1. Create a plan
Decide what your overall goal is, and be specific, so you have a definitive outcome to get to. That act alone makes your goal more tangible, and you’re more likely to go for something if you know exactly what you want, rather than some vague notion. Then, create a plan to get there, because that takes away the overwhelm and makes the goal seem possible. Additionally, having a plan makes your goal easier to stick to: instead of spending precious brain power working out what to do at each step, and potentially throwing up excuses to stop you, your task is clearly set out so you can jump straight on it. Plus, if you don’t do what’s scheduled today, you know it’s going to throw the rest of the plan out of whack because you’ll be behind with whatever task follows tomorrow.
2. Set rewards and track your progress
If you can have some way of tracking your progress (e.g., if you’re running, track how your speed or distance is improving, or if you’re writing, record how many words you write each day), it pushes you to keep going. It ‘gamefies’ the task, because you want to keep seeing the trend improving; you won’t want to break the streak. In addition, break your overall goal into smaller ‘mini wins’, and reward yourself when you reach them.
3. Make a visual reminder of your goal
Though your goal is probably something so important to you that you feel it on a deep, primal level, if that feeling is there day after day, it’s easy to become ‘normal’. You become accustomed to it being there – numb. So then, when you’re tired or feeling hopeless, it can be even harder to summon the inspiring feeling it used to create. To counteract this, create a visual reminder of your goal and put it somewhere you’ll see it everyday – be that a few words scribbled on a post-it note, or a collage of pictures across an entire wall. Get it into the real world, and every day you’ll be reminded of what you want and how amazing it’s going to feel when you reach it.
4. Trigger your tasks
Starting can often be the hardest part, so that’s often when you need the greatest amount of motivation. To help keep you from procrastinating, find something nice to ‘trigger’ tasks you don’t like. For example, make your favourite coffee to sit down with when you start writing, or play your favourite song to get ready for a run. You’ll want to do the nice task, and that automatically leads into the more difficult one.
5. Have a role model
Whenever I’m struggling with motivation, I think about someone I admire, or who’s achieved something I’m aiming for, and it inspires me to keep going. Imagine what they would do in your current situation, or what they would say to you right now. What would they or did they do when things got tough? If they can do it, you can too. Don’t let them down.
6. Know it’s going to suck
This is a bonus one, but it’s too important to leave off: if anything’s worth having, it’s going to be hard. It’s going to get difficult and it’s not always going to be pleasant. That’s what makes it worth having. You have to know this before you start and make a deal with yourself that you’re going to keep going. Commit to your goal and to do whatever it takes. That way, when it does get tough, you’re ready. You knew this was coming going in and you’ll face it. You’ll keep pushing through. This is what you’re here for – to test your commitment, to forge through the challenge, and reach the other side.
I mean, after all: all great heroes were made in challenges, and all good stories have something worth fighting for.