Let’s face it – some days are just garbage.
Nothing seems to go right, everyone and everything feels like they’re “out to get you,” and you start to question why you work so hard when things never work out for you anyway.
On those days especially, you need to have ways to motivate yourself.
The days when you wake up and say “I have no motivation today” are the days when you seriously need some good, reliable, get-up-and-go tricks to make sure that you know how to motivate yourself every day.
Wait, Why Do I Need Motivation?
Ok, well…if the above doesn’t sound like you, ever, then you’re lying. Either that or I want to know whatever happy pill you’re taking because clearly, it’s working!
Tell me if this sounds accurate: you’re reading this post because, at some point in your (I’m assuming) recent life, you’ve had no motivation to do anything, been so not motivated to work, or maybe even felt a little “out of it” and can’t bear the thought of forcing yourself to do anything.
Good, so we agree on that — sometimes life is a big pile of you-know-what, and you only have two choices: wallow in it, or figure out how to get out of it.
Wallowing is not enjoyable for anyone but pigs. So unless you’re planning on being bacon when you grow up, it’s time you got some positive motivation going.
As to why you need motivation, it’s simple: when you’re old and wrinkly, do you want to look back and have a million regrets for all the things you never got around to doing, changing, feeling, etc., or do you want to look back and be amazed at how much you accomplished in your life and what you have to show for all of your hard work?
(If you answer anything besides “I want to be amazed,” then maybe you need to take a break and read this on another day when your mind is in the right place.)
But regardless of how you’re looking at life right now, know this: you NEED motivation to keep going, day in and day out, no matter what it takes, if you want to live anything that looks like a good, happy, productive, and successful life.
How To Motivate Yourself
When you’re in that funk where you’re thinking “why am I not motivated,” you’ve GOT to know what to do about it. Try these 3 motivating things below to get yourself pumped up and back in action.
1. Get Planning (And Get Thinking)
How many times have you found yourself with no motivation, leaving you feeling like you just don’t know where to turn next, what to do, or why you’re feeling so stuck?
Listen close: the reason you’re unmotivated and not sure where to turn in those moments is because you don’t have a solid plan in place.
Whether your plan is for how to respond to these moments or, more importantly, the plan that acts as a straight up to-do action list, it’s the same problem (and the same solution) either way.
Think hard about the root cause of your “needs motivation” feeling.
If you’re feeling blah because you’re not sure what to do next, that’s the easiest solution of all: whether you’re planning your day at work or home, your week, or even the month (or longer), having a clearly laid out path forward will keep you reliably on track.
The best method for having this motivational action plan, however, is to map out just 3 tasks per day that you’re going to complete today, no matter what (and you might want to have 3 tasks for work and 3 separate tasks for personal so that you can experience a sense of accomplishment in both major areas of your life).
Here’s an example from my life:
1) Work “Big 3”
- Finish this month’s bookkeeping
- Edit and publish the next post
- Finalize next month’s editorial calendar
2) Personal “Big 3”
- Log calories and make sure to exercise for at least 30 minutes.
- Give my place a good deep clean.
- Read my new book and spend time with my girlfriend.
Do you see how planning your day helps with motivation? It’s no massive, mile-long to-do list; it’s no one beating your back and demanding that you do what they say.
It’s simply you, committing to yourself, that you ARE going to make these pre-defined accomplishments happen today.
If you’re working on a bigger project that you know is going to span over the course of a few days, go ahead and only do ONE task per day until it’s completed (you’d make that judgment based off of how long you’re expecting the project to take vs. how many hours per day you’re available to work on this work or personal project). Make sense?
So planning out the “big 3” for each day for an entire week at a time is also a valid idea, so long as you’re not over-planning any given day or you’ll be asking for trouble.
As for problem part two, not knowing how to keep going when you’re unmotivated, if the big 3 planning method somehow falls short, the next step is to find out what motivates you to learn, to do, or to move.
If watching one motivational YouTube video or podcast is all it takes to get you ready to run, then find some excellent podcasts or a YouTube channel with 5-minute videos (I might even have one of these in the works for 2019, so stay tuned for that…) so that whenever you feel your ambition slipping you can pull it up quickly and easily for a dose of motivation.
If you need a daily mid-day meditation break to clear and reset your mind before you’re ready to tackle more, then make it a scheduled, written down habit to do this, maybe during your lunch break each day.
If you just need a solid quote to get you fired up, then invest in one of those page-a-day calendars that’s all hyper-motivational quotes. Re-read that sucker each day as many times as needed to help you get back on the wagon and knocking out your big 3’s.
2. Call On Your Accountability Buddy
For most people, this will be their spouse or significant other, but sometimes it can be a friend, co-worker, neighbor, or some random Facebook friend that you don’t really know in person.
WHO your accountability buddy is, is up to you; what matters is that you have one.
When you were a kid in school and had to walk in line to the cafeteria or do a swimming unit in gym class, did they assign you a “buddy?” I’m sure at some point, they did.
But do you know why?
First, it’s easier to keep track of little kids when you only need to locate half of your students because fairly guaranteed the other half is there too, corresponding to the kids you counted/identified.
Second, because if anything happened to you as the buddy in question, you had someone there to look out for you, whether you tripped and face-planted from an untied shoe or started drowning because you were a crap swimmer.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? (The someone having your back part, not the face-plant or the drowning. Duh.)
The same concept applies to your adult life, believe it or not.
Let’s use weight loss as an example. Studies have shown that a person’s continued use of a particular weight loss program had a 29% increase in adherence if there was a social component to that program.
Think of that in terms of your chances of success being 29% higher, and that’s for something as undesirable and unpleasant to do as exercising and losing weight.
Can you imagine what the increase in success rate would be for something you actually WANTED to do?!?!!?
Most of us have a reasonably healthy guilt reflex. We lie and it makes someone sad – we feel guilty.
We tell someone that we are going to do something and then don’t do it – we feel guilty about letting them down.
If you KNOW that you have to tell someone “yeah, so I didn’t do that thing I promised I’d do,” you’re highly likely to experience a sense of disappointment…with yourself.
You KNOW you’re better than that, you KNOW you’re capable of doing what you said you would, and you KNOW that it’s only hurting YOURSELF to not keep your word.
And if you can’t even trust yourself to keep your word, why should anyone else? (Think about that one for a while, in terms of overall trust of others in you. Motivating in itself.)
If you really and truly have NO ONE that you can partner with, even an online stranger in a Facebook group, then plaster a giant poster on your wall to mimic the sticker charts of your childhood or even a giant calendar where you’ll write down your daily Big 3. Having easy, eye-catching, unavoidable ways of keeping your tasks and goals in front of you is a great way to get in the habit of staying accountable to yourself.
3. Keep Your Long-Term Goals In Mind (And In Sight)
I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of those graphs talking about compound interest and showing how if Jill starts saving for retirement at age 25 but Jack waits until 35, Jill will be all set for a comfy retired life and Jack will be wondering why he wasted 10 years of what could have been retirement savings trying to marry the financially-smart-but-totally-disinterested Jill.
Or something like that.
But seriously, let’s go with the financial example for a minute.
If you look at your paycheck today, pay all your obligations (bills, debts, etc), and have 25% of it leftover, what will you do with that money? Are you going to put some of it away for retirement and present-day savings, and see what’s left to enjoy, or are you going to say “woohoo, it’s payday!” and go blow it on who knows what useless stuff?
Jill obviously was the type to enjoy her leftover paycheck amount in moderation, whereas Jack treated that cash like it would never run out. (I’m just glad he paid his bills first, to be honest.)
Jill was smart enough to know that she could enjoy life now while working towards making sure that her future was as bright as she dreamed, while Jack didn’t care about what the future held so much as he cared about instant gratification. She took smaller steps today (although larger than Jack’s steps, obviously) which made her big retirement income goals much more easily attainable, so she could stay more easily motivated to work towards them.
The same applies to anything you want out of life: a better job, a higher income, a custom-built house, more freedom to do what you want and when, etc.
If you want a better job today, your Big 3 had better at least occasionally have a task that helps you get that promotion you wanted. If you want a higher income, your big 3 better have you working towards meeting bonuses or maybe getting a part-time job or a side hustle.
If you want a custom-built home, one of your personal Big 3 should probably be to finally start sketching out the floor plan and consulting with an architect, one of these days.
You can see where I’m going with this.
If your personal Big 3 every day, for example, is 1) laundry, 2) cook dinner, and 3) read before bed, chances are good you’re not going to make many changes in your personal life over the next decade.
Make time to learn, to read, to practice, and to grow, as it directly relates to furthering your progress towards those big goals and dreams.
Those long-term goals are what will dictate your smaller, daily, shorter-term goals. Those short-term goals, being much more easily attainable (and more likely to be reached) than the big-picture, longer-term goals, are what makes millionaires vs. miserables.
I mean, in one goal-setting study from Harvard, the small 13% of a class who were goal-setters were making double the income of the majority non-goal-setters by the 10-year mark.
How’s that for taking names and kicking…attainable goals to the curb?
Bonus: How To Motivate Someone Else
There’s a chance you came across this article while trying to figure out how to help a friend or loved one that suffers from a motivation problem.
While it’s admirable that you’re trying to help, there’s something very important you need to remember: just because you see that someone needs motivation, does not mean that they’re going to be open to your help and suggestions.
That’s the trick with motivation — it’s a singularly internal thing.
You being excited about me winning the lottery (or the opposite) won’t change how I feel about it.
Parents dreaming of raising future Olympic gold-medal athletes won’t be able to make their kid want to play a sport they hate, for anything.
But there are a few things you can try that might help that someone get the internal motivation that you see they’re lacking:
- Be there for them. Maybe they’re unmotivated because they’re just having a rough go of it lately. Make sure you take the time to listen (to both what’s said and what isn’t said) and help them with any those problems if they want it. Sometimes motivation has to be put on hold until whatever emotional problems are going on can be resolved.
- Share posts like this with them. No, this isn’t a selfish request from me. I don’t care if you send them my article or someone else’s, just make sure that if they are in need of some self-motivation tips (and are not affected by emotional struggles that overpower it) and offer it up as help. Do be careful that you’re not being overbearing with them by doing so.
- Think of ways to add some unstructured, unweighted fun into their life. Maybe your friend is just over-stressed from the demands of their job and kids. Offer to meet them for a drink once in a while so they can take a true break. Let them vent if needed, tell them some solid jokes, and make sure to let them know that YOU appreciated the time spent. Make it a more routine event to get together, and make sure to mix it up with what you do in that time.
- Ask them some “what if” questions. Every so often, ask them what they’d do with $1,000 handed to them. Ask what business they would start if someone else foots the bill. Ask them what they’d do with their time if they won the lottery tomorrow and were set for life. Sometimes getting someone jump started on thinking bigger gives them the spark they need to start working towards living better.
What’s your go-to method for motivating yourself? Leave a comment and let us know!
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