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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 September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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