Motivating yourself better

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Photo by Austin Schmid,

Sometimes you make flawless plans, only to find that you simply cannot force yourself to commit to them. You find excuses, do other work or suddenly feel tired when the time to spring into action comes. Here’s a bunch of ways to get back on your feet:

Think of the future

When you put off an activity, you’re most likely not interested in it directly or even hate it. Instead of focusing on the activity itself, think of it as a mere hurdle on your path to more enjoyable activities, which will come after you’ve done what is needed. “All effort is rewarded.”

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”― Neil Gaiman

Reward yourself

Related to the above entry. Sometimes simply thinking ahead isn’t enough. Come up with something extremely enjoyable to do after you do whatever it is that’s bringing you down. Make the reward into your drive for completing the work.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Make the activity as fun as possible

Instead of viewing the upcoming activity as a purely awful period of your life, you can focus on making it as enjoyable as possible. Work to make the atmosphere calm and pleasant during the time spent working. Take frequent breaks. Divide the activity into parts. Presentation is everything, and this also applies to work! With enough good presentation, you’ll find that an awful task can seem upbeat and cheerful.

“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington

Employ the assistance of friends or family

Motivation is all about forcing yourself to do things. Instead of finding ways to push yourself forward, you can ask those close to you to help out. If you get along well with your family or have a devoted friend or two, you shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask them for encouragement. Just don’t be surprised if it ever gets annoying, and don’t react negatively. That said, getting pushed around a bit or encouraged by someone else tends to do the trick for many people.

The start trick

Starting an activity is often more difficult than actually performing it if you’re demotivated. You can fool your own brain into committing to the activity by lying to yourself a bit. Not everyone can pull this off, but it’s an incredibly potent and reliable method to go about it if you’re capable.

Simply tell yourself that you’re only making a check on what exactly lies ahead, then, employ what’s basically reverse procrastination – adding a few minutes, then a few more, just a bit more – until you’ve gotten into the work enough for it to get easier.

“People who wonder if the glass is half empty or full miss the point. The glass is refillable.” – Unknown

Remove distractions

This method might be incredibly silly for some and may seem brutal and inefficient, but for others, it does wonders where other approaches fail. It all depends on just how prone you are to taking little detours from your work.

The method simply involves forcibly removing anything that may distract you from what needs to be done. Eventually, you should cave in from boredom and start doing the work, after which it will get easier.

Encourage yourself

Sometimes lack of motivation comes not from dread, but from self-doubt. In this case, you need to remind yourself of your past successes. It’s very easy to only look at your failures, but a person is more than their failures. You may also remind yourself that you will learn from every activity, even if you fail. That’s right, even if you truly are incapable of your task, as an end result of trying to accomplish it - you’ll become more capable.

“So. Monday. We meet again. We will never be friends—but maybe we can move past our mutual enmity toward a more-positive partnership.” ― Julio-Alexi Genao

The role model

Strangely effective is associating yourself with another person – someone that you strive to emulate the good aspects of – a role model. When you find yourself lacking the drive to work, you may ask yourself: “What would my role model do?”

Chances are that they wouldn’t put work off. A role model tends to be rather effective as encouragement in general, not just for boosting motivation.

A look at time itself

Time always passes at the same rate. Sometimes this is all the awareness you need in order to get motivated. Instead of looking at your upcoming task as an unspecified period, which makes it seem exaggerated and unending, you should make an approximation of how long the activity will take you. Each day you spend doing what’s needed will reduce the amount remaining, which tends to boost motivation potently, especially in the middle of work.

This method is particularly potent for studying, since there’s no indicator of when you’re truly done with it.

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” – Marissa Mayer

When to see a professional

If you’ve tried all of the above methods and still cannot get yourself motivated, you may consider seeing a psychologist for a further analysis of the cause, and a possible solution.

In addition, it may be helpful to get professional help if:

  • You struggle to find motivation for basic, everyday tasks
  • Your lack of motivation is interfering with your everyday life more than simply adding a few inconveniences (for example, causing issues at work).

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