This article was last updated on December 30, 2015
Are you struggling with a lack of motivation?
Have you noticed how your motivation can come and go, quite unpredictably? One day you’re totally fired up and taking massive action and the next day you literally have to drag yourself out of bed.
I’m guessing, like me, you’re wishing you could control this elusive thing called motivation.
What if you could. What if there was a way to consistently motivate yourself to perform at your best, day in and day out?
Want to find out how?
Here are 9 Sure-Fire Ways To Motivate Yourself:
1. Progress from a VISION, to having a MISSION
When you lack vision for your life, your desire to do anything remarkable will be low. You’ll seek out things that entertain you and thrill you rather than important work that challenges you, because of lack of vision. So your first step has to be: get a vision for your life.
Done that? Okay, now go one step further. Find your mission.
Have you noticed how people who’ve done something really significant with their lives have had a strong sense of not just vision, but a mission?
Take a look for example at Nelson Mandela. He lived for something far greater than being the leader of an anti-apartheid party.
His words in the dock before going to prison were :
“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Being willing to spend 27 years in prison to fight for this ideal means this was not just a vision, it was his mission.
So what is a mission?
Some define it as a quest or a calling. I define it as a cause you’re willing to fight for, to sweat over with hard work, tears and supreme effort.
It may be a deep burning desire to do something that impacts society and the way we live. It’s often something that, if accomplished, will make the world a better place.
Here’s the thing: If you have a mission, you’re unlikely to give up when you face hardships, setbacks and disappointments in the pursuit of it. When it’s just a vision, you may find it harder to persevere. Therein lies the distinction.
Find your mission, make it clear and put it in writing.
(Tip: What injustice angers you? What burns you up? What stirs you? Find that and you’ve found important clues to your mission)
2. Tap into your Fear of loss and Desire for gain
According to the late achievement expert, Zig Ziglar, we are motivated by one of two things :
- Desire for gain
- Fear of loss
Those two things will drive all of our behaviour.
Think about it – sometimes you’ll be motivated at work because of a fear of losing your job if you don’t meet your targets (fear of loss); or because you want a promotion (desire for gain). You may be motivated to lose weight because of the benefit of increased self-respect, health and happiness (desire for gain). Or perhaps you become motivated to lose weight when your doctor tells you that your diet and lifestyle may lead to disease and limit your life (fear of loss).
So is there an area you would like to be more motivated in?
a) Put the fear of loss on your side. Write down all of the things you will lose if you don’t take action.
b) Now utilise the desire for gain in the same area. Write down all the things that you will gain by taking action towards the area where you’re lacking motivation.
3. Adopt a long-term perspective of your life
People with a long-term perspective are more motivated to take action towards meaningful goals than those with a short-term instant gratification mentality.
When we’re highly motivated by a chocolate craving more than the health benefits of cutting down on sugar, it’s because we’re focussing on the short-term gain (pleasure for our taste buds!) rather than a long-term goal of health or becoming our goal weight.
To get a long term perspective, start to pay more attention to your daily habits.
Then ask yourself, ‘If I continue to do this every day like I am now, what will this look like in 1 years’ time? In 5 years’ time? In 10 years’ time?’
‘Am I happy with that?’
If you don’t like the answer to that question, then I’m hoping you feel uncomfortable enough right now to make a change!
According to Aristotle ‘We are what we repeatedly do’, so we need to like what our repeated actions are leading us towards long-term.
5. Gamify your work
This works well with work that you can do easily and is repetitive for e.g. phoning prospects, talking to a desired number of people within a certain period or getting a repetitive admin task done quickly.
Create a challenge for yourself to fulfil 20, 50 or 100 of your key tasks as quickly as possible, within a certain timeframe – put a chart up on the wall to tick off your progress. Or Compete with yourself to see how long you can work before stopping to have a coffee break.
Have a contest with yourself to beat a previous own score. Devise fun incentives for yourself for completing challenges.
According to motivation expert Dan Pink in his 2009 TED talk, these extrinsic rewards are great for tasks that don’t require much cognitive effort – but remember that it’s not an effective motivator for more creative endeavours.
5. Find out what your ‘Hot Buttons’ are
Are you motivated by helping people? By making money? By doing satisfying, challenging work? By problem-solving? By leading others?
Find out what unique things most motivate you. Create a list of those things – and find out ways you can incorporate your unique motivators into your work.
6. Create your own Motivation ‘Playlist’.
Create your own collection of motivating songs, movies and youtube clips of speeches that motivate you. And when you feel the need for some, press play!
The great thing is that Cris Nikolov, founder of coinstatics.com has done a lot of the work for you. Check out his motivational videos and bookmark your favourites.
One of my favourite is : “Enraged” (watch here), featuring excerpts from a Les Brown speech.
7. Stand Guard over your Mind
You have to stand guard, like a sentry, deciding who and what gets access to your mind.
You get to decide what thoughts you entertain. You also get to decide what you feed your mind with. The books you read, the movies and videos you watch and the people you hang around with all have a powerful influence over your mind.
And what goes into your mind will radically affect your mood and your motivation.
We are powerfully influenced by our ‘mental diet’ – Constantly surrounding yourself with negative people, tragic news, mind-numbing TV and a consumer, entertainment-driven culture will literally suck the life out of you. And your motivation and drive will be sucked out with it.
So be vigilant and diligent. Evaluate your influences. Drastically reduce the negative ones and surround yourself with positive influences. If your current environment doesn’t have any, you’ll have to substitute by listening to training, watching youtube clips, speeches or reading books by inspiring people.
8. Seek out opportunities to work in a field, career or business that utilisies your natural strengths and talents
This may take time, but you can work towards this as you progress in your career or take the entrepreneurial leap into the business of your dreams.
Do the self-analysis needed to find out what environment you love to work in, what people you enjoy working with, what type of work you most love to do and where you’d most like to spend your working hours. Look at every aspect, whether or not you’d rather work in a team or alone, in an office or outdoors or working from home.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be alert to opportunities that come your way to take the work that you love, where you love to do it, and with whom.
You’ll be at your most motivated when doing the kind of work you most love, in the kind of environment in which you know you thrive.
Money is not enough of a motivator. According to Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, authors of ‘Your money or your life’ there is a point at which we reach the stage of having ‘enough money’. Earning more money after that point no longer motivates us.
We are more likely, in our businesses and our work, to be motivated by work that is meaningful to us and utilises our talents. We are also more motivated when we enjoy and respect who we work with.
9. Act ‘as if’
Science reveals that our physiology can affect our emotions. So if you act motivated, your emotions will follow suit and you’ll start to feel motivated.
Put on the appearance of being motivated, ‘dress up’ for your day, smile and behave with others as though you are motivated and you will become what you’ve ‘put on.’
If you’re feeling demotivated, just get started. Action can kickstart motivation. Your feelings will follow your actions.
Finally, here’s a few steps to take right now to implement these strategies :
1. Pick just 2 of your favourite ‘motivation’ strategies.
2. Write down what action steps you’ll need to take to apply them to an area where you need more motivation.
3. Either apply that strategy now, or put the steps on a list and book time in your calendar to complete it.
Do you use any of these strategies already? Or do you use other ways to motivate yourself, not mentioned here? Are any of these strategies new ones that you’d like to try out? Let me know in the comments!
Photo credit: The U.S. Army