Motivation is hardest type of energy to yield. No matter what gizmo you buy, movie you watch, book you read, you’ll never seem to get any closer to getting blindsided by an epiphany.

This is one of my favourite ways of explaining how the fundamentals of motivation work and how to maintain a constant stream of it.

As you read the below analogy keep in mind a recent challenge you’ve undertook (diet, business, personal goal).

new zealand surfers motivating themselves into the waves

If you’ve surfed before you know what a challenge your first time on the ocean can be.

First it seems like you’re making large strides of progress as you strut across the cool sand with your board, letting the shallows swallow you up.

Now comes the hardest part: you have to dip a hand into the water, quickly followed by the other hand as you start to paddle against the breaks on your surfboard.

At first it doesn’t seem like your paddling is making any progress. The scenery passes by slowly, the water doesn’t seem to get any deeper, and your arms begin to ache. The only thing you can do is repeat the same systematic motion over and over – blindly hoping that all this effort is somehow worth it.

After what seems like an eternity, and with a little luck, you catch your first wave. What follows is a feeling like no other, you’re on top of the world, the scenery rushes by, adrenaline shoots through your body, and you fight to enjoy every last second.

Then you crash.

And you’re back exactly where you started. You put one hand in the water, and then the other, and start the journey all over again. But this time you know how much fun it’s going to be – you know it’s worth it.

kiwi surfers motivating themselves through the waves

This is what every major achievement feels like to me. Whether it’s graduating high school, earning my black belt, or getting my first sale on my online store.

First I’d feel like I was taking large steps towards my goal – attending the first class, getting my white belt, or registering a domain.

Then you have to paddle: homework every night, brutal sparring sessions, line after line of html/css.

Then you ride that first wave: getting your first A+, graduate to yellow belt, getting that first sale. Suddenly you’re unstoppable.

Motivation doesn’t appear out of thin air. Motivation is a byproduct of a methodical work ethic against the current. Culminating into an amazing reward that you’ll want to repeat over and over.

So the next time you feel like plowing through a box of chocolates watching Oprah reruns try to get some small task related to your goal completed, then do the next small thing, eventually you’ll find yourself surrounded with opportunities crashing down on you and you’ll love every second of it.

(photos are from a trip to Manu Bay, New Zealand where I learned how to surf)