A quick Google search will find you 168,000,000 (yup, that’s 168 million) ways to increase your motivation. And for all their good intentions, I’ve not actually found any of the advice to be all that useful in helping me get off my backside and do the things I want to do.
Motivation is defined as the reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way. That’s it. Just reasons. Or to put it even more simply, thoughts and feelings. The problem is, these thoughts and feelings just don’t seem to be translating into actually doing stuff.
So what’s missing?
Sitting around waiting for motivation to strike and propel you into action is a bit like trying to get rich by waiting for a magic unicorn to appear bearing wads of cash.
That said, this isn’t a terrible strategy if you’re in a situation that’s really painful. Like when there’s a giant grizzly bear chasing you, you’re likely to feel like running quite a lot. Although I’m pretty sure you’re not actually supposed to run away from them, your motivation in that situation is probably enough to get you moving PDQ.
But when you’re pretty comfortable in your current situation, your need to change is quite low, and therefore so is your motivation. We’ve all been there, telling ourselves how we’ll absolutely do it later, but not this week because I don’t want to miss the new Big Bang Theory, or after things have calmed down at work. But ‘later’ never arrives and before you know it, weeks/months and sometimes even years have gone by and nothing’s changed.
So waiting for motivation doesn’t really lead to much of anything, other than getting frustrated with yourself for not doing anything, and then feeling bad because your initial motivation has all but disappeared and still nothing has changed.
I’ve found that there is one surefire way to increase your motivation, but it’s nothing to do with finding your ‘why’ and visualising the end result . The answer is annoyingly simple.
Do something. Anything.
The doers ‘no‐backing‐out’ guide to taking action (and increasing your motivation)
Step 1 ‐ We need to think about motivation differently.
We’ve got motivation and action the wrong way around. Action isn’t what comes after motivation suddenly strikes. Action is what CAUSES motivation.
The fastest way to achieving what you want is to take action. Even if you don’t feel like doing something.
Motivation by itself is pretty useless. Unless you actually do something, it’s just a feeling. But the funny thing is, that after taking action, your motivation will increase. So you’re more likely to do something again. That initial motivation is necessary, but not the only thing.
Step 2 ‐ Do it
Once you’ve realised that motivation isn’t going to show up by itself, the next step is to take action. You just need to pick something, preferably something small, which leads us to…
2a ‐ Do something small.
This is especially important if you want to make a big change. Changing your life is such a big goal, no wonder you’re staring at it and thinking, there’s no way you can do that. Huge goals especially can paralyse you into complete inaction.
So to beat it, you just need to take a single step. What’s one small thing you can do to get you closer to that goal? If you dream of opening your own restaurant one day, could you take a cookery class or even train to be a chef in the evenings? You don’t have to save the money to buy a place, plan your menu and hire the staff all at once!
Or what if you want to travel, but the idea of leaving your life to live out of a backpack and share dorm rooms with strangers is just too far of a mental jump? How about a few day trips. Be a tourist in your own town and explore places close by that you’ve never really seen. Who says you have to go far away for a long time? As you take those smaller trips, your confidence will start to build. You’ll learn more about yourself and be able to decide whether a six‐month trip really is for you. You don’t have to see the world all in one go.
Tell us below, what’s the first small step you’re going to take?
2b ‐ Give yourself consequences.
If you definitely want to make sure you can’t talk yourself out of something, there are two nifty tricks that can help.
1 ‐ pay for it in advance (as soon as the motivation strikes). This works best for things that are time‐specific, like classes and lessons ‐ I’m sure we all know buying a book or the materials are no guarantee you’ll ever use them!
2 ‐ Do it with a friend. That way neither of you will want to let the other one down. (This is how I managed to get to an entire week of yoga at 6.30 every single morning!)
So there you have it, a foolproof way to get you doing the things you want to, whether your motivation decides to show up or not. So, now you’re ready to book something (I knew you would be), join us at go‐do.it and we’ll help you connect the dots. Welcome to your new adventures!
Also published on Medium.