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On Achieving Goals – Part 2: How to Be Self-Motivated

(If you haven’t read part one, read it here.)

Sexual arousal has some of the greatest lessons to become self-motivated. Arousal begins by thinking about someone you find attractive. Thoughts create vivid images that lead to a growing intensity of feelings. As your feelings intensify, blood flow increases to certain body parts, breathing heightens, and your skin becomes sensitive. If you continue to immerse yourself in such imagery, eventually you need to act on those feelings.

The enduring desire and process to goal achievement is the same as arousal. Thoughts lead to vivid imagery, which creates intense feelings. Soon enough you must act on those feelings because it becomes too much for you to not chase your goal. You can create an equivalent – if not more intense – desire as physical arousal to achieve what you want by continuing to read below.

All The Keys You Ever Need to Be Self-Motivated

The starting point of all achievement is desire.Napoleon Hill

You can have anything you want – if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose.Abraham Lincoln

Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emotions play a vital role in goal-attainment. Nelissen, Dijker, and de Vries in their 2007 study titled Emotions and Goals: Assessing Relations Between Values and Emotions emphasize the importance of emotions in achieving goals:

An emotional state is characterized by a motivational tendency to the attainment or maintenance of a particular, emotion-specific end-state. Some [studies] have further proposed that the goal-directed nature of behavioral consequences of emotions is adaptive, thus portraying emotions as solutions to obstacles and opportunities of physical and social survival.

As a basic example of the importance of emotions in goal-attainment, let’s say you are on holidays visiting beautiful landmarks and you drive up a steep mountain. You get to the top and make your way to an eye-grabbing location that borders the mountain’s edge. There is no fences or boundaries placed that control where you can walk. As you approach the mountain’s edge, you see the steep fall and quickly take a few steps back to feel safe.

The emotion in this example is fear. It is a fear of danger to ensure you achieve your goal of safety. If you had zero fear of falling off the cliff, the chances of you falling – and failing your goal of safety – increase because you are closer to danger than if you stepped away from the cliff. Your emotions help you obtain goals.

Behind each goal you have, there exists an emotional void you seek to fulfill. Aristotle said the desire for happiness is the void behind all actions. Happiness is the void every human pursues. Nobody can be happy enough. Knowing you desire happiness, however, is not much help when motivating yourself. There is little benefit in knowing you want to make small talk with anyone to be happy. This is where the pain-pleasure theory of motivation comes in.

Goal achievement is no different to arousal… Soon enough you have to act on those feelings because it becomes too much for you to not chase your goal.

Anthony Robbins, author of Awaken the Giant Within, made famous the pain-pleasure theory of motivation. The theory states that in anything we do we seek to gain pleasure or avoid pain. Pleasure has you in pursuit of something. Pain has you run away from something. “The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you,” says Robbins. “If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.”

By understanding how to use pain and pleasure, instead of having pain and pleasure use you, I believe you give yourself unlimited opportunities to be self-motivated. When you learn to build as much pleasure in something as possible, while building pain in something you do not want, you become self-motivated. Manipulate pain and pleasure to build an intense emotional craving to achieve your desires.

We associate so much pleasure with physical arousal that it strongly drives our behavior to fulfill the emotional void whenever possible. Likewise, you can associate extreme amounts of pleasure with your goal, in becoming confident, for example, that you work towards better confidence under any circumstance. In fearful situations you normally avoid, extreme amounts of pleasure can be associated with fighting fear so it becomes exhilarating to be courageous and act in the face of fear. (This is a core secret of how you can become confident in social situations that I reveal in my conversation skills program Big Talk.)

The Four Emotions to Self-Motivation

Well-known motivational speaker Jim Rohn expands on the pain-pleasure theory. Rohn summarizes the primary emotions and desires that bring about change, like the pain-pleasure theory of motivation, into four categories:

  1. Disgust – This is the pain component of the pain-pleasure theory. Disgust can occur when you have had enough. You’re sick of something from occurring, which motivates you to not let it occur again. Your pain leads to change.
  2. Decision – There comes times in our lives that make or break us. These are fork roads where we need to choose the path on which to travel. Fork roads often arise from external circumstances that force us to make a decision, such as a partner questioning whether you want to continue in the relationship. Make a decision and move forward in life. A wrong choice can be corrected at a later time.
  3. Desire – We’re influenced by outside circumstances, but we must have an internal desire – a purpose that originates from within. You are shown throughout this article how to build a desire and increase pleasure with your desired pursuits.
  4. Resolve – This state is defined by the decision to commit to a circumstance no matter what. “When confronted with such iron-will determination,” says Rohn, “I can see Time, Fate and Circumstance calling a hasty conference and deciding, ‘We might as well let him have his dream. He’s said he’s going to get there or die trying.’” Nothing can replace commitment. When you know what it is you clearly want, resolve will make it happen.

Pain, pleasure, disgust, decision, desire, and resolve – these are all powerful states you need to control or they will control you. The question remains: How do you control these mental and emotional states to become self-motivated? How do you build the emotional strength for endurance through the complete journey to attain your goals?

A Simple Exercise to Get You Self-Motivated

I believe an awareness of either pain, pleasure, disgust, decision, desire, and resolve is sometimes enough to create the respective emotion. Knowing about disgust, for example, can help you create disgust to change your behavior and achieve a goal. Even so, there is one technique I am about to share with you that’s amazing for building a burning desire to achieve your goals. With this technique you will remove lack luster efforts and reluctance to pursue what you want. It is one of the best goal-setting techniques you will ever use. The technique is simple, but very powerful.

The Science Behind Pain and Pleasure

Recent scientific research of the human body is discovering why pain and pleasure drives self-motivation to create change. Pain and pleasure creates the release of different chemicals in the body that act as biological rewards.

Pain is a sensory experience often created by harm. The body stays away from pain to survive.

Pleasure comes from dopamine, a neurotransmitter released in the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex parts of the brain that makes you feel good. It is associated with the body’s pleasure system to reinforce behavior that released the neurotransmitter. Cocaine increases dopamine levels to make the drug addictive.

The principle of pain and pleasure can literally make you addicted to your goals.

On the piece of paper you started the exercise from the first article, you will now fill in the second column. Label the second column as “Why I Want It”. In this column, list 20 reasons why you want what you do to trigger, spark, and amplify your emotional desires to hunger for what you want. Come up with 20 or more reasons why you want what you listed in the first column.

Take your time in coming up with the list. 20 reasons or benefits is a lot of work, but the list created from the hours of work in this exercise will be your psychological fuel for achieving your communication and personal development goals in the weeks, months, and years to come. For me, it is my source of inspiration. If there is one method that I frequently depend upon for stimulating a hot passion so that I can pursue my goals with vigor, it is this technique. No other technique injects so much enthusiasm into me.

If you have troubles coming up with good reasons for your goals, expand on ideas and ask other people for ideas. You can also try to think in themes like: feelings you will experience, how others will see you, physical outcomes, reducing pain, and increasing resolve.

Let’s say your goal is to avoid destructively erupting in anger at family members during family conflict. Here are 10 starter points you could use in the “Why I Want It” column:

  1. I want to be a good role model for my children.
  2. I want my family to feel safe.
  3. I want to ensure we have open communication and that no one is scared of talking about certain issues because of my anger. (Prevent other people being demotivated to talk to me because of the pain they will experience.)
  4. I am sick of fighting with my family.
  5. I want my family to love me as much as possible.
  6. I want my family to be relaxed and calm when talking to me; instead of being provoked by my anger.
  7. I hate feeling the shame when people in public see my anger.
  8. I want to increase intimacy with my partner.
  9. I want other parents to look up to me with how I manage my emotions towards my children.
  10. I want my children to think back 10 years from now and be grateful about my emotional management towards their difficult behaviors.

The above is a great example of a list of reasons to achieve the goal of anger management. Once you have listed at least 20 reasons, I guarantee you’ll be filled with fiery emotions to help you achieve what you want. I encourage you to look at your list on a daily basis because of its emotional power in hooking you to achieve your communication and personal development goals. Look at the list frequently and you’ll remain focused and persistent with your goals.

The exercise works because you create a list that summarizes the sale points to make you “buy into” pursuing your goals. It taps into the four emotions of self-motivation. The list builds your pleasure and intensifies pain to make you persist until your goals arrive. The exercise builds the amount of pleasure you get by changing and builds the amount of pain you get by not changing.

I believe this one technique by itself is enough to create a burning desire.

8 Bonus Tips to Be Self-Motivated

I really want you to achieve your goals. I know what it is like to have a down-day where you don’t feel motivated. Don’t beat yourself up over down-days thinking you will never achieve what you want. Down-days are natural. Here are some quick-fire pieces of advice to help you stimulate an emotional craving for your goals:

  1. Dress for Success – How often do you see yourself in a mirror or reflection, or look down at what you’re wearing that day? Let’s say 5 times a day. 5 times a day is 1825 times a year. That’s a lot of subtle mental programming. The power of clothing on your mood is amazing. Wear clothing that makes you feel confident and other areas of your life will improve accordingly.
  2. Be Aggressive – An important goal should stimulate aggression because you badly want it. If you want to be a public speaker, you must be assertive at the time allocated to improve your public speaking. Should something interfere with your practice, you stamped down on what happened to keep on track. Do not create another problem with your aggression. Channel your aggression towards a productive goal – what it is intended for – and watch the steam condense into hard results.
  3. Relive Past Success – Think to past successes and relive the experiences in your mind. Past successes are not only stored in your mind, but at the cellular level in your body. Linked to the successes are winning feelings you can tap into for success. On the contrary, think of past failures and you stimulate feelings of failure. The technique builds the pleasure of getting what you want. For a more in-depth teaching of this method and other mental reprogramming techniques, I highly recommend Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s The New Psycho-cybernetics.
  4. Here and Now – Focus on what you can do in the present to allow your creative imagination the potential to develop solutions. When you are obsessed with the past and the future, anxiety rids you of your ability to achieve results in the present moment.
  5. Details – Defining what you want pulls you in the right direction with specific details. Visualize, feel, smell, taste, and hear the intrinsic details of your desired state to put yourself in that winning state. Just as it is with the process of arousal, you can become aroused by experiencing the details of your goals. This technique is similar to reliving your past successes except you are free from the past to create what you want.
  6. Feed Your Mind – You’ll be surprised at how uplifted you get by reading about other people’s passions and successes. Consume at least 15-minutes a day of motivational material from the likes of Zig Ziglar, Jack Canfield, and Anthony Robbins. “People often say that motivation doesn’t last,” said Ziglar. “Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
  7. Create an Ultimatum – Use the desire of resolve that Rohn explains to create change in your life. Make an absolute condition that if something doesn’t happen, so-and-so consequences will occur. Tell others about this to hold yourself accountable. Sun Tzu in the Art of War knew soldiers fought their hardest when it was a matter of life or death. Soldiers with an escape route had an option to winning or dying so they did not fight their hardest. Alternatives and exit strategies make it okay to fail. Do everything in your power to create an ultimatum such that you must succeed or suffer severe consequences. This technique increases the pain of not changing.
  8. Teamwork – Team up with someone who wants a similar goal as you. This technique is frequently used in exercising where trainers encourage newcomers to workout with a friend. When you make your goals known to others – and when they have the same goals – the two of you work towards a common cause. You become more accountable for your actions because you don’t want to let the other person down. It’s vital the person is supportive or they could demotivate you from setting and achieving your goal.
…if you must rely on techniques to provide you with motivation, question whether you want the goal.

A word of warning though, if you must rely on these techniques to provide motivation, question whether you want the goal. You can stimulate passion using the various techniques provided above, but your goal must be what you want (what you defined in the first stage of the article). An intense desire to pursue your goal will come naturally if it is what you truly want.

You pursue goals with a passion by learning how to create a desire for what you clearly define. Once you are passionate and persistent towards a goal, zero events can stop you from achieving it. Outside circumstances may delay achievement, but passion with action guarantees your desires ultimately manifest into the results you want.

Be careful with what you wish for because you can get it by following the advice shared in this article. Know exactly what you want, why you want it, and how to stimulate a passion to get it. This is the mysterious state of success philosophers have described for centuries. (If you are yet to do the exercise, you are only cheating yourself. Go back to do it now.)

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Joshua Uebergang aka "Tower of Power"

Joshua Uebergang, aka "Tower of Power", teaches social skills to help shy guys build friends and influence people. Visit his blog and sign-up free to get communication techniques, relationship-boosting strategies, and life-building tips by email, along with blog updates, and more! Go now to



Very helpful in contemplating my own dreams and goals. Thanks 🙂

Ansah mike

Hi josh, this is a great start achieve success. With you I hope my dream will surely come to pass. thanks a lot


single word for this


I just myself taking short notes as i went through the articles.
Very powerful indeed.
This article is life changing so its true to be careful what you wish for.
Go, Josh go!We need more of this.

Satinder Grewal

I commend you on sharing such important and valuable information, and delivering it in a simplistic and no nonsense format that is easily useble by the reader. I have always been someone that has been very challenge and goal oriented, but struggled with the adverse behaviors of others who did not necessarily appreciate and/or understand my progress and growth.

I have often wondered if there was something wrong with me as an individual (and I’m sure there is much area for improvement :grin:) because I was wholly unprepared and unaware of the reality that I would lose friendships and inspire envy from others as I progressed along my journey. Thank you for helping me understand that this is a natural, albeit sad and difficult aspect of change and growth. I now know that I am not broken!

Satinder Grewal

Setting SMART Achievable Personal Goals

[…] sixth reason people do not set goals is they lack deep desire to want something greater than their present. For them, the ordinary or even sub-ordinary is […]


Powerful message couched down beautifully. I’ve always thought self-help books and all the rest of it are excellent at pointing out the problems but fall short of the mark to provide a solution. But this article have changed my mind for good. I thank you for that.

off to write down my dreams and more


Yawe Geofrey

I am becoming more knowledgeable whenever i read your articles and thank you for the great work done. I rate you as one of the best researchers we have in this world.

I appeal to all people in the world to make use of this website because they will never remain the same.

Geofrey Y.