5 Tips for Self-Motivation

Whether at work or at home, it can sometimes be difficult to stay motivated.  Sometimes self-motivation is easy: it starts with a flash of genius and authentic inspiration; we can’t wait to get started.  But how long does that feeling last? Other times, self-motivation doesn’t come at all. There is no spark, no flash, no surge of inspired energy; just a seemingly insurmountable problem, or a series of small, unwelcome tasks.  Why is motivation, even in the face of unbearable tedium, so easy for some, and difficult for others?

Personal drive is more often a discipline than a personality trait. Even the most driven, focused, and passionate individuals among us struggle to see a brilliant vision all the way to completion.  Sales legend Zig Ziglar once said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Understanding that self-motivation can be a process, and not just an instinctive trait, can help in difficult times. If you find yourself fighting an uphill battle for inner-drive, just take a breath, relax, and make a conscious decision to remedy the problem. Here are a few tips to help you get back on track:

  1. Visualize Your Goal: Before you take that first step, picture the finish line.  Imagine yourself at the end of your journey instead of at the beginning. See yourself victorious and unstoppable. Notice how you feel in this future state, having accomplished what you set out to do. Consider exactly how your achievement will benefit you and others.  Don’t keep it to yourself. Share the dream with others. Let them share in your excitement. Now get to it.
  2. Take a Small Step: You don’t need to be Confucius to realize that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If a task seems overwhelming, break it down into manageable steps. Make the first step small and easy. The feeling of accomplishment will boost your confidence and help you tackle the next step. Momentum is a powerful motivator.
  3. Reward Yourself: You don’t need to wait until the completion of a project to feel the satisfaction of accomplishment. Celebrate the small victories along the way. Treat yourself after finishing small tasks, or steps toward a larger vision.  Knowing you have some type of reward following an unappealing or tedious endeavor will help you get the ball rolling.
  4. Make a Soundtrack for Success: Music is a primal driver. It’s no coincidence that there are as many i-Pods at the gym as there are sneakers and water bottles. Make yourself a Motivation Playlist. Find songs that lift your spirit and compel you to act. Exercise music is not always suited to all scenarios, so choose wisely, and never underestimate the power of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.
  5. Take Care of Yourself: Perhaps the most basic element of motivation is the most obvious: take care of your body.  It is exponentially more difficult to find motivation if you’re ready for a nap.  To give yourself the best shot at meeting challenges, get plenty of quality sleep; eat nutritious, moderately-sized portions; and exercise regularly.  A strong cup of coffee may help you fire your engines, but nothing beats the long term benefits of natural stamina.