If you’re anything like me – and most of the world! – you almost certainly have days when your motivation takes a sudden nose-dive.
Perhaps you were really enthusiastic about your new diet at the start of the week … but now it’s Friday, and you’re craving chocolate.
Perhaps you were excited about starting your own business … but now you’ve realized just how much work you need to do.
Perhaps you were firmly committed to exercising every day … but now you’re tired, and you don’t seem to have the energy to even get off the sofa.
Motivation is a powerful force, one that helps us make new commitments and carry them through. Like any emotion, though, motivation comes and goes. You’ll have days when you wake up ready to leap into action – and days when you just want to hit snooze and curl up under the duvet.
Here are seven ways to boost your motivation – try at least one today.
#1: Do Things That You Enjoy
This might be a bit easier said than done … but in general, try to focus your life around activities that you genuinely enjoy. It’s far, far easier to be motivated when you love what you’re doing than when you feel so-so about it.
You might want to think about:
- Your work. Perhaps switching to your dream career isn’t an option right now – but can you take on more of the tasks that you like, and delegate some of the ones you don’t like?
- Your goals. If you’re trying to establish a good exercise routine, for instance, look for forms of activity that you genuinely enjoy … not ones that feel like a chore.
- Your commitments. Look for ways to reduce or cut out any which you don’t enjoy. Don’t be afraid to say “no” – even to something that you’ve said “yes” to in the past.
#2: Focus on Your Goal or the Outcome
Most big projects require a lot of work over an extended period of time. However excited you are about your end goal, there’ll almost certainly be times when the work at hand isn’t especially appealing.
Instead of thinking about the boring or difficult task you need to get through today, focus on your goal, or the outcome. For instance:
- Making a healthy choice for lunch will help you to reach your goal of losing weight.
- Dealing with a dull but necessary task will make life easier in the future.
- Getting something checked off your to-do list will make you feel good.
#3: Go For Some Easy Wins
If you’re really struggling to get going at the start of the day (or at the start of a session working towards a particular goal), look for some easy wins. These are tasks that you can complete in just a few minutes, leaving you with a sense of accomplishment.
That could be:
- Writing an email or making a phone call that you’ve been putting off.
- Tidying your closet, or sorting out one small area of your house.
- Filing those papers that have been mounting up for weeks.
#4: Tackle the Hardest Task First
This is an alternative to #3 – or something you can try after spending 15 – 30 minutes on quick wins. Tackle the hardest task on your list, the one that you feel least like doing.
This might seem an odd recipe for motivation … but once that difficult task is out of the way, everything else will seem easy in comparison.
“Hardest” here doesn’t necessarily mean it’s intellectually or physically demanding. Sometimes, a single phone call that you’ve been putting off can feel very difficult.
#5: Take Regular Breaks from Working
When you’re feeling fresh and alert, it’s easy to be motivated … but as the day goes on, you might find your motivation levels dropping hour by hour.
Taking breaks is a great way to improve your productivity: instead of struggling away for hours (perhaps procrastinating some of the time), you have a deliberate, planned break from your work. This means you return feeling refreshed and more motivated.
Most people also find that they can work harder and faster when they know there’s a break coming up. (If you’ve ever managed to clear a lot of tasks off your to-do list in the last couple of hours of Friday, you’ll have experienced this effect!)
#6: Don’t Take On Too Much
Most of us are in a position where we’re doing too much. We over-commit at work or in our home life, and we try to tackle several goals at a time.
However motivated you are, you only have 24 hours in each day – and you need sufficient sleep and down time. You also need to allow for the occasions where things don’t go smoothly: a sudden crisis at home or work will be much easier to deal with if your daily schedule contains a bit of slack.
When it comes to major goals (like losing weight, writing a book, changing career), it’s a good idea to have just one goal as a priority at any one time. That way, you’re much more likely to succeed.
#7: Reward Yourself
Some experts feel that rewards can be counter-productive, but I think they’re useful in moderation – and can certainly be a good quick fix for motivation problems.
If you’re struggling to stay focused on a particular task, promise yourself a reward for when you’re done. That could be a mug of coffee, a quick walk round the block, a break to read your favorite magazine … whatever works for you.
In many cases, the “reward” might well be something you were going to have or do anyway – you’re simply shifting it to the end of this particular task, rather than stopping mid-way.
What helps you to recover your motivation on a bad day? Share your tips with us in the comments.