How do you keep yourself motivated?

Motivation (by Gabriele Nastro)

For the last few months, the question in the title was bothering me all the time. How do you keep yourself motivated if you have so many things to do? It’s clearly set in my memory that you get some strong momentum once you’ve strongly decided to achieve something or build a new project. Unfortunately, creating new habits or working on a new project is a hard thing to do. There will be many things that will disturb you, and if you don’t have constant motivation for achieving this goal or committing to the new habit – there is a great chance of not succeeding.

Just want to clarify some things before I move on with things I use to motivate myself. I consider myself as a very organised person. I’m not speaking about my desk – yes, I have creative chaos from time to time there. Here I’m talking about long-term goals and short-term priorities. However, some short-term priorities usually take lots of time, and you don’t have time to focus on your long-term goals. That’s why you need to keep yourself motivated and within a momentum – if you accomplish that, I bet you’ll be more successful in life.

Handling tiredness

If you set a goal that requires mental work, and you decide to work in the evening – consider doing it other time of the day. When? In the mornings. You’ll have more energy to work in the morning than if you came home after 8 hours of meetings and routine work at the office. You will get more creative ideas in the mornings. Go to the bed earlier – at 10 pm, wake up at 5 am – still 7 hours of sleep, that’s enough. The first week or two you’ll probably be sleeping all the time as your body is not used to the new rhythm yet. But after you get used to it, think about spending two hours in complete silence with your mind only dedicated to your goal. It’s totally worth it. You’ll quickly notice productivity boost.

Keep motivated

For me, that’s the hardest part. In the short term, you are driven by a momentum. For achieving long term goals you need persistent motivation. I work 55+ hours a week – I totally understand that this is madness, but that’s my reality. With both full-time job and freelance work, it’s bloody hard to find more time to work on own projects. That’s why I bought a whiteboard (£3 in Pound saver shop) – nothing sophisticated, the simple area where you can list your goals. I’ve put this board next to my bed, and that’s the first thing I notice when I wake up. This works for me – even after 5 hours of sleep, you look at this board, imagining how life might change when you achieve this goal, and you instantly get a smile on your face and energy towards achieving this goal.

Keep log

This could be in any form – online or offline. I prefer keeping a log on my mobile as a number of text files, which are synchronised with my laptop. Find 5-10 minutes a day – either during a commute, or just dedicated 5 minutes in the evening, and write some words to the log, if you stick with an electronic version, you can add photos or videos that motivate you. List all the stuff you did to get closer to the goal you’ve set. If you had any problems, list them as well, describe what went wrong, to prevent this happening in the future. If you haven’t been paying time to the goal – write about it as well, you need to determine the patterns which are activated and to try eliminating them in the future.

To share or not to share your goal

This one is tricky. Some research papers say that you are likely to achieve the goal when you share this goal with your close people. Other papers say the opposite – that it’s better to keep them with you.

I’d say try it yourself. I did both, and both ways worked. When I quit smoking, I told everyone about it, and it helped, as I had the commitment not only to myself but my friends, because I didn’t want to disappoint them.

On the other hand, I didn’t tell everyone about my salsa classes; I made the commitment to attend classes regularly and practice in the clubs. And it works well; I try not to miss the classes, and regularly attend latino clubs.

I don’t have free time

Bet you’ve heard this phrase and said it yourself lots of time. That’s bullshit! Everybody has the same amount of time every day. 24 hours. No more, no less. Don’t make any excuses – if you set a goal, be committed to it. Find 30-60 minutes a day and work towards this goal.

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