We all have big dreams but one thing separate those who make it happen and those who don’t and that is repeated action. In order to have repeated action one must in many cases have passion or a strong motivation driving them toward it. For example, you may have a strong affinity towards writing so you may decide to become an author, or you have family members to feed so you know you can’t fool around.
Based on how I am (I don’t like to stress myself), I can find it a bit difficult to take action, to motivation myself. I could start but continuing isn’t usually isn’t my forte, simply because it’s stressful, but as the saying goes “no food for a lazy man.” in my case since I eat every day, I’d say “no good results for a lazy man.”
In this week’s blog post, we’re going to be talking how to motivate yourself or the art of self-motivation because sometimes it can be quite hard to do so but it is the underlying ingredient for success. Let’s gooo!
Daily Motivation isn’t Guaranteed
Some days we wake up feeling inspired, filled with energy and feeling on top of the world! Days like those make us feel like we can do anything but… other days, we wake up feeling heavier than a ton of bricks, we don’t feeling like doing anything like the Bruno Mars song, we feel lazy and tired and don’t want to face life.
This means that motivation is not something reliable, it is based on feelings and emotions even though we know better, in the battle for dominance on a daily basis emotions would almost always win over logic. This means that even though you know that you should be working (logic), you can’t get up from bed because you don’t “feel like working (emotion).
BJ Fogg, who runs the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford, says “we should assume that our “future self” is going to be lazy with no motivation. We need to set up systems to make achieving our goals as easy as possible — even when our motivation is low.” In other words, “motivation doesn’t work, systems do!”
This means you need to set up a chain of things to do where one thing leads to the next aka a routine. For example, if you want to exercise every day, your routine may include putting your exercise kit near your bed before sleeping, then when you wake up, you brush your teeth, take a shower and be on your way to exercise.
How to Motivate Yourself
Motivating yourself goes beyond reading or posting #MondayMotivation quotes on social media, it is about setting up yourself to take action, sometimes the motivation comes before the action and sometimes it comes during the action; but having no motivation isn’t an excuse and that is why it is essential that you learn how to refuel your motivation when your tank is empty. Here are some tips on how to do so.
1. Remind Yourself Why You're Doing Something
When you drive a car for a while, you have to refuel it or risk it going off. This is the same thing with motivation, motivation is finite and we can refuel it by reminding ourselves why we’re doing something. This can give us a boost to help us along with our task.
When you have a clear picture as to why you’re doing something you’re more likely to do it. It is important to have a strong reason for doing something because in my experience just reminding myself isn’t enough if the reason is flimsy, negligible or insignificant.
You should regularly tell yourself the benefits of doing your tasks either by saying it loudly, in your mind or writing it down. For example, you can say “I am going to eat an apple every day because I want to eat healthier food plus it keeps the doctor away” or “I am going to write 1000 words every day because I want to be a great author who is renowned for their writing.”
It is also important to remind yourself of the dangers of procrastination or inaction. For example, “if I don’t do this right now, I won’t be able to leave work early” or “If I don’t do this at all I’m going to feel like shit and I’ll regret it.”
You can also set up little ways to remind yourself such as apps, a vision board, a friend, etc. One thing that I’ve learned is that when you make things easy to do for yourself, you’re more likely to do them.
2. Break It Down
Remember when you were in maths class and the teacher used a method to solve the problem which you just couldn’t wrap your head around? What was going through your mind? Didn’t it feel like you’ll never get it and it made you weak and you probably gave up? What about when they broke it down by showing you a simpler method? Didn’t your eyes immediately light up as you finally understood what they were doing? Didn’t you feel amped to solve more problems using this simpler method? This is the same thing with trying to motivate yourself.
One reason we may procrastinate (see 8 Practical Solutions to Procrastination) or feel unmotivated is because the task at hand may seem too big or painful to do. What you need to do is break it down into smaller bits, start with the easier tasks (because they build momentum) and work your way up to the harder ones. For example, if you have a 1000 words to write and it seems a bit overwhelming you can say “I will write 300 words in the morning, 300 in the afternoon and 400 in the evening because that’s when I usually feel inspired.”
When you’re done with any task, check it off your list.
3. Reduce or Avoid Distractions Altogether
When you have easily accessible distractions all around you then it becomes hard to focus. I was writing this blog post in my room but I had to leave because I kept using my phone so I left my phone in my room and came downstairs to write.
Distraction is such a big deal for people like me because I’m always on my phone so sometimes I just have to put it away, because even when I’m working I may unconsciously reach for it and mindlessly scroll through like I’m going to find gold.
There is only so much time in the day and only so much motivation so if you keep getting distracted, it is going to suck away your motivation like a leech. So, keep your phone away or put it on flight mode and get to work, you can also use a browser extension like StayFocusd to… well, I’m pretty sure the name gives it away.
4. Develop Laser Focus
In life, when we’re doing something, whatever it may be, something else may occasionally come along and BJ Fogg refers to them “competing motivations” and if we’re not careful, they make ruin our best efforts. It isn’t always our fault, we didn’t want to get distracted or get competing motivations but it becomes that way. For example, you have a kid you didn’t plan for and because you want to be responsible you may opt for getting a 9-5 job instead of chasing your dreams. Sometimes, it could be an emergency, family problems, or some other type of external pressure.
But more often than not, we just move on to something else and we end up going nowhere on either side. This is usually my case, for example I started this blog wanting to put my voice out there, help people and make money. In order to do that, I have to gain traffic, experts say you can gain traffic from Google, my email list, social media etc. The best option is email list but in order to grow that people have to subscribe and that means sending traffic that way, i.e. Google ads, influencer marketing, social media ads etc. If I go with social media, there’s Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Along the line, I became more and more confused as to what to do, I jumped from one place to another and I can truly say I didn’t stay long enough in one place to reap the benefits.
Developing laser FOCUS and being able to put some ideas on hold is a skill that almost guarantees we make progress on what matters. It is a skill that cannot be overemphasised, the truth is many distractions will come your way especially in this social media era, there are many methods to do things but if you keep jumping around, you’re going to be a jack of all trades and master of none. In my case, I decided to stick to mainly Instagram because I prefer it.
According to Ramit Sethi, you can develop laser focus by setting one big goal at a time. “Pick your number one goal. Is it earning more money? Getting in shape? Finding your Dream Job?
Grab a pen and paper and write it down. Really do this now. This isn’t a silly “thought exercise.” We’re doing this to commit ourselves to one course of action and follow through.”
5. Plan for Failure
Successful people aren’t luckier than most people. But they do try more things, and they’re willing to fail. Failure isn’t seen as a dead end or end of the journey, it is seen as a necessary path on the journey to success. For example, we know the infamous story of how Thomas Edison tried 99 times or so before finally getting the light bulb correctly.
Almost any successful person has a similar story where they failed repeatedly, never gave up and then finally succeeded. What differentiates them from mediocre people is that mediocre people give up too early and too easily because they failed once or twice of because it’s too hard. Successful people on the other hand, are not deterred by failure and some actively seek it out because they know in the long run, the lessons from failure are more beneficial than success.
According to Ramit Sethi, “BJ Fogg and I sat down and talked about how we can use failure and “motivational waves” to our advantage so when others tire out we can have a system to follow through.
How you can start using the principle of “motivational waves” right now:
- Make a list of everything you need to get to accomplish your goal.
- Then, set up those pieces to make it impossible to fail.
Here’s an example what that might look like:
BJ Fogg wanted to drink more tea. So he bought all the tea, an electric kettle to boil water, and set everything up in easy reach on his counter. Even when he felt like drinking something else, it was right there and a no-brainer to make.”
What is evident here is that by putting certain key measures in place, you can set up to do things that are beneficial to you whether you feel motivated or not and soon enough, it will become a habit.
6. Find an Accountability Partner (AP)
According to Paul Chernyak, “An accountability partner is someone who checks in on you time to time to see how you are doing with your goals.” This person could be your parent(s), friend, mentor or colleague. I’ll recommend a mentor because you look up to them and they are most likely teaching you one or two things.
You should schedule meetings with your AP ahead of time so you have a certain date when you have to complete a certain task and this can be motivating. People get motivated by deadlines, university students you know what I’m talking about.
I didn’t write a dissertation in university but I know each student who does is assigned to someone who will occasionally look through their work and give them honest feedback, you can say this person is an AP to the student.
Your AP should also remind you of deadlines and whatnot; my mum doesn’t hesitate to remind to go and do my daily chores.
7. Get Rewarded
Who doesn’t like rewards, right? Why do people participate in tournaments like The Olympics or World Cup? Why doesn’t scoring a goal or winning something make us so happy? Well, in my opinion, they are all rewards for a job well done. Rewards feel good. Penalties feel bad. And that’s why they both can work well for motivating you.
According to Eric Barker, “research shows that rewards are responsible for three-quarters of why you do things.”
An excerpt from The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People says:
“Researchers find that perceived self-interest, the rewards one believes are at stake, is the most significant factor in predicting dedication and satisfaction toward work. It accounts for about 75 percent of personal motivation toward accomplishment.” – Dickinson 1999
In other words, TREAT YOURSELF! But only when you deserve it by completing your task(s) or accomplishing a set goal.
When we were in primary school, my dad would tell us if we came in between 1st - 3rd in class he’d buy us fried rice and chicken from Mr Bigg’s (a Nigerian fast food franchise) and soon enough all of us were trying to get there so we could eat and not share with our siblings in order to make them jealous.
According to Barker, if you’re having trouble finding a reward awesome enough to get you off your butt you should try a “commitment device,” that is: “Give your friend $100. If you get a task done by 5PM, you get your $100 back. If you don’t complete it, you lose the $100.”
In conclusion, self-motivation is what will let you become successful and let you stay successful, it is one of the most powerful skill anyone can have because without it, you just won’t get the job done. Plus, you should test and adjust each method until you find the one that works best for you.
QOTD: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommending it daily.” – Zig Ziglar
WELL, THAT’S IT FROM ME GUYS, NOW…
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My name is Ofai and I'm passionate about blogging and it gives me fulfillment that I can help you out so sit back, relax and enjoy your weekly carats of #SelfImprovementGems with me!