Motivation Is A Muscle: The 7 Best Ways To Substantially Increase Your Productivity
Motivation – it’s something we all want to have, but something that easily evades us. It comes so easily at first, right? You spend all Sunday night gearing yourself up for that 6 AM workout. You put your water bottle in your gym bag. Your shoes are by the front door. You even write out your workout plan before bed but alas, when morning time rolls around you’re hitting the snooze button. We have all struggled to stay motivated when working towards a goal. It’s human nature to want to do what’s easiest, and goal achieving is hard. So how can you practice increasing your motivation? By doing just that – practicing. Motivation is like a muscle. You need to practice strengthening it through a regular routine. The following 7 steps for increasing and maintaining your productivity are guaranteed to give you that kick in the rear you’ve been needing. They break down and simplify the sometimes ambiguous task of motivating yourself, and will get you on the path to success.
1. Set small, measurable goals. Woah woah woah, hold on to those horses! You want to run a marathon, you say? Let’s start with a 5K first. Yes, it’s great to have big dreams and big goals, but first start small. Smaller goals that can be achieved over a short time period lend themselves well to motivation. The end is always in sight, which means the payoff comes quickly. For example, training for a 5K can take as little as 3 weeks compared to most marathon training programs that take 18 or more. If you have trouble staying motivated and following through, practice 3 weeks of motivation first before putting the pressure of 5 months of training on yourself. Once you’ve run your 5K, move on to the 10K, half, and then finally the full marathon. In addition to setting small milestones, make sure that they are measurable and specific. Your goal should be Run 4 days/week for the next 3 weeks to train for the Turkey Trot 5K, not Run more.
2. Develop a mantra. Did you think mantras were strictly for yogis? Think again. A mantra is a verbal statement that reinforces a positive mindset. They can be extremely helpful when it comes to keeping your motivation up and your spirits high. Come up with a statement that really resonates with you. It can be something simple like “I am strong, and I can get through this,” or you can get more creative. Start off every morning by repeating your mantra aloud yourself. The more repetitions, the more you’ll begin to believe it!
3. Commit publicly. As an individual, it is easy to slack off and lose motivation. We are quick to let ourselves off the hook, procrastinate, and find justifications for giving up on our goals. Here’s where Facebook comes in handy! Well, any kind of public platform really. Get up on that soapbox! Commit to your goals by sharing them with your friends and family. Not only will this create a support system, it will help you to feel more accountable for achieving your goal.
4. Create your own routine and rituals. It’s important to develop daily rituals that will keep you inspired and moving forward toward your goal. These rituals can differ greatly from person to person, so do some experimenting to find what works for you. You might find that a quick jog in the morning clears your mind and improves your outlook on the day. You may like to read a chapter from a self improvement book before bed. It could even be as simple as walking up 15 minutes early so that you can eat a leisurely breakfast out on the porch before work. Whatever daily ritual you choose, make sure that it encourages peacefulness and happiness. If you are happy and relaxed, motivation will come more easily.
5. Become a good mental debater. The journey to obtaining a goal has its peaks and valleys. Some days you feel you can take on the world, other days you want to crawl under the covers. In order to keep your motivation up, it’s important to learn optimism. That’s right, it’s been found that optimism is a learned mental state. The first step to learning optimism, is to acknowledge the moments when you’re being pessimistic. Once they have been acknowledged, you have the power to debate pessimism away. Practice using a positive frame of mind to talk away all of your doubts and negative thoughts. Ridding yourself of this negativity creates more room for motivation and inspiration. Psychology researcher Sophia Chou found that optimists are more successful in their careers and in the personal lives. In fact, a study by University of Rochester proves that optimists also tend to be healthier, live longer, and are more persistent. It is time to start looking at that glass as half full!
6. See your goals. Literally. It is extremely easy to get caught up in the noise of everyday life, and have little remaining time to work towards your goals. This happens especially often when you don’t have a clear cut image of what you want to achieve throughout the day. Steve Chandler discusses a great way to outline your goals in his book 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself. Draw four circles on a piece of paper. The circles represents your day, your week, your year, and your life respectively. Write one goal in each circle for each time period. These goals can change and evolve day to day, but are a great visualization of the specific things you are working towards. If you aren’t crazy about the circles idea, try creating a visualization board and hanging it in your bedroom. Cut out and compile pictures from a magazine of the different goals you have, and look at your board daily. Having a physical representation of your progress and accomplishments is a good daily motivator.
7. Face your fears. If pessimism is an obstacle to motivation, fear is the entire obstacle course. Fears come in all shapes and sizes – fear of heights, fear of failure, fear of public speaking. Jerry Seinfeld once said that people would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy. It’s amazing! People are generally less afraid of death than tackling their nerves in front of an audience. No matter what the fear, fear is one of the biggest reasons why people give up on their goals and dreams. What many fail to realize, however, is that on the other side of fear is confidence. While scary, facing your fears gives you a great sense of accomplishment and allows you to broaden your horizons. If you can tackle one small fear, what’s to stop you from tackling a larger one? You can only cure your fears by conquering them, so meet them head on!