by Paul Matthews

Tips to motivate yourself

If you have read the other pages, you will know that the level of desire to do something is based on what you think will happen if you do it.

So in order to change the level of desire, or motivation, you need to change the way you perceive the anticipated consequences.

People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.

Andrew Carnegie

You can do this by changing your emotional and mental state so the world looks like a better and friendlier place, or you can examine the consequences of the activity more closely by looking at them from different perspectives and, in this way, change them.

The following tips offer practical ways of doing this.

Tips to do in the moment

  1. Change the way you hold the task in your mind by changing the Submodalities.
  2. Imagine you are out in the future beyond the successful completion of the task; notice how you feel and what you did to get it done.
  3. Change your state by changing your posture. Stand up and stretch; hold your shoulders back, and adopt what you imagine is a posture of power. Force a great big smile on your face; think back to a time in the past when you were motivated, and really remember what that felt like.
  4. Change your state with exercise. This could be a trip to the gym or a simple quick walk around the block. As you walk, keep looking up at the sky and the trees rather than down at the ground.
  5. Seek help from someone else. Often a task shared is much easier to do:
  • Delegate
  • Hire someone to do it for you
  • Hire a coach or get a friend to cheer you on
  • Share the task.
  1. Listen to something motivational, such as high energy music, or, if you have them, listen to recordings of motivational speakers.
  2. Break tasks into smaller pieces and then get a piece done. Make sure the small piece is sufficiently small for you to be able to work at it for long enough to finish it, even if you hate doing it.
  3. Focus on the outcome and how you will feel after the task is finished rather than on the doing of the task.
  4. Add variety and breaks to your day. We tend to lose focus after about 45 minutes, especially if the task is not something we love. Use breaks as a reward for finishing something, not as an excuse to stop something.
  5. Progress and success are motivating, so do the things first that you dislike most. That way, your day improves and you can look forward to more pleasant tasks.
  6. Examine consequences with the following four questions:
  • What would happen if I did the activity?
  • What would not happen if I did the activity?
  • What would happen if I did not do the activity?
  • What would not happen if I did not do the activity?
  1. Recall past success that is related to this task.
  2. Take responsibility for what is happening; don’t blame something outside yourself. Work on the basis that you alone got you to where you are by making decisions and choices. If you created your current situation, you can change it.
  3. Imagine what someone you admire would do were they in your current situation.
  4. Remember a time when things went really well. If you have created a motivational anchor, use it. See Anchoring motivation.
  5. Brainstorm what to do next with some friends or colleagues. It’s a bit like getting some informal coaching.
  6. Become aware of your internal dialogue. What are you saying to yourself about the activity, and in what tone of voice? Change the dialogue to something more useful. You could even ‘hear’ a mentor encouraging you and cheering you on.
  7. Decide not to do the activity at all, so you can move on to other things and stop beating yourself up about not making any progress.
  8. Notice what role fear is playing in your lack of motivation. Understand that most things you fear never come to pass. Fear has been called False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR).

The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar or whatever. Do it without motivation. And then, guess what? After you start doing the thing, that’s when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it.

John C Maxwell

Things to do that will take a little longer

  1. Take care of your environment: the things in your environment that affect motivation are
  • People – spend time with motivated people
  • Light – ensure you get enough light in your work area
  • Sleep – get enough good sleep
  • Comfort – be comfortable in your clothes and workspace
  • Food – what food gives you energy?
  1. Clear out clutter; take some time out for a tidy up. This is more than just counting paperclips and sharpening pencils – it clears the decks for the next task.
  • If you had to move into half the space, what would you keep?
  • If you had to free up ten hours a week, what would you stop doing?
  1. Find out what is happening when you are not motivated. Keep a diary to watch for patterns, and then deal with them.
  • Is it a particular time of day?
  • Is it a certain type of activity?
  • Is it being around a specific person?
  • What are you just tolerating or putting up with?
  • What nags at you or preys on your mind?
  1. Address the deeper issues around motivation, such as your purpose and your big goals (see Goal Setting).
  2. Change your daily routines where you can, to add variety.
  3. At the end of each day, write down the things that worked in a journal. Reflecting on what worked and what you liked about your day will programme your unconscious mind to seek more of the same.
  4. Read stories about successful people. Watch any inspiring movies that tell the story of someone following their dream and succeeding.
  5. Educate yourself in what you need to know in order to know that you can succeed at the activity. You will find that you need to learn less than you think in order to get started.
  6. Measure progress in a way that shows how far you have come. Maybe a graph or bar chart, if you have measurable milestones.
  7. Find someone who has succeeded at the same thing and find out how they did it.
  8. Place reminders of your overall outcome where you will see them during your day. Even on or in the fridge!
  9. Collect quotations that inspire you to action, and then place them where you will see them.
  10. Be grateful for what you already have. This one is really important!
  11. Realise that you are living a life now that you would probably not have predicted five years ago. Where could you end up in another five years?

Be miserable. Or motivate yourself.

Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.

Wayne Dyer