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Motivate Yourself: Three Tricks to Kick Your Own Ass

Motivate Yourself:  Three Tricks to Kick Your Own Ass

Is there a plan good enough to motivate anyone?

I am not judging you.

If you are used to watching television on your sofa for the whole day, munching on popcorn and nuggets – that may just be your default setting, your very own lifestyle. If you are working day in day out with no time for your family, that may just be how you want it to be. You may live this life for years without any regret. People have different situations and different priorities in life. So unless I literally am in your shoes, judging you is – as Joey Tribbiani would put it – a ‘Moo’ point – it’s a cow’s opinion. It doesn’t matter.

But things become tricky when you find it uncomfortable – when you start asking yourself – “What am I doing!?”or ask someone else that same question. Whether you are trying to motivate yourself into moving past a stagnant routine, trying to motivate your kid into taking charge of his life or trying to get that push into your employees before pulling off a successful venture, this short post might just tell you which ingredients you need.

Here are three tricks described below to give you (or others around you) that jump start you need. Use them judiciously. Just like the same medicine is not suitable for every ailment, not everything will work for everyone or in every situation.

1. Creative visualization

I wrote about the concept of Dreamwish a few days back on Lifehack – how it pays to visualize something vividly before you embark on a task that will matter to you.

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There are certain areas where such creative visualization works wonders to motivate even the worst procrastinators. If you are trying to lose weight, imagining your body trimmed and fit after an exercise will give you a kick start into hitting the gym with increased vigor and let you control your diet as well. In any form of athletics, creative visualization is something that some of the biggest champions in the world have used. Surfers, skiers or those who paraglide have reported great success when they went for the attempt after imagining a successful experience in their minds. Stuntmen in movies often imagine a fall before they attempt it. It keeps them cool, to have lived it already once in their minds.

Even five minutes of such imagination a day will change your outlook and give you a fresh impetus. Close your eyes and visualize yourself a winner. Make the picture as vivid in your mind as possible. Add colors, sounds, and feel the sense of winning for those brief minutes. Make the imagination bright and beautiful. Stay there for 5-10 minutes at least and then emerge from the visualization calm and relaxed.

However, if you are using it to improve your academic scores, or motivate someone to do the same, use it with a pinch of salt. Do not imagine you have good grades and a great result. Doing that actually decreases your urge to study. Imagine that you have put all your efforts into your studies and your hard work is making you happy.

The Concept of Dreamwish should be used more to imagine the process rather than the outcome. After you have imagined working out when you look at the mirror, feel the joy and imagine the happiness.

If you are a person who craves attention or appreciation from others, imagining yourself from another person’s point of view can be more helpful to motivate you than imagining from your own perspective. You can also combine the two: first see it from your own perspective and then through the other person’s eyes.

2. Zeigranik effect to overcome procrastination

About 20% of the population are proven procrastinators. Nothing seems to motivate them. Why? A whole lot of reasons – fear of failure, compulsive perfectionism, low self-control, low self-confidence, inability to see things as in small parts and being scared of the whole, propensity to boredom, etc.

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If you have a reason for it, suck it up. Nothing can motivate you unless you let go of that reason for failure. There is no place for losers like that in the real world, and believe me, I know! Get over it and get to the job! Start small, but start!

Have you ever wondered how waiters in restaurants remember every tiny order placed on every table in the room, to its smallest details? This is true all over the world, whether they have written it down or not, they remember! However, there is a strange twist in it. Over a series of experiments, Russian Psychiatrist Bluma Zeigarniuk noticed that the waiters usually forgot the orders just as soon as the bill is paid. Paying the bill gives them a sense of closure, which makes them forget the details instantly. This reflects a very interesting basic human nature.

If there is something outstanding, we get bothered by it. As soon as we get closure, our mind gets relaxed and worry free. The pending job creates an irritation to motivate us to complete our job.  The mental tension which comes along with an unfinished job can be used effectively to stop you from procrastination.

If you are putting off a job for later, try starting it ‘just for five minutes’ even in your busy schedule. You will find that you automatically develop a drive within, an irritation which will force you to complete the task at hand. If you are is scared of painting the big picture, just pick up the brush and make the first stroke today! That will be enough to motivate.

You do not have to write that three-page answer paper, you just have to write the first line. You do not have to lose 10 kilos in two months, you just have to run on the treadmill for 15 minutes today. You do not have to finish writing  that script in 20 days, you just need to write the first line. Get the picture?

3. Write Your Eulogy

Yeah, okay. Don’t be scared by the header here. That’s a bit extreme. You don’t have to die to motivate yourself, or kill anyone. Just write what you would say if today was your last day. You would not despair about that Knicks game you missed on the TV or that pizza you really wanted to have today. You will miss bigger things, I hope.

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A eulogy is not required in the literal sense. You could also write about the end of the present stage of your life. For example:

I am turning 40 in two years. What have I achieved?

Be realistic. Describe your personality, achievements, strengths, personal life, professional success, behavior towards others, etc. Describe your aims in terms of Money, health, relationships, fame or higher purpose in life.

Being in the face of death often makes people realize the bigger picture. We tend to focus on things that matter to us more than insignificant things. Your perspective might change. The sense of incomplete business will motivate you to act.

Making to-do lists can also greatly motivate you towards a successful career.

Why we cannot motivate

Most people around us do not even know that we are capable of taking charge of our lives. There are just a lot of things uncertain around us. How do we motivate ourselves when nothing is in control?

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Last year I went backpacking in Thailand. In one of the many elephant sanctuaries around Bangkok, I came across a baby elephant tied to a pillar with a chain. He wanted to break free but could not. The chain was too strong for him, and it was too difficult to break away. There was his mother standing few meters away, tied with a jute cord. Three thousand kilos of pure muscle, largest living being on land tied with a flimsy piece of rope and she did not even try to move a muscle. She just knew that her bondage was too strong, she had tried when she was young. Right now, she knew she would fail. What was the point of even attempting?

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    That is how many of us are – bound by our past, and at times just too weak to even try to break free. Nothing is able to motivate us because we are so certain of uncertainty, so sure that nothing is in our control.

    Get over that! Kick yourself in your ass, and when your employees, your family or friends need it, learn to kick them hard too!

    Featured photo credit: Free Images via freeimages.com

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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