Six Ways to Become More Self-Motivated

By Ali Luke

October 23, 2011   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Do you find it tough to work towards your goals – even when you know they’re worthwhile? Perhaps you’ve tried to push yourself forwards with willpower … but it hasn’t worked.

Instead of willpower, you need more self-motivation. That way, you won’t run out of energy – and you might even find yourself enjoying life more!

Here’s how to become more self-motivated:

#1: Spend Your Time on Tasks You Enjoy
If you have a choice about what you’ll spend your time on – perhaps what job you’ll take, or what you’ll major in at college – then choose something that you’ll enjoy. Going for a job that pays a little more, or a major that sounds a bit more prestigious, isn’t going to help you stay motivated.

Even if you’re working in a job that you dislike, you probably have some control over the tasks you take on. Can you ask to be involved with a new, interesting project? Can you volunteer to help your manager with a particular piece of work?

#2: Take Pride in What You’re Doing
Some activities can seem pretty futile. Perhaps you’re a small cog in a big machine at work, and it’s tough to see how your contribution matters. The truth is, it does make a difference – your company wouldn’t have hired you in the first place if it didn’t.

It’s easier to be self-motivated when you take pride in what you’re doing, and you do it to the best of your ability. Whether you’re cleaning the house or dealing with customers, you can consciously decide to do your very best.

#3: Think About the Outcome
In an ideal world, every task would be its own reward. Of course, it doesn’t always work like that. You’ve probably got a bunch of tasks on your list that aren’t especially interesting or enjoyable – but you want to get them done anyway because they’ll take you towards your goals.

Try focusing on the outcome: that qualification at the end of your degree course, or the money you’ll have if you stick to your savings plan. You might even want to find an image that helps represent this outcome (the job you want to have, or the car you’re planning to buy) and keep it close to hand.

#4: Be Careful With Your Use of Rewards
Some people motivate themselves with rewards: Once I’ve answered these emails, I’ll have a chocolate bar. This can be helpful if you really need to push yourself through a particular task – but if you do it too often, you’ll find yourself relying on the reward instead of your natural motivation.

Think instead about the rewards inherent in the task itself: Once I’ve answered these emails, I’ll feel on top of things or Answering these emails helps me to keep our customers happy. Instead of seeing the task as yet another item on your list, think of its real impact on you and others.

#5: Learn Something New
We’re all natural learners – it’s how we survive. “Learning” isn’t just for children and students: it’s something we do throughout our lives. If you’ve ever struggled to figure out a new piece of software and had an “aha” moment, you’ll know how good it can feel to learn something new.

If there are specific areas in your life where you feel very unmotivated, is that because you’re not confident? You might hate cooking, writing, exercising or some other task, because you know you struggle to do it well. Taking the time to learn about it could really boost your motivation.

#6: Stay Focused While You’re Working
You might be motivated to start a new task … but if your attention wanders after five minutes, you’re going to struggle to keep that motivation going. Every time you switch to something else (like Facebook or your phone), you’re breaking your concentration.

Stay focused on one thing at a time – even if that means turning off your internet connection or blocking websites that distract you. If you keep stopping and starting, it’ll seem like your task is dragging on forever – it’s much more motivating to make steady progress.

How do you become – or stay – self-motivated? Let us know your tips in the comments!

Written on 10/23/2011 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing. Photo Credit: BrentDPayne


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