“I have a question regarding motivation. You work from home with no one to appease except your fans. How do you find the motivation to continue writing daily? I am student and although I love my field of study, I sometimes think it would be easy to just watch television all day! I want to have the motivation that you obviously have. Please help if you can!”
“I was just wondering if you would consider writing an article on something along the lines drive and productivity. You obviously have a big load of drive and icing attests to your productivity levels. But obviously you are doing something you love; I’m studying journalism, and while I do love it, or at least the notion of future gratification, it requires that I do a lot of boring stuff. So, I clear out my space, make it all pared back, minimal and streamlined, drink 6 cups of coffee then sit down to do my work.. then read the entire internet. Or clean my room. Or go to sleep. I just want to be a productive, driven, over achiever with brilliant time management, is that too much to ask!?”
Motivation comes & goes. In my experience, the more you enjoy doing something, the more motivation you will have to do it. If you’ve been doing something for years & struggling with it every step of the way, it might be an indication that it’s not where you’re meant to be, or not what you’re meant to be doing. Listen to what your brain is telling you! However, sometimes we’re working towards something we’re genuinely excited about, but we hit a little plateau & find it hard to scrabble our way out of it. Eating a lot of ice-cream or watching reality shows on MTV start to sound very appealing. As soon as you start to feel like this, you should do your best to nip it in the bud as soon as you can. The longer it goes on, the harder it is to pull yourself out of it.
My favourite, foolproof way to regain motivation is to use EFT. Usually, after using it, you’ll find that your enthusiasm for the project will come back in about five minutes. “Even though I don’t have any motivation… even though I can’t be bothered… even though I’d rather watch television…” Another thing you can do is use EFT to dig down into the deeper reasons why you’re not motivated. Perhaps you have a fear of failure. The best way to dig through these kinds of things is to ask a question — like, “Why don’t I want to study?” — & then start questioning your answers with “Why?”. It might end up going something like this:
Why don’t I want to study?
Because I can’t be bothered.
Because it’s stupid.
Because it’s a waste of time.
Because I’m never going to be successful anyway.
Then you can use EFT to clear all of those feelings, but obviously feeling like you’re never going to be successful is the big one there. Do you see what I mean?
However, if you don’t want to try that, here are some slightly more conventional (& less effective!) ways of getting back on track!
Set a goal
…Some major, & some minor. Say your major goal is to get a top grade on your exam — the small goals leading up to that will be things like studying for an hour a day, making comprehensive notes & paying attention in class. You can then break these goals down even further if you like. Make a little chart with a space for every class, then put a star or a tick in every class that you pay attention in.
Set some time aside to really think about what you want to achieve & all the little steps on the way. Give your goals a timeframe & make sure they are measurable — so that when you have achieved them, you will know for sure. “Become famous” is not a goal. “Have my picture on cover of Rolling Stone magazine by 7th August 2009” is.
Ideally, these goals should excite you — or at least, the major goals should thrill you enough that it propels you to tick off the minor ones! Making study notes isn’t very stimulating, but the ultimate goal of graduating with honours should hopefully be enough to push you onward.
(There’s more information available on goal setting here.)
How about those of us who are locked into something we’re kind of sick of, but need to complete? Well, sometimes enjoyment or satisfaction can be replaced with a reward. This is similar to those hellish call centres where you get pizza if you hit a sales target — there’s absolutely no joy to be found in the role, so they bribe you with incentives. Think like that! You can reward yourself with anything you like: chocolate, watching a movie, baking cupcakes, an hour of kissing with your lover, a new handbag, or a trip to the beach to make sandcastles. Just make sure it’s something you’re actually psyched about, & make sure you deliver on your promise to reward yourself!
Find some inspiration!
Using EFT as well as having a goal & being inspired is pretty much an unbeatable combination! The best thing is that finding inspiration is really fun. There are lots of ways you can do this. Find pictures that help represent your goal or what you’re working towards.
Maybe you’re trying to grow your business & your ultimate goal is make lots of money — surround yourself with pictures of what you’d do with that money. (Just writing “$1,000,000” on a piece of paper is a bit abstract.) Make a collage of what having money represents to you, & put it near your desk. A picture of St. Barths… a Ferrari… an Hermès Birkin… a photo of the Christian Louboutin store on Madison Avenue… ?
When it comes to inspiration, it really can’t be underestimated. You will find yourself drawn to the things you surround yourself with. When my boyfriend moved in with me last year, we decided to change our lives & as part of that, we looked really closely at all the pictures I had on my walls. Some of them were really depressing — sad-looking thin girls, angry rebellious statements, etc. You name it, I had it on my wall. We took down all the tragic pictures & replaced them with pictures I liked just as much, but which had positive connotations. I know it sounds really weird, but I am convinced that this strongly contributed to the way my life changed. When I look around the iCiNG Bowl now, practically every picture has someone smiling. Your environment impacts on how you feel & how you live!
Write your goal down
As long as it’s not too abstract, write your goal in big letters & put it somewhere that you will see it all the time. Make it your desktop or cellphone wallpaper if you want, but make sure it’s in a place that will really help drill it into your brain. The more you see it, the more you’ll feel it. Phrase it as positively as you can. You will get much better results from writing “Pass with honours & flying colours” than “Don’t suck too hard in your exam”!
Odds are, you are probably not the only person in the world trying to achieve this goal. Of course, we all have different lives, but most people are trying to make more money, or pass a course, or get a great job. The key is to surround yourself with like-minded people. There might be a group you can join — a students association, small business owner’s group, etc. Talk to people about it! Sometimes just feeling like you’re not alone really helps. It’s also a huge bonus to associate yourself with people who have already done what you want to do. It will make your goal seem more realistic & attainable, as well as giving you a valuable resource who can help you out when the going gets tough. (Hint: Be good to your resource! Buy them dinner & tell them how much you appreciate their help.)
Make a timetable
Sometimes it’s our self-discipline that fails us. If you have a schedule, that might make life easier for you. Make it realistic, though — there is nothing sadder than a timetable that doesn’t allow you time to mess around on the internet or go out for a coffee. Think about how you operate. Do you work better with something flexible or something rigid? If you need a strict timetable, use an alarm clock or use Google Calendar’s alerts to keep you on track. If you prefer having fewer limits, leave big gaps in your schedule so that you can nap from 2 ’til 4 if you want. Be true to yourself, though. There’s no point in letting yourself slack off if you need to do the work!
When you’re working on your project, really commit to it. Turn off the television, turn down your music (or make a playlist that’s not going to disturb you, or turn it off completely), tell your flatmates/spouse/children to leave you alone, turn off your phone. Basically, minimise distractions, because you’ll work much better. It drives me nuts if people try to talk to me when I’m in the midst of my writing “flow”! Being on task & working well is magical; that time is precious. Make the most of it!
…But don’t cripple yourself
If you’re really overwhelmingly tired, & the choice is between sleeping & working on your project, you should almost always go for sleep. When you’re exhausted, your brain just doesn’t work as well as it would if you were fully awake. If you nab an extra half hour of sleep, you will find that you are much more productive when you do actually get around to working. Be good to yourself. People work best when they are relaxed, well rested, hydrated & have satisfied bellies!
You can read productivity articles on the internet for hours, but they’re not going to count for much if, afterwards, you just go to sleep! Some of the best advice for writer’s block — after you’ve gone for a walk, had a nap, eaten something, read a magazine & jumped up & down in frustration — is to just start writing. Even if it’s rubbish, just write. Well, this is kind of the same thing. Just start! Make a little step towards your goal. Even if you only work on it for 5 minutes, at least it’s something. You’ll feel better about getting into it tomorrow having done something already.