3 Tips to Improve Motivation
Photo by Samuel Scrimshaw on Unsplash
Motivation. Wherever you are, undoubtedly, you’ve got a long road ahead. I don’t mean you are far away from where you want to be, what I mean is that we are all on a journey and hopefully the end of that journey is a way off yet.
A morbid start to the article, I apologise.
There is this myth floating around that motivation comes swinging in from the trees and lands on your lap. When you are struck by motivation, you are to spring out of your chair and get moving. Once you have been graced with its presence it’s time to get a move on.
If, today, you haven’t been graced with its presence, well then you either wait for it, or try again another day.
Don’t Wait for Motivation
If you sit around waiting for motivation, maybe it will come and maybe it won’t. It’s quite the risk to take, waiting means wasting time. And I get it, when you’re in a bit of a rut, everything feels like a hard task. I don’t know what it is about our brains but when we are in a low place and feeling unmotivated, everything seems like an insurmountable mission. Everything seems x10 harder on an unmotivated day than on a motivated day. I think it’s probably just our brains being wonderfully unhelpful.
The truth is, some days you feel motivated and other days you don’t. You might have had a good sleep last night and today you feel like you can take on the world. Conversely the complete opposite may have happened and you might feel like you can’t move because you are so tired and today, well today is just a non-starter.
We’re always going to have days where we feel less motivated than others. On the good days you can let the motivation do its thing. On other days when you feel less motivated you need to figure out ways to self-generate motivation.
Getting Yourself in a Motivated State
There are a number of things you can do to get yourself into a motivated state. By that, I mean getting yourself motivated to take on the day. Instead of waiting around for motivation, you can lean into some techniques that will get you motivated when you are feeling quite low.
1. Create a Routine That Gives You Motivation
Routine takes the pain out of decision making. If your routine is to get up, drink a glass of water, have a cup of coffee and start writing, then there is little decision making in there. You have already decided what is on the to-do list for the first few hours and that will help you get the ball rolling on the day.
Routines are great for you if you suffer with decision fatigue (that’s not a disease). If you get easily overwhelmed by having too many choices to make, then try creating a routine. There will be things that you will have that’s consistent in your day that need to happen every single day, no excuses. For those sorts of tasks, a routine is brilliant. Things like:
Walking the dogs
Working on your project
There are lots of things that happen consistently everyday. It might feel like they don’t and that everyday is completely different but the reality is quite a large proportion of our day is spent doing the same things as yesterday. A routine is brilliant if you want to work towards your goals and create some good habits to get you there.
It takes the pain out of worrying what decision is going to give the biggest impact and it allows you to just focus on the task at hand. Which if you’re anything like me, is exactly what you need.
If you struggle with motivation, try a routine.
2. Document the Vision of Your Dream
This sounds like I’m about to reach through the screen and take you on some sort of self-help meditation retreat. I’m not. This is about linking whatever you are doing back to why you started it in the first place. When the novelty of any new project wears off, usually between week 1 and 5, you’ll find yourself wondering why you ever started it in the first place. It’s that nagging voice in your head that says things like:
This isn’t going anywhere anyway, what’s the point?
You may as well give up because you’re not progressing.
That rather unhelpful voice will creep in at some point. That voice will become quite a lot quieter if you have a reason for doing what you are doing and better still can visualise yourself achieving that vision. Motivation on Dictionary is defined as ‘reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a certain way”. You need some logic behind why you are doing what you are doing. Otherwise you won’t be motivated to do it, purely because you have no reason to. So the first step is defining why you want to do this. Now that could be because you want to achieve a goal or you want more money. Better motivators, I’ve found, are things that align more to the core of who you are. So if you’re not particularly motivated by money, having money as your motivator won’t work. If you are striving for a certain way of life that allows you to fulfil your dreams for example, that’s a nicer more pure reason and motivation.
Once you have your ‘why’ or your reason for doing what you are doing. Imagine yourself achieving it. The best way to do this is to write it down. Getting into a heightened state is about feeling and living the life that you are trying to achieve. So if you have ambitions to be a writer. And for example, your goal is to have published a book by the end of this year that becomes an Amazon best seller. Which then allows you to write full-time for the next few years and build your audience. When you think about achieving that here’s what you might write:
I wake up at 6am, get a coffee, a bottle of water and sit down at my desk. Between the hours of 6:10am to 11am I just write. No interruptions, no work to get to, no job to hold down. I just write. That morning I recieve an email from Amazon. I’d launched my book a week ago, after months and months, well years of hard work, I’d finally published it. The email read: №1 bestseller in personal development. That month I’d made more in book sales than I would in a whole 2 years salary. I sit back in my chair and think, “this would make a good article.”
Getting into your heightened state gives you a sense of clarity in what you are doing. It gives you the confidence that what you are doing is aligned to where you want to go and who you want to be.
3. Do Anything Just Don’t Do Nothing
Action creates motivation. How much more energised do you feel after an exercise than before. The rest of the day you’ll be on a high that you’ve completed that workout and now you feel great.
It’s hard to wake up early and want to do the things that are right in front of you. There are distractions everywhere you look. You could spend your life working in distractions. Scrolling through Instagram, a few YouTube videos here and there. All of a sudden the day is over and you’re not entirely sure where it went.
Repeat this a few times and there goes the week. Create a habit out of it and there goes a few months. It’s why some people can complete a lifetime‘s amount of work in a few years. Everyone else is busy being distracted.
Motivation won’t just come and hit you in the face. It’s a very fickle friend. She will turn up when she wants and lure you into a false sense of security that you can only do things in her presence.
The reality is, you create your own motivation. You need to take ownership of that in order to maximise your output. You don’t need to complete the hardest task of the day in order to feel on top of things, actually if you’re feeling quite low and unmotivated, I would suggest the opposite. Take on tasks that don’t take much effort and you see a visual difference straight the way. Things like:
Washing the pots
Hoovering the living room
Wiping the table down
These tasks all take roughly 5–10 minutes. They also take low effort and low brain power. You can do them whilst listening to music or thinking about something completely different. However, the impact of doing them is highly visual. I.e. when there are lots of unwashed pots on the side you see the mess, the clutter and you feel unorganised. Once the pots are washed, soap is falling from the bowls as they drain, you feel more on top of things. You feel like you are actually quite organised. After all you’ve done the pots and it’s only 8am. The same for hoovering or wiping down the table. Living in a messy place makes you feel unorganised and not on top of things. Your environment is important.
Now you’ve completed a few small tasks, you’ll find that you are motivated to take on more. Now you’ve done the pots, hoovered the carpet and wiped down the table, well you may as well clean the car and write that article or call that person. The small tasks get the ball rolling and sometimes that’s all it takes.
There are a number of things we can do to make ourselves more motivated. The most powerful one is to imagine your dream, write about what would feel like to be living the life you imagine. On top of that we can orchestrate our days to help us get more motivated with less effort.
If in doubt and struggling with motivation, go and do the pots.