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The key ingredient to motivation & success

Last week I wrote about determination, now this week I want to follow up on what is the KEY ingredient to motivation and success. First, what I’ll do is define what I mean by motivation and success. Then, I’ll explain what that key ingredient with a breakdown of the elements of that ingredient.

So first, let’s discuss motivation and success. I must define these, especially success, because definitions of what “success” is varies. Because of that, I am going to take a broad approach. I consider success to be reaching the goals you set for yourself, and when I make those for myself and for my clients I think those goals will lead to the most happiness if those goals are set from a deeper place of knowing. That is, connected to one’s heart. No goals based on “shoulds” or comparisons, but on a deep yearning from one’s true self. It’s NOT a certain salary, a certain size house, or a number on the scale. It’s based on fulfillment, peace, and joy. Motivation, then, is to have the urge and stamina to continue on one’s course until the goal is met. It means showing up day after day to get after it.

Now, as promised, what’ is the key ingredient? It’s having high self-esteem. You can’t get what you want in life if you have a self-defeating internal dialogue, always sell yourself short, and live based on other’s values. You just can’t. So you need to learn to be just a bit friendlier with yourself and be on your own team. Here are some elements that come with high self-esteem:

1) High self-esteemers are more authentic

This one I had to include. It showed up in my doctoral research, so I wanted to spend a little time discussing how self-esteem, authenticity and well-being relate. In a study on authenticity and well-being, an authenticity scale was used which asked 60 questions to test levels of dispositional authenticity. What was found in this research was that the scale behaves consistently across diverse groups of people and shows a strong correlation between authenticity and self-esteem. One particular correlation which was particularly high was the correlation between self-alienation and life satisfaction. The more alienated one is from self, the less life satisfaction one might experience. The more authenticity by which an individual lives the higher their level of overall well-being.

So long story short...being authentic is directly related to overall well-being and it's found in individuals with higher self-esteem.

(Just as a nerdy side-note, I removed all my internal citations of where the information was gleaned, so if you like doing extra research I’m happy to forward the sources if you send me a note.)

2) High self-esteemers are strong in self-compassion

This is huge. The more I research these topics, I see some sources explain how self-compassion and self-worth might be even more important than self-esteem. An element of self-esteem is that it can change based on performance. If you do well on a test, self-esteem might be higher. So, self-compassion is necessary because it’s more of an overall baseline of how you both see and treat yourself. It doesn’t change based on other’s opinions of you or on your performance. It’s a way of being kind to yourself and giving yourself the benefit of the doubt. If you’re like me, you may or may not be caught thinking that when you are self-critical it is somehow noble. I used to believe that. If I was self-critical, it meant I was holding myself to a high standard. Yet, I was miserable. In fact, self-compassion actually leads to MORE motivation. When you give yourself a little slack you're more likely to jump back on the horse when you fall off because you’re not stuck in self-loathing. Give it a try! I promise you that you’ll find more joy going after something you really want.

3) High self-esteemers believe in themselves even when the going gets tough

High self-esteemers persevere and push onward even when things aren’t going their way. They have a motto of “this too shall pass.” This mindset is necessary because all good things take work and “success” is not a straight path. There are many, many bumps.

4) High self-esteemers train their brains to see the good

You know why my husband was sent into my life? Because he has shown me first hand why this is so important. He always looks for the good. It's quite refreshing. Our brains naturally hone in on the bad. Think about any type of feedback you’ve received. For most people, if there is a negative aspect in the feedback that’s the piece you most remember. Yet, there is grace in all of this. We were given brains with the capacity to change if we train them. That’s why mindfulness and meditation have become so popular over the years because they’ve been shown to create positive change in the brain. The neuroplasticity of our brains is our saving grace! If sitting Budda-style is not your thing, try centering prayer, yoga, artwork, or even a mindful walk.

5) High self-esteemers are connected to their true self

High self-esteemers are often linked to some kind of spiritual path aimed at diving inward and being more connected to themselves and others. For me, I see our truest selves as good and wanting the best for us. I have come to that understanding because my spiritual path see’s that true self as infused with God. So, if we can get past the layers and barriers that life puts on us, we can reveal a true-self that is in line with God’s grace and love. High self-esteemers can carry on in their path because they are connected to this source and know they are not led astray.

6) High self-esteemers reach for the stars

This connects to the last one. They like to dream big and push past limits. They know that they could potentially fail, but that there are lessons in setbacks so they push forward anyway. They push forward because they are NOT defined by failure or setbacks. They are firm in who they are, and know they are MORE THAN ANY OUTCOME. Their self-image stays constant, so it can survive taking necessary risks.

Want to join me reaching for the stars? Life is too short for us to sell ourselves short! Also, if you enjoyed any of these topics, you might enjoy a mini course I put together based on my doctoral research. It involves topics like mindfulness, self-compassion, and the healing arts. Either way, I hope you take this as an invitation to treat yourself with more respect and get on your own side. There’s no sense in defeating yourself through self-criticism. Cheer yourself on, it’s much more fun. Happy rooting, everyone!

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