Manage your Motivation For Effortless Success
The key to success at anything, whether at work or at home, is managing your motivation so that you actually get done the things that you want to.
It's easy enough to say:
I'll do it later.
But later often doesn't come, or something else takes your attention away.
You need to start, and then you need to motivate yourself to finish. We outline what you need to do at each stage.
Stage 1: Getting Started
One of the biggest problems people have with achieving their goals, especially when it comes to creative work is getting it all started.
Creative work starts with a vision and then you have to put your vision into words or into a visual representation. And this stage can be the toughest of all.
There's really only one thing that you can do and that is the simplest of all.
Just start. Take action, no matter how small.
Visualise your goal right down to the smallest detail. Force yourself to do just one small thing, take one small step.
This isn't the best long-term strategy, but it It will get you started. (constant pressure is demoralising and there are better ways -- but if you're stuck, you have to being out the big guns.)
You can be kinder to yourself, and re-energise your motivation, by making a list of just why you want to achieve your goal. This helps you tap in to all the reasons that you are doing what you do, and will ground you in your goal, and give you that extra motivational kick.
As a writer, it can help writing down this list of reasons and goals in pen.
When we make handwritten lists, we engage the brain more actively in the process. Typing has less of a connection with the brain, and the slower speed of writing can support a deeper attachment.
Stage 2: Kick-start Your Creativity
And then you start.
Habits and goals
But soon after, there will come a point with your creative project where motivation dwindles. Different actions are needed here:
The first is internal. It's all about your habits. By starting work on a new creative venture, it's likely that you have broken some kind of a habit in order to get there. Easier said than done, but why not make taking action itself, be it as small and subtle as possible or dramatic risks; be your new habit?
If you're a particularly cautious person, don't panic. Re-shape your goals by removing, or reducing, any costs or risks to levels that are acceptable to you. You won't be motivated if you fear that a disaster could happen. Keep the stages smaller, and less risky (whatever that risk means to you) and you will be more comfortable taking action.
Changing habits can be difficult, and you need to do more than that in order to fulfil your goal -- particularly a creative goal where you may be working without any noticeable change. It can stifle your motivation if you are not being 'rewarded' at the same time.
Don't do it alone
This is a good time to involve somebody else in your plan.
Whether that's a creative assistant or simply a good friend, make them part of your challenge. Involve them with as much as you feel comfortable with, and be as specific as possible.
If this person is going to help you, identify how and why you want or need their help. Figuring all of this out won't come easily and you need to check in regularly to ensure the project is progressing the way that you want it to.
Stage 3: Staying Motivated
A huge source of stress is feeling overwhelmed.
And, let's be honest, embarking on a large writing project is difficult, especially when you don't see how you will manage to reach the end.
When you feel like you have an impossible number of things to do, break them down into small, realistic steps and only work on one at a time.
Every time you complete one, the small success will lead to triggers in the brain, releasing dopamine, which is a 'feel good' chemical. An, once you experience this feeling, it boosts you to take another similar step.
Don't be afraid to change
Nothing needs to be set in stone and you should trust your instincts and count your blessings when your priorities change. It means you are taking a different route down the right path and maybe this one will be easier for you or more rewarding.
Don't get disheartened. Instead, plan how you will deal with things when it's harder to motivate yourself; because it's more or less inevitable at some point.
Think about what inspires you personally; this could be seeing others achieve amazing things, seeing others overcoming adversity or simply taking in the sheer beauty of nature which could make you feel grateful and help you keep on doing what you love.
By tapping into your inspiration, you will boost your creativity, as well as managing your motivation.
Stage 4: Taking the lead
You're not alone on your creative project, and there will be times when you need help from a colleague or a team member.
Even if you could, in theory, accomplish everything yourself, there is an inherent value in sharing your plan.
Announce your intentions
We love to share our joy and our achievements with others: when we get married, or we make a big life change, we do it in front of witnesses and friends and family.
Announcing your intentions sends a strong message to the world and also to the unconscious mind which can sometimes sabotage our best efforts in our attempt at success, if we haven't fully committed to the idea of what we are going to create.
Build a team
If you are hiring somebody else, it's important that you appear motivated and in control of what you are trying to achieve.
Think about what training you can take, what productivity tools you can use, or personality assessments you can do that will help you find out what drives and motivates you and builds a better team dynamic.
Different personality styles can mean you have different working styles, or preferences for different working conditions.
Knowing what motivates each of you will enhance the way you work, and will minimise any potential for conflict (or turn it into something amusing rather than confrontational).
Stage 5: Making it Work If You're Working from Home
It is likely that in this age of constant connectivity and flexible working conditions you will be working from home either all of the time or, at least, some of the time.
Self-control or structure?
It's great to have this flexibility, but it does require high levels of self control.
An office environment has a fixed schedule, and co-workers who give you social interaction -- important for the most introverted characters.
Much of what will keep you motivated is symbolic. But it works.
For example, waking up early and putting on actual clothes, work clothes, rather than rolling out of bed at your leisure, will put you in a working frame of mind.
If you can, don't work where you sleep. Separation of environment is important.
Making a schedule of work hours, while enjoying the freedom to work at your own pace, will pay off in the quality of the work you get done.
Not shutting yourself off from the world is important when you're at home. Make the effort to go outside and interact with people, even if it is only the barista at the coffee shop.
And incorporating exercise into your routine (outside if you can) will break up your day, get your blood circulating and give you a midday energy boost.
And keep distractions to a minimum. The internet is wonderful for research, and staying in touch on social media, but the procrastination possibilities are of course endless. Switch your phone off for an hour or two of peaceful work, and allow yourself the reward of a call with a friend or an episode of your favourite TV show when your working hours are done.
Working from home is absolutely not for everyone. Some of us are predisposed to adapt, but many find it hard. Once you find the drive and discipline and implement some structure, you'll boost your motivation and your productivity.
And, take a tip from our Editor, if working from home isn't motivating, then rent space in a shared office, or work from a coffee shop or public library, at least some of the time.
There's something about being around others, and still being able to set your own schedule, that is both motivating and freeing. And, unlike a workplace, you don't have anyone looking over your shoulder to check on you.
Stage 6: See the Bigger Picture
And, finally, whatever stage you're working through, the most important thing is to see the bigger picture.
Have faith and confidence in yourself and allow your creative juices to flow. And you will get more done, and enjoy the work that you do. Effortlessly.
We've laid out the six stages of making motivation your friend: how to start and how to keep going (and how to work with others).
Which one is your biggest sticking point?
This post was written by Laura Morrissey. Laura is a writer for Everything Disc. She specialises in helping employers and employees work at their peak, especially by motivation and team building.
Do you find it easy to get motivated? What works for you? And, underneath the techniques, where is motivation coming from?