Achieving our goals requires consistent action. Does your motivation to take productive action fade as the year goes on?
How do you keep your motivation strong as the year continues?
Many of us get inspired at the beginning of a new year to set ambitious goals or dive into projects aimed at improving our health, our career, our home, our relationships. But it usually doesn’t take long for the day-to-day of life to take over and that initial enthusiasm that propelled us starts to wear off. It’s so common as to be a joke how gyms are packed in the first week of January and nearly empty by the first week of February.
But all the best, most valuable accomplishments take consistent action over time – sometimes a lot of time.
So how can we keep going after that first-of-the-new-year motivation starts to fade?
“Motivation is not magic. It does not come in a bottle. There is no little blue pill for it. But it’s something you can tap into by design then harness.”
~ Suzanne Gerber
from How to Stay Motivated and Accomplish Anything
“All motivation is self-motivation.”
~ Lolly Dascal, President and CEO of Lead from Within
from 19 Highly Effective Ways to Stay Motivated
Ways to stay motivated & refresh your motivation
◊ Remind yourself of your why and write it down in detail. It’s easy to forget in the day-to-day bustle why we’re doing what we do; some things to journal about
- Where did the idea come from to do this thing?
- How did you feel about the idea when you first had it–what emotion? (excitement? fear? nervousness? confusion? anticipation? joy? determination?)
- What did you think you would get as a result of accomplishing this goal or completing this project?
◊ Take care of yourself – it’s hard to stay motivated if you’re exhausted. Eat food that fuels you, drink plenty of water instead of caffeinated beverages, move your body daily, and don’t sacrifice necessary rest for a few more hours of work. Be ruthless about identifying and cutting out the less important so you can make time to both take action toward your most important goals and take care of yourself.
◊ Create habits and routines that bypass your resistance and keep you taking automatic action. Habits work in a different part of our brain and become almost unconscious action.
“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”
~ Octavia E. Butler in How are habits formed in the brain?
What actions do you need to take in order to accomplish your goal? Turn them into habits on purpose. Form the habit of doing the things you need to do
- Drink a glass of water as soon as you get out of bed
- Write 5 sentences or work on your new business while you’re drinking your coffee
- Make a phone call to a prospect each morning when you sit down at your desk
- Stop at the gym on your way home from work, or go up and down the stairs 3 times during your lunch break
Once you do this often enough, it will become a habit that you won’t have to think about – habits are stronger and more powerful than willpower
- Develop routines – a certain sequence of activities that you do the same way each time
- You can also create rituals that signal your brain it’s time to do certain work, such as lighting a candle or turning on an essential oil diffuser and turning on a specific playlist
- Check out past episodes about the value of habits, routines, and rituals – TPW027, TPW114
◊ Find an accountability partner – most of us are more motivated by that social interaction. We don’t want to let someone else down, or we look forward to spending time with another person
Find somebody to talk to who believes in you and/or who is pursuing the same or a similar goal
- If you want to get more fit, find a workout partner, or a friend who’ll walk with you
- If you want to write a book or create art of any kind, find a friend who’s doing the same, and challenge each other
The company you surround yourself with has a direct influence on how you behave, both in your personal life and in the workplace. This quote by Michael Dell from his commencement speech at the University of Texas back in 2003 sums it up perfectly: “Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room. In professional circles it’s called networking. In organizations it’s called team building. And in life it’s called family, friends, and community. We are all gifts to each other, and my own growth as a leader has shown me again and again that the most rewarding experiences come from my relationships.”
◊ Make it easy to act – Break each big goal or project into tiny steps, so tiny that it’s almost too easy to take action and cross them off your list. I’m a fan of finding the easiest way in:
- Write 1 paragraph a day
- Make one phone call a day (or just look up the phone number)
- Walk to the end of the driveway and back
- Gather boxes for your decluttering projects
◊ Take advantage of physics! – Set interim goals
Inertia – Newton’s first law: a body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion (in each case, unless acted upon by an outside force)
Momentum – defined as the impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events
We do better with short-term wins than keeping our eye on a long-term objective
- If your long-term goal is 50 pounds, maybe 10 pounds this quarter, 2 pounds this month
- If you want to write a book this year, maybe the outline this month, or the first five chapters
- If you want to start a new job or a new business, maybe your interim goal is to schedule informational interviews with 3 people who’re successfully doing what you want to do
◊ Celebrate your wins – remind yourself of the progress you’ve made
We’re far too likely to focus on how far we have to go and not give ourselves credit for how far we’ve come. Take time to look back and acknowledge your progress.
Keep a log or a journal of those milestones. Jot them on your calendar or in a note on your phone or in a notebook you can go back and look at.
◊ Plan rewards for when you accomplish interim steps
- When you lose the first 4 or 10 pounds
- When you finish the first chapter
- When you’ve reached out to 5 new prospects for your business
- When you’ve cleaned out that front hall closet
◊ Read or watch inspirational, motivational content – books, YouTube videos, podcasts
- What inspires and motivates you? Seek that out and watch/read/listen daily – or at least when you feel your energy flagging
- When I’m feeling unmotivated on my home projects, I watch certain YouTube channels that get me fired up
- When I’m struggling with mindset issues, I listen to podcasts like Brooke Castillo’s Life Coach School Podcast or Amy Landino’s Detail Therapy or another called Focused.
◊ Make sure you’re using the right tools – maybe get yourself a couple of fun new ones
- New bag to carry your work papers and laptop
- New pens or notebooks or paintbrushes
- A better computer
- New workout gear or running shoes
◊ Plan ahead. If you know enthusiasm will wane (because it always does), plan for it now. Brainstorm some strategies to boost your motivation and have them ready when that time comes. What will you do when you don’t feel like taking the action you need to take toward your goal?
What do you think?
Are you feeling less motivated to work toward your goals than you were when the year started? How do you keep yourself going? Please share them in the comments section below this post or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, or send me an email.
Previous TPW Episodes
- TPW027 – Automating Productivity with Schedules, Routines, and Rituals
- TPW114 – Mindset Matters: Productivity Habits
- How to Stay Motivated and Accomplish Anything
- 19 Highly Effective Ways to Stay Motivated
- How are habits formed in the brain?
- 6 Surefire Ways to Stay Constantly Motivated
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