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?