How to Be Self-Motivated in Life
Yesterday I talked about How to Set Yourself Up for Success in 2018. One of the recommendations was to starting identifying your accountability partner(s). As I was thinking over that particular tip I wondered if I was being a bit of a hypocrite as I do not currently have an accountability partner. I’ve had them in the past. I just haven’t for the last year. Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out on something and contemplate starting a new accountability partner relationship.
But despite not having an accountability partner (AP for short) I’ve accomplished A LOT this year. The reason why is because I’m pretty self-motivated.
Accountability partnerships are great. Although you do have to make sure you don’t just partner up with any ‘ol body they can help keep you on track toward your goals. However, you can accomplish a lot without them depending on your personality type. I’m introverted and a bit on the private side so I don’t need to run my ideas and plans by anyone. In fact, a lot of the times I keep plans to a tight circle of a few because I don’t need to hear opinions from the peanut gallery. While they are highly recommendation and their effectiveness proven you can move toward your dreams with them.
What you cannot accomplish a lot without is self-motivation. Even with an AP if you don’t have a reasonable level of self-motivation you will still lag behind in your goals. You will get on the phone with your AP every week and admit you haven’t moved the needle one bit! You didn’t cross off one item from your to-do list.
So while APs can motivate you to make progress toward your goals you still have to bring a lot of self-motivation to the table. If you can’t you will struggle. People who have achieved a lot have a ton of self-motivation. If you want to achieve a lot you need the same. Here’s my tips for motivating yourself.
“The best motivation is self-motivation.” – Jim Rohn
Be Clear on the Vision and Make Sure It’s the Right One
When you’re clear on what you want and you’ve attached some meaning to it it’s easy to be self-motivated. You’re motivated because you believe in what you’re doing and it means a lot to you. If you don’t know what you really want it will difficult to motivate yourself to work toward some vague vision. Developing clarity around your vision is important. You don’t have to know the whole end game. You likely won’t. A lot of people say they never imagined their life or career would end up a certain way as a result of one decision. However, you do have to be able to see the future as it relates to the goal. You have to have an end goal at mind.
You also have to pick the right goal. We say we want a lot of things but some of those things are just nice to haves. Sometimes we see something that someone else is doing and think we’d like to do it as well. But it’s not really what we want. It’s simply something that would be nice to have. It would be nice if I had a brand new wardrobe complete with shoes and accessories. But I’m not going to go buy a new wardrobe anytime soon. If you get enticed by what other people are doing you might not pursue a goal that you really care about. You’re not self-motivated because you’re chasing a nice to have goal.
Make sure you know your must-have goals and then remind yourself repeatedly why you must have it.Be clear on the vision and make sure it's the right one. Click To Tweet
Have a Plan
Sometimes when I’m not motivated it’s because I don’t know what to do or how to get started. Trying to jump into an activity without having some resemblance of a plan can be demotivating. If you want to exercise 3 times a week it helps to know which days, where you’ll exercise, and what kind of exercise you’ll do. Put a plan in place so that you do what to do and when to do it. A lack of clarity whether on the vision or the plan can demotivate you.
I don’t sit down to write a blog post without a plan. Now I’m not someone who creates content calendars. I don’t. I did have one for my podcast in the beginning, but I often moved things around. Even though I don’t always have a plan days or weeks in advance I do have a plan before I sit down to write. If I’m not clear what I’m writing I keep mulling over the topic until I’m clear.
Have a plan for how you’re going to achieve what you’re working toward. For most people I think it helps to plan further out than I, but even if you devise a plan at the last second you need to have one. A plan can be motivating. When your ideas start rolling and you start visualizing yourself doing what needs to be done you get excited. When you can imagine the fruits of your labor you are more likely to start laboring. If you’re feeling unmotivated create a plan of action.
I’ve been really self-motivated to blog everyday because I challenged myself. I tried before and failed so I really wanted to succeed this time around. Plus, my web traffic isn’t where I want it to be so I wanted to try something different. Challenging yourself to do something can be a way to self-motivate yourself.
The longer you have been committed to the challenge the easier it is for you to stay motivated. When you’ve come so far you don’t want to knock yourself off the track. My self-motivation toward blogging everyday increased with every day that I blogged. If the goal was to blog thirty days in a row and I quit on day twenty I would essentially have to start all over again to make it to thirty days in a row.
Progress is a great self-motivator. Past wins as well. So challenge yourself to get some points on the board even when you’re not motivated and as you see the results come in your motivation will be there waiting for you.
Tuning into disappointments or areas of dissatisfaction can be a motivator. If you don’t like you job or your financial situation going back to school in the evenings can change your situation. Even though it requires sacrifice and hard work you are motivated because it relieves the dissatisfaction. Sometimes we try to ignore what we don’t like. Sometimes we’re told to be grateful for the job or the house or the spouse because someone else is praying for what we have. If you bury the dissatisfaction deep inside your heart you won’t be able to pull on it for the motivation you need to change your situation.
This doesn’t mean to walk around depressed or complaining all day. Lean into your disappointments and use them as fuel to get you moving (while keeping a positive attitude and expressing gratitude).
Keep Inspirations Around
It’s hard to get inspired or motivated when you don’t feel like it. Keeping things that inspire you in places where you can accidentally bump into them can help give you the jolt of motivation you need. Put a picture of your dream house or your dream body on the refrigerator. Change your alarm to an inspiring song. Put your radio in the car to a station that plays inspiring music. Don’t depend on you being self-motivated enough to get yourself motivated on purpose. (Hey, we are talking about how to get self-motivated.) Set your environment up so that it inspires you without you even trying.
Also, keep in the mind that you may need to switch out your inspirations from time to time. When we’ve see something over and over again it’s effectiveness can wear off. You don’t even notice it anymore. So if it seems like your inspiring environment isn’t quite as motivating as it used to be it may be time to switch it up.Don't depend on you being self-motivated enough to get yourself motivated. Click To Tweet
Sometimes when I’m not feeling very motivated but there’s something I need to get done I lean on a pre- motivation so to speak. I’ll jump in the shower before I sit to write a blog post or record a podcast episode. One, because showers are a bit meditative and they help me think. Two, I enjoy a nice warm shower. If I’m lounging around relaxing not wanting to get up I’ll think to take a shower. And because I like taking shower it gets me up and out of relaxation mode. When I’m out the shower ideas are turning and motivation is roaring.
Identify some pre-motivation activities you can do that you enjoy. It has to be low effort though. It’s not that I don’t enjoy blogging. There’s just a lot of effort involved between writing the post, editing (which I don’t do a great job at), creating at least 4-5 images in Canva, and sending out on social media. I’m so proud of the work that I do and I love this blog. Yet, sometimes, especially now that I’ve blogged 35 days in a row the effort involved has the potential to deter me. So your pre- motivations can’t be intense. You’re not motivated because the activity you’re avoiding is intense. Choose a low effort activity that you enjoy that will get you in the mood.
- Take a shower
- Take a walk
- Play a song
- Talk to a friend
- Read a daily devotional
- Listen to a motivational video on Youtube
Anything that you actually enjoy doing that requires little effort but that will also motivate you to do the real task at hand is a good pre- activity motivation.
Break down the activity
Per the point above, if you aren’t motivated to do something because you’re running all the steps you have to do in your head try breaking the activity down. Right now I’m on a challenge to blog everyday, but if I wasn’t I probably wouldn’t write, edit and create images all on the same day. Perhaps you can spread some steps across multiple days.
You can also break the activity down throughout the day. I may write a blog post and then go walk the dog. When I come back from walking the dog I’ll edit or create images. Sometimes I sit down and knock out a blog from start to finish but a lot of times I stop to eat, walk, shower, or clean.
Don’t focus on all the things you have to do or how long it will take to complete the task at hand. Focus on the first few steps and then take a break. Alternatively, don’t try to do it all the same day if you don’t have to.
“Long-term, we must begin to build our internal strengths. It isn’t just skills like computer technology. It’s the old-fashioned basics of self-reliance, self-motivation, self-reinforcement, self-discipline, self-command.” – Steven Pressfield
Mel Robbins, author of The 5 Second Rule, advocates for just counting down from 5 when you are procrastinating on a task. When you get to one lift off. Simply go. When you’re not motivated it’s not usually that you forgot. It crossed your mind. You’re likely debating if you should or shouldn’t do it in your mind. By counting down to one and committing to get up without thinking about it you can force yourself into action even if you’re not necessarily motivated.
I don’t do the five second rule but there are times when I say to myself, “Okay, Charlene, let’s go,” and I just get to it. Sometimes I’ll use my dog as a lift off. If she’s whining because she wants a treat or scratching at the back door that’s my cue to get up, get her what she wants, and then do what I’ve been delaying doing.When you have something to do and don't feel motivated just get to it. Click To Tweet
One of the things I do, particularly when there’s a task I don’t want to do but that has to be done, is I put it on my calendar. If I put a task on my calendar from 2-3pm when 2 o’clock rolls around I start working on it no matter what and I endeavor to be finished by 3 o’clock. This helps because we all have tasks that aren’t our favorite and we tend to push those off repeatedly. Putting it on the calendar says, “I’m not pushing this off. It’s getting done at this time. Period.”
Find a lift off motivator to leverage to kick you into action.
Your turn. How do you stay self-motivated?
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