Motivation is one of those all or nothing things, at least for me. I find I’m either super-motivated and work with tunnel vision to get the latest project done or I’m completely unmotivated to do anything besides curl up with a cup of tea and a good book.
But all-or-nothing doesn’t really work when you need to complete projects, especially if you’re a writer, entrepreneur, or anyone else who doesn’t punch a clock for a paycheck. If you can’t motivate yourself on a consistent basis, you just might not eat this week.
The good news is… self-motivation can be learned! In much the same way as procrastination can be unlearned, and really the two go hand in hand when you think about it. When you’re unmotivated, you procrastinate on even the smallest of things. And when you’re super-motivated procrastination is one of those four-letter words that has no place in your thoughts.
So how can you learn to motivate yourself and get things done consistently?
1. Choose to be happy
It’s much easier to motivate yourself when you’re in a positive mood. Focus on the things in your life that fill you with happiness and gratitude.
2. Keep the end result in mind
It’s hard to get started if you sit around and think about all the work that needs to be done. Overwhelm is an easy way to get unmotivated. If you focus on the end result instead, you’ll feel much more motivated to get started.
3. Stay in the moment
If you’re worrying about the future or beating yourself up over the past, it’s challenging to get anything accomplished right now. Focus on your breathing for a few minutes when you find your mind running away from you.
4. Finish what you start
There is nothing like a pile of unfinished projects to sap your motivation. Learn to finish what you start, and you’ll get to reap the feelings of a job well done. You’ll also build momentum from one project to the next because you’ll know how it feels to have something completed.
5. Accept imperfection
Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination, and the killer of motivation. Learn to accept that finished is better than perfect, and you can edit after the fact.
Keep in mind too, the only people that don’t make mistakes are those who never do anything. Accept your imperfection, and learn from your mistakes.
6. Reward yourself
When you work for others, the paycheck is a reward. When you're an entrepreneur, you have to find other ways to reward yourself. Giving yourself a small reward when you’re work is done can go a long way to motivating you to finish.
Figure out what the reward will be before you start, and make sure it’s something meaningful. My personal favorite is earrings. There’s this amazing store just down the street that has awesome earrings, so every time I start a new book or project I go and pick out the pair I will buy myself when I’m finished.
7. Know the consequences of failure
What happens if you fail? Are you motivated more by pain than pleasure? If so, make sure you know what the consequences of failure will be.
8. Move your body
When you start feeling stuck, go for short walk or run, preferably outside. Taking a short break every 60 minutes can increase productivity, and refresh your mind. Remember to keep it short, or you may find yourself not wanting to go back to work at all.
9. Track your progress
Break big projects down into smaller goals so you can feel the energy of completion as you finish each step. It’s much easier to stay motivated if you can see progress being made.
10. Learn from others
Reading inspirational quotes by those who have achieved great success can be very motivating. There’s something about reading the words of other successful people that can up your own success energy. I have a handful of quotes and affirmations that I read every morning, and I’m always adding to it when I come across something that really resonates with me.
I hope you find these tips helpful. The truth is, we all get stuck sometimes, but we have to learn to motivate ourselves because no one else is going to do it for us. Let me know in the comments how you motivate yourself, and which of these tips is your favorite!