This is a question that I often ask myself. The answer isn’t easily definable because in order to pursue excellence you must first work on yourself and your attitudes regarding life and success. In other words, you must learn to be the best version of yourself.
Arguably the key to achieving this, as I am discovering, is that you must develop a strong sense of self-discipline. Disciplined people work more efficiently because they set themselves goals which are often challenging, goals which require focus and do not allow time for distraction.
I believe that motivation can be enhanced by hard work, and that it is not an inborn trait to possess or lack motivation. Once again, it all comes down to discipline. It is immensely difficult to achieve any kind of long-term goal if you are not sanctioning yourself for idleness along the way, but you must also learn how and when to reward yourself.
Human beings are just like any other animal in the respect that our brains work in reward-based pathways. Think of a dog when he learns a new trick. He understands (because his owner makes it clear) that if he is obedient and learns the trick, he will be rewarded both with praise and also possibly with food. Humans are no different-so set yourself a task and reward yourself upon completion, but only reward yourself if you complete the task (and complete it well).
You will take a different attitude to your work if you decide to do this. I’m talking largely about completing your own tasks, and not about working for others. Know how to reward yourself and when, and know how to tier your rewards. What kind of reward do you deserve based on the work that you have done? Is it something as simple as a cup of coffee, or is it that new game you wanted to buy? Is it an extra hour in bed, or is it a drink at the pub with some friends?
Reward yourself accordingly, but do not become complacent. As humans we often allow ourselves to slack after one success upon receiving our rewards, and therefore we do not continue to repeat our successes and our work gradually becomes sloppier as the discipline is forgotten. So it is also important to find new ways to discipline yourself when the old techniques start to fail, in order to keep yourself working at your best and reaching new levels of achievement.
One last tip before I go: wake up early. The earlier you are awake, the more work you will get done. You will start the day with a sense of achievement which will accompany you throughout the day. By the time most other people wake up, you will have already achieved a huge amount and will be ahead of the game. Starting earlier also means that you can finish earlier if you so wish, but I’ll leave that up to you.
Keep going, and have a great day!