People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.
Achieving goals is not a matter of possibility, it’s a matter of motivating yourself to focus on the right things. You know you should be doing something, but sometimes you just don’t feel like doing anything. This stagnation can last a long time if you don’t head it off and take action.
Here are some daily motivation tricks that work for me:
1. Get started!
This is by far the most important tip in this article, because in the end, all of the other tips in the world won’t make as much of a difference as this simple and timeless instruction: Sit down and start! Do you feel the push-back of laziness? There’s no better way to overcome it than to just start. Reading more about motivation won’t help. Reviewing your to-do lists won’t help. Only doing actually helps get the momentum going. And the only way to do something is to just start.
So stop thinking about how hard the task is going to be or how long it’s going to take you. Just get started! Not starting is failing. Start telling yourself, “As soon as I start working, I’ll feel more motivated.” Because once you start, you’ll realize it’s not nearly as hard as you thought it would be. Read Getting Things Done.
2. Find and use your positive voice.
As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Be aware of your self-talk and stay positive. Positive thinking can be amazingly powerful.
You have the choice to replace negative self-talk with a more encouraging and friendly voice. A voice that will consider your goal as not just a possibility, but a probability. A voice that does not look externally for validation before taking action, but rather uses self-belief as its driving force. A voice that realizes that any person who has ever achieved greatness had to do so against similar odds, and that all things are possible to those who commit to their vision.
Tell yourself over and over again that you can do it. Try saying, “I want to go to the gym,” “I am going to nail this presentation,” “I am going to have a great day,” etc. See what effect it has. Persist with this kind of positivity and eventually you’ll feel better about whatever it is you want to get done, and you’ll even start to fool your unconscious into believing it’s true.
3. Spend time with people who inspire you.
What better way to recharge yourself for improvement than spending time with someone who inspires you. They are smart, driven and motivate you to be better. Study their qualities. Study their habits. Surround yourself with them, talk to them, learn from them; they are already living and producing results at a level you admire and aspire to. Compare stories, successes and failures. Let their inner light guide you.
4. Start a friendly competition.
You can really raise your motivation with some friendly competition. We are all competitive in nature, take advantage of this by using it to fuel your motivation. Find a co-worker or friend with similar goals and turn it into a competition or game. The key is to find a way to make it fun. This will make the task or project seem less like work and more like play; and it will also encourage you to avoid defeat.
While you’re at it, mutually support each other toward your goals. Staying motivated on your own can be tough. A partner in crime always helps
5. Think about how far you have come.
You have made so much progress, you just don’t realize it. Open your eyes and give yourself credit for all that you have accomplished. Think about it. Write down your past successes. Consider using a journal to keep track of them. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised when you review your results. It’s a great motivator to see how much you have improved and how far you have come. You felt at the top of your game before and you can do it again.
And don’t forget to be patient. The problem with many of us is that we expect quick results. Think long term. If you want to run a marathon, you won’t be able to do it overnight. If you don’t see the results you want, don’t give up, give it time. Think of your goal as a long-term journey, and your slump is just a little bump in the road. In the mean time, be happy with your progress. Read The Magic of Thinking Big.
6. Embrace failure as a positive learning experience.
Ask yourself: What have I learned from this? As Michael Jordan once said:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Do not judge failed attempts and mistakes as an indication of your future potential, but as part of the growth process. Something does not have to end well for it to have been one of the most valuable experiences of a lifetime. When times get tough, take a deep breath, and know that most great things come when you least expect it. Being defeated is a temporary condition; giving up is what makes it permanent. And most people that gave up didn’t realize how close they were to success. Push through!
7. Review, refine and breakdown your goals.
Set and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals. These goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. And don’t be afraid to set big S.M.A.R.T. goals either. Establish goals that inspire you even if they seem slightly out of reach at the moment. If you set goals that are too easy to achieve, you likely achieve far less than you are capable of. As Les Brown said, “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss you will still be standing among the stars.”
Break down your big S.M.A.R.T. goals into realistic, high impact tasks that you can track. The thought of accomplishing a huge task can be overwhelming. Try taking small bites at a time. Break down your large tasks into mini goals. Daily actions will yield greater benefits than biting off more than you can handle. When you start to see your progress you’ll feel more alert and ready to tackle the next step.
For example, if you want to change careers, that goal may be driven by several smaller goals like going back to school, improving your networking skills, updating your resume or getting a new certification; and each of these smaller goals is then supported by even more granular sub-goals and associated daily tasks. And it is these small daily tasks that, over time, drive and motivate larger achievement.
Also, make sure your goals are truly YOURS, and in line with your values. If you’re striving for someone else’s goals you are never going to be motivated to pursue them.
8. Let the whole world know what you’re up to.
When you’re trying to do something you’ve never done before, it can take a lot of concentration and effort, and life can get lonely pretty quickly. To keep your motivation thriving, it’s important to let others know what you’re up to. Don’t be shy! Announce to the world that you are going to achieve a certain goal by a certain date.
Trap yourself. None of us want to look bad in front of friends, family and co-workers. If you’ve made a commitment to all of them, then the shame of saying you didn’t try will outweigh the effort of doing it. Hold yourself accountable, don’t just commit once, but commit to giving progress updates to everyone at least once a week.
9. Visualize your successful outcome in great detail.
Before we do anything our minds start seeing pictures of how everything might turn out. Close your eyes and visualize how great the events will unfold – see yourself smiling, hear yourself being positive and feel how great you will feel doing the task, leading the project, playing the game, attending the meeting. Form as clear a mental picture as possible. Do this every morning for at least five minutes. This is a surprisingly effective technique that will raise your motivation and enthusiasm, and get you into the right mood before you begin working each day.
Another great visualization / motivation technique is to post physical reminders all around you. Post a picture of your goal in a place you’ll see every day. Set it as your desktop wallpaper, or post it on your wall, refrigerator or bathroom mirror. The idea is to keep your mind focused on end result and keep your excitement going.
10. Spend some time every day working on a passion.
There are some things in life that you just have to do, even if you aren’t passionate about it – cleaning the house, paying bills, finishing that task for your boss, etc. But the dilemma of doing these things is greatly reduced if you spend a decent amount of time each day working on something you love – something you’re truly passionate about. Because subconsciously you know that regardless of what you’re doing, your passion is still part of your day. Read The How of Happiness.
So make time to focus on doing something you really want to do. Take an hour break and work on something that’s meaningful to you. Engage yourself in a meaningful personal project, or pull the trigger on starting something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but haven’t yet had the resolve to do. Do so, and your motivation and happiness will skyrocket.
Photo by: Lisandro Enrique