The Five Best Ways to Get (and Stay) Motivated

When starting a new project, the hardest part is always taking the first step. That first leap into the unknown. For some they relish this opportunity, the chance mould the project how they like and make their vision a reality. For others this can be very stressful and anxious times. The risk of failure, the daunting task in front of you, and the time it’s going to take to complete. Once the project gets rolling you start building momentum (or in most cases start making money), and that makes it much easier to find that motivation to continue.

Harvard Business Review identifies four main reasons why employees lose their motivation.   

Value Mismatch: I don’t care enough to do this

–          The employee feels this task is beneath them, or doesn’t see the value it brings. Thus isn’t motivated to complete it.

Lack of Self-Efficacy: I don’t think I’m able to do this

–          The employee lacks confidence in their skills. They lose motivation as they don’t want to start a task they feel they won’t be able to complete.

Disruptive Emotions: I’m too upset to do this

–          Any negative emotions someone might have, whether it be anger, depression, anxiety, they will be less motivated for the task.

Attribution Errors: I don’t know what went wrong with this

–          If an employee doesn’t know why a task failed, or can’t figure out why they struggled with it. They blame the issue on factors outside of their control and thus won’t be motivated to continue with the project  

These motivational ‘traps’ are very common and are ones you have likely experienced at some point in your life. Now knowing why you don’t have motivation is only half of the issue. The other issue is how can you combat these and find the motivation.

Here are the Five Best Ways to Get (and Stay) Motivated

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1. Make Lists and Set Attainable Goals

Set a routine, and make a list of things you want to accomplish. This helps combat the value mismatch and the lack of self-efficacy. If you have many different things to do during the day, just staring at them all is going to seem daunting. If you plan them out and make a list you can easier plan how you can get everything done and can keep up with your progress.

When making a list you should break your task down into small steps. This will make the task seem easier and more doable. You need to be honest with yourself. Don’t make an impossible list, or else you will fall right back into that self-efficacy trap. Don’t set aside an hour for a task that normally takes three. And don’t give yourself an hour for a task that takes 10 minutes. Your list needs to be functional and practical for you.   

As you go through your day, review your progress. Crossing items off your list, no matter how small will give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated to keep going.

2. Surround Yourself with Good People

How much easier is it to go to the gym when you have a friend tag along? Having someone there to help you, push you along and encourage you, makes a world of difference. It’s the same thing with work/business.  

Having someone else around can be very positive and help you stay motivated throughout the day. People can have such a large influence on others; you need to make sure you have the right influence on your side. Having a co-worker with similar goals, a partner that supports you, a friend that encourages you, these people can help you stay positive and productive, helping you avoid the disruptive emotions.

Getting feedback from others is also very helpful for staying motivated. How many times have you been told great job on that, or keep up the good work? It is something small but it certainly makes you feel good and helps you stay motivated. Getting constructive feedback can help you avoid the attribution or self-efficacy traps. By having someone else to talk to you they can explain things in a different way or provide words of encouragement to keep you going.

3. Find Things That Put You in a Good Mood

You when you’re having one of those days, but then you hear your favourite song and your mood just picks up? Doing things that make you happy like listening to music are great motivators. Create a Spotify playlist or a Youtube list and listen to those songs when you feel stressed or anxious or just need that little pick me up during the day. Change it up every so often to keep it fresh and avoid tuning it out.

Another easy way for a little pick me up is wearing your favourite outfit. Something that gives you confidence and makes you feel good. Starting your day off on the right foot can give you a positivity boost right out of the gate. Have fun with it too, wear a scarf or a hat, a watch or a bracelet. All these little things can help you stay positive and avoid the trap of disruptive emotions.   

4. Remember “Why” You’re Doing This

And don’t just say for the money, or the promotion, or to appease the boss. Those are certainly motivators but they are external motivators and tend to be only short-term. For long-term motivators they need to be internal. Making money is obviously the primary reason for working, but what are going to do with the money, aside from the standard, rent, food, bills? Maybe you are saving money for a vacation, a house, car, your kids college fund etc. Maybe you want to make a difference in the world or help people. Or be a good influence on your community or be a role model for others. Whatever your internal motivators are, make sure to remind yourself of them.

It can be easy to get caught up in the grind and forget the real reason why you’re working. Have pictures of you kids not just on your desk, but maybe in a desk drawer as well to give you surprise reminders throughout the day who you’re doing this for. That will give you the energy and motivation to keep going.

5. Reward Yourself

Finally one of the best ways to motivate yourself is rewards. The proverbial carrot on a stick. You work hard all week so that you can enjoy the weekend. You spend a long day at the office and come home and sit on the couch and enjoy the game. It doesn’t even need to be a large reward. Something small like a coffee break after you completed your presentation on time, or a short social media break after getting through that pile of emails. Little things like this make you feel good and makes your hard work feel worth it.     

Rewards are great as they prevent you from burning out too quickly. Burning out is one of the quickest ways to lose all motivation. You want to avoid the ‘middle slump.’ The middle slump is a term used to describe how people have plenty of motivation at the start of a project, but lose it as they get to the middle of it. Burning out quickly at the start of a project is one of the ways this happens.  Having a list, keeping track of your progress and having little rewards and ways you can avoid burning out and the middle slump.