The Ultimate Guide to Personal Motivation
This is going to be the last blog post I ever write. That’s it. After this one you won’t be reading any more articles by me online. In fact, the only reason I’m writing this is because I promised Tina I would and I don’t want to let her down.
If I promise someone something I try to follow through, so even though I’ve decided to knock blogging on the head and give up writing for good I wanted to finish with this one post for Think Simply Now first.
Hence the ultimate guide to personal motivation. I like the sound of ultimate because it means final and implies it’s the only guide you’ll ever need. This should be the motivational guide to end all guides because that’s what lazy people need. Reading’s brilliant for entertainment or education yet it’s also a great escape and procrastination device but if you’re reading about personal motivation there’s something you want to achieve. You’re ready to stop procrastinating, spinning your wheels and being lazy because there’s something you want to get done.
What do you want to do or what should you be doing? Is it a long term task like writing your memoirs or something quick but unpleasant like booking a dental appointment or going to it? Why can’t you get motivated? Are you reluctant to vacuum and mop the floor because you know within six hours of completing the job a mob of hungry children will have sprinkled it evenly with bread and cookie crumbs then smeared mud and honey on top? Or is there something deeper holding you back like fear, lack of confidence or perfectionism?
It’s worth working out the answers to these questions for your own interest but in the end personal motivation still comes down to the old problem of getting started on something. I’m a lazy at heart yet I manage to achieve more than many other people do despite that. For example, I wrote over 130 articles for my blog over the last 15 months. I hope some of my tips will help kick start you into action.
Some people seem to have internal motivation which gets them moving and keeps them going when other people falter and fail to cross the start line. But you’re probably not like that or you wouldn’t need the ultimate guide to personal motivation would you?
Maybe you’re more like me. I respond well to deadlines, and although I sometimes start things well before they need to be completed, I never finish them until the last minute. I need a reason to do something. For example, if I need to lose weight it won’t happen unless I know that in four months I’ll be at a family reunion with aunties, uncles and cousins who haven’t seen me for five years.
You might tend to laziness and need a deadline, a carrot or a whip to get you in action but don’t despair, that doesn’t mean you’ll do any worse than someone with an internal drive to rival Bill Gates and his products. You can achieve just as much using external motivators to keep you on track.
If you’re a procrastinator and like to leave things until the last minute, you’ll just have to use a few tricks to get you going. Here are some that work for me:
1. Tell the world
Tell the world what you’re going to do. Announce it on Twitter, tell a friend, tell your boss, promise your cat. That should make you follow through.
2. Set a timer
How long does it take to clean the fridge, weed the front lawn or write a blog post if you put your mind to it? 20 minutes? An hour? Pick a reasonable time, set your alarm clock and go at it hammer and tongue until the bell rings.
3. Reward yourself
Of course everyone deserves to be rewarded for their hard work and no one should be a one-dimensional working machine. Promise yourself a small treat when the job’s done: a cup of tea, a quick call with a friend, a lie on the sofa with your eyes closed, or a walk.
4. Break big jobs down into small manageable chunks
All the above work best for short tasks. No lazy person could stay motivated to write an entire book but if you can work out a way to write 1000 words a day four days a week for a year then the book will have written itself.
5. Hang around with other motivated people.
Some people sap your energy, deplete your confidence, wear you down and depress you. Take note when it happens and avoid them or avoid talking about your pet project with them so they can’t deflate you.
6. Create an imaginary and urgent deadline.
Reporters and journalists thrive on deadlines. My friend Molly worked for Voice of America and she had to get out a report every hour on the hour. If she didn’t she’d be out of a job. Yes, it was stressful, especially at first but her writing got faster and better and she started to enjoy the challenge in the end.
Some of us aren’t lucky enough to be ruled by the iron fist of a stressed out newspaper editor, probably because we chose to work from home to get away from that type of office-based, fear-ruled work. But now we’re experiencing the joys of being our own boss and working for ourselves a deadline can still help. If there aren’t any, just make them up.
Pretend this is your last chance to make your business succeed and if it doesn’t happen at the end of a year you’ll have to go back to the office job you hated. Pretend that this one job is the last thing you’ll ever do, the thing that will leave a lasting impression, your final word. That’s what I did.
Imagining this was the last article I ever wrote created a sense of urgency and helped me get it down faster and without succumbing to the ever-increasing distractions around me.
No, it’s definitely not my last one. I’m on a roll now. Only 9.10 am and I’ve already got something down on paper. I’m going to have a ten-minute stretch now and then I’ll get back to it.
This time I’ll up the ante by promising myself I’m never eating again until the next job is done. I know it’s sad really but if you’re lazy like me you have to take desperate measures.
* How do you get yourself motivated when putting-it-off is an easier option? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below. See you there!