Whether it’s going to bed earlier, working on a project that you don’t enjoy in the short run but that will have benefits in the long run, or starting a new exercise program, motivation can be hard to find. We’re such creatures of habit that sometimes we even struggle to motivate ourselves to do things we enjoy. Many people who are good at self-motivation don’t necessarily have more willpower than everyone else. They’ve just figured out the hacks that can help them take the necessary steps to meet their goals. The points below may help you stay on track.
Focus on the Reason
It’s easy to lose sight of your ultimate goal and feel like you are just in a long rut for no particular reason. Pulling back from the everyday to remind yourself that you’re working two jobs so you can take a year off to travel, or that your long hours of combining work with school means you will graduate with a degree in two years can remind you to keep going even when it’s tough.
Fresh Incentive for Your Goal
Even once you’ve refocused on the “why” of what you are trying to do, when you’re working toward a long-term goal or trying to maintain a habit with no particular goal in sight, your enthusiasm can flag. One way to find it again is to change up the parameters a little bit. This could mean introducing some new short-term goals or actually making some alterations to the playing field. For example, if you are trying to run regularly but find it hard to push yourself out the door some days, signing up for a race might give you something to aim for.
If you are working to pay down student loan debt and feel like you’ll never reach the finish line, consider other ways to reduce what you owe. In just two minutes, you can find out whether refinancing would give you a lower rate and take years off your student loans. Knowing you’ll pay less over a shorter time can renew your motivation.
Work in Bursts
If you are struggling to get started on a task, whether that is a pile of paperwork, a run or cleaning your house, tell yourself you will go for five minutes. This is usually enough to get you the past the initial resistance of getting started in the first place. Many people find success using what is known as the Pomodoro technique or their own modification of it, which involves working in bursts of 20 or 30 minutes with short breaks.
Consider the Underlying Issues
Sometimes, you’re stalled on a project because you actually no longer want to move in that direction any longer. It’s okay to set a goal aside if it stops suiting you. You’re not a quitter if you decide that you don’t want to put your time and energy into starting your own business or pursuing a graduate degree. It’s important to be able to pivot as your values and priorities change, and if you’ve decided that spending more time with your family or pursuing a different goal is the right decision, you are not obligated to continue on the same path you’ve been on. Find your new path, and use the above tips to motivate yourself on that.