliance. Do you feel bad when others don’t support you? Is your success dependent upon others helping you?

Make yourself a resolve to be completely self dependent. This includes your needs for finances, emotional support and motivation. You need no body’s support, you are complete in yourself, you have the sole power. Expecting the support of others equals demeaning your own power. If your loved ones support you, it’s good. But if they don’t, go ahead alone. You are capable and strong, stronger than you believe you are. As you trudge along, more and more strength will find it’s way to you. Keeping expectations only from yourself ensures you are in total control. Become an island in this regard, a beacon of hope. A self sustaining phenomenon. A light house that other’s get their sense of direction from…

Become the light at the end of the tunnel. Set an example hard to deny. When you just focus on you goal, even against the advice and support of everyone else, you do more good than just to yourself. You wake others out of their stupor. You give them a very positive, very motivating example that’s hard to ignore. You not only change your life, you motivate others to do it too!


All of this may seem hard but what fun is their in getting what’s easy? This will make you stronger. More than getting the goal you desire, this quest will expand you as a person. The growth, confidence and sense of mastery over life you will get out of this will far outweigh the smaller benefits.

An adventure is supposed to be challenging and uncertain. Let it be that way. Embrace the uncertainty. Let self doubt be there. Observe it like an outside entity. It arises in your mind but you have the free will to choose whether you will let it control you. Let it arise and leave. Never stop moving, never stop showing up!


  • Jyoti
    April 6, 2011 - 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting article Rahul…and should say quite motivating. The points that you have mentioned are really worthy. Your articles have been very motivating…and reading them on a daily basis…keeps my spirits high. I am sure the other readers also feel the same. Sharing your article with my other friends. Thanks for such a motivating article. :)
    Keep writing….waiting for more articles from your end.

  • Jyoti
    April 7, 2011 - 1:35 am | Permalink

    Your articles reminds me of a Hindi Poem which we studied in school…
    It was written by Dwarika Prasad Maheshwari…and the title was “Veer tum badhe chalo”. Am sharing the poem with the other readers. Hope you all will enjoy it.

    वीर तुम बढ़े चलो
    धीर तुम बढ़े चलो

    साथ में ध्वजा रहे
    बाल दल सजा रहे
    ध्वज कभी झुके नहीं
    दल कभी रुके नहीं

    सामने पहाड़ हो
    सिंह की दहाड़ हो
    तुम निडर,हटो नहीं
    तुम निडर,डटो वहीं

    वीर तुम बढ़े चलो
    धीर तुम बढ़े चलो

    प्रात हो कि रात हो
    संग हो न साथ हो
    सूर्य से बढ़े चलो
    चन्द्र से बढ़े चलो

    वीर तुम बढ़े चलो
    धीर तुम बढ़े चलो

    • Mahesh
      April 8, 2011 - 3:41 am | Permalink


      • Rahul
        April 11, 2011 - 3:24 am | Permalink

        Glad you like it Mahesh!

    • Rahul
      April 11, 2011 - 3:24 am | Permalink

      I remember this one, I liked it a lot! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Someone
    September 25, 2011 - 10:52 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been reading your articles for last few days and got to learn a lot of things, specially about discipline and maintaining a schedule. I have started applying your suggestions for more than a week now, and got positive results, really :)

    Thanks Rahul!

    ** I do not like the social media buttons below the articles, because it tell me that the article is finished there. **

    • Rahul
      September 26, 2011 - 8:07 am | Permalink

      It is always fulfilling to find that what I have written has helped someone, somewhere. I am glad that you like the articles here and that you are progressing.
      Best of luck! :)
      PS : Try to see the social media buttons for what they are, to help spread the message to more people. The article has to end, it has pointers to help you towards the life you want, not an end goal in itself. :)

  • February 13, 2012 - 7:58 pm | Permalink

    I was depressed but ur article boasted me, i was shaking with fear ur article encouraged,I was about to leave the battle for others ur article brought me back… (danish)

  • caleb
    June 4, 2013 - 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for writing this motivating piece. It was very helpful!

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