Getting yourself too pumped for an upcoming big project can backfire.
The fact is, if you’re set and ready to go for a long time before you start, you burn off the motivation before the project begins.
Sometimes it’s feels like being in the middle of the great swamp and you can barely focus on the reason you took the project on in the first place.
What you didn’t realize is that motivation is something that must be renewed and refreshed.
In that spirit, here are some points to consider:
Fake it till you make it. That’s a common trope among therapists. Act like you are, and you will be. Start the project and wait for your motivation to find you. Consistency requires working when you don’t have the motivation and when things are not inspiring. The more consistent you are, though, the easier things become. Motivation will find you as you get in motion.
Take smaller bites. If the project looms large and you can’t figure out how to handle the monster of a chore before you, then take it in smaller pieces. The adage is that every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Concentrate on what’s in front of you; don’t worry about the big picture.
Tell your friends. Get accountability, not only for your actions but your motivation. Have them pop in once in a while through social media, ask them to call, to text, to get status updates on your progress and where you are in the project. Why? We commit harder to things when we’re held responsible to someone. Disappointing friends and family is a lot harder to do than disappointing ourselves.
Cull the doomsayers. We all have them. These are the people that tell you why you can’t do it, and why something is impossible. These are the people that encourage you to quit, or worse, give you all the reasons not to try in the first place. The problem is, you don’t have the energy to deal with them and do anything else. They’re like vampires, draining the last of your enthusiasm. Don’t waste your time, or your life, with people that will drag you down.
Actively seek out motivation. Having friends and family cheer you on is lovely, but it doesn’t have to be personal to help. Seek out stories of how others achieved success. Learn how others in your position thrived. There is an infinite amount of self-help books, articles, blogs, and memoirs that can give you inspiration and motivation. Pursue them. Find them and learn what others have done.
Music hath charms. Playing upbeat and happy music is effective. Music can get into the subconscious and change your mood. Listing into instrumentals that are uplifting or bring you joy will turn that frustration around and start the motivational juices flowing. But as a caution: songs with lyrics can be a distraction. No matter how much you tune them out, part of your mind will be straining to hear the words. Find happy music or bold music that makes you feel like you can do anything – and you can.
Get off your back. It’s easy to berate yourself when you make mistakes – because you will make mistakes. For that matter, you’re probably going to fail at some point. That’s normal. No one is perfect all the time. Sometimes, to fix the flaw, you have to start over or rework some or all of the project. Don’t beat yourself up for this. It’s tough enough to have to go back and do all that rework without someone on your back telling you how badly you failed. Besides, nothing makes a project more insurmountable than constant negativity over a single mistake. You don’t need that kind of treatment from anyone. Not even you.
Face the competition. Who’s that? You. Look at how far you’ve gotten. Has the work gotten easier? Are you typing faster than ever? Are you more comfortable with the process? Are you better able to do the research/learning/creating/whatever it is that the project requires? You’re learning as you go, you’re getting better as you go. Stop and realize how far you’ve gone, how much better you are now than you were. Realize too that you’re still improving and what you learn on this project will carry over to the next and the next. Pride is a good thing; itlets you know that you are the best person for this job. You are.
What’s your option? Suppose you do quit? What happens then? Where will you be in a year? Five years? Will you be able to move on, to continue to grow? Moving to a future means moving away from a different future. You can often find motivation in the future you’re trying to avoid.
Flip the filter. When we’re unmotivated, or the task is overwhelming, it’s easy to focus on what we don’t have. Everything becomes negative. Try to concentrate on the positive. Remember what you do have. Pick three things that you might not even be aware you have. For example, is there food in the fridge? Is there a roof over your head? Do you have access to clean water? That’s not a universal thing, not everyone does. Try to keep in mind that there are many things in your life for which you should be grateful.
Take a break. It might sound counter-productive, but working nonstop will accomplish less than taking frequent breaks. Take ten or fifteen minutes. Get up, walk around, get the blood moving and when you return to the project, you’ll have a fresh perspective. Sitting and confining yourself to the chair until you finish the project is a sure way to lose your momentum and to lose your enthusiasm fast.
Award yourself a star. Give yourself little rewards as you go. Celebrate your successes. Finish an hour and get something to drink or play a game or have a little fun. Rewards are the difference between projects and drudgery. Let yourself know that you have accomplished something. This recognition is important because we are accustomed to getting rewards for a job well done. Rewarding yourself is a way to motivate yourself to continue to even greater things.
Go outside. Going out to some nature will clear your head better than almost anything. If you’re city-bound, find a park, if you’re in suburbia, look for trees and running water. Getting back into nature will help to slow the spinning cycle of doubt and stress and help center your thoughts. Let yourself enjoy the outdoors, let the green and the birdsong sooth your soul so that you can re-approach your project with a calm self.
No more ruts. Motivation is powerless in a rut. Mix things up. Try listening to a different kind of music for a change. If you’re in the project with someone, make a competition out of it. If you can, work on a different piece of the plan for a while. If you have more than one project, an hour on one and an hour on another may help keep the work fresh. Find a way to have a little fun with it.
Keep clean. It’s hard to find motivation if you can’t even see your desk. You lose motivation in the clutter. Minimalism is very helpful for focus, keep the office clean and bright and leave room for your project. Being organized and having an empty desk will keep the energy flowing and keep the motivation fresh.
Find the sunny side of the street. Pessimism will drain motivation and enthusiasm. Optimism can create energy and enthusiasm. It’s not always easy finding the bright side, sometimes things fall apart, and there doesn’t seem to be a bright side at all. When this happens, ask yourself this: Is there an opportunity inherent in the problem? If the plan fails, is there a bright spot? Even if the effect is that you have to rework 80% of the project, the good news is that 20% is still valid. It might sound a little contrived, but keeping an eye on the right side will go a long way to keeping your motivation humming along.
Keep the shiny things away. We get easily distracted. With the prevalence of smartphones, it’s easier and more fun to check social media or play games on the phone than it is to work. Keep the phone out of easy reach. Turn off the TV. Use internet time as a reward for time worked or goals met. Don’t let the shiny things pull your attention away and keep the distractions to a minimum as much as you are able.
These are simply a few suggestions; there are other ways to keep the motivation flowing, find the ones that work best for you.
You know yourself better than anyone, you already know what’s proven effective, branch out, try other things to keep the energy fresh and your motivation flowing.
Also, it pays to do a little research. There are a lot of good motivational websites and blogs. Read what others have done, try everything and make a record of what did and did not work for you. Just remember to be your own biggest fan. If something works for you – seize it. Do what you need, to stay motivated!
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