“Of course, motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” – Zig Ziglar, ‘Raising Positive Kids in A Negative World’
Motivation is an illusive beast. We all know how it feels to have it, yet what is ‘motivation?’ How to we acquire it? How do we keep hold of it? What is its nature? What we all know for certain is that it is essential in order for us to grow, to feel fulfilment and a sense of growth. Motivation is the thing that keeps us moving forward and gifts us with the courage to step outside our comfort zone, so that we may continue to learn and develop throughout our lives. Whatever your goals, whether they be physical, mental, spiritual or otherwise, motivation is key. Here are some tips on how to cultivate and nurture your ability to self-motivate…
1. One Goal at A Time
Very often motivation is tough to muster. The reality of how much there is that you want to address can seem overwhelming. There’s stuff you want to do on the house, a new diet plan you want to try, a new form of exercise you want to master, an instrument you’ve been meaning to get back in to playing, a pile of paperwork that needs dealing with… it all gets a bit too much. The best way to overcome this is simply by tackling one thing at a time. Make a list of everything you need to do (this already helps to make it less daunting, as tasks look smaller on paper!). Then simply work through them one at a time. Once you feel like one point on the list is either completed or ‘in a good place’, then feel free to put energy into the next goal.
2. Keep It at The Front of Your Mind
Even if you are not working towards your goal every single day, make sure you at least give it some thought and planning on a daily basis. Having your target hovering in the forefront of your mind helps to make it a priority. Also, if it is right there, being thought about regularly, it is going to be much less of an effort to engage with it properly when the time comes to work on it.
3. Public Declaration
If you say it out loud, to a person, or to people, then you’ve committed to it. Although your friends may not judge you for not achieving the goal, you will have created a sense of expectation. Add to this the fact that your peers will also be asking after you, seeing how you are getting on with your chosen journey; this alone will motivate you to have something awesome and positive to report next time the subject comes up.
4. Accept Fluctuations
Motivation is not a constant. Just like we all have ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days, there are also days where motivation is very present, and others where it is not. The worst thing you can do is judge yourself for having an off day. This will lead to frustration and doubt, and ultimately damage your ability to motivate yourself. Write the day off. Sleep on it. Get up tomorrow with fresh motivation!
5. Build ‘Brick-by-Brick’
If you are afraid that your goal is too large to realistically reach, then you might be going about things the wrong way. Any achievement worth gaining requires a journey. You cannot imagine your dream house and expect for it to appear, ready to move in to, tomorrow. You have to do the graft. Smart small; begin with the bricks and lay every one with care. Begin with small steps every day, and soon you will step back and be surprised at how quickly you have created something impressive.
6. Habit and RItual
Put measures in place to help your personal productivity. What helps you to work towards your goals? Here’s an example; Maya Angelou used to hire a hotel room in which to write. She would write from 9am until 2pm every day. This structure and specific environment were the structures she put in place to ensure maximum efficiency. Her self-set working hours also helped her not to stress about her work outside those designated hours. Which brings us to my next point…
7. Set Aside ‘Zero-Pressure’ Time
Time spent giving your brain a break from your targets is absolutely essential. If you are constantly agonising over your goals and how to reach them, then your body and brain will miss out on what is most important; rest and reparation. You’ll go mad otherwise. Make leisure time a priority. As a result, time spent working on your journey will become infinitely more productive and satisfying. Also, in the vein of looking after yourself; eat well, sleep well and exercise. Create wellbeing and balance in your body, and you will be significantly better positioned to hit your potential.
By Chris Thomson
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