That picture just cracks me up!
Have you ever gotten started on a project – feeling more vigor and life and excitement than you’ve ever felt before about a project? You were PUMPED!! You couldn’t wait to get started! Right?
And then a few days later or maybe a few weeks into the project you had lost all your gusto. Your sails were empty and you found yourself sitting there wishing you could be out with friends or watching a movie or even cleaning the house just so that you could be doing something OTHER than that thing you really should be doing? Am I right?
I think we all go through this from time to time and probably…. now that I think about it… probably a lot more often than we realize.
My Motivation Is Lacking. As In Right Now.
I’m going through a slump in my motivation even as I write this article. So, I thought motivation was a fitting topic for today. As was the photo of the donkey with its head against the wall.
Some of you may know that I started a project – a 30-day challenge – three weeks ago and I’m struggling to not just throw in the towel. I won’t, but man do I want to. It’s SO MUCH WORK! I have one week left and then, according to the schedule, it looks like a 5th week has been included for some additional follow-up topics. Ugh. The light at the end of the tunnel just got a little dimmer.
I’m not really complaining. I’d do it again if given the chance. I know my pain is temporary and by feeling it, I know I’m growing. So it’s a good thing.
I have been learning a LOT during this challenge, too. I’m old-school so I take a lot of notes. My coveted, hardcover Leuchtturm1917 * dot-grid notebook is nearly full and I’ve been putting a lot in OneNote too. We’ve covered so much material in this challenge. It’s been amazing and the best $100 I’ve ever spent.
Through this challenge, I’m also learning just how much I can accomplish. Keeping that fact in mind is part of what keeps me going.
Anticipating the Setback
It’s nearly impossible to go through an entire project from start to finish without setbacks though. They’re pretty inevitable, at least in my experience they are, and I don’t think I’m the odd one out on this. When I was a programmer, I spent more time debugging than writing code. When developing marketing campaigns for people timelines were always shifting and before you could complete step C you had to go fix something from step A again.
Setbacks are just a part of reality. We have to deal with them. Maybe we cry a little about them first (I’m being sarcastic right now – but we’ve all been there), and our ego may try to convince us that the goal really isn’t worth our time and energy. We may question whether or not we should just give up.
But then, something changes. We remember why we’re doing what we’re doing in the first place and we pick ourselves back up. We find enough oomph to keep going and just get through it.
I’m optimistic, so I don’t like to plan for setbacks, yet, I still find it advantageous to have a few tricks up my sleeve so that I can nip any setbacks in the bud before they really take hold.
Techniques to Help Keep the Motivation Flowing
Setbacks are a big motivation killer. They can come at you without warning and BAM! You’ve got a problem on your hands and you have to figure out what to do. Meanwhile, your motivation just had a steel ball and chain wrapped around its ankle and is about to be tossed out to sea. So what do we do? How can we keep ourselves from drowning?
Well, here are a few of the techniques I’ve gathered over the years that I find helpful.
1. Make Note of Your Accomplishments
I already hinted at this, but look back at everything you’ve accomplished! Wow! Look at how far you’ve come and how many steps closer you are to your goal than you were a day or a week or a month ago. I’m always amazed at what I can accomplish when I set my mind to it. If you struggle to remember the things you accomplish, find a notebook or something and write down your accomplishments each day.
Better yet, break down your goals into manageable tasks and make a list. As you complete them cross them off the list. Leave the list in a place where you can see it so that you can literally see your progress.
2. Take Breaks to Move Your Body
Our brains operate at peak performance when we’re active, so go for a walk whenever you’re feeling a lack of motivation or whenever you’re struggling to get through something. While you’re walking try to think of a solution to whatever it is you’re trying to solve. Create a moment for Intentional Thought!
Just make sure that you don’t take too long to get back at it. If you shift your focus for too long (more than 2-3 minutes) it can take as long as 20-30 minutes to get back into the same level of focus. Ouch – that will kill anyone’s productivity for the day.
3. Find Like-Minded People and Hang Out With Them
There is nothing more inspiring than hanging out with other go-getters that will support you and push you to reach your goal. They’re also great for those times when you need to bounce ideas off of someone. Talking through issues can often leave us feeling more motivated and our excitement rejuvenated.
Find local groups through Meetup.com or forums. Find other groups within your industry that are trying to achieve something similar. These types of groups are often filled with optimistic people that are ready to shower you with heavy doses of encouragement. Facebook is loaded with these types of groups as is LinkedIn. Start networking to find “your people.”
4. Find Someone Who Will Hold You Accountable
When the going gets tough, do it anyway because having to tell someone why you didn’t do what you said you were going to do is more stressful than just sucking it up and getting it done. That’s the idea behind a business coach at least. You hire them. They help you figure out what you should be working on as well as deadlines, and then they hold you to it.
You don’t have to pay someone to be this parental-type figure for you. Just find a friend that isn’t afraid to tell you how it is if you mess up. They don’t have to be mean, but military experience is a plus. (I’m kidding. It must be the moon or something. I think it’s supposed to be a new moon in a couple of days, actually.)
5. Break Tasks Down Into Manageable Pieces
I mentioned this recently in my article about how Your Thoughts Are Holding You Back. If we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed by setbacks and issues that come up or even about the large amount of work ahead of us, our motivation will sink like dead weight.
Break down larger tasks and projects into manageable pieces. Set realistic timeframes. If you have an email or sales letter to create and you think it will take you 4 hours, schedule for 8. It will boost your confidence and your motivation when you can cross something off the list that you thought would take longer.
It’s a mind game really, but it’s helpful and it works to keep us motivated.
6. Reward Yourself for Your Progress!
At the end of the week, take a look at everything you’ve accomplished. Compare that to where you started. Look at the issues you had to deal with and what you learned in the process of doing so. Allow yourself to be PROUD of your progress and accomplishments. Be kind and grateful toward yourself for sticking with it another day, another week, or another month.
Tracking our progress is probably one of the best and most effective methods for building and sustaining motivation. So don’t skimp on it. Go ahead. Do it right now. Stretch an arm around and give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it.
Curious about Leuchtturn1917?
Watch this video for proper pronunciation of Leuchtturn as well as some brief history behind the words and the company.
P.S. – Sharing your motivation tips with others is apparently also a good way to build yourself up again. I’m feeling much better after sharing all of this and I’m ready to tackle the next step in my 30-Day Challenge again. Yay! Go me!
Just look at those cute, happy donkey faces! Don’t you feel more motivated now, too?