The Challenge of Motivation

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

Although I am usually not the one needing a kick in the pants, I have had to renew my library book on emotional intelligence three times. Something kept getting in the way of my reading it – sometimes it’s work stuff, sometimes it’s my ERG-related tasks, sometimes it’s Sudoku, sometimes it’s AGT, sometimes it’s shopping. Whatever it was – there was never a good time to read the book.

Since secretly we all love a sense of accomplishment, I have set out on a quest to find motivation. Although it can be triggered by internal or external factors, motivation and the will for action have to come from within you. The fact that all motivation is internal leaves me no other choice – finding motivation has to become a priority.

In Theory

What better way to start than with a classic? Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is considered to be one of the most insightful theories for understanding human motivation.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, depending on where you are along the pyramid of motivation, different things will maslows-pyramidserve as your motivators. This also depends on individual’s ambition and drive. Some of us are working to ensure that we get a reasonable raise or a bonus at the end of the year; others are aspiring to become a C-suite occupant; yet others simply want to ensure that their potential is not wasted. These motivators will ultimately determine what kinds of things make it on your list of priorities and how high.

8 Methods of Self-Motivation

Just as we all have different career aspiration, we have different types of rewards that motivate us and different methods of motivating ourselves. Leo Babauta, who is the author of one of top productivity and simplicity blogs Zen Habits, suggests that the best way to find your motivation is to experiment. In his article “8 Experiments in Motivation” Leo recommends eight methods of self-motivation to try for a week each.

  1. Un-ignorable consequences
  2. Completion Compulsion
  3. A Powerful “Why”
  4. Get Excited Daily
  5. Focus on Being True to Your Word
  6. Find a Group
  7. Focus on a Sense of Achievement
  8. Small Starts, Quick Rewards

20 Motivational Tips

After a couple of months you will know what methods worked for you better than others. That is when you can start utilizing the 20 motivational tips Leo offers in another post to help you stay on track and not to lose that motivation or the sight of your priorities. Below are some of them that resonate with me.

Tip #1. Chart your progress.

Create metrics and measure your accomplishments. What were your past results? How long did it take you to complete the last task? Can you finish a similar task faster next time?

Tip #6. Get a partner or goal buddy.

This person could serve as a source of new ideas and different approaches to try, be your cheerleader, or simply be your sounding board.

Tip #6. Just get started.

Sometimes action is the motivation you need. Action becomes the force that keeps your going. “Inspiration exists, but it must find us working.” – Pablo Picasso.

Tip #9. Break it into smaller, mini goals.

Dividing the task into more doable ones will trick your brain into thinking that the goal is closer than it is and, thus, more attainable.

Tip #10. Reward yourself. Often.

Celebrate small successes, even if it is only a victory over your own procrastination. The feeling of accomplishment will give you the confidence to keep going and help you enjoy the process.

Tip #11. Find inspiration, on a daily basis.

This could be a magazine that you leaf through when you feel unenthused. Or a blog about how someone else has already done it, that you read when you don’t feel like doing it.

Tip #18. Create a friendly, mutually-supportive competition.

Healthy competition could make the task feel more of a game, thus, making it fun.

Tip #19. Make a big public commitment. Be fully committed.

Talk about it. Bring it up in random conversations. Use every situation to remind yourself of your goal. Take it social – tweet about it, share it on Facebook, or join an online community. This will also help keep you accountable.

Tip #20. Always think positive.

A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t get anywhere you want to go until you change it.” — Michael Josephson. Enough said.

To synthesize:

As with everything else, finding motivation comes down to one thing – self-awareness. It makes sense to start by figuring out your learning style and what works for you – this is where the experimentation comes in. Then, keep the momentum going – arrange your life in a way that supports your new endeavor. Schedule it into your daily life. Create rituals around it. Make it a routine. Make it a habit. Make it a priority.

Do you have any motivational tips that work for you?

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