One of the biggest struggles many of us face is a lack of motivation.
There are many reasons that we find ourselves in a motivational slump from time to time. Maybe you are overwhelmed by the scope of a project. Perhaps you just have too much to do and end up not doing anything. And, of course, there’s our old enemy procrastination.
If you find yourself flailing just when you need motivation the most, try applying these techniques to get back in the swing of things.
Break Your Goals Down
Goals are a wonderful thing to have. After all, it’s nearly impossible to get things done if you haven’t identified just what you want to accomplish. On the other hand, many of our goals can be pretty lofty. For example, let’s say that your goal is to find a new job. It seems simple enough, but why then do we have such a hard time reaching that goal?
In many cases, it’s because the target is just too vague.
While “find a job” seems like a pretty clear-cut goal, the fact of the matter is that it’s so overarching that we often find ourselves getting overwhelmed. The solution to this problem is to break these big goals down into “objectives.” An objective is a step that you need to take to reach the overall goal. These objectives can then become action steps that put us on the road to getting what we want. For example, finding a job could be broken down into the following:
- Identify the field in which I want to work
- Write my resume with this field in mind
- Attend local job fairs with resume in hand
- Do an online search for jobs in my field
- Apply for X number of jobs each week
Each of these objectives becomes its own mini-goal. None of them are nearly as overwhelming as the much broader idea of finding a job, and there is the added bonus of feeling a sense of satisfaction when each objective has been met. This, in turn, helps to keep your motivation levels high as you strive to reach the main goal of finding a new job.
Make a Public Declaration
There is nothing quite as motivating as being accountable to someone else. If you start telling others about what you plan to accomplish, it becomes more and more real to you, and to them. When we know that someone else is expecting something of us, procrastination becomes less of an option. Depending on the goal, you may want to only tell those closest to you, or you may want to make a public declaration of your intentions. Once you’ve committed in this way, it’s much harder to back out, leaving you with a stronger sense of motivation.
W suggests setting a future date for the start of your project so that you have time to build up anticipation. While this can seem a little counter-intuitive when you’re trying to muster up your motivation, it’s a great tool to have. As he explains, setting a date to get started allows you time to really get excited about what you’re going to do. You can get other people on board to help you, as well as to spend time visualizing how to truly be successful. You might even use the time before getting started to research your topic and create a clear plan of action so you know just how to get the ball rolling when your start date finally arrives.
Create a Positive Goal
One of the reasons that we often lose our drive to do something is because we see it in a negative light. For example, a common goal is to lose weight. Unfortunately for many of us, that goal is all about telling ourselves “no.” “No, you can’t eat that.” “No, you can’t do something fun because you have to exercise.” “No, you can’t fit into your favorite outfit yet.”
To build your motivation regarding a goal like this, try changing your perspective.
Instead of setting a goal to lose weight, for example, consider making your goal one of getting healthy. It’s not about what you have to lose, but about what you have to gain, and it suddenly becomes all about saying “yes.” “Yes, I can play with my kids at the park.” “Yes, I can eat healthy, delicious food.” “Yes, I can feel great about my appearance.”
Again, the ability to get things done can be negatively affected by the sheer number of items that need our attention. Sometimes we get totally distracted from the important stuff by the flotsam and jetsam that is cluttering up our minds. Avoid this issue by making a to-do list. You may find it helpful to dump everything you can think of onto that list to get it out of your brain and in front of your eyes.
Now, look at your list and start assigning priority to the items there.
Which things absolutely must be done right away, and which can wait?
Is there anything on your list that really isn’t that important now that you see it written out?
Also consider whether or not there’s anything there that can be delegated to someone else: Is it really up to you to clean up the toys in the back yard, or is that something you can get the kids to do? Once you’ve made these types of decisions, it will be much easier to tackle the high-priority items on your list.
Just Do Something
Maybe you’ve made your to-do list, but the higher-priority items are still looking too overwhelming to tackle. In that case, permit yourself to simply do something off of your list. Consider starting with a couple of items that will only take a few minutes each but that just keeps getting put off for some reason. Maybe you need to return some phone calls or file away your bills, for example.
Once you’ve been able to cross a few things off of your list, you’ll start feeling better about yourself and will likely feel your motivation start to return. It’s at this point that you can jump in and attack some of those bigger tasks. If they’re really big, don’t forget about the first suggestion above and make the first step one of breaking the larger goal down into more manageable objectives.