How to Kick Your Motivation into High Gear

By K. Stone

December 27, 2007   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

New Year’s resolutions are right around the corner. The problem is not with setting goals, but with sticking with them until completion. For that you need a healthy helping of motivation. But where can you find this elusive ingredient? The resources are right under your nose. Here’s how to get your motivation revving! They’re not just for new year’s resolutions, but for any goal or task you want or need to complete.

1. Benefits. Get real clear about why you plan to do certain things. What is the benefit to you for completing the goal or task? It’s best if the benefit is stated as a positive such as “If I quit smoking, I will have less anxiety about my health and a better quality of life.” Some of your benefits may be stated in terms of avoiding a negative such as “If I pay my bills on time, I’ll avoid late fees.” When it comes time to work on your goals, focus on the benefits you’ll receive more so than focusing on the work at hand. Benefits are the things that should make you feel good and therefore provide natural motivation.

2. Baby Steps. Begin each day with a small step towards your goal. Tell yourself that you don’t have to do a lot towards your goal, just a little. Chances are that once you start, you’ll start to feel good and then you’ll do more than you planned. It’s like having a boulder at the top of the hill. All you need to give it a little push to get it rolling. The benefits of your work and the good feelings that accompany accomplishment will provide the rest of the motivation.

3. Plan Your Day Everyday. It only takes about 5-10 minutes. First, write down what you need to do in any order, then prioritize each item, and then finally place each task into realistic time slots. Three keys are to allow for buffer time in between tasks, include break times, and to plan your most important/most difficult items first. By planning your day you have a road map that will help keep you focused when life’s distractions come around. By planning your most important tasks first, you’ll be assured that they won’t fall through the cracks. This will give you peace of mind and also a great sense of accomplishment that will carry you through the rest of your day.

4. Action First. Don’t wait for inspiration to hit. Take action first and the motivation will follow. When you “just do it” and get started regardless of how you’re feeling it’s like a warm-up. You may start out cold, but keep taking action and watch your motivation muscles warm up! Before you know it you will have heated up your excitement and energy, and you’ll be amazing yourself with high productivity!

5. Jumping Jacks. Any type of exercise for 5-10 minutes will get your blood pumping, bring oxygen to your brain, and release those all-natural feel-good chemicals. You can also try stretching with deep breathing, a walk/jog around the block, or a little boogie-woogie to your favorite song. Try it! It works!

6. Use Timers. Time your activities and make it into a little game for yourself. See if you can beat your allotted timeframes. This will help you keep your productivity high during the day. It will also keep distractions from grabbing a hold of your attention. Here’s an online timer and here’s timer you can download to your computer.

7. Big Rewards. If the benefits of completing your goal or task are not enough, then set up a cool reward for yourself and focus on that. Some possible rewards: tickets to a show, a ski trip, buy a book, a sunset picnic, leave work early, buy a fancy foo foo coffee drink, or whatever puts a big grin on your face.

8. Caffeine. I don’t normally recommend coffee for energy, but there’s a reason that millions of people drink coffee and tea everyday. It does give you a boost. As long as you realize that the boost will come with a corresponding slump down the line, go ahead and use it when you need it. But be sure to strike while the caffeine iron is hot. I personally hate the irritable post-high slump, but when I need it, there’s nothing like caffeine for getting your brain racing along.

9. With a Little Help from Your Friends. I saved this for last, but it just may be one of the most powerful tips on this list. Whenever you find yourself struggling, please don’t just sit there and suffer. Call someone. Go into your colleague’s office. Talk to your boss. Call your mom. Think about who could best give you the push or motivation to get things rolling. Let go of pride. Be humble. And ask. Ask for help. You’ll be glad you did!

What was the best thing you ever did to jump start your motivation? We want to hear what you have to say!

Written by K. Stone of Life Learning Today.

K. Stone

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