Today, I’m honored to share a post from author, world adventurer, and The Tonight Show guest, Michael Wigge, who traveled from Germany to Antarctica without having any money — a feat necessarily reliant on some everyday psychology “hacks.” Below, he has provided his personal insight on three strategies for self-motivation that helped him achieve his incredible accomplishment.
We all want to live a motivated life, but the question often remains how to find motivational strategies that really work!
How I Found My Motivational Strategies
Something that’s unique to my story is that I partly make a living by publishing adventure self-experiments in the form of books and television docu-series for the international market. Some of the challenges I’ve faced are titled How to Travel the World for Free and How to Barter for Paradise. As the titles of these projects tell, I’ve had to lean a lot on self-motivation to overcome these challenges and meet the deadlines.
Understanding these aspects allowed me to later run motivational seminars in the US and provide keynote speaking back in Germany. Understanding tools like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs have been at the basis of my work. This pyramid model basically describes the kind of needs that motivate us on a daily basis. Essentially, we need to satisfy the lower-level needs (e.g., physiological needs) before we can address the higher-level ones (e.g., self-actualization):
- [lowest level] Physiological needs (e.g., food, water, shelter)
- Safety needs (e.g., personal security, health, property)
- Love and belonging needs (e.g., friendship, intimacy)
- Self-esteem needs (e.g., self-respect, status, personal strength)
- [highest level] Self-actualization needs (i.e., becoming one’s best self)
Learning about this made me realize that the first two needs are usually covered by the paycheck we receive. But the other three needs require more, like friendships, intimacy, respect, status, and freedom.
I came to understand that my projects partly fulfill these latter needs and motivate me to face those challenges. In which case, I want to share with you three specific strategies that helped me succeed and overcome those challenges.
Goal setting seems to be my number one strategy in life to avoid a lack of motivation. Clearly defined goals are the key for successful motivation. The SMART model helps you define any goal very precisely by focusing on
S – How specific is the goal?
M – How measurable is the goal?
A – How attractive is it to you?
R – How realistic is the goal?
T- How well-defined is it timewise?
If you have a goal and you can answer all five aspects of the acronym, you’re good to go. During my adventure challenges, I always re-adjusted my goals in line with this model and it helped a lot!
Good time planning is another way to optimize your motivation. Many people tend to procrastinate, which negatively influences their motivation. Once procrastination kicks in, it can be hard to stay motivated to achieve a goal due to the uncomfortable feeling of guilt that often comes with procrastination.
Procrastination often happens due to a lack of passion, fear of failure, weak time planning, and too much pressure on oneself. Tools like the 72-hours rule may help to reduce (if not eliminate) procrastination and kick it out of your life. Priority setting, too, can support self-motivation. What is the most important and urgent work to do? Try to start with those tasks and not the most pleasurable work. This strategy helps avoid procrastination.
A big part in time planning is the ability to spot time wasters which basically steal your time and weaken your self-motivation. Typical time wasters I’ve experienced:
- Emails and even more emails
- Unexpected phone calls or colleagues coming in
- Messy desktop and messy desk
- Weak priority setting, weak time structuring
- Wanting to do everything at once
- Social media
We all experience some variation of these time wasters and it’s important to come up with a good way to manage your boundaries and have a strategy to avoid distractions. But it’s worth it. Doing so will raise your motivation!
Stress management is the third pillar of my self-motivation. We often feel a lack of motivation due to too much stress and pressure on ourselves. Indeed, a lack of motivation is often caused by too much stress. However, stress can successfully be managed by boundary setting, resilience work, time planning, exercise, meditation, and many other aspects.
When I faced my own adventure challenges, I had to learn these aspects the hard way. Being without money somewhere in the world requires a high level of motivation, because things become very serious when you’re hungry and need to be safe for the night. Goal setting and time planning strategies were especially key to my success. Often, I planned days ahead for food, travel, and accommodation strategies.
Resilience became my major tool for stress-resistance. The seven pillars of resilience are a great tool to practice:
- Solution Orientation
- Network Orientation
- Future Planning
Resilience work can improve motivation by making you more stress-resistant, which can in turn increase your motivation to succeed.
To sum up my philosophy on resilience, I love this motivational quote, ages ago given by Confucius: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
So, just imagine if some random guy without money is able to motivate himself to travel the world for free, then get on The Tonight Show, and then get Katy Perry’s phone number (okay, the number didn’t work, but still!), what are you capable of accomplishing in your life? — Enjoy the journey!
About the Author:
Writer, challenge seeker, motivational speaker, and award-winning travel show host, Michael Wigge, specializes in documenting incredible challenge stories. He shared his amazing success stories on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Katy Perry and also on The Today Show. His TV programs, speaking engagements, and books have been delivered and published internationally.