Your primary source of motivation should always come from an intrinsic desire. No video or speech or book will ever carry you through the arduous journey to making your dream become a reality. It has to come from you and you only.
However, during the twists and turns that sometimes leave you feeling down or uncertain or "like it's never going to happen," it helps to be reminded by an outside source that these feelings are part of the process--you aren't alone.
Here are 8 quotes I come back to time and time again, reminding me that "success" is not a destination, but a mindset and a habit:
1. "If you want to be an anomaly, you have to act like one." - Gary Vaynerchuk
If you want to be great, act great. If you want to be skilled, acquire skills. If you want to be a leader, lead. If you want to build something, start building today.
If you want to be the embodiment of the vision you hold in your mind's eye, then you need to start acting like it. And you know what? That person you are imagining probably doesn't hate Monday mornings. They live for Mondays. They live for opportunity, and work ethic, and hustle, and living in a constant state of improvement and practice.
Don't talk about who or what you want to become. Just start acting like it.
2. "Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs
I know the Steve Jobs quotes are overrun at this point, but this one in particular has always stuck with me.
Deep down, you already know the answer. You always do. The question is whether or not you have the courage to listen and believe in that little voice inside you.
The people that listen to themselves live extraordinary lives. The people that don't spend eternity looking for someone else to tell them what to do and who to become.
3. "If I had nine hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first six sharpening my axe." - Abraham Lincoln
Funny how little we talk about the importance of preparation. The world is so focused on the next thing that needs to get done, instead of taking a step back and questioning what needs to be or should be done first in order to be more successful in the long term.
Like a warfare strategist, don't rush into battle. Gather your resources. Survey the landscape. Prepare yourself before you start churning and burning. The more prepared you are, the more likely you will be to succeed.
4. "If you truly love life, don't waste time. Time is what life is made of." - Bruce Lee
How you spend your seconds, minutes, and hours defines what your life ultimately becomes.
The key here is not to "do more" or "work harder." Sometimes doing less is what ends up producing better results. The key, however, is to be intentional. Every action holds value, every choice leads to another choice. Be intentional with the way you spend your time, and do not take for granted the power of each decision.
After all, the little decisions added together end up creating a big result.
5. "Obstacles are those frightening things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." - Henry Ford
From one perspective, challenge is seen as a horrible inconvenience. From another perspective, challenge is the mask behind which opportunity hides.
As the philosopher Marcus Aurelius often spoke of (which inspired Ryan Holiday's book), "The Obstacle Is The Way," this means where there is challenge, there is a lesson. And chances are, that lesson is what you need to learn next in order to move forward.
Do not get discouraged. Instead, re-frame the situation to see the positive.
6. "If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you're not sure if you can do it, say yes, and then figure out how to do it later." - Richard Branson
This is the mentality of every entrepreneur. It's not about knowing the answer. It's about knowing that, no matter what, you are capable and you will find the answer.
A big part of the process is about leaping into things before you're ready--because the truth is, you'll never be ready. And the faster you fall on your face and get back up, the faster you'll learn what you need to learn so that you can get on with things.
Don't be afraid. Be tough.
7. "My attitude is that if you push me towards something you think is a weakness, I will turn that weakness into a strength."
Constant improvement comes down to the perspective that the things you are weak at are gifts that keep on giving--because as long as you are weak in that area, you will continue to try to improve, and you will continue to get better and learn.
Reinvention is rarely the result of improving the things you're already good at. Reinvention is what happens when you add to your canvas an assortment of skills, textures, colors, and messages you didn't have before. It means discovering new parts of yourself--which are always "weak" at first, because they're new. And then over time they become strengths.
8. "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you have to keep moving." - Albert Einstein
Finally, realize you can't steer a stationary ship. You have to keep moving, no matter what. Yes, take time to prepare. Yes, take time to reflect. But always look for where to move to next. That is the only way you will ultimately get to where it is you want to go.
And remember: Not doing anything is a choice in itself.