Google this: How to get motivated. Or “how to find willpower” or “how to stop procrastination.” You’d think that there would be something hidden in the inter-webs, perhaps some magic pill to swallow where *poof* we turn into balls of energy and motivation.
Sadly, there is none. I’ve looked.
We’re sensational rationalizers. Especially when it comes to the things we need to do but don’t want to. We’ll craft compelling reasons to “not work” only to be met with feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and then we wonder – What’s wrong with me? Where is my will power? Where is my grit? Why can’t I just kill it – like Oprah? Or Beyonce?
Do we lack the gene?
Maybe, but it’s not a very productive question. The better one is – how do we create it for ourselves?
Because if there is work to do that, for us, is meaningful and important, then we have no choice but to train ourselves to show up every day, even when inspiration fails us. And there are a few ways to get there.
1. Change Your Self Talk.
Take three seconds to complete this sentence with total honesty: “I am not doing the work because ____________”. Notice what’s going on in your head. Acknowledge the resistance.
2. Find a Way to Reset.
Because sometimes your brain needs a reboot. Go for a long walk, take a yoga class or keep a journal. Maybe try meditation, which has been proven to not only reduce stress and anxiety, but improves attention and creativity, even with just 10 minutes a day. All of these activities are restorative for the body and the mind; they ease brain fatigue and help find your focus and energy.
3. Keep learning
Fill your brain with stories, facts, insights and ideas from the books you read and the podcasts you listen to. Do it consistently and it will teach you new things, keep you on a high and, hopefully, the stuff will sink.
4. Create a space that’s inspiring.
Because the physical space we spend our time in very much influences our energy, actions and moods. Design a space that moves you in a positive direction with visual reminders of your goals, inspiring quotes or people you admire. Keep it clutter and distraction free, add some plants, some good lighting and listen to music that pumps you up.
5. Anticipate your distractions.
Your phone? Social media? Your kids? Identify all of your triggers and figure out how to eliminate and/or overcome them.
6. Focus on the process.
Forget about the mountain to climb. That will only drive you to inaction. Break your project up into small, actionable steps. If you want to write the next great novel, commit to sitting down to write 1000 words every day, rain or shine, bad or good. Make it a habit, so that when the hard days pay you a visit, you’ll be able to fall back on your habit. And as Robert Collier says, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.”
7. Strip away all of the non essentials
Have you ever noticed that too many choices intimate you? Sometimes constraint is a good thing. Stripping away the nonessentials allows us to focus on the things that make the most impact, and minimizes the distractions.
8. Schedule your work.
Decide exactly what you’re going to do, when and for how long. Schedule your work and learn to follow your own rules with focus and discipline, so that the work becomes routine, and not a thing of willpower.
9. Reward yourself with breaks.
Set a timer for 25 minutes. Or 30 or an hour. Whatever works for you. Whatever seems doable. Then, take a break. Make sure you get up and shake your legs out. And when you’re ready, do it again.
10. Anticipate the hard days.
Expect that things will not go according to plan. Expect that you will make mistakes, encounter a problem or run out of steam. Expect to feel down, confused, unmotivated, afraid. More importantly, decide – in advance – how you will handle the tough days.