How do I get motivated every single day? originally appeared on Quora--the knowledge-sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Matthew Jones, life coach and personal-growth expert, on Quora:

Motivation is elusive. Like happiness, the more we chase and objectify it, the more it escapes our grasp. When you're motivated, it feels like you have the fuel necessary to take over the world, but when you lack motivation and getting out of bed is a struggle, accomplishing your goals feels impossible. Why is it so difficult to feel motivated each day?

Motivation is not an object that can be attained; it is the emergent property of being fully engaged with your passion. When you are consumed with the process rather than the outcome, time flies and you end up achieving your goal. The motivation wasn't something separate from the process; it was found through your engagement. If you want motivation, you need to come into contact with the process, which will fuel you toward the finish line.

Here are four ways to get motivated every single day:

1. Be present.

We often lack motivation because we're either ruminating about the past or obsessing about the future. When you focus on your breath and allow thoughts to arise and fall without judgment or attachment, there is only peace. The more you tune inward, the easier it'll be to feel grounded and secure in the present moment, which is where motivation lives.

  • Develop presence. Presence is the feeling of being in the here-and-now. It involves the thoughtless awareness of the present moment. Rather than thinking about the terrible traffic on the way to work, you're fully engaged in the experience of your boss displacing his anger on you and your co-workers. You're not thinking about how you want to respond to him, or rehearsing the dialogue you're wanting to have with your co-worker after the meeting ends, you're soaking up the content and process of your boss's rant. Presence means that you're not thinking about the past or dreaming about the future; you're so consumed with the present moment that nothing else matters.
  • Discover your power. Power is strength and confidence in your competence. This involves feeling confident in knowing who you are, what you offer, and what you want. Developing power takes time and practice. It's both an energetic presence and a lot of self-awareness. This isn't a false front of confidence--it's a deep security radiating from self-trust. Power means that you make the best decisions for yourself and those around you while striving for love, happiness, and satisfaction.

2. Set goals.

How can you be motivated if you don't know where you're headed? When you lack clear goals, it feels like endless work with no payoff, which instantly zaps your motivation. If you want to live in a state of motivation, you need to understand how each moment leads to the next in terms of your long-term goals. When you learn to perceive each activity as an opportunity to work toward your potential, it provides the fuel you need to power through tough days.

  • Think big. Close your eyes. Imagine your long-term goal in as much detail as possible. Write down all of these ideas on a sheet of paper--be specific. The more clearly you can picture your major goals, the better. While this vision can and should change over time, it's important to be able to refresh your motivation by looking at these ideas.
  • Think small. Now that you've explored the larger goal, it's time to work backward. If such-and-such is your goal, what steps do you need to take prior to your dream being realized? List out all of the steps you need to take; again, details are important. These smaller goals should be broken down into years, months, and weeks.
  • Think daily. The final step is to take your annual, monthly, and weekly goals and break down your day-to-day tasks. If you can connect each aspect of your life to your goal, then even cooking your dinner is a necessary step toward achieving your potential. Breaking large ideas into small components that you can work toward and check off at the end of each day helps you stay focused on the present while investing in the future.

3. Reflect.

Check in with yourself at the end of each day, each week, each month, and each year. I know it's a lot of work, but introspection not only improves your self-awareness, it also helps you stay on track. The ultimate motivator is not recognizing yourself at the end of the year, which comes from having looked back at each week and realized how much you accomplished.

  • Monitor progress. As you reflect, pay attention to your progress in achieving your short-term goals. Because your short-term goals tie into your long-term goals, you'll know that you're headed the right direction. Check off the small things and acknowledge your growth. It's important to give yourself recognition for your efforts.
  • Celebrate success. Take time to celebrate small milestones. They may feel insignificant because you haven't conquered your overarching goal, but soaking up your accomplishments helps keep you motivated. Positive reinforcement is a powerful way to transform your mind to focus on the opportunities instead of the shortcomings. This lens of realistic optimism will lead you toward taking risks that are slightly outside your comfort zone but always within your reach.

4. Push yourself.

There's no substitute for hard work. It's nice to pretend that people are motivated each and every day, but the fact is that motivation waxes and wanes. The replacement for motivation is willpower, structure, and consistent effort. If you want greatness, then you need to pay the price:

  • When you're motivated. While you feel motivated, push yourself the extra mile rather than turning in early. If you're having a really productive day, instead of giving up early and watching Netflix, push yourself the extra mile. Stretching your capabilities will come in handy when you're running on empty.
  • Especially when you're unmotivated. On the days when you have no motivation, you need to force yourself to do what's necessary to maintain productivity. While you won't be able to match the days when you feel motivated, sometimes you'll rekindle your passion by engaging in the process. When you up the intensity when you aren't feeling motivated, sometimes you trick yourself into feeling it.

Are you ready to get motivated? Then get ready to work! Staying motivated requires a lot of effort. Most people imagine that entrepreneurs and CEOs wake up feeling ready to conquer the day--rarely do they understand the never-ending process of creating the motivation to fuel optimal productivity and endless personal growth.

If motivation were a commodity, it would be incredibly valuable. The most successful people find ways to stay motivated about their passions. If you want to maximize your growth, then you need to set goals, reflect, and push yourself even when you aren't feeling it. Become grounded in the present moment, find your power, and then you'll discover the motivation you need to achieve your potential.

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Published on: Apr 5, 2016