Tips to start your motivation engine

Today I want to share a few thoughts on how to deal with moments when you feel demotivated to do a task.

Many times in life we have to do things we don’t feel like doing. Low motivation and inspiration can hit you in any moment of your daily life. If you haven’t had such cases in the past, feel free to skip this article. :)

If you are still here, continue reading at your own pace.

I enjoy reading thoughts like “Follow your happiness” or “ Do what you love” and similar. Unfortunately, life doesn’t care much about that.

The game goes on, no matter how motivated or inspired you are! There are two choices. Either play to the best of your capabilities or sit on the bench and let your spirit rotten.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you
carry it.”
― Lou Holtz

Fortunately for us one of the 3 constants in life is Change. Things are changeable, you can get out of that black hole that is sucking the life out of you. With small adjustments in the attitude the whole situation can be changed.

Yes, you can start getting shit done and feel good about it!

Some context

As I’ve mentioned before, I am very lucky to have a great job that I enjoy doing daily. Yet, I am trading my time and freedom of choice to get stable income and other perks. It is more or less similar situation for most full time employees out there.

Most of the time I am eager to execute my tasks. But from time to time, I have to do tasks that are not that enjoyable. Tasks that are necessary and can’t be avoided.

Getting annoying task on my Trello board

Tasks such as: documenting research, email correspondence, scheduling meetings, exporting files etc. . Not exactly burning with desire to do these, but at the same time no one else will get them done for me. Sounds familiar?

So what to do to stay away from procrastination and to keep motivation high?

Center yourself

The most important thing to do in any challenging situation is to assess where you stand at the moment. To be able to go anywhere you need to start from here and now!

Getting demotivated is caused by thinking about all the effort that will be needed to do the task.

Example: All these keyboard strokes will cause my fingers to break before I finish this document. Terrible! I don’t want to do it.

When you refocus your thoughts from the future full of effort to the present, your mind will get cleared. There is no rush to start immediately. Take your time to asses the situation. Take 3–5 deep breaths and become aware of what is happening right now.

You see, our minds like to be busy. Especially with thinking of the future or past. By getting the mind to here and now, all that mental energy will start to accumulate. It won’t be consumed by anything.

This accumulated mental energy will become the key to do the task you don’t feel like doing.

Think of the opportunity

When coffee is not enough anymore to spark the light in my eyes, there is one thing left that gets me going. Thinking of the opportunity!

After you asses the situation and manage to get your mind in the now moment, you need to refocus again on the task. This time the focus will have a specific angle.

Think of the opportunity you are facing, not the obligation!

Usually the type of tasks that demotivate us feel like obligation.

“I have to ____ .”

Annoying task: Write documentation about new feature that is about to be released.

When thinking about the obligation: I will need to make a draft, then it needs to be checked by copywriters and all other stakeholders. There will be at least several iterations and I will have to make some “Cool screenshots or illustrations”.

When thinking about the opportunity: I will be able to practice my writing and communication skills. There will be an opportunity to create stronger relationship with some of the stakeholders. I have the chance to do some new graphic design and get a bit creative. This document will support the feature my team has built. There will be people who will be grateful that it helped them.

Do you see the different focus? Do you see how this can influence your motivation and feelings about the task?

Thinking about the opportunity doesn't guarantee that the task will be joyful. In fact, most of the time it will be still pain in the ass! At the least, it will get you started and allow you to be more productive.

Keep the motivation engine running

“Keep Going! Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Once you get momentum things will get a bit easier. There is one approach that I find useful in keeping the motivation engine going.

Start thinking in more detail about the impact you will have on the surrounding environment and people. Think of how your actions are changing the world.

When we think of future events and what impact they will have, our brain chemistry reacts as we are experiencing them now. This can be used to spark a very strong drive to achieve whatever we are imagining.

Final thoughts

Lets sum up. Stabilize your thoughts in the current moment, here and now. Accumulate mental energy to propel you forward.

Focus on the goal and what opportunities it opens for you. Think of how your actions will impact your surroundings. Feel all these future emotions and transfer them to the now. Use that energy to keep the motivation engine running.

Believe that every difficult situation presents an opportunity for you to change the world even if it is just a bit. Make a habit of searching for the opportunity and you will forget how it feels to be demotivated.

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Sharing what I study & practice. Pragmatic tips about designing, health and self-development with the hope it might help someone else.

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