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Lack of motivation. We all feel it.

The project seems too big? You’ll do it later.

You don’t have enough time? You’re too tired? Dog ate your to-do list?

Excuses to not do something are endless. Many stem from feeling demotivated.

Motivation is necessary to achieve your goals and keep you focused. Here are seven ways to boost your motivation and keep it high day in and day out.  

To boost your motivation, make your work meaningful by setting goals meaningful to you. What’s your New Reality, the desired future state you’re working toward? Once you know this, you can link your work and tasks to it to make them more meaningful to you.

For example, let’s say you want to retire by the time you turn 50. To do so, you need to maximize your earnings for the next eight years and live on a strict budget to reach savings targets. When you need to put in extra hours of work on the weekend to close the next big deal, you’ll be much more motivated to because you know it’s helping you work toward your big picture goal.

When you can make work more meaningful to you and your goals, you become much more motivated.

Harvard researchers completed a multi-year tracking study of the day-to-day activities, emotions, and motivation levels of hundreds of knowledge workers in a wide variety of settings to uncover the top motivator of performance. They looked at:

  1. Incentives
  2. Clear goals
  3. Interpersonal support
  4. Recognition
  5. Support for making progress

Progress came out on top. When people feel like they’re making headway and progress in their work, motivation is the highest.

One of the best ways to track your own progress is by planning and tracking your actions weekly. At the beginning (or end) of each week, plan out what you want to get accomplished. Reference your goals for the month and make sure you’re on track to achieve them. If you’re not, adjust accordingly and plan to spend time where you need to during the week.

Once you’ve created a plan for the week, calendar the time you need to spend on your most important activities — your investment time. Investment time is time you spend on tasks that generate outsized returns. While these might not be the most urgent, they are often the most important items on your to-do list.

Add this time to your calendar each week. If possible, start your day working on this activity. When you put it on your calendar, you’re more likely to do it.

Nothing can make you more unmotivated than negative self-talk in your own head.

“I’m not good at this … I don’t like to do that … This won’t work … I don’t know enough about it … I need to do more research … If I do that people won’t like me … This is hard … I can do it later …”

These are all self-limiting beliefs. If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t (and won’t). Positive self-talk can help get you in the success mindset.

If you think you can, you’re more likely to get to it.

Many of us have habits we need to break that are killing our motivation. You must change your habits to tap into your own drive and motivation.

For example, what’s the first thing you do when you get to work each morning? Many people get to the office, turn on their computer, get a cup of coffee, and strike up a conversation with a co-worker. Then when they begin work they open their email and start responding. Before you know it, half of the morning is gone. They haven’t worked on anything from their own to-do list yet. This is not very motivating.

It’s also a bad habit, one you should break.

One way to do that is by using “When I, Then I” statements and ask yourself, “Will I?” For example, you might say, “When I get to the office in the morning I will implement a morning routine (see No. 7) and begin working on my greatest impact activity for the day.” Then ask yourself, “Will I?” Will you commit to following through and doing this?

If you can implement more productive habits, you will tap into your own motivation and drive.

There are things about your environment that either increase or decrease your motivation. When you’re in a particular place, you tend to do (or not do) specific things. How your environment is designed drives you to do some things and not others.

I worked with a woman who would go to a local café when it was time to make prospecting calls so she could feel the energy of others around her. A co-worker of mine can’t write in the office and works from home where it’s quieter.

Know what environmental factors are contributing to your motivation to work on certain tasks and change your environment to boost your success.

A consistent morning routine can get you started on the right foot. When you start in a poor mindset or can’t focus on what you want to get done, it’s much harder to feel highly motivated.

Here is a proven morning routine to help keep motivation high:

  1. Read short-term objectives. Know what your goals are for the quarter, month, and week.

  2. Ask, “How’s my mindset?” If you’re feeling down or tired, use positive self-talk to turn it around.  

  3. Ask, “Will I?” for critical tasks. You know what you need to do. By recommitting to yourself that you will do it, you increase the odds that you indeed will.

  4. Be better than yesterday. Ask, “How can I be better than yesterday?” Pick one thing. If you do this every day, you will make small improvements that will quickly lead to big ones.

  5. Start with your Greatest Impact Activity (GIA). You might have a long to-do list with many urgent tasks starred. Just because something is urgent doesn’t necessarily mean it’s important. As much as you can, choose the most important item on your to-do list and start the day focusing on that.

Are you still having a hard time getting motivated? Do you dread making those phone calls or don’t know where to begin on that big project? Stop thinking about it and say “3 … 2 … 1 … Go!” to get started. Don’t give yourself time to think about it. Just start doing it.

Lack of motivation can keep you from accomplishing your goals. The key is to find the right strategies to recruit your drive. Whether it’s defining your big picture goal, planning and tracking your time, using positive self-talk, or changing your environment, there are many proven ways to boost your motivation. Find out what works for you. You may discover that you’re finally starting to make progress toward your goals.

When you can make work more meaningful to you and your goals, you become much more motivated.”

Mike Schultz | President, RAIN Group
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