Motivation is our inner desire to take action, accomplish our goals, and fulfill dreams. For a lot of people, getting motivated is easy to start with, but staying motivated is seemingly impossible.


I’m sure you’ve all read plenty about goal setting and how to keep your goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound). However, you’ve tried that before and it didn’t aid you in achieving those goals. You have also tried going public and posting your goal on Facebook and Instagram, hoping that the public accountability will keep you motivated. But that didn’t work, either.


How do the high-achievers stay continually motivated to achieve their goals? In my experience, two main elements are an absolute must if you want to stay motivated all the time.


Motivation bottom of heavy clean


Principle #1 - A Goal Big Enough to Keep You Awake at Night

Here’s the kicker. Most of us need external elements to keep us motivated. We listen to motivational speakers, or even find a daily motivational quote to try and ignite the fire within us. But why do we need to see or listen to something to motivate us? It’s because the goals we’ve set to ourselves are mediocre at best. That’s why I believe the “achievable” part in SMART goals is a disaster.


We are lazy by nature. If we set goals that are just achievable, we will only put in the effort needed to reach an achievable goal, and we will be lucky if we achieve it. Will Smith said “Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity.” Being realistic doesn’t motivate and inspire. Being realistic puts limits on our imagination. Being realistic is the number one enemy to goal achievement.


Let’s go back in time a hundred years. If everyone had been realistic back then, we wouldn’t be where we are today. If we had told people back then that we would have athletes doing Ironman races, squatting over 1,000lb, running the 100m sprint under ten seconds, and running a sub-four minute mile, they would have thought we were crazy. And I’m just talking about human physical aspects here. I didn’t say anything about technology. Imagine if we had told anyone a hundred years ago about having an iPhone.


"Being realistic doesn’t motivate and inspire. Being realistic puts limits on our imagination."

Here’s an action step for you - revisit your goals list. Look at your current realistic goals, and set new goals that are double, triple, or even ten times higher than where your sights are currently set. Whatever you do, don’t be realistic. The bottom line is, if the goals you’ve set don’t scare you, they are just not big enough.


Principle #2There Are No Other Options

I’ve worked with a lot of people, from athletes chasing competitive goals to average Joes who want to drop a couple of pounds. The one common element is that they will almost always achieve their goals if they have no other choice.


Necessity brings the unimaginable out of us. You must have heard these stories before. An average woman lifting a burning car to pull her father from underneath it, or a man who just saw a car accident, ran to the car, and ripped open the car door with his bare hands so he can get to an injured stranger.


Anyone who has been to Gym Jones knows being put in situations that can make or break you is a daily and common occurrence in the gym.


It was my second year going back to the gym for my Level 2 Seminar. I had come off a nineteen-hour flight and was extremely tired and jet lagged. Our first day in the gym, we tested the 2,000m row. Back then my 2,000m row time wasn’t that great. That day I rowed a 7:08sec. The standard at Gym Jones was a sub-7min for 2,000m, and I was genuinely disappointed in myself.


Next day, I went to see Rob MacDonald, the general manager and training director at Gym Jones and also the coach giving the seminar. I asked him if I could redo the 2,000m row. Rob smiled, and right then I knew there was a disaster coming my way. He called everyone into the gym and said, “Ramy here is messing with my schedule. He wants to re-do the 2,000m row and we’re supposed to be doing intervals. So the way I see it, he has two choices. Choice #1:  He goes for the row and rows a sub 7 – 2,000m. If he fails, he leaves Gym Jones and never comes back again. Choice #2 is to go back to his place and continue the day as planned, and I’ll just pretend that he didn’t say anything.”


"The question, 'What will happen if I fail?' needs to have an answer so big that failing ceases to exist as an option."

At that point, I knew I had to step up. One of my dreams was to become a fully certified Gym Jones instructor one day, and right then, I knew that this wasn’t going to happen if I quit or if I failed.


Naturally, I went for it because to me I had no other choice. That day, I rowed the 2,000m in in 6:59sec. I was so tired and broken down afterwards, I didn’t say anything for the next hour.


Now imagine if you consistently put yourself in situations like these. Situations where you either achieve your goals, or else. What if your life depended on achieving your goal? How would you deal with it? How motivated would you be to achieve it?


The Take Home

If you want to stay motivated at all times, make sure the goals you set for yourself are big enough to keep you awake at night. You need to think about your goals consistently and obsess about how you’re going to achieve them.


And make sure there can be no other choice. The question, “What will happen if I fail?” needs to have an answer so big that failing ceases to exist as an option. Put these two elements in place and watch your motivation go through the roof – and stay there.


More Like This:


Photo courtesy of Mohamed Ashour, CrossFit Stars.