There's one thing that motivates Elon Musk above all else

Elon Musk
Getty Images

Elon Musk lives what most would consider an insanely intense life.

He's currently a self-made billionaire 15 times over. And at 46, he's the CEO of both electric carmaker Tesla and space exploration company SpaceX. He's also the co-founder and chairman of artificial intelligence research non-profit OpenAI. In just the last year, he started Neuralink to merge humans with machine interfaces and launched The Boring Company to dig tunnels under the ground and reduce traffic woes.

And he does all this on just six hours of sleep per night

So what keeps Musk motivated?

"The thing that drives me is that I want to be able to think about the future and feel good about that," says Musk, speaking to the National Governors Association on Saturday.

This is how Tesla CEO Elon Musk stays productive
This is how Tesla CEO Elon Musk stays productive

"We are doing what we can to have the future be as good as possible, to be inspired by what is likely to happen and to look forward to the next day."

Musk says that is what's directly behind his two most well-known companies, Tesla and SpaceX.

I want to be able to think about the future and feel good about that.
Elon Musk
billionaire, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla

"I think it is pretty important that we accelerate the transition to sustainable generation and consumption of energy," says Musk of his quest to produce eco-friendly vehicles. "It's inevitable, but it matters if it happens sooner or later."

In June, Musk removed himself from President Donald Trump's advisory councils when the President promised to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

As for Space X, that's "about helping to make life multi-planetary," he says.

According to Musk, we will have no other alternative but to eventually live and work on the red planet because, "There will be some eventual extinction event," on Earth, says Musk in academic journal New Space.

To make moving to Mars a reality requires making it more affordable, says Musk. And he believes it is possible. "It [will get] to the point where almost anyone, if they saved up and this was their goal, could buy a ticket and move to Mars," he says.

Musk says he is betting his own billions on it.

"[T]he main reason I am personally accumulating assets is in order to fund this," he says. "I really do not have any other motivation for personally accumulating assets except to be able to make the biggest contribution I can to making life multi-planetary."

According to Musk, "that's what really drives me — trying to figure out how to make sure that things are great and going to be so."

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See also:

Here's Elon Musk's morning routine—and his top productivity tip

Elon Musk: 'Robots will be able to do everything better than us'

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