“Wishing will not bring riches,” as Napoleon Hill states.
I had a friend who often categorized people into those who have a burning desire and those who don’t. He categorized them based on their actions and the sparkle in their eyes. “You can see who has that burning desire and who does not,” he used to say.
For a while, I agreed with him. However, working with young people as a sales and leadership program mentor, I realized that, although he is partially correct, there is also a big group in between both categories.
It is a group that wants something more out of life, but they need to awaken their burning desire. They need to put more wood to the fire to make this desire burning.
One can develop a burning desire with intention, effort, and time.
What Is a Burning Desire?
Definition from Collins dictionary states: “If you have a burning interest in something or a burning desire to do something, you are extremely interested in it or want to do it very much.”
In his famous book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill defines desire as “the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire, which transcends everything.”
The fact is that if we merely wish for something to happen or to achieve, we won’t take enough necessary actions. And when challenges and difficulties come up, things don’t go as planned, chances are that we will give up.
If we merely wish for something, then we will get easily side-tracked.
However, if we develop a burning desire for something, we will find ways to make it happen. We will create a specific plan, do what it takes, push through the challenges, overcome failure — we will be motivated.
Motivation does not precede a burning desire. A burning desire precedes motivation.
The stronger your desire, the bigger your motivation, and the higher your chances of taking action.
If you have been struggling with motivation or difficulty to follow through on your goals, work through these four steps to develop a burning desire for what you truly want to achieve.
Be Intentional About What and Who You Listen to
Many times to develop a stronger desire — a burning desire, you need to change who do you spend time with and what do you listen to/watch in your spare time.
If you spend time with friends and colleagues that don’t want anything too much out of life and mainly talk about next weekend party or a TV show, that will not help you to develop a burning desire.
You will not be motivated to do anything much. Even more, as soon as you start doing something, they might drag you back to their level.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn
If you have friends who are also motivated, want something more out of life, and invest time to figure it out and build it, you will be compelled to take action. If you have a mentor, coach, accountability partner — even better!
The same is true about the information you consume. Are you watching talk shows, horror movies, sitcoms, or watching and listening to motivational/educational videos, podcasts, and online courses that help you grow?
What type of books are you reading? Are you reading fiction books for entertainment, or are you reading personal development books and autobiographies of people that have achieved something great?
Find Your What & Why
Many people don’t have a desire strong enough to follow through on their goals because 1) they lack clarity on what is it that they want; 2) they lack a strong ‘why’ behind what they want.
I used to be a person for whom it was tough to define clearly what I wanted. I either wanted to do many different things simultaneously or lacked the imagination of how I want my life to look.
For some people, it is easier; for some, it is more challenging. But we all need to take time to work on specifying what we want.
The easiest starting point is to ask yourself, “What am I good at? And what I am passionate about doing?”
Take a moment to reflect on and write down a couple of things that spark excitement when you are doing those.
Then figure out which one you can and would like to work on to achieve something.
And now, very importantly, ask yourself, “Why is that important to me?”
Dig deeper with the answer to the ‘why’ question. “I want to make more money” or “I want to travel” are not strong or definite enough ‘whys.’
Ask yourself the follow-up questions,
“Why do I want to make money?”
“What will it mean for when I’ll have X amount in my bank account?”
“Why do I want to travel?”
“Why is such a lifestyle important to me?”
“How will my life change then, and why is that important?”
One of the most important things we can learn from Napoleon Hills’ book is that a desire must be definite.
The more definite you can write your what and why the higher the chances of achieving it.
Work on Your Vision and Invest Time in it
“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.” — Earl Nightingale.
After you have figured out your what and why the next step is to create a vision. Choose a time span of one year, three years, five years, etc.
Start dreaming, envisioning, and writing down how your life will look like after this time span. How will your life look like when you have achieved what you are dreaming about?
Don’t only think and write about this one specific area of achievement. Think and write also how achieving that desire will affect all other essential areas of your life.
A great exercise to help you do this is creating a Life Book.
Find pictures and write down “I am,” “I have, “I do” statements for the following areas of life: Health & Fitness, Intellectual Life, Emotional Life, Character, Spiritual Life, Love Relationship, Parenting, Social Life, Business (Career), Finance, Quality of Life.
The truth is that achievement of an important goal will affect many other areas of your life.
For instance, quitting 9–5 to start your dream business will affect your emotional life (more fulfillment and happiness), love relationship (more time to invest into it or attracting a completely different type of partner — somebody that also is bold enough to pursue their dreams instead of remaining in the “wishing” stage).
If you know how significantly achieving your goal will affect another crucial area of your life, it adds the fire to how important it is to you.
The more you spend time with your vision, the more significant it becomes to you.
Best-selling author Rory Vaden has a saying, “The more you have invested into something, the harder it is to let it go.” It is true not only concerning money but also the time.
Also, the more we think about something, we are developing strong neural pathways in our brain.
Your life right now is the result of thoughts you have been thinking of in the past. Those thoughts have created neural pathways in your brain.
You can consciously choose new thoughts to think about (about your vision). The more you think your vision thoughts, the stronger the neural pathways that creates. That will be seen in your life as automatic habits, new belief patterns, and ultimately, a changed paradigm and modified behavior.
Here is our fourth step — visualize yourself achieving your desire.
Vividly imagine how you will feel, what will be different. Use all your five senses when you envision. What do you see, what do you hear, how does it feel, what can you touch, what can you smell.
Our subconscious mind determines 95% of our thoughts, words, actions, and behavior. Therefore, 95% of what we think and do is automatic.
To change what is in our subconscious minds, we need to do reprogramming. Visualization is one way how to get your desire into your subconscious.
In his book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill emphasizes that you need to have a clear mental picture of your desire. And when you see it in your mind’s eye, you must feel the emotions you would have if you were already there.
Do this several times per day to ingrain it into your subconscious mind faster!
When you visualize, you are tying yourself up with your vision. It becomes dear to you — so important that it is not an option not to achieve it anymore.
If you ever struggle with motivation and following through on your goals, the issue might be that your desire is not strong enough.
Either it is not the right goal, or you have not invested enough time thinking about developing a burning desire.
A burning desire is something you will undoubtedly accomplish because it has become so important to you.
Once you have figured out the right goal and why it is important to you, you need to invest time to get it into your subconscious mind.
You can do that by developing a clear vision and reprogramming your brain. One of the best ways to reprogram your mind to achieve something is visualization.
Visualize how you will feel, what you will see, hear, do, etc. when your goal is achieved.
When you have developed a burning desire to achieve something, you will take action!