How To Be Motivated

Motivation is something we all want to have. With motivation, we can tackle tough goals and achieve dreams that we may have never thought possible. Motivation makes going to the gym a fun and rewarding experience, while lacking motivation seems to bring our energy level down to the point where even watching a favorite television show seems like too much effort.

Over the years, here are a few insights that I’ve learned regarding my own personal motivation. While you may not feel the same way about it that I do, I hope that some of these ideas may click with you and provide some insight to your own motivations.

Motivation versus Will Power

When I speak about motivation, I’m also speaking about something that some people call will power. However, the reason that I prefer the word motivation is that will power has the connotation of being innate to your character, while motivation is a kind of powerful energy that I believe people can cultivate.

I used to worry about whether I had enough will power to achieve my goals. However, by doubting whether I already possessed enough will power, I was sabotaging my ability to motivate myself.

Motivation ebbs and flows

If you’re like me and many others that I’ve spoken to, your motivation ebbs and flows throughout the year, the month, and even the day. For example, many people find the New Year to be a motivating catalyst. In the days leading up to the New Year, people make New Year’s Resolutions and goals that they hope to achieve in the upcoming year. This is the reason that so many people are going back to the gym for the first time in a while come January 1st. However, many people’s motivation tends to peter out in a few weeks or months.

You may find, as I did, that my motivation is higher at certain times of the day. I tend to be most productive during the afternoon, when the sun is shining and I’ve already had a cup (or two) of coffee.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, loves to wake up early and go to the gym. If he gets up early, he is able to accomplish a lot in the morning before even going to work.

So, think about your energy levels throughout the day. When are you most inspired? When are you most creative or focused? By answering these questions, you can tailor your hardest tasks to the times when are most motivated to do them.

Getting things done when you’re not motivated

Although you may be a morning person or a night owl, sometimes you have responsibilities that require you to be productive outside of your comfort zone. If you have an important meeting first thing in the morning, you better make sure that you show up on time, even if you tend to be more productive in the late evening.

If what you’re working on is important to you, but doesn’t have an urgent deadline, one way to build up your motivation is to start with a small, but somewhat related task. For example, if you want to improve your blog and increase your readership, you know that you need to write frequent blog posts. But, if you’re not feeling motivated to write the blog post, try starting off by brainstorming some ideas to help get the creative juices flowing.

Another technique is to put on a timer and work on the task for 5 minutes. If you’re still stuck after 5 minutes, you can allow yourself to do something else for a while. 9/10 times though, once you start on that task, you’ll get into a flow that helps to motivate you. This is momentum at work.

Ask yourself why a task is important to you

You can’t be motivated to do something if you don’t believe that it’s an important thing to do. If you believe that cleaning your apartment is a waste of time, then guess what? Your apartment is going to end up being a mess. To motivate yourself to accomplish a task like cleaning the dishes or decluttering your closet, imagine the benefits of having a clean kitchen and a spacious closet. What does it feel like? I would imagine the sense of calm that I would have once my apartment was cleaner and more organized. If you can visualize the end result, then you can remind yourself of why the tasks you don’t want to do are so important to you.

 

I’d love to hear your comments about motivation. What motivates you? What do you have a hard time motivating yourself to do? 

 

Sometimes You Just Get Stuck

This is one of those moments for me. I’ve been scanning a coding project that I’ve been working on in Codecademy’s Javascript course, and I have been unable to debug it. In fact, I keep getting the same error. Maybe you have a similar problem. Maybe you’re stuck on how to write the next chapter of your novel, or on what your next priority should be at work. It’s easy to get frustrated, but wouldn’t you rather do something productive?

What to do first: 

  • First thing’s first, before you switch to another task, write down a question that sums up the problem that you are having. You don’t want to forget what it is you were thinking about!

Next… 

  • Think about what resources are available to you. If you have an internet connection you have a vast resource of information to you online. You can even think about a friend, family member, or coworker, who either has experience with what you are working on, or would be a good person from whom to get feedback.
  • Plan to use these resources after a short break from your current task.

How long have you been working on the problem? And how urgent is it?

  • The answer to these two questions can help you to determine whether you should switch to doing something else, and how long you ought to spend time away from the problem at hand.
  • If you’ve been working on a task that should only take 30 minutes for an hour, then you need to give your brain some time to rest. If you switch tasks and then come back to the problem, you will be able to see it with new eyes, and will likely be able to find the solution that you weren’t able to see before.
  • If something is urgent and must be done within the next few hours or so, then you should give your mind a quick 5 or 10 minute break. Don’t stray from your project for too long, or you will find yourself struggling to meet your deadline.

What should you do instead? 

  • The type of thing you do is probably a personality preference. For me, I like to do an easy task that I can do quickly. Being able to check something off of my list makes me feel productive and more confident.
  • You may also want to take a break and watch a funny video, but set a limit for how many videos or how long you will watch them. You don’t want to let a short break turn into procrastination.

Anyway, after writing this blog post, I now feel ready to approach my coding project with a fresh look. Hope this post was helpful to you!