If you’ve ever punched the snooze button instead of going to the gym, watched ESPN when you wanted to practice guitar, or surfed the internet instead of finishing a big project at work, you know exactly how hard it can be to find motivation. And let’s face it, there are certain tasks in life that it’s almost impossible to get done without a swift kick in the pants.
But is motivation something you either have or you don’t? Many successful people would like to think so. But it seems to me that motivation is far more complex than that. It’s not some innate ability that separates winners from losers.
Just like anything else, motivation is a skill. Some people are born with it, others have to learn – but the common thread is that all of us have the ability to find motivation deep within ourselves, and put it to work to affect positive change.
If you’re one of the lucky few who wakes up at 5:00 in the morning to finish your tax returns, you can probably stop reading now. But if you’re still looking for a method to help get you off the couch, these ideas could be your ticket to motivation.
The 4 key stepping stones for how to find motivation:
1. Define your goal.
In order to get motivated, you need to be 100 percent, unambiguously clear about what exactly your end game is. You don’t need to write this out, frame it, and hang it on the wall, but you do need to have a clear understanding of what you’re working towards. If you don’t have a clear goal, make one.
For instance, “learn to play the guitar,” is a nice thought, but not really an attainable goal. “Learn to play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on the guitar,” is a much more honest goal with a clear endpoint.
2. Set a deadline.
Some tasks have an automatic deadline built right in. Others, unfortunately, don’t. For those that don’t, it can be powerfully motivating to set one yourself. When you’re setting a deadline to reach your goal, it’s important to be specific, just as you were when you defined your goal in the first place. “Get fit by summertime,” isn’t enough.
“Get 6-pack abs by my cousin’s July 4th barbeque,” is far more sensible. If there’s no clear deadline in sight, make one up yourself. Pencil yourself in for karaoke night, go ahead and schedule a date with that cute girl; whatever you need to do to put an end bracket on achieving your goal.
3. Break it down.
Nothing quashes motivation better than apathy, and one of the primary sources of apathy is feeling overwhelmed by an unmanageable task. You’ll feel far more motivated if you break your end goal into small, manageable bits, and attach them to a timeframe. If your goal is to learn “Stairway to Heaven,” in the next 6 weeks, you might need to learn one new chord per week to make that happen.
4. Just get started.
They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. This saying is very true of motivation. You’ll be surprised how quickly your motivation will roll forward if you can just do something, anything, to move closer to your goal.
If you’re having trouble mustering up the energy to go for that morning jog, start by just putting a running sock on. Just one sock. Then the next sock. Before you know it, you’ll be running laps around the track.