Ways to Get Yourself Motivated for a Happier LifeMotivation we will define as the general desire or willingness of someone to do something or the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. Procrastination, which is kind of the opposite of being motivated, is classified as a form of self-sabotage in psychology. As human beings we tend to push away uncomfortable situations, or we procrastinate because of the fear of doing something new or the fear of failing. Harvard University Psychology Professor Ron Siegel suggests that bringing optimism and fun back into the picture can help with motivation. According to the research, motivation leads to happiness in life and understanding and developing your own motivation skill set can help you take control of many other aspects of your life. The benefits of being self-motivated include (summary list from multiple sources): higher self-esteem, higher confidence, more trust, strength for challenges, helps you overcome indecisiveness, helps you be more open and positive, helps you be more organized, helps promote good time management skills, and can help you get faster promotions at work. That all sounds good on paper. If you have been following my blog then you realize that my intention is to help you get to a point where you LOVE YOUR LIFE. Most people are just not wildly in LOVE with LIFE. If you want to be self-motivated then you will have to be intentional about your life, your time, and what actions you are taking. Of course, you would not be motivated if you feel like you are on a treadmill or just meandering through life. Of course, you would not be motivated if you are feeling like you have no control over your life. Of course, you would not be motivated if you feel depressed or overwhelmed. (Sidebar: If you are experiencing depression, please see a licensed psychotherapist for help. Depression can be very serious.) Just like taking a trip, you have to know where you are going. You have to know what your goal or goals are. As I discussed in the Creating a Road Map to a Life You Love post, you are going to have to do some work to get there. A Life that YOU LOVE is simply not going to magically appear one day. We call that magical thinking, and I don’t recommend it. Ever. Motivation is one of the cornerstones to success according to the research. But how do you get motivated? Well, it starts by getting clear on what you are out to accomplish. What lights you up? What is fun? What do you love. Once you have laid out a path, it’s much easier to muster up the motivation. Motivation, and especially the self-motivation aspect, is a skill or muscle like so many other attributes and skills that can be honed and practiced over time. While I happen to be fairly strong in this area, this past weekend I bumped up against a lack of motivation, which is very unusual for me. As a result, I began considering and looking at why was I not doing what I had planned? What was holding me back? I had set up a reward for completing the project, yet even that was not providing the motivation called for. As the all too familiar story goes, I had set aside or planned for X numbers of hours over a weekend to make a dent in a complex and large paper filing project. And the weekend flew by, as weekends often do, without one piece of paper being filed! It was really rather shocking for me. That’s not how things go for me once I set a goal. So, I thoughtfully considered the situation to determine why I was not being my word and getting the papers dealt with. Once I had done that there were a few significant reasons that were stopping me, and some changes would have to be made. This is the power of personal growth and development – to be able to distinguish or ascertain in any given moment what is going on internally and then make changes to keep moving forward. It’s extremely powerful to be able to engage in that kind of process for any area of your life. While I have not included having a positive attitude in my list of 10 ways to get yourself motivated, that kind of goes without saying. The negative vs. positive attitude is the subject for an entirely separate post. Suffice to say for now, most things go better with a positive attitude. Nor have I included playing music that you love, or several other things in this list. This is just my own view of the top things that I have found increase self-motivation from my own life and from coaching individuals over the years.
10 Ways to Get Yourself Motivated to a Happier Life:
- Emotions– Your emotions are exceptionally powerful and if you want to be motivated then harnessing your emotions is by far one of the best tools that exists. To make use of your emotions in a positive way, I suggest that you distinguish for yourself the emotions you will feel when you accomplish the task at hand – regardless of what you are doing. In the paper filing conundrum example from the weekend, once I looked at the emotions I would FEEL once I was finished – relieved, excited, happy, proud, accomplished, satisfied, organized, complete, energized – well that was a big part of what I needed. Yet, there was more. Part of what was stopping me was that so many decisions would have to be made about (a) whether or not to keep certain papers, (b) the filing of the papers would inevitably lead to some new projects, (c) given the complexity of some of the documents it was overwhelming about how to file and store some of the papers.So, as I contemplated why I was not doing the paper filing, it also became clear that I needed focused time – not time in between my social outings as I had originally set up. The papers carried with them some importance and keeping them or not keeping them was no small matter. This type of job requires brain power and focus, and the recognition of that meant scheduling a focused time for the job. That was both freeing and motivating. Using your emotions to bring motivation to the table is extremely powerful and effective, and I would suggest starting with this if you are looking for a boost in motivation even if it means dealing with a fear of some sort.
- Clarity of Vision or Purpose– Sometimes getting clear on your vision or purpose can provide motivation. Why are you doing this or that? What purpose does it serve? Does doing this thing support your goals in life? Is it critical? Will the end result make you happy? Is it on your “Master List” or weekly or another list?
- List the Benefits– In some instances when you are really resisting doing this thing or that thing, it can be powerful to list the benefits for doing X, Y, or Z. In my paper filing conundrum, I also listed the benefits to getting it complete, which was helpful and powerful in getting me back on track.
- Rewards or Level Up– By now you all know that I love rewards or leveling up and I use this technique all the time! The trick with using a reward system is getting the right reward that will actually motivate you. Continuing with my paper filing conundrum, I had established a reward but it was insufficient for the daunting task of handing so much paper. I was not in the right frame of mind, and as such my reward did not provide the motivation called for with this project. If you have never used rewards in life, then you will likely have to do a little tinkering until you have a system that works for you.
- Transform or Reframe your thoughts– To transform is to make a thorough or dramatic change in form, appearance, or character. To reframe is to express words, a concept or plan differently. When you transform or reframe how you think (and feel – don’t forget #1 above), things should immediately shift. You might need to get some support, coaching, or advice on this especially if you are stuck.
- Use a Timer– Sometimes just getting started is half the battle. I often use a timer and frequently find that once I am started on a project or task that I have been avoiding, things really get going. When that is not the case, I still use a timer to keep my commitment to whatever I have agreed to (note: agreed to with myself). In an earlier blog post I suggested that if you just worked on improving your life, making your life happier for 15 minutes a day that would equate to just over 2 40-hour work weeks over the course of 1 year. I actually use a timer a lot for many things because it works for me.
- Break it down into manageable parts– Often when you are faced with a big task or job it’s overwhelming. Break down the task or job into manageable parts. While in the end it is the same amount of work – it will be perceived as more doable. If you can’t figure out how to break it down into more manageable parts, then ask someone to help you do that. This can really be a helpful way to get motivated.
- Get a Partner or Accountability Coach – While we are not in life alone, many of us, myself included, do life like we are on our own. Getting a partner for a project or task can help you get motivated. Who likes (or loves) to do the task at hand? Can you barter or trade? People would probably be glad to help you if you let them know that you could use a hand! I know! One of the perpetual criticisms I have faced over the years is that I am not the easiest person to contribute to! Yes. Guilty. And I know how much I love to help other people, so consider getting a partner. An accountability coach is someone who will hold your feet to the fire.
- Visual Aids or Signs – This is a favorite of mine because it works for me. Truthfully, before I have company coming over, I have been known to take down some of my signs, reminders or other visual aids that support what I am up to in life! I know. You have to be in my inner, inner circle to see that stuff! In the past I even did laminated signs that were designed to empower and motivate me (no lamination now because it’s so bad for the environment). Signs or visual aids can be exceptionally powerful to remind you what you are up to, what needs to get done, etc. Whether you make them or buy them, signs or visual aids can be a powerful reminder of what you are committed to, what you are up to, what matters as you move to a life that you LOVE.
- Make a Game Out of It– This is one of the techniques that I really enjoy and have been doing since my cold calling days of Xerox back in the day as I discussed in a prior blog post! If there’s a will then there’s a way. If you wanted to make a fun game out of a task or job, you can figure it out. You could make a game out of losing weight, getting organized or…filing papers! The more fun and play that you can bring to anything in life, the better it is to me.