Staying motivated, happy, and focused is something I have spent twenty years researching, testing, and experiencing. I have read hundreds of philosophy, motivational, and “self-help” books and I’ve even taken courses on them.
During my professional tennis career, motivation came in many different forms. Two of the most powerful motivators were: the desire to be as good as I possibly could be, and fear. Especially the fear of pain and disappointment from losing a match. This fear helped get me up every day and work hard because I knew that if I wasn’t out there doing my best, someone else out there was, and when we met on the court they would be better prepared. I wasn’t going to let that happen. When I recently interviewed Milos Raonic, he spoke about the same fear. The adrenaline it produces can be a great motivator but I don’t think it’s healthy in the long run. It’s an emotion that can quickly turn on you.
A more sustainable motivator is having a love and passion for what you do. I had a strong passion for tennis, but at times, like Andre Agassi, I also hated tennis. Only once I reached a certain level and started playing for my country, friends and family, did my perspective change and I learned to truly enjoy what I did. Finding that deeper meaning in what you do is immensely important and pressure-relieving.
Generally speaking, my advice is to have a clear picture of where you want to go and why. Search hard for what you’re truly passionate about and understand why you’re doing it. Once you have a clear picture in your mind, you’ll naturally be more motivated and focused. Search for meaning in your work and make money, fame or success by-products of your mission, not the goal itself. What you do doesn’t need to be big, it just needs to be what you want to do. Whether that’s being a great parent, winning a Grand Slam or building the next Google!