Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Motivation is tricky. Ironically, I had to dig deep to find the motivation to write this article. Not because I didn't want to write it. I have been wanting to write it for a while now. My excuse is that it is because there are so many other things I want to do.
For example, I would rather play golf than mow the lawn. Or I would rather eat some chips than do situps. I know the lawn needs to be mowed otherwise it will cause endless thoughts of guilt. Those chips will cause a little bit of guilt and shame too (but not enough to stop me from eating them).
So why is it so hard to become and stay motivated? It's this thing inside our head called a brain. The brain wants us to survive and feel good. I'm sure you have heard about dopamine and it's effects. Our brain wants it more than anything. And will almost do anything to get it.
That is why we need to find ways to outsmart it. But wait, how do you get your brain to outsmart itself? Well, you are taking one of the first steps by educating yourself. I have been on a journey to discover everything about the mind and share my findings with the world. This article is the first step towards that and I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think in the end.
Learning about something is always a good first step to take. You are doing that now. Good for you! The more we read, listen, or watch about something, the more information we have to help us know what to do. Learning more about motivation, how it works, and strategies can only make you smarter and better at being motivated. Check out the many reference links at the bottom of this blog to learn more.
When I want to be motivated, I look up motivational quotes or videos. There are many websites out there with plenty of quotes for every situation. There are also many mobile apps out there to help you stay motivated.
The first and hardest part about getting motivated is to take that first step. Whether it is being motivated to clean your garage, get some exercise, or make those phone calls, finding the courage to start may feel impossible. The key is to start with something small. Did you ever notice that once you start cleaning something, it can be hard to stop? You might start by wiping down your bathroom sink and before you know it the entire bathroom is spotless.
When we think about something we need to do but don't like to do we often look at the task as overwhelming. We might think, "It's going to take me all day to clean the shed. I don't have time for that." However, in reality, it will probably only take a couple of hours. Instead of trying to take on the whole task, settle for something smaller. Maybe tell yourself, "I am only going to organize the top shelf in the shed. I can do that. Easy." By breaking things down into smaller tasks, we make them more manageable and realistic.
Once you know what you want to do and that it can be done, the next step is to make a commitment. By committing to a task, we make it easier for our brain to make the decision. We no longer need to think of excuses or ways to get out of it. We have already made our decision and we are determined not to change our minds.
Find someone who can encourage you and keep you accountable. We all can use some help to motivate us. A good coach can change your life. Again, that praise releases the dopamine and tells us that what we are doing or did or will do will make us feel good.
It may seem silly and obvious to find out what motivates you. However, you may be surprised. Just humor me though. Take a few minutes to write down everything that makes you happy or excited. Maybe it is playing sports, or watching a movie. Maybe it is playing with the kids, or building a deck. It can be anything. The important thing is to write it down.
Writing it all down helps to make it conscious or make you more aware of it. This is important because you can see it all in one place and think about it for a minute. Then just choose a few to use as the dangling carrot in front of your nose. For example, you might reward yourself with a warm bath after working out for 30 minutes. Or you can eat one ice cream on Sunday after a week of solid healthy eating. There are many ways to reward yourself.
So remember, learn more, start small, make a commitment, enlist a coach, and reward yourself. All of these strategies work even better when combined. For example, if you have someone cheer you on, while having a reward in mind, and start with something small, you will have a much better chance of success. You got this!