Being in the high institution comes with it good times and boring moments, if you must be up and at it, you need some strategies. The next time you’re feeling in a rut, read these 10 motivational nuggets from one of the biggest dreamers out there.
Constantly re-evaluate yourself.
“I think that’s the single best piece of advice: Constantly think about how you could be doing things better by questioning yourself.”
What many people fail to realize is that the greatest achievers started out as the biggest losers. If Elon Musk approached his friends and family 20 years ago and said, “I’m going to build a car that drives itself, colonize Mars and transform train-like transportation,” they might have admitted him to a psychiatric hospital.
What separates achievers from everyone else is their willingness to try and try again. When something doesn’t work in your life, look for a different approach. If you’re bored in your career, in your relationship, in your day-to-day habits, take the time to reflect and adjust. Challenge yourself to be the best you can be every day.
Identify your goals and objectives.
Elon Musk was always a dreamer. After successfully launching Zip2 and PayPal, Musk decided to plan a privately funded mission to Mars. Why? Because he didn’t feel that the country was ambitious enough about space travel. He says, “My motivation for all my companies has been to be involved in something that I thought would have a significant impact on the world.” What bigger impact than a ‘backup’ plan for the entire human race?
Although we all don’t have the $180 million or necessary background to venture into space travel, there is always something meaningful we can change in our lives, in our neighborhood, in our community. Find a why that’s bigger than yourself and you’ll be amazed what you can accomplish.
Never fear your biggest dreams.
In the mesmerizing 2013 TedTalk, Elon Musk dives into a childhood dream of building rockets and traveling planets (notice the plural, planets). Didn’t we all want to be astronauts and dreamers and builders and innovators? Musk reminds us of a very important point, childhood dreams don’t have to end at childhood. SpaceX was a failure before it was a success. Musk had to invest millions of his personal money to get through an almost-didn’t-make-it period through 2008.
But he never gave up. He held onto his childhood dreams and persevered to make them a reality. What is your biggest dream? How can you weave that into your current career or start it as a passion project on the side?
In a 2008 interview with SUCCESS magazine, Musk cut the interview short. After all, when you’re busy planning to invade space and managing a $180 million net worth, there isn’t a lot of time for chitchat. But that interruption says a lot about who he is—he hung up to have a promised lunch with his family.
It’s not only vital to assess why you’ve started a business or where you expect it to take you, but also remember who you’re doing it for. It could be for you, which is fine. But if you are vying for a better future for your children, keep that thought front and center to pull you through the difficult times.
“Don’t be afraid of new arenas.”
Musk started out in the computer/customer/information services industry. It was a smart move, allowed him to test his entrepreneurial muscles and build a sizeable nest egg for his family. But his heart belonged in renewable energy, space travel and transportation innovation.
If you’re a talented artist, but you also want to eliminate plastic waste, don’t be afraid to try both. You might be surprised how your talents can flex with you.
Don’t take life too seriously.
Early last year, The Simpsons had a play date with Musk and his inventions, dedicating an entire episode (“The Musk Who Fell to Earth) depicting the billionaire investor as a little crazy. A known Simpson’s fan, Musk lands into town on a “Dragon Ship,” mumbling incoherencies and disappointing the town with failed inventions. But the premise of the episode speaks to a larger point—that life should never be taken too seriously. It’s important to have fun while building your best life.
Be a forever student.
Musk always had an interest in science, a leaning toward business principles and a creative mind. He seemed to have the best nuggets of knowledge from all the most important (and billionaire-creating) sectors of life. But he is also never satisfied with right here, right now. Musk stayed an extra year at the University of Pennsylvania to earn a second bachelor’s degree (one in physics and one in economics). He began a PhD in applied physics and material science at Stanford, but decided the business world was better-suited for his needs.
But that didn’t stop him from learning. People are either moving up or they are moving down. The concept of “stagnate” doesn’t apply to people, because, like our muscles, our brains need to be regularly exercised to create new pathways, new muscle memory. Strive to learn at least one new thing each day and keep track of your increased motivation to achieve more.
Embrace the negative.
Musk is a testament to improving by failing. Like anyone who has strived (and achieved) big-dream goals, haters come with the territory. It’s how you react to them that can change you for the better.
Musk continuously surrounds himself with smarter, more innovative and hardworking people. He believes in the need for constant feedback—including the negative kind. “Pay attention to negative feedback and solicit it, particularly from friends. Hardly anyone does that, and it’s incredibly helpful.”
How can you improve from the negativity in your life? How can you make it drive you to achieve more?
Never give up on your dreams
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
By stating, simply and clearly, that he understands failure is part of the creative process, and certainly a huge part of success, Musk allows himself the wiggle room to achieve more. He believes in his ability to put humans on Mars. He believes cars can and should be environmentally friendly and still sporty and sleek. He believes technology can be used for the greater good more than it can be used for destruction and war.
Find your mission. Find the thing that drives you, hold onto it and let it propel into places you never dreamed of going.
We’re all dreamers. We all want to achieve greatness. Most of the time, it’s our fear that holds us back from achieving those dreams. Musk is also a doer. He probably felt the same self-limiting beliefs that we all feel: I’m not good enough, why do I think I can accomplish this? But he swallowed those fears and jumped head-first into the unknown. When things began to get difficult, he didn’t shy away and say, “I can’t do this anymore.” He pivoted, reassessed and found a solution.
“If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.”
Just do it.
Elon Musk amassed a $300 million fortune by the age 30. Yes, he’s smart. Yes, he’s highly educated. Yes, he seems to have been cut from a different cloth than the “average joe.”
But he’s just a man with big dreams. He’s a man who refuses to accept no as a long-term answer. To him, no means not right now or not this way. He understands that failure, the big, massive what-have-I-done failure is the main ingredient to building the how-in-the-world-did-he-do-that kind of success. So the next time you find yourself thinking, I can’t, embrace that as a sign of the progress you’ve already and push harder. Human beings have the amazing capability to adapt to new situations, often within hours. When you feel uncomfortable, incompetent or scared, it means you’re pushing yourself to new heights.
Embrace the uncomfortable; use it to propel you forward. Then celebrate your successes and your failures.
Then try again.