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How to Get Going: 6 Tips for Improved Self-Motivation

How to Get Going: 6 Tips for Improved Self-Motivation
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We all have days where we are stuck for inspiration. We get to our desks with nothing but good intentions, but somehow things don’t just flow the way we want them to.

It isn’t that we aren’t enthusiastic about what we do, or that we just can’t be bothered. We just need that little kick of motivation to get going.

Finding motivation

If you want to get things done, then the ability to motivate yourself (and, for that matter, others) is essential.

Recently I spent the day at Brands Hatch watching the British Super Bike meet. What fantastic racing (and a great spectators circuit if you haven’t been), and it really got me thinking about drive and motivation. These guys — some of them as young as 14 years old — push themselves and their bikes to the edge of their potential, race after race. And even after a nasty crash, the grid reforms…and off they go again. Surely, there are lessons here for us all.

I am always inspired by the guts, drive, and determination that these riders show. A desire to finish at the top of the podium.

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But it’s how they get there that I am most interested in.

In our businesses, we all want to be at the top. We want to be successful, and we want to realise our potential. So, when that familiar feeling of “what shall I do now” hits you, take a minute out to think things through.

Tips for improved self-motivation

Here are some of my thoughts and tips for improving your motivation, to take you from an “also ran” to the top of the podium.

1. Clarify your goals

This is one of the most important of all techniques to apply if you want to succeed. Clarify what it is that you want, and why you want it. (Unashamedly stolen from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits – Habit 2 – Begin with the end in mind).

If you don’t know what you want, then how are you going to achieve it?

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Sometimes we are stuck for motivation simply because we don’t a clear picture of the end result and, thus, the steps on the way there.

Once you have the successful outcome in your mind, you are well on your way to building the motivation to get there.

2. Think Long-Term

Thinking of the long-term is a great way to overcome the small obstacles on the way there. Often in executing a long-term strategy there are hardships on the way. By looking past these and at the long-term picture, they can often be overcome quickly and easily.

If you wait and procrastinate further, these will become harder and more difficult to get past. Think of how great it will feel to have gone past the hard stuff.  Get them done and out the way. Or, as Brian Tracy would say “Eat that Frog”.

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    3. Celebrate the small wins

    Take time to enjoy the good stuff, the small victories you experience on the way. Set some milestones for you to celebrate when you get there.

    These milestones are a great motivator in themselves, very real evidence that the long-term goal is being achieved and moved towards. Celebrating your small wins is also a  great way to renew motivation providing you with positive feedback and reinforcing your good behaviours so far.

    4. Reassess and readjust on the way

    If you keep hitting walls, maybe it’s  time to reassess the situation…and perhaps plan an alternative course. Continually coming  up against the same obstacle can be very “de-motivating”. Readjusting your strategy may well be all you need to get past and get on. After all, there’s “more than one way to skin a cat”.

    The end result is the key here. How you get there could come from a number of directions. Just because you planned one way, doesn’t mean that is the only way.

    5. Evaluate (and re-evaluate) your goals

    As you start to get closer to your end goal, take time to evaluate the outcome you are trying to achieve. It could be that once you are able to see the finishing line, it’s not actually the result you want. It may be that now that particular outcome is not as important to you as it initially was.

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    Evaluating your goals ensures that you are heading toward something that you really want. If you are lacking motivation to achieve your goal, it may well be that it just isn’t as important to you as it once was. It isn’t possible to give your best to a result you are not interested in achieving.

    6. Don’t be afraid to change direction

    If more businesses were better at this, they would be much better set to overcome the obstacles we all experience in our business lives – e.g. working through downturns and tough markets, changes in fortune and the inevitable changes in customer needs.

    Featured photo credit: Hiker on Top of Hill via Shutterstock and inline photo by Alan Light via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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