Do you know anyone who doesn’t have self-motivation? That’s the excuse they use for never following through with their plans, anyway. Maybe that person is you. Maybe you have the skills, and the resources, and the time to do what you want to do … but you just can’t seem to motivate yourself to get it done.
Some people struggle with starting. Some struggle with working on projects in pieces. Some have trouble finishing things. Self-motivation is about more than getting things done: it’s about knowing your reasoning for doing so.
If you feel as though you are not self-motivated enough to reach your goals or improve your life, it’s time to take charge of your work and find new ways to get things done. Here are strategies for developing the self-motivation you need to be productive even when you don’t necessarily feel like it.
Define an end goal
Many times, our lack of self-motivation comes from a lack of purpose. We don’t have any sort of end goal in mind, so the idea of interrupting what we want to be doing to go and do something else is extremely unappealing. Things, sometimes, seem pointless. That is, until we can come up with a way to consistently remind ourselves that there is eventually something we want to achieve, and we are the only ones who can make that achievement happen.
In order to better motivate yourself to get things done, always have an end goal in mind. It could be a short-term goal, like finishing your laundry before you leave for dinner, or a long-term goal, like paying off a certain amount of student loans before the end of the year. You are much more likely to feel motivated when your brain recognizes that there is progress to be made.
Create a plan
Unfortunately, you can’t really have a goal without some kind of action plan to carry it out. Saying you want to knock off $5,000 in loans before the end of the year is a great goal, but how are you going to go about doing that? You are probably going to have to set aside money somehow. You might have to find some extra work or cancel a monthly subscription to a service you really don’t need.
Create a plan that has easy and feasible steps that you can actually follow and execute. Sometimes we back down from the goals we set because even just looking at the prerequisites is too intimidating. Make it easy at first, to ease yourself into it, and then step up your game once you start feeling more confident.
Reshape your perspective
It’s hard to motivate yourself to do things when they don’t seem to line up with your end goals. This happens both in school settings and in the real world. We have to do things like fill out and submit long and boring forms; answer emails; call people back we would really rather not talk to. In some way, all of these things are going to help us in the long run. Eventually.
Change your mindset. Chances are, you are going to learn a lot from that seemingly mundane task you’ve been avoiding for two months. You are just having a hard time seeing it that way. Try to think of ways completing the task will help you move closer to achieving your goals, even if on the surface they do not seem related. At the very least, it will teach you how to be patient and push through the pain.
Hold yourself accountable
Self-motivation does not work if you have no way of keeping track of your own goals. In order to motivate yourself to make progress, you have to be able to determine whether or not progress is actually being made. Relying on other people to hold you accountable won’t always be an effective way to find accountability for your goals. More often than not, you will have to lay it down for yourself.
You need to find creative ways to hold yourself accountable for making small steps of progress daily. Set up a special reward system, so that every Friday you get to go out to dinner or stay in and watch Netflix. Keep a journal or make a video diary. Blog. It doesn’t matter how you do it: all that matters is that it gets done.
Pinpoint and conquer your excuses
We make up excuses for everything at different points in our lives. We’re too tired to finish our homework. We’re too broke to start a business. We’re not smart enough to learn a new skill. All those excuses are completely worthless, and you know it. Whatever your underlying reason for making them, you have to get them out of your life.
Spend a few days writing down all the excuses you make, even for little things you encounter throughout your day. Then come up with ways to work around those excuses. Think you’re too broke to start a business? Set a goal to start setting aside a little bit of money each month. Every excuse has an equal and opposite goal to counter it.
Stop calling yourself lazy
Just because you’re lacking some much-needed self-motivation does not mean you are lazy. Calling yourself lazy when you aren’t isn’t going to help you learn how to better motivate yourself. It’s just going to deflate your confidence and make you even less likely to change your behavior.
Sometimes, you really do need a break. Sometimes you’re forcing yourself to continue doing something that makes you unhappy, and that is why you either put it off or don’t ever get to it at all. It isn’t laziness. Instead of talking yourself down, find ways to encourage yourself to do great work, even when it’s not always the most fun.
Self-motivation is something everyone struggles with at some point. If you don’t feel like you have it, follow these suggestions and see if any of them help you get going. Starting is the hardest part. If you can get over that hurdle, chances are you can make it all the way to the finish line.