It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which you may not like at all, yet you find motivation to complete even them because you recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.
How exactly do some of us manage to stay motivated most of the time? Here are just a few ideas you can try:
1) Find the Good Reasons
Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it. Not all the tasks have the good reasons to do them seen at first sight, but if you take just a few moments to analyse them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.
But if you’re ever stuck with some task you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.
Some ideas for what a good reason can be:
- a material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all
- personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way
- a feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task
- a step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.
2) Make it fun
When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it. Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!
Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout sounds rather boring to many of us. Yet many others love the idea! They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.
Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!
A simple approach is to start working on any task from asking yourself a few questions:
- How can I enjoy this task?
- What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
- How can I make this work the best part of my day?
The answers will pop up momentarily, as long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable.
Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing, no matter how hard you try making it fun. I don’t want to argue – you’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun. However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.
3) Take different approach
When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look at the whole task looking for a different approach.
You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such an approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.
That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common: if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a away. And most likely, there’s more than one way. If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.
Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal. My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.
4) Recognize your progress
Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.
We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.
Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different: tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.
For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.
You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages this information will have little meaning.
Somehow, it is in a human nature to always want things to happen at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete. For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such an approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made.
5) Reward Yourself
This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. I’m happy to confirm that this is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!
Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone in that, I’m telling you!
Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.
For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do. For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself to a dessert. For even bigger and more demanding tasks, you may want to reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.
Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating – but take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good. The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.
Mix and match
Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match! Pick one of the advices and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get even more motivation, try another advice right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for best results.
Just think about it: finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to help you feel a bit better. Identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more. Finally, if you then plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that agree on rewarding yourself as you go – this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.
Gleb Reys is a creator and maintainer of the Personal Development portal, where he regularly writes about successfully setting and reaching your goals through becoming more organized, productive and motivated person. Subscribe to his Personal Development blog feed.