There are humans that wake up early in the morning with a smile on their face. Before the sun even rises, they are up and being successful. They've worked out, eaten a healthy breakfast, showered, dressed and prepared their workload before 8 am. Throughout their morning they are focused, motivated, inspiring. By the time it's noon they've accomplished their work goals, written a blog, posted inspiring quotes on instagram, enjoyed some hobbying, and vlogged about it all. Before their work day is over they've done something on their bucket list, realized a childhood dream, finished a book (both reading one and writing one) and somehow worked out again. At home they enjoy their family, maybe a little more hobbying, post on facebook their gourmet dinner recipe and make it into bed at an appropriate hour just to wake up and do it all again.
If I just described you in so many words, all the congrats and prizes to you... Seriously. I want to be you. But, if what I just described created discontent, jealousy, unease or guilt in you, then this blog is for you.
Why is self motivation so difficult?
There are self help books that teach you how to be self motiving and at the bottom line, here's the message: just do it. Just stop being lazy. Just stop failing. Just stop stopping and get it done.
The difficult part is that... that's not how it works for everyone.
Self motivation is difficult for some because it's easier to be others motivated. In a job with hours and bosses, motivation looks simple: work or get fired. Pretty motivating, yes? As you cannot fire yourself, it's easy to give yourself excuses and lenience, when really you need more structure.
Self motivation is difficult for some because it doesn't come naturally. As human beings, our nature rules a lot of our lives. If you're a naturally happy person, it will easy to be happy. If you are a naturally introverted person, quarantine-life is easy. If you're naturally confident, job interviewing is easy. Therefore, motivation comes naturally—easily—to some, but not to others. It goes against their nature.
Self motivation is difficult for some because time management is overwhelming. Every person gets 24 hours each day; what you do with each one shapes your life. Friendships, family, work, hobbies, interests, goals, social media, dreams, church, volunteer time—getting it all done can be paralyzing to certain personality types.
How to be self motivating when it's not in your nature
Here are the FIVE best tips that I can give from someone who wasn't raised to be motivated and isn't naturally self motiving. If I can do it, you can do it.
1) Understand what motivates you
I would love if I was motivated by just my dreams in and of themselves. I wish that I was motivated by early mornings and the feeling of a job well done. But... I'm just not. For years I tried to motivate myself with what I wished I was motivated by.
I don't do that anymore. It took me a while to figure out what motivated me and here it is... Are you ready?
I'm motivated by money, competition and praise.
Whhaaatttt??? But those are so temporal and base! Money isn't everything. Shouldn't you care more about encouraging other people than competing with them? Didn't Norman Vincent Peale say, "The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism"?
Yes, I admit it: I'm not proud of what motivates me. But feeling guilty about it isn't going to change anything. The day I embraced these motivations was the day I really started being motivated.
Here's how I use money motivation in a healthy way: My sister and I are similar in our motivation so we often do "monetary accountability." Recently I wanted to be more motivated in my house cleaning life. I have an app that helps me stay on top of my cleaning (if I'm using it) and we made a deal that every day that I didn't accomplish all of my house cleaning, I owed her $10. Another time we wanted to keep each other accountable for keeping to a diet. If we were to cheat, we owed the other person $50.
I don't want to lose even $1 to my sister, so I've been on top of my house cleaning and I never cheated on my cleanse. See how it works?
Here's how I use competition motivation in a healthy way: I am a naturally competitive person, so I compete with anyone who is willing. If ever I have a friend who's willing, we'll compete in completing a goal and whoever is first owes the other person a coffee or gift card.
More so then even being competitive with others, however, I'm competitive with myself. When I wanted to get into working out, I purchased an Apple Watch. As silly as it is, closing my circles every day so I could beat my last streak was insanely motivating.
Here's how I use praise motivation in a healthy way: I have certain people in my life that I go to that are just cheerleaders. My success and motivation requires it. As much as I hate it, I need some people to just love what I'm doing. With that said, I have other people that I go to for constructive criticism, critique and bluntly honest, painful examinations and evaluations of my work. Both are essential.
So, with all that said, with all guilt and preconceived notions, what motivates YOU? When you look back on your greatest accomplishments, what pushed you through the journey?
2) Make small, attainable goals
If you have huge goals for you life, business, hobby, etc., that's wonderful. Dream big, friend! Reach the stars if that's how far your ambition goes. However, starting with dreams like writing a New York Times best seller, owning a business that is highlighted in Forbes, being an Instagram influencer with 100k followers... These are awesome dreams, but they are crushing.
Dream big, goal small.
Make attainable goals for yourself throughout your day. If your dream is organize your entire garage in one Saturday, you're going to be overwhelmed and disappointed. Instead, make a goal to just go through the back shelves one day, go through the boxes another day, go through the tools another day, etc. Then, if you get through the shelves and boxes in one day, you're proud of your work.
According to the American Psychological Association, people who set goals that are both specific and challenging, are 90% more likely to achieve what they’ve set their mind to.*
3) Be da boss
What about when you don't accomplish your goals no matter how small they are? What if every time you make even the simplest check list for yourself, you find that you can't do it? You find yourself in this vicious cycle:
tentatively set a goal --> don't accomplish goal --> disappointed in yourself --> feel guilty --> accused by your own mind that you can't do anything --> increasingly discouraged and unsuccessful --> find a small amount of motivation so you... --> tentatively set a goal --> only not to accomplish it --> then you are increasingly disappointed and guilty --> so you hear louder accusations that you are lazy and can't accomplish anything --> you've never been more discouraged or unsuccessful only to find a small amount of motivation...
Gross, isn't it?
If you make a goal for yourself, don't go to sleep until it's accomplished. Show yourself that you can do it. Make yourself proud. If you make a goal for yourself, don't go out with your friends until it's accomplished. If you make a goal for yourself, absolutely no Netflix until it's done. No social media. No games.
Hold yourself accountable. Be the boss. If you fail, give yourself a consequence: you owe someone else money (always motivating for me), you lose your coffee privileges for a month, you can't play video games for two weeks, you can't get your mani/pedi for the month. Whatever you value, take it away. Stop disappointing yourself, and start holding yourself accountable. This kind of natural consequence is motivating.
4) Reward small successes
If your goal was to get your website together within two months (with small goals each week) and you do it, celebrate! Go out with friends, your mom, your work buddies— anyone!— and honor this victory.
This is really successful when done with a partner. Find a friend, co-worker or acquaintance that you know is also struggling with motivation. Allow them to be a part of the consequence side of your motivation, as well as the rewarding portion. Go out for drinks after you've reached a goal and then take them out when they've reacher theirs.
Make weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals with both consequences and rewards. For those big goals, give yourself big wins. Treat yourself 2020.
5) Create time slots
Lastly, one thing that has been very helpful for me is time slotting. On days when I'm home all day, I separate my day into two to three hour increments. The first two to three hours I'm awake are for day prep. The second two are for house upkeep. The next two are for playing and connecting with my kids individually. The next two to three are my work hours. The next two are for evening prep. The last two to three hours are for relaxing and connecting with my husband. The days I'm out and about look differently and I schedule them accordingly.
This keeps me motivated because I know that if I want to protect my work hours, I have to get my house cleaning done. My kids come first and foremost, so everything else will go to the wayside if I'm not giving them the attention they need. I make time for that so I can clean my house and work on my business without feeling guilty about my kids.
Take time to write down everything that you need to accomplish any given day. Then schedule it out and stick to it.
And if you don't... no Netflix. No *insert that which you value*.
How to sustain self motivation
Not only is self motivation difficult, but sustaining it is even more so. Just remember that your life is lived one moment at a time, one minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time. Give yourself grace that self motivation is not in your nature and then experiment with some of these tips. Find which ones are really helpful and which ones don't do anything for you. Maybe how you're motivated wasn't even discussed in this blog. Like I said earlier, take time to think about your greatest accomplishments and what lead you and pushed you on that journey.
When you find motivations that work, keep up with them. Welcome a partner (or two) into your process and give yourself times of rest. Schedule in time to take a two week break from being so structured and then jump back in after fourteen days.
Do what works and keep doing it.