I had a fantastic time speaking across Australia on the recent Turning Passion into Profit tour. I love meeting people and it was wonderful to again visit these beautiful cities. What I found more difficult was sitting down and preparing my presentations ahead of the seminars. That requires hours of writing and thinking, practicing and editing, and rehearsing. Of course, once I get into it I enjoy it, but sometimes finding the motivation to start is difficult. What do you do to get motivated? I’ve written blogs on the importance of long-term goal setting and how to persevere in hard times, but is it possible to get a quick shot of motivation, especially when you need to begin a new project?
ONE: The Cheat’s Way
I have to confess that in the past, I’ve bribed myself with either coffee or chocolate biscuits. Before I start working I’ll make a strong coffee to get a caffeine hit. If I’m working at night I’ll fuel my late night endeavours with chocolates and biscuits. That is a very bad habit. Scientific research shows that we are more productive in the mornings, so I’d be better served to wake up early, have a good breakfast and begin writing. I know a fiction writer who works at night because she cares for her small children in the day time. She also fuels her writing with chocolate and caffeine. She said when her next novel is published she intends to thank both Cadburys and Arnott’s on the first page. But my poor friend has gained 20kg since her children were born. At one point she was counting kilograms-gained compared to words-written. She told me she was going really well and writing 10,000 words per kilo gained, but then her children became more demanding and she was gaining one kilogram per every 1,000 words she wrote! As you can see bribing yourself with junk food to get motivated is not a healthy option.
TWO: A Healthier Way
If you are looking for short-term motivation, a better option is to go for a brisk walk or even take a refreshing shower. Do you have a few inspiring friends? If you are struggling to begin a project call one of these friends and ask them to pep you up. A few minutes of bright, funny conversation might just motivate you.
THREE: Cut your Commitments
Sometimes we lack motivation because we are over-committed. We’ve just taken on too much. As you know I’m a firm believer in setting life goals and committing them on paper. You should have a list of your life goals pinned up somewhere you’ll frequently see. Ideally you need to look at this list every day and devote some time to thinking about why you want to achieve these goals and how you are going to do it. If you are struggling to get motivated, focus on your number one goal. If you want to be an architect, tell yourself that finishing your university assignment brings you a step closer to achieving that goal. Turn off social media like Facebook and Twitter. Remove all distractions. If you usually work sitting down, work standing up for a change. That might give you a hit of energy. Remember, you can return to the other goals on your list when you are feeling less overworked and more motivated.
Exercise ultimately increases our energy. When we begin a new workout or exercise routine we feel tired at first, but after a couple of weeks you will have more energy and motivation for life. Exercise improves your fitness and your mood. It releases that feel-good dopamine chemical in your brain. Most successful people have strict exercise routines that they will stick to regardless of how busy they get. If you feel you are generally lacking motivation, I recommend increasing the amount of exercise you do each week.
FIVE: Seek out Motivation and Excitement
To get motivated we need to actively seek out inspiration and excitement. You could go online and look for inspirational quotes. Is there a good self-help book that will help you? I’m blowing my own trumpet, but you could read some of my books for example, Wake Up And Dream. What about reading the biography of a public figure you admire? I also find that listening to up-tempo, uplifting music motivates me.
SIX: Count Down then Blast Off
A slightly unconventional method of increasing motivation is to begin a countdown to action. Rather than beginning that diet today, build up some anticipation. Commit to starting it in 10 days. Everyday look at that date on the calendar and think about what you can do to support your plan. If you are starting a diet, perhaps you could get ahead of your work so you are under less stress and have more free time when you start dieting. Make some nutritious food in advance and freeze it. That way you will be less tempted to buy take-away because you have good food at home waiting to be eaten. By delaying your start, you are building up your motivation, but commit to a date, don’t delay starting and then delay again.
SEVEN: Motivate Yourself Everyday
To stay motivated you need to motivate yourself daily. That means thinking positive thoughts, saying self-affirming mantras out loud, exercising and looking at your life goal list. Recognise that your motivation is going to ebb and flow. After all you are only human. Some days will be easier than others but never give up. Motivation comes and goes. If you don’t feel like exercising, tell yourself that you’ll go to the gym and do only the warm-up. I bet once you do your warm-up you’ll want to keep exercising! You need to recognise that it is a long road towards achieving any goals, and at times you’ll feel tired and defeated, that is normal, but you will get to the end of the road!
EIGHT: Recruit Some Help
If you still aren’t feeling motivated you could look at getting a life coach to help set up some life goals and achieve them. If you are concerned that your lack of motivation could be something more serious, for example, you must seek professional help. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
NINE: Start Small and Build Up
Sometimes it is possible to slowly build up our motivation. Instead of joining a gym or running every day start by walking every second day. Be kind to yourself. Don’t berate or chastise yourself if you haven’t achieved everything you wanted to today. Would you speak to a good friend like that? No, in your thoughts speak to yourself with compassion and encouragement, as you would address a friend. And remember to call on friends and family for encouragement if you are finding the going really tough. Never bottle up your emotions. That is a recipe for disaster.
TEN: Envisage the End Result
Finally, I try to imagine how good I’ll feel once I’ve finished the task. The next time I sit down to work I won’t brew up a coffee or open some chocolate biscuits. Instead, I will picture myself having finished my work, and free to do what I like with the rest of the day. Now that is a motivating thought!