Learning how to get more motivated is a huge advantage to you. Because it takes a bit of effort that most people don’t want to give, you’ll find it easier to define yourself as a person who’s willing to go a little extra. And once you realize a few simple ways to keep your motivation flowing, you’ll find that you can generate motivation whenever you need it.
And if you get anything from this article, get this. Feeling Follows Action.
FEELING FOLLOWS ACTION.
It’s that important and you’ll soon see why. Unless your next task is diving into your favorite dessert or a pile of money in your living room, you might NOT feel like doing whatever is next on your to-do list. Sure, you might sometimes, but you can’t base a plan of commitment and motivation on just how you feel at the moment.
1. Check Your Emotions
Emotions are like the wind here in Nebraska. You can depend on the wind being around all day, but not how it’s going to act. You need to face your feelings before you move forward.
– Consider and acknowledge your emotions at the time. An example – “I’m feeling really bored and would rather clean my toilet than start XXX”. Be brutally honest. Then say, “Thank you emotions, it’s time to do something now. See you in a bit.” Because in a bit after you’ve started doing XXX, your little emotional weather vane may be pointing in a different direction than when you started. Hopefully from “unmotivated and resistant” to “Heck yeah, let’s go!” Or something along those lines.
– Pick one easy thing and do it. Take that first heavy step toward that thing you don’t want to do, but make sure it’s simple to start and finish. Once you have a little movement into your activity, it will get easier. There may be many parts of your project that aren’t difficult to do. However, it may just be the emotional weight and importance placed on the completion of this task that makes it tough.
For example, I put our taxes off until early April this year because I just didn’t want to get into it. All told, I think it took me about and hour and a half. A lousy 90 minutes. I was actually a little underwhelmed and disappointed when I finished up because it was so damn easy. I built up a whole bunch of procrastinating over a couple of months with intermittent periods of stress because I hadn’t started it. Sigh…. JUST FREAKING GET STARTED already.
– Keep moving. If this is something will be overwhelming to you, I recommend setting a timer. Commit to doing this task for a solid 15 minutes and evaluate your progress when your timer goes off. If you do need a break, set the timer for about 5 minutes and get up and walk around a little. Get some fresh air or a drink of water, check your emotions for a moment.
But most of all, commit to going back. If you are running short on time or you have to stop for a while, write out a short list of what you got done and what you need to do next. But if you can keep going, then set your timer for another chunk of time.
- One Caution – beware of diving straight in to a huge project. If you’ve been procrastinating about something for a long while, you may have a lot of emotion built around this task. That emotion could take its toll if you toil at it for a long stretch with no breaks. Make sure you understand the scope of your project and you don’t exhaust yourself. Take one step at a time and work in some periods of rest.
Ultimately, it’s the starting that is the biggest problem with motivation. Humans are creatures with highly functioning brains. Unfortunately, this ability also allows us to overthink, prepare, excuse ourselves, and rationalize ourselves into oblivion. Once you get over the first small step and get rolling, the resistance melts away. You’ve certainly experienced this before in your life, and now it’s time to apply it to that thing you don’t want to do.
2. Avoid Competition and Comparison
You know how it goes – you see all your friends and acquaintances having the most awesome weekend doing All the Awesome Things with the Smiling Friends and Family. You aren’t doing much and who cares if you’ve exercised, done the laundry, or mowed the lawn? You aren’t having an Awesome Weekend, you are having an Ordinary Weekend with a side of Not Much Fun Going On. And your attitude is pretty much “meh”.
Well, the first thing to realize is that people having Awesome Weekends probably also have mountains of laundry when they get home or an enormous mess in their kitchen. Maybe even some crabby kids having to help out. Not everything you see is truly glamorous or easy for those involved. They all have plenty of Ordinary Weekends and days with Lots of Boring Crap to Do.
So do your thing anyway. Instead of feeling like you are comparing or competing with others to have a great time in life, make a great thing of what you have right now. Yep, even if that means you are neck deep in plastic totes from the basement or an hour of yard work in the hot sun. Push your discouragement to the side and focus in on what you are doing now and rock it.
Each small moment of accomplishment adds up to something much more in the end. They represent commitment, persistence, completion, consistency, goals, and decisions. No matter what your project is, that’s something to be proud of. Nobody can take that away from you, not even the people on Facebook having their Awesome Weekend.
3. Create Habits that Support Your Goals
You’re training yourself how to get more motivated so you’ll need to face this inescapable truth. The first push of energy can really feel draining. You know that feeling when you absolutely positively CAN’T get out of bed, but you must anyway? Ugh. It might feel like that – fair warning.
But don’t be discouraged. You know one thing that can dramatically reduce that initial “I Don’t Wanna” feeling of getting started? Having a habit. Sheer repetition of the starting action makes that feeling weaker and weaker over time. Yeah, it might stink for a the first few times. But after a while, it’s just a bump you can step over each time. No big deal. Just doing that can give you a sense of confidence and accomplishment.
So back to your habits. Think about this for a minute – do you need to strike up motivation to brush your teeth and take a shower? OK, some weekend mornings it’s tough to get going. But pretty much, your self care activities could be done almost without thought. It’s not complete auto-pilot, but it’s pretty close.
Habits are efficient low-energy methods for getting a lot of things done. Consider your drive to work, your child’s school, your favorite grocery store, your closest gas station. Your brain really likes creating habits because it takes a lot less energy and work than constantly restarting the motivation process again and again.
Make a plan for the day the night before and review it first thing in the morning. Before you go to bed at night, just make a quick little list of one or two important things you really need to take care of the next day. They might be activities that only take a few minutes to get done, and you can always do more if they get finished quickly. But just having them there will keep your attention on them.
Make sure they are doable in the time-frame you have. If you have to, break up a larger job into smaller parts so you can just get started. Remember, getting started is the most important part of the process so make sure you are set up to succeed. I like to use my alarm app and my calendar on my phone to make habits and tasks stick.
4. Motivate Yourself with Movement
Get moving. Your mind and body love the habit of daily exercise. Whether it’s a walk outside, a trip on the treadmill, or just some stretches, some active body movement will do a lot to refresh your motivation. Your oxygen flow increases, the endorphins start flowing, and your muscles get a little buzz of energy.
Remember what it’s like when you sit on the couch or lie in bed and can’t muster the energy to get up? Once you get moving, it seems like your brain is more willing to follow. All of this activity can help you clear your head and give you a mental boost. Get yourself a drink of water, breathe deeply, and get started.
5. The Payoff and the Pain
Use your sense of pleasure and pain to your advantage. Make a solid list of the tangible benefits of taking action and the problems that could occur if you don’t. What positive outcome are you trading your time and energy for? Better health? Less stress each day? Fewer financial struggles?
Check with this list each day to make sure you’re still buying in to your goals. As you make progress, your positives and negatives may change. Choose a couple of the most important benefits and problems and try to really feel their impact on you. Whatever the best or worst outcome may be, make it real inside your mind for a few moments. Those feelings can help make an imprint on your mind and body and help you keep your motivation fresh.
6. Track Your Accomplishments
Sometimes it helps to have reminders of where you’ve been. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget all the progress you’ve made. Keep track of the things you’ve accomplished related to your goal, even the small steps. Remember that before you began taking action, your goal was really just an idea or a wish. Reinforce your forward motion by reviewing and adding to this list on a regular basis.
Remember the exercise of making your pain and pleasure real in your mind? When you review your progress, do that again to reinforce how far you’ve come. Keeping the “why” in your mind keeps you looking and moving forward.
7. Ask What’s Making You Stuck Now
Ask yourself why you’re stuck. Do you have fears are holding you back? Are you feeling exhausted, sick, or overwhelmed? When you think about moving ahead with your goal, take note of your first reactions thoughts, and feelings. Those are the clues your mind and body are giving you about your “stuckness”.
Remember that the very first part of this article focused on addressing your emotions? That’s because it’s so important to understand what you’re feeling in the moment when you seek more motivation. Emotions might spur you forward but they might also hold you back if you ignore them.
Instead of running from those reactions, acknowledge them honestly and you’ll feel more free to take action. It may be enough just to be open about your struggles, but be prepared to do something tangible. Plan for an earlier bedtime, read up on tips to how to deal with stress, learn about managing your fears and concerns. These are the problems that keep you in the same negative patterns. When you do better at managing them, you avoid having to suffer the same pain over and over.
8. The Devil Is in the Distractions
You know yourself and your weaknesses. Do you lose time the minute you get on Pinterest? Does it seem like TV sucks away your whole evening? Even if you say “I’ll just do it for 10 minutes” or “just this one show”, you know when you’re willingly diving into a pit of wasted time.
Make sure you aren’t putting these distractions in front of your key goals. Flip it around and use them as a carrot. Get your favorite shows on DVR or schedule time later to watch them on demand. Set a timer to take care of your priorities now and then surf Pinterest for recipes and crafts. Let yourself get pulled forward by your distractions instead of pushed off-track.
9. Give Yourself Sweet Rewards
Speaking of carrots, make sure you not only recognize but celebrate your achievements. Don’t worry if they seem small – every huge goal is filling with hundreds of baby steps. Trust me, if you have a goal that’s really worth fighting for, you’ll have plenty of setbacks, frustrations, do-overs, and moments where you feel like giving up.
Nothing that’s truly awesome is super easy and smooth. Hard work is hard for a reason. It’s so easy to give up when things don’t feel comfortable. And yet those are the moments that usually define your achievements even more strongly. A sense of accomplishment is a complex emotion. It’s a reward that’s well-earned, often with some blood, sweat, and probably tears. Honor the “no quit” in you by giving yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.
A Final Takeaway
Learning how to get more motivated can take a bit of effort at first, but once you know how to use momentum to your advantage, you’ll find it’s so much easier to get that motivation again and again whenever you need it. I’ll wrap this up by repeating the most important takeaway from this article. It’s the one thing that will get the ball rolling so you can use each and every tip to the fullest benefit.
Whatever you do, JUST GET STARTED.
Do whatever it takes to take the first uncomfortable steps going from inaction to action. That effort may take a majority of the energy you put towards this goal, but it can literally make the difference of reaching it or falling short. You may need to push yourself to restart a few times before it becomes a habit, but once you do you can spend the rest of your energy getting things done.
One more thing…forgive yourself. You are just a human being and everyone faces this problem. Congratulations on taking your first step toward your goal – make it count!