Self-motivation is the key to success. But what is self-motivation and how do you maintain amid the daily grind, spending time with family, friends, and loved ones, and your dreams and wishes and goals?
Motivation is a complex subject, and psychologists and experts approach it with a variety of schools of thought. One of the most prominent theories relies on the idea that motivation can be either intrinsic, coming from within, or extrinsic, deriving from external factors (such as the praise of others).
Extrinsic motivation is a social phenomenon. We act certain ways or present ourselves in certain ways to earn the approval of our peers or to avoid stigmatization. For some people, it’s effective for getting something done, but when that outside force is removed, the motivation goes away too.
Here are 7 steps to finding or maintaining your self-motivation.
- Start by doing something.
We’ve talked previously about how motivation is important to achieving goals and how you can use goal setting to actually increase your motivation. Inspiration rarely strikes while you sit around and do nothing. Newton’s laws say that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion (unless acted upon by an outside force). If you don’t know where to start and that is holding you back, start by doing something, anything, even if it’s unrelated to what you want to achieve. You may find it is easier to think and chart your course after you’ve already set off.
- Write down WHY you want to achieve something.
In the past we have also talked about how writing down your goals and breaking them down into manageable tasks is great for organization and making a task more manageable. When you are struggling to find motivation to tackle a project or task that is important to your goals, it may be time to take a step back and ask yourself, “why?” Why is this project integral to your goals? Why does it matter? Dig deep; “because it has to get done” won’t be enough to overcome your reservations, but “I’ll learn an important skill for my career” might be, or maybe “this will protect my family and my assets.” Remember, everyone is more likely to achieve a goal when they have some sort of personal stake in the matter.
- Learn to shake off criticism.
Extrinsic motivation isn’t just about seeking approval from others. It also includes fear of developing a stigma, being ostracized, or just plain ridiculed. You will always encounter critics and criticism, some of which may be valid. You must learn how to accept valid criticisms, learn from them and improve without letting any of it shake your confidence or commitment. Being able to face criticism without it sabotaging you will ultimately strengthen your self-motivation.
- Reconnect with what drove you in the first place.
The daily grind can be harsh, and when you have a lot on your plate, it’s easy to lose focus. The old cliche calls it not being able to see the forest for the trees. Take a step back and do something that reminds you of why you committed to this in the first place. If, for example, you were setting up a niche retail business for enthusiasts, instead of letting yourself get bogged down with running the business, get out and do the thing you love — the thing that inspired you to start the business. Staying self-motivated is easier when you feel passionate about what it is you’re doing.
- Break out of the rut.
In the same vein of reconnecting with your original inspiration, sometimes the easiest way to find your own motivation again to shake up your routine. Do something different, or try something new. If you have the ability to choose where you work from, go try somewhere new, such as a coffee shop or a co-op space. A change of pace and new scenery may inspire you, or at least give you a fresh perspective.
- Strike a balance between work and play.
Too much stress and too much to do can lead to burnout, which can severely derail you and your goals. It’s great to throw yourself into a project wholeheartedly, but be aware of the dangers of letting it consume your life. Find time to eat, sleep and stay fit. Spend time doing the things that make you happy or alleviate stress.
- Acknowledge your successes.
You may have a lot more to do, but take some time to acknowledge and celebrate what you have already accomplished. You shouldn’t use rewards as a way to motivate yourself every step of the way — in the long run incentivizing like that will do you more harm than good — but take a step back, pat yourself on the back, and go do something else for a little while. You’ve earned it.