“How do you motivate yourself?”
I hear this question at least once a week. People find motivation in all sorts of things-family and friends, nature, music or their faith to name a few. All of these are good motivators, and can really push you to get what you need to get done.
I just don’t believe in it.
Hear me out. Motivation is a fickle mistress. Sometimes you wake up ready to tackle the day, and check everything off your To-Do List. Other times, Facebook or Netflix or the dog or that crack in the wall are just more captivating to your attention. I myself have spent hours on my couch waiting for motivation to strike me like a thunder bolt. I’ve even Googled “how to motivate myself,” (talk about wasting time!).
In my massive Googling foray, I discovered a harsh truth that took me a while to accept: You don’t need motivation to take action; you need to TAKE ACTION to get motivated.
It is such a simple concept that is harder than heck to apply to life. But if you think about it, it’s really true. How many times have you started to pick up just a little in your kitchen and ended up doing a full blown deep cleaning, leaving you with a sparkling stove and gutted refrigerator? One small step often leads to fantastic results.
So what is the trick to harnessing this first step? How do you motivate yourself to take it?
I use a two-prong approach: First, make the step ridiculously small. Laughably small. So small you can’t NOT do it. The classic example is if you don’t feel like a full workout, do one single push up. Often you won’t want to stop, leading to the workout you had planned. If not, then at least you’ve done one push up! For me, I make myself walk into my studio. That’s it. Once I walk into that room full of my projects, I feel a surge of energy and excitement, and I want to work.
The second step is to make step one nonnegotiable. When you were in school and just weren’t motivated to go to school, you still went. Why? Because you HAD to. It wasn’t an option. The same logic applies to this. Returning to our classic example, you have to do that single push up, no matter what. Snowing, raining, tired, busy-no excuse! Days I don’t feel like working, I still have to climb the stairs and open the door to my studio. If I seriously do not want to do anything after that, then it’s okay. Perhaps I’m sick or overly tired or just need a mental health break for a day. 99% of the time, though, I’m just feeling lazy. Being in my studio makes all the laziness melt away.
I am honestly a very lazy person. I subsisted on popcorn and frozen pizza in college simply because it was easier than actually cooking real food. However, I also have goals I want to achieve and dreams I want to accomplish. So that laziness has got to go, and I can’t wait for motivation to just show up!
I challenge you to try this technique for one week and compare your results to a normal week! Let me know your thoughts and progress in the comments below!