Limits are stumbling blocks between you and your success. You will face stiff resistance when attempting to break through the limit. Resistance could be self-inflicted fear, doubt, low self-esteem, physical disabilities, and mental block. These elements could package themselves as huge barriers.
Sadly enough, most people find it hard to push themselves beyond these limits. They eventually give up and accept the status quo.
As long as you desire a life of success, you must face your fear and push yourself beyond the limits. Failure to do this will truncate your dream and make your goals unrealizable.
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The 3 Phases of Life
There are three phases of life that we all constantly cycle between – the pushing phase, the overdoing phase, and the relaxation phase.
Pushing yourself or taking it slow may depend on which of the phases you find yourself in. Let’s examine the phases in detail.
The Pushing Phase
You feel excited about your life, environment, and things in general. You are stepping out of your comfort zone, which many people find hard to do. And this action is also paying off as you are growing.
In this phase, your momentum is high and you may experience exhaustion after using your energy on tasking activities.
The Overdoing Phase
At this stage, you are taking more tasks than you can handle. You are saying ‘yes’ to every task dole at you. You can’t say ‘no’. You might even be tense because you feel you miss deadlines on the project.
This is the phase that precedes burnout. Life becomes overwhelming, so this stage requires adequate management, which I will share in the next phase.
The Resting Phase
It’s time to reflect and regain your balance. If you have been overdoing it while pushing yourself, it is time to rest.
Here is when you ask salient questions such as:
- Am I satisfied with this job?
- Am I working in line with my core values?
- Am I happy in my relationship?’
So, what’s the right phase to be in? The truth is there is none.
However, the pushing phase is the ideal place. Life is challenging enough to stay disengaged. It takes pushing yourself to make the best out of the situation you go through in life.
Why Should You Push Yourself?
Knowing all these, you might ask why should you push yourself? Here are 8 reasons to do so.
1. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Life is boring in a comfort zone. Some people believe you can succeed better in your comfort zone than exploring new frontiers. While that may be true, yet nothing significant can happen until you dare.
You need to do different things and do things differently. You need to see the world and life from another perspective. You need a different result. You can achieve all these by doing the same thing over and again.
Life only rewards those who dare and not those who wish.
2. Tap Your Inner Strength
If you have never come across a lion in the jungle, you might never get the chance to tap your running potential. Don’t wait until something pushes you; push yourself.
You have untapped strength to overcome any obstacles than you can ever imagine. Use that strength and refuse to live a life of mediocrity and complacency.
3. Learn New Things
Until you push yourself, you cannot explore. And it takes exploration to learn new things. Start a new business and open yourself to new opportunities. Whatever you do, ensure you are learning, growing, and pushing yourself.
4. Stay in Shape
Pushing yourself also impacts your body. You become fit when you refuse to stay at rest.
For instance, you can use the step instead of the elevator. Get your body in motion and stay fit, especially in this lockdown. Studies have revealed that you burn calories as much as 6 to 15% more when you engage in high-intensity exercises.
5. Achieve More!
Past glories produce future rewards. Push yourself to generate more results than you did yesterday. Find out what you can do more, even if it is only 5 minutes more. Anytime you make extra effort to add value to your life or that of others, you learn and grow beyond your limits and strength.
6. Discover Your Identity
You don’t know your worth and capabilities until you stretch. Listen up! The only competitor you have is YOU! it is while you exert yourself that you get to realize your beliefs, limits, and strengths. Pushing yourself will help you know your true identity.
7. Build Momentum
Death occurs in a state of rest. Would you rather be stagnant water or a flowing river? You need a sustained momentum to achieve your goals in all aspects of your life. You can build momentum by going the extra mile in achieving your goals.
8. Define Your Limits
How do you even know your limits if you don’t push yourself? The next time you push yourself, you will realize you can break through those limits.
How Do You Push Yourself Beyond Limits and Achieve Success?
It is easier to stay in a more comfortable zone than to dare or explore new frontiers. Meanwhile, not pushing yourself will deny you personal growth, professional or business opportunities, as well as life experiences.
So, here are tips to get you out of your cocoon. Don’t forget to start with the hardest part.
1. Take That First step
What you need to get started is that first step. It may not be easy at first. Nothing comes easy as well. The first day at work is boring, the same as going to the gym. But when you continually build your stamina, your motion will become easier. Take the first step to achieve your dream!
2. Inspire Yourself
Don’t wait for extrinsic motivation to make the first move. Discover your inner motivation! It could be a motivational video, TED Talks, Lifehack articles, riverside, or a walk in the park. Ensure it is something that drives you to take action. Inspiration is a motivational tool to help you push yourself.
3. Create Your Environment
You need the right environment to succeed and make good choices. It is better to read at your desk than to read on your bed. If you want to stay healthier and fit, put healthier foods and water closer to you. Avoid junk and exercise your muscles daily.
Also, avoid toxic relationships. Stay around people who will constantly remind you of your goals and aspirations.
4. Avoid the Safe Choice
You can group your choices into two – the safer ones and the daring ones. Go for the ones that will enable you to dare the impossible and teach your invaluable lessons. You cannot grow by succumbing to safer choices. Get out of your comfort zone and explore new frontiers.
5. Visualize the Next Level
What would it look like to be happily married, successful in your business and career, and touching lives? Visualize those dreams!
Visualization will enable you to focus more on your goals and achieve success. It will help you know where you want to be and what you need to do to get there.
6. Learn From Other Victors
Whatever level of success you want to achieve, someone has had it already. Learn from them and pick cues and lessons on how they overcame the barriers. Read their books, online journals, interviews, and podcasts.
7. Do What Scares You
Ask yourself when you are taking on new projects: Does this task scares me? If yes, then do it! That’s how you face your fear and win. See every difficult task as a frog, then eat the frog!
8. Work on Your Weaknesses
There are self-imposed limits, and most of them are products of our weaknesses. It could be bad habits, poor self-esteem, or physical limitation. Weaknesses make a big mountain look unsurmountable, and they can limit you in achieving the success you desired. You can turn your weaknesses into strengths.
9. Seek for Help
A little bit of assistance can be so significant in facing resistance. Having someone to support you can counterbalance the impact of any negative thought pattern that may limit you. It could be a life coach, mentor, spouse, friend, parent, or an accountability partner. They can assist you to make the push you need to get out of your comfort zone.
You have to push yourself past limits to reach your goals. There is no alternative to greatness than sacrificing your comfort and zone and accomplishing great things.
Life does not reward complacency or mediocrity. But by pushing yourself, you can break through barriers and trek the paths that men have not trodden. And interestingly, once you break through the limits, you will be amazed why you never thought the challenges are surmountable.
Accept your limits so you can grow beyond them!
More Tips on Pushing Yourself to Achieve Success
Motivation is one of the main reasons we do things — take an action, go to work (and sometimes overwork ourselves), create goals, exercise our willpower. There are two main, universally agreed upon types of motivation — intrinsic motivation (also known as internal motivation) and extrinsic motivation (external motivation).
The intrinsic kind is, by inference, when you do something because it’s internally fulfilling, interesting or enjoyable — without an expectation of a reward or recognition from others. Extrinsic motivation is driven by exactly the opposite — externalities, such as the promise of more money, a good grade, positive feedback, or a promotion.
And of course, we all know about the big debate about money. It’s surely an external driver, but is it possible that it can sometimes make us enjoy what we do more? A meta-analysis that reviewed 120 years of research found a weak link between job satisfaction and money.
And what’s more — there is some evidence to suggest that more money can actually have an adverse effect on your intrinsic motivation.
Regardless of its type, motivation is still important to get you moving, to improve, excel, and put that extra effort when you feel like you don’t have a single drop of energy left to keep going.
So, let’s see some of the best things you can do to keep the fire going, even when you’d rather just indulge in pleasant idleness.
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Why Intrinsic Motivation Tops Extrinsic Motivation
“To be motivated means to be moved to do something.”
Generally speaking, we all need motivation.
An avalanche of research, though, shows that when it comes to finding the lasting drive to “do something,” internal incentives are much more powerful than extrinsic rewards.
Why? It’s simple.
There is a great difference when you engage in something because “I want to,” as opposed to “I must.” Just think about the most obvious example there is: work.
If you go to work every day, dragging your feet and dreading the day ahead of you, how much enjoyment will you get from your job? What about productivity and results? Quality of work?
Yep, that’s right, you definitely won’t be topping the Employee of the Month list anytime soon.
The thing with external motivation is that it doesn’t last. It’s susceptible to something psychologists call Hedonic Adaptation. It’s a fancy way of saying that external rewards are not a sustainable source of happiness and satisfaction.
When you put in 100-hour weeks in order to get promoted, and you finally are, how long does your “high” last? The walking-on-a-cloud feelings wear off quickly, research tells us, making you want more. Therefore, you are stuck on a never-ending “hedonic treadmill,” i.e. you can progressively only become motivated by bigger and shinier things, just to find out that they don’t bring you the satisfaction you hoped for, when you finally get them.
Or, as the journalist and author Oliver Burkeman wonderfully puts it:
“Write every day” won’t work unless you want to write. And no exercise regime will last long if you don’t at least slightly enjoy what you’re doing.
If you want to find out more about the different types of motivation, take a look at this article: 9 Types of Motivation That Make It Possible to Reach Your Dreams
Benefits of Intrinsic Motivation
If you are still unconvinced that doing things solely for kudos and brownie points is not going to keep you going forever, nor make you like what you do, here is some additional proof:
Studies tell us that intrinsic motivation is a generally stronger predictor of job performance over the long run than extrinsic motivation.
One reason is that when we are internally driven to do something, we do it simply for the enjoyment of the activity. So, we keep going, day in and out, because we feel inspired, driven, happy, and satisfied with ourselves.
Another reason has to do with the fact that increasing intrinsic motivation is intertwined with things such as higher purpose, contributing to a cause, or doing things for the sake of something bigger than ourselves or our own benefit. A famous study done by the organizational psychologist Adam Grant is case in point.
By showing university fundraisers how the money donated by alumni can help financially struggling students to graduate from college, their productivity increased by 400% a week! The callers also showed an average increase of 142% in time spent on the phone and 171% increase in money raised.
Internal motivation has been found to be very helpful when it comes to academia, too. Research confirms that the use of external motivators, such as praise, undermine students’ internal motivation, and, in the long-run, it results in “slower acquisition of skills and more errors in the learning process.”
In contrast, when children are internally driven, they are more involved in the task at hand, enjoy it more, and intentionally seek out challenges.
Therefore, all the research seems to allude to one major revelation: intrinsic motivation is a must-have if you want to save yourself the drudgery we all sometimes feel when contemplating the things we should do or must do.
6 Ways to Enhance Your Intrinsic Motivation
So, how does one get more of the good stuff — that is, how do you become internally motivated?
There are many things you can do to become more driven. Here are the ones that top the list.
The theory of self-efficacy was developed by the American-Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura in 1982. Efficacy is our own belief in whether we can achieve the goals we set for ourselves. In other words, it’s whether we think we “got what it takes” to be successful at what we do.
It’s not hard to see the link of self-efficacy to higher self-esteem, better performance, and, of course, enhanced motivation. People with high self-efficacy are more likely to put extra effort in what they do, to self-set more challenging goals, and be more driven to improve their skills.
Therefore, the belief that we can accomplish something serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy — it motivates us to try harder to prove to ourselves that we can do it.
You can learn more about self-efficacy in this article: What Is Self Efficacy and How to Improve Yours
2. Link Your Actions to a Greater Purpose
Finding your “why” in life is incredibly important. This means that you need to be clear with yourself on why you do what you do and what drives you. What is intrinsically rewarding for you?
And no matter how mundane a task may be, it can always be linked to something bigger and better. Psychologists call this “reframing your narrative.”
Remember the famous story of John F. Kennedy visiting NASA in 1961? As it goes, he met a janitor there and asked him what he did at NASA. The answer was:
“I’m helping to put a man on the Moon.”
Inspirational, isn’t it?
Re-phrasing how your actions can help others and leave a mark in the universe can be a powerful driver and a meaning-creator.
Volunteering is a great way to give back to the world. It can also help boost your internal motivation by making you feel important in supporting the less fortunate, learning new skills, feeling good about yourself, or linking to some of your inner values, such as kindness and humanitarianism.
When you remove any external reward expectations and do something for the pure joy and fulfilment of improving others’ lives, then you are truly intrinsically motivated.
4. Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Like It” to Do Something
A great piece in the Harvard Business Review points out that when we say things as “I can’t make myself go to the gym” or “I can’t get up early,” what we actually mean is that we don’t feel like it. There is nothing that psychically prevents us from doing those things, apart from our laziness.
But here’s the thing: You don’t have to “feel like it” in order to take action.
Sometimes, it so happens that you may not want to do something in the beginning, but once you start, you get into the flow and find your intrinsic motivation.
For instance, you don’t feel like going to the gym after a long day at work. Rather than debating in your head for hours “for and against” it, just go. Tell yourself that you will think about it later. Once in the gym, surrounded by similar souls, you suddenly won’t fee that tired or uninspired.
Another way to overcome procrastination is to create routines and follow them. Once the habit sets in, suddenly getting up at 6 am for work or writing for an hour every day won’t be so dreadful.
5. Self-Determination, or the CAR Model (As I Call It)
The Self-Determination theory was created by two professors of psychology from the University of Rochester in the mid-80s—Richard Ryan and Edward Deci. The theory is one of the most popular ones in the field of motivation. It focuses on the different drivers behind our behavior—i.e. the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.
There are three main needs, the theory further states, that can help us meet our need for growth. These are also the things which Profs. Deci and Ryan believed to be the main ways to enhance our intrinsic motivation—Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness (CAR).
If our jobs allow us to learn and grow, and if we have enough autonomy to do things our way and be creative, then we will be more driven to give our best, and our performance will soar. In addition, as humans are social beings, we also need to feel connected to others and respected.
All of these sources of intrinsic motivation, separately and in combination, can become powerful instigators to keep us thriving, even when we feel uninspired and unmotivated .
6. Tap Into a Deeper Reason
Some interesting research done in 2016 sought answers to how high-performing employees remain driven when their company can’t or won’t engage in ways to motivate them—intrinsically or extrinsically.
The study tracked workers in a Mexican factory, where they did exactly the same tasks every day, with virtually zero chances for learning new skills, developing professionally, or being promoted. Everyone was paid the same, regardless of performance. So there was no extrinsic motivation at all, other than keeping one’s job.
A third kind of motivation was then discovered, which scientists called “family motivation.” Workers who agreed more with statements such as “I care about supporting my family” or “It is important for me to do good for my family” were more energized and performed better, although they didn’t have any additional external or internal incentive to do so.
The great thing about this kind of driver is that it’s independent of the company one works for or the situation. It taps into something even deeper—if you don’t want to do something for your own sake, then do it for the people you care for.
And this is a powerful motive, as many can probably attest to this.
Frederick Herzberg, the American psychologist who developed what’s perhaps still today the most famous theory of motivation, in his renowned article from 1968 (which sold a modest 1.2 million reprints and it the most requested article from Harvard Business Review One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees? wrote:
“If I kick my dog, he will move. And when I want him to move again, what must I do? I must kick him again. Similarly, I can charge a person’s battery, and then recharge it, and recharge it again. But it is only when one has a generator of one’s own that we can talk about motivation. One then needs no outside stimulation. One wants to do it.”
Herzberg further explains that the so-called “hygiene factors” (salary, job security, benefits, vacation time, work conditions) don’t lead to fulfillment, nor motivation. What does, though, are the “motivators”—challenging work, opportunities for growth, achievement, greater responsibility, recognition, the work itself.
Herzberg realized it long ago…intrinsic motivation tips the scales when it comes to finding long-term happiness and satisfaction in everything we do, and to improving our overall well-being.
In the end, the next time when you need to give yourself a bit of a kick to get something done, remember to link it to a goal bigger than yourself, and preferably one that has non-material benefit.
And no, don’t say that you tried but it’s just impossible to find internal motivation. Remember the janitor at NASA?
Because once you find your internal generator, you will be truly unstoppable.