Or, err, maybe you just don’t want to today, eh? Yeah, I feel your vibe. Sit yourself down, have a few coffees, mooch around on social media and when that gets tiring, go and have a nap. By the end of today, you will be so glad you gave yourself permission to take a rain check. Just ignore that sense of self-loathing and guilt and have another cake. Tomorrow you’ll be inspired to start again. Or will you? Because now you’re a day behind and the pressure is mounting. Perhaps you’ll be more inclined to stick your head back under the covers and drift back off to dreamland where you really are a superhero.
Here’s the thing about motivation: it usually arrives after starting a new behaviour or ritual and not before. There’s a clue. No matter how many motivational books you read, lectures you watch or inspiring quotes you come across on your screen, nothing can bring motivation in the same way as actual action.
Motivation breeds motivation
Stop waiting for motivation or inspiration to strike you and set a schedule for your habits. Getting started, even for a few minutes results in active inspiration that naturally produces movement.
Let’s look at the facts. You have a 50/50 chance of picking the right answer here:
A: Motivating yourself after a day, week or month of slothful procrastination is easy.
B: Motivating yourself after continued success and achievement is easy.
If you picked A, then get off my blog post – I can’t help you.
Make Motivation a Habit
You need to start each day with some momentum. That does not mean swinging from the chandeliers or rocking in a hammock. Its more like going to the gym or for a brisk walk or dancing in your kitchen to David Guetta.
Make it a ritual to do. And with any ritual, it’s not just the workout its the fact you’ve got into the car to drive to the gym or you’ve put on your boots to go for a walk or you’ve loaded your playlist and got your dance moves ready. The act of just starting brings the momentum and creates a habit.
Goldilocks and the three R’s
Goldilocks and the three bears. We all know this famous story about the girl that breaks into the three bears house and then gets all diva-esque about the porridge. It’s too cold, too hot or wait! it’s just right.
Now that’s because us human beings like things to be right on the edge of our current abilities in order to work at our optimum ability. Just right. This is called the Goldilocks Rule.
For example, If you were playing a game of chess against a renowned world champion like Kasparov, you would feel out of your depth, demotivated and the whole situation would be too difficult. Result? Massive stalemate. Similarly, if you were to play against a novice, you would find it too easy, unchallenging and boring.
To master a skill just beyond our current horizon is the key to staying motivated and working on tasks that are of manageable difficulty.
- Look at smaller achievements rather than the whole picture. Set just one manageable goal and take it from there.
- Write it down, print it and read it. If you do this the night before it’s already a focus when you wake up.
- Think about it, visualise it and build positive anticipation.
- Turn off the social procrastination network. Banish all distractions. Use them as a reward at the end of the job: you can’t like or comment on Aunty Jean’s amazing lemon drizzle cake on FB until you’ve completed your task.
- Stick with it – keep it bite sized – back to point one, Goldilocks.
Said the pirate…
Let’s take a look at the three R’s and how they can help you form good, behavioural habits.
Reminder: Remind your brain and body what you’re doing by starting with a simple routine. So simple, in fact, it’s impossibly easy to carry out so that you do it. Something that requires no motivation.
For example, my writing routine starts by getting a glass of orange juice or my gym routine starts by putting on my trainers or my dance routine starts with a stretch.
The most important part of any task is starting. If you can’t get motivated in the beginning, then you’ll find that motivation often comes after starting. That’s why your reminders should be incredibly easy to start.
Routine: Your routine is something that should be moving you towards your end goal. Mental stimulation is often linked very closely to physical activity. Starting your routine with movement will kick start your brain into first gear.
When you procrastinate and can’t be bothered, you’re usually in a sloth like position, bored and debilitated by your own state. However, if you move you become energised and engaged. There’s no way you cant feel awake and on the edge of glory when you’re dancing to Lady GaGa in your kitchen. I know this.
The movement doesn’t have to mean extreme movement like kick boxing or running but just move. It can be as simple as a few household chores. As a writer, my job is very sedentary because I sit down and bleed at a keyboard; it’s more mental than physical. But the act of movement motivates, energises and drives me towards the act of writing.
Reward: You need to follow the same pattern every single time so that the habit is formed, the motivation remains and the rewards keep coming. And you know what the rewards are, right? Yes, you are actually now an accomplished, productive superhero and can go and have a slice of Aunty Jean’s cake before you take that nap.
Author, Writer, Storyteller
Jules has an eclectic and colourful history creating stories, writing, articles, blogs, and art philosophy.