Knowing how to stay motivated can be tough sometimes. Often people say that they are procrastinating or not getting the outcomes that they want. They might even have had some adversity in life and their motivation levels drop. With all the things that demand out attention, it can be difficult to stay motivated or focused to achieve the outcome that we are working towards.
Being at peak performance every day can be challenging, however there are things you can do to help you to stay the course. In this article we are going to look at how to stay motivated; some tips and things you can do to get your motivation back on.
10 Questions To Ask Yourself
Before we start, ask yourself the following questions. They relate to the subject about which you need more motivation about. These questions are geared to help you become more conscious about your motivation for doing the thing in the first place. You can do this for each aspect of your life where you feel your motivation might be waning. It is important to take your time as you think about these questions and to be totally honest with yourself.
• What exactly is it that you want? (You need to be clear on the outcome.)
• Why are you really doing what you are doing?
• Is it aligned with your values and beliefs? (Does achieving it make you feel good or bad?)
• Do you truly believe that you can achieve the outcome?
• How important is what you are doing to you on a scale of 1/10?
• How committed are you to see this thing through on a scale of 1/10?
• What will it mean to you if you succeed? (Positive and negative consequences.)
• What will it mean to you if you don’t succeed? (Positive and negative consequences.)
• Is there anything else that is more important that you should be doing first? (Or something that needs to happen before you can complete your goal?)
• Are you doing this because it is going to get you something, or are you doing it because it is going to stop something from happening? I.e. Moving towards or away from.
Moving Towards or Away from?
People either move towards what they want, or they move away from what they don’t want. E.g. Making more money because they want to buy their own home; moving towards. Making more money because they don’t want to live below the breadline; moving away from. Another way to look at it is the adage, “Motivated by carrot or stick.” This potentially has a massive impact on motivation levels. You see, there is a certain image you hold in your minds eye when you think about achieving the outcome that you are working towards. It can either by one that inspires you to achieve it. Or it can be one that does not inspire you. For some people it might not be a picture, but rather a feeling etc.
Knowing What To Do Is Not Enough
Why is it that we know what we should be doing, however it seems so difficult to stay on track? Will power will only take you so far. You need to have the right action plan motivation to carry you through. Small business owners, especially those that work from home, often find that their motivation runs out. Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton pose the question: “Why does knowledge of what needs to be done frequently fail to result in action or behaviour consistent with that knowledge?” They call it the “knowing-doing gap.” Both focus and energy are required to get things done. Unconditional commitment and intention with deliberate action. It is vital to follow through to increase your success in every task. Just saying “I want to do it,” Is not enough. Positive thinking and wishing that the dishes were done, is not going to make it so. You need to physically commit to the task and expend the energy to do it.
Any task, even ones we enjoy, can become monotonous. Motivation can lesson when we lack enthusiasm. We can find value in any task. Even seemingly dull or meaningless tasks. We simply need to look for it. See if you can do it differently, better, faster, more efficiently, cheaper, etc. You can be a street sweeper and take massive joy and value from having your roads being the cleanest etc.
In their book, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done; Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan say, “Follow-through is the cornerstone of execution, and every leader who’s good at executing follows through religiously. Following through ensures that people are doing the things they committed to do, according to the agreed timetable.”
Be clear on how you are going to execute your action plan or outcome. What are the steps and in which order? How much time will you allocate? What is the desired completion window? Is it realistic? Is it all in your control or are there other people involved? What can you do to minimize potential holdups?
• Are you geared for success?
• Do you have all the resources you require?
• Who do you need to be to stay motivated?
• Who do you need to stop being to stay motivated?
How To Stay Motivated At Work
There are times when we lose motivation because we feel we have no say or control over the outcome. Example, losing motivation at work because the boss is always yelling and not prepared to listen to ideas.
We can also lose motivation when we do something that we don’t like or that is against our values. Imagine a sales person who must deliberately lie about when a product will be available, because the boss said he must.
Or someone who works in a casino, that believes gambling is a sin.
• Are you doing the job that you love?
• What can you do about it?
• What new skills can you learn to increase your performance or happiness?
Procrastination and Motivation
Procrastination can be both the cause or result of lack of motivation. In fact, procrastination is the flip side of the same coin as motivation. There are many reasons why people procrastinate, including that they are simply lacking the motivated to do it. Others are not motivated, because they procrastinate. We all have tasks that we might not like to do and so procrastinate. However, when we procrastinate on them, it just draws it out. The task probably still needs to be done and as such it drains our motivation to do them. On the flip side, when you stop procrastinating and just do what needs doing, this can build on your motivation to get going. Here is another article that looks how to overcome procrastination.
Time Management To Stay Motivated
As we mentioned before, time management can have an impact on motivation. This is especially true for people who work alone or from home. It is all too easy to have a “busy-ness” rather than a “business.” You can be busy and still not achieve any results. As such it is also very easy to lose motivation. Entrepreneurs must learn to motivate themselves.
Staying motivated is a key ingredient in making your business succeed. Remind yourself why you are in business. It is probably not to make money. Of course, money is important, but most people don’t get into business just to make money. It is usually for satisfaction, being of service or some other reason. Even when they say it is for money, it is more likely for what the money can buy them. Money in and of itself is not a strong motivator. Think about what it is that you want to do with it.
Why are you in business? Get in touch with your real “Why.” Again, get in touch with your desired outcome. What will you see, hear, feel, smell, taste and say to yourself when you achieve the outcome you set for yourself.
Here is also another insight on goal setting that I think is worth remembering. It is important to have goals. However, it is also important to not be so focused on your goals that you forget to enjoy the present. Do things that inspire you and make you happy. Whether it is a hobby or spending time with loved ones. We will discuss Mindfulness in another article.
Track And Review Your Progress
Often people set a goal but lose motivation as they do not realise how far they have already come. They judge their current situation without remembering where they were before and what they had to do to get this far. An example of this is someone who wants to lose weight. They may have already lost 20 pounds, but still not fit into their ideal dress. They lose motivation and yet they have already achieved a large step towards their outcome. It is important to chunk your outcome appropriately and take it step by step. As the saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
It might be necessary to have some form of tool to track your progress. This is also useful to track your performance and review where you are. If necessary, you might need to change your tactics. Plans do sometimes need course correction. This can add a fresh boost of motivation as you recognize your progress.
“The thinking that got you to where you are is not the thinking to get you where you want to be.”
Be Clear On Your Expectations
At what level do you want to succeed? Remember that it is fine to strive for excellence, but perfection is a fool errant. Doing the best that you can is all one can ask. Working on perfecting something can only come after you have done it in the first place. Besides, the very notion of perfecting is an ongoing process. As new knowledge, resources, technology comes around, we can continually improve. Don’t lose motivation because you think something is not perfect. Let it be as good as it can be for now and improve on it later.
Learn To Say “NO”
Motivation can be affected by external stimuli. If something comes up that might not be aligned with your outcome, say “No.” Do not put yourself in a situation that can make things tough for you.
E.g. a double thick chocolate milkshake when you are trying to lose weight. You can say to yourself, “No, I am not that person anymore. I can choose to have a fresh strawberry smoothie instead.”
If it is friends that ask you to go out when you should be studying, say no. Stand by your convictions. Tell them that you are not going out until you have passed the exam.
This is also true for things that eat at your time. If you are too busy to take on another task that will hinder your progress or motivation, say “No.”
Secondary gain is when the benefit of keeping the problem is greater than the benefit of letting go of the problem. What benefit are you getting by holding on to the old habits and behaviour? What do you gain by not completing the outcome you set for yourself and then just blaming it on motivation?
This can be a difficult subject for some people. You see, there are some professional victims in the world. It is like everything happens to them. Nothing every goes their way. They even say things like, “If I didn’t have bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.”
Some people will always blame anything and everyone else for things not going their way. They are not really motivated to create change, as that might mean they no longer get sympathy.
Do You Self-sabotage?
Self-sabotage comes in many forms and can be for different reasons. It could be secondary gain, bad planning, bad time management, etc. Things like habitual lateness, burn out, being disorganized, over eating, etc. are some simple forms of self-sabotage. It is not necessarily deliberate, however regardless, it certainly can have a negative effect on staying motivated. Example, if you feel burnt out due to workload, because you feel only you will do a good job. That is an example of someone who might be unintentionally self-sabotaging. They might need to learn how to delegate and get a personal assistant etc.
• What are the ways that you are self-sabotaging?
• What can you do about it?
• What needs to change?
• Is it within your power to make these changes?
• Are you willing to make these changes?
What Are Your Motivation Killers?
• Is it internal or external factors?
• What can you do about it?
• Are you truly focused and expending the necessary energy on completing the task?
• Is It a lack of progress? Remember to be manage expectation. Be clear on how you are measuring that progress. Also celebrate your victories. The attitude of gratitude diary can be very useful.
• It is the lack of celebrating what you have already achieved, or the lack of other people’s recognition?
• Are there any bad habits getting in the way of your success?
• Imagine the task as completed and you having your ideal outcome. Really get in touch with all that you would see, hear, feel, smell, taste and say to yourself once you achieve your ideal outcome. Notice how that increases your motivation. Setting the focus on the outcome, can create more motivation on taking the action steps to get there.
20 Things To Increase Motivation
• Remember to be clear on your outcome and to focus on what that will mean to you once you achieve it. What is it that motivates you?
• Get a clear internal image of everything you will hear, see, feel, smell, taste and say to yourself once you have achieved your outcome. If this does not motivate you, think of the negative consequences of not achieving the outcome.
• When you don’t feel like doing what needs to be done, “Just do it.” You will feel better once you have ticked off that box. Nothing will happen if you don’t put in the energy to make it so.
• Reframe negative self-talk and thoughts. E.g. “I can’t do this,” to “I am learning a new skill.”
• Take care of your physical and spiritual body. Exercise, eat healthy and get in touch with your higher power. Example for me it is God.
• Celebrate yourself along the way.
• Take time to smell the roses. Meaning that you should also enjoy life and not be so focussed on the outcome that you miss out on the present.
• Use positive empowering language like “I can,” “It is possible,” etc, rather than, “I can’t,” I suck” etc.
• Smile and be happy. There is a feedback loop, which basically means, your mood will follow what you are doing with your face. If you have a frown, you will feel down; if you smile, you will start feeling happier.
• Tackle challenges in bite sized chunks and even consider them a game.
• Take joy in what you do. “If you enjoy what you do, you never have to work a single day in your life.”
• Learn to meditate.
• Have a “Mantra.” E.g., “I have achieved in the past, which means I am already an achiever. I know I can do this…”
• Learn to delegate but do not abdicate.
• Get rid of secondary gain.
• Learn to say “No” to things that do a disservice service to you.
• Do things that are in line with your values and build you as a person rather than eats at you from the inside.
• Chunk appropriately. Tackle the task in manageable size pieces that build on success, competence and confidence.
• Be prepared to step outside your comfort zone. Growth only happens on the other side. Before you know it, things you never thought before; will become possible.
• Make motivation a new habit.
Motivation is a deliberate is a state of mind. We can choose to be motivated and our actions can help us to stay motivated.
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