I’ve been working on some time-consuming client projects this year, which have not left me enough Me-Time unfortunately (yep, sometimes it’s really not easy for me to follow my own advice) and I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation in the past few weeks.
On my now more-than-one-year journey of writing on my blog (and even longer for other people as a copywriter), I learned some valuable and often painful lessons.
One has been this: Motivation doesn’t just strike when I want it to. I need to take care of that myself. No one else will do it for me.
It’s very rare, that someone wakes up like: “Today is the day, where I’ll start a new chapter in my life and will work out consistently/ eat healthier/ write that novel!” – said no one ever.
How to Motivate Yourself
Step 1: Have a Vision
You need a vision to motivate yourself whenever the path gets dirty, rocky and obstacles rain down on you. What is it you want to achieve? Publish your own book? Have rock-hard abs? Have a house in Bali (it’s a thing, I swear)?
Us humans, we are vision oriented and love visually appealing images (do you hear instagram/fb singing Hallelujah?). We can use this to our advantage by creating vision boards. This could be anywhere: on the front of your fridge, on a pinboard or on a DIY cardboard poster.
Put images on your vision board, that show your personal vision best. It’s yours, so put anything you like on there. If it’s stacks of money, well, then so be it. If you have images of yourself (maybe your were fitter in the past and your vision is to get back in shape), even better. Have a look at your board at least once a week and your vision(s) won’t seem so distant and unrealistic anymore.
Step 2: Set Goals
Set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Here’s an explanation in case you haven’t heard about this concept: Goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and have a Timeframe.
Let’s see an example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal: Don’t say something like “I wanna be fitter”.
Instead say something like “I want to be able to perform 1 pull-up (specific and measurable) in 4 months counting from today and will do so by getting a customized workout plan and going to the gym each Monday, Wednesday and Saturday (achievable, realistic and it has a timeframe).”
Step 3: Track your Progress
Have a system in place to track your progress on your S.M.A.R.T. goals. This can be anything from sitting down once a week pen and paper in hand and reviewing how many of your weekly tasks you have accomplished up to taking weekly progress pictures to track your body transformation and writing down measurements when working out.
If you’re on a writing schedule, you could track your progress by setting a daily word limit you need to write plus weekly/monthly milestones e.g. editing, layout setting, further outlines, further story development etc.
Use paper or excel spreadsheets or whatever (I love Airtable!). Just have a system in place. Amen.
Step 4: Celebrate (even small) Victories
YES!!! You got to where you wanted! Celebrate!!!
Celebrating could be getting pampered and allowing yourself some well-deserved me-time. Maybe there’s this book you wanted to get forever. Have a break and visit a friend for coffee. Go to the movies. Treat yourself to a nice dinner. Just don’t stuff your face with a pint of chocolate ice-cream because you’re so happy about your body transformation, please 😀
Ah… and learn from your failures. You didn’t hit your monthly goal? Maybe it was too ambitious in the first place (nothing against being ambitious, but I used to be on the verge to having slightly unrealistic goals, which isn’t helpful trust me), then it’s time to adjust it for the month to come. We all need small victories and not hitting our goals consistently is probably the most disappointing and demotivating thing ever.
Just Do It
Once we set our vision and dream goal, know all the theory behind the motivation thing and are so ready to get to work – how do we begin in practice?
I learned to follow the Nike slogan: Just do it. Dead simple. I sit down and start working. Ok, it’s not that simple – it’s really hard. Especially the sitting down part. At least, it is for me.
When I’m in the middle of writing or my workout, I’m loving life and feel the motivation running through my bloodstream! It’s overcoming the resistance to start and to continue working on my goals, I’m struggling with on a regular basis.
It got easier (and still gets easier) the more I do it, because it becomes a habit and part of my routine… but the resistance will probably never disappear completely.
My Daily Routines
Things I do to make my life less of a mess include daily routines. I created them so certain tasks e.g. sit down to write or go to the gym became habits. I go to the gym every morning before having breakfast. No exceptions (unless I’m not feeling well).
I usually put my gym clothes out the evening before and in the morning I only need to put them on. There’s no time contemplating if I should go and work out or not while looking for the right gear. That way I pretty much eliminated the chance of me trying to convince myself not to go to the gym because “ugh, it’s too early” or “I don’t feel like it” and rather chill on the couch.
Another example is this: I sit down at my desk every morning around 9:15 with a cup of tea or coffee and write into my journal for a couple of minutes. I follow up on the news by reading a daily German magazine newsletter.
Only then I start my work day, which is planned out for each day up to 90% leaving very little flexibility in getting stuff done (e.g. Blog Post Day, Freelancing Day, Video Editing Day etc.).
The first thing I do is writing down any task I need to complete that day Bullet Journal style. Then I mark the important ones and the timeframes I plan to complete the task.
If the task is huge and more of a week or month long task, I write it into my week or month overview of my Bullet Journal and split it up into manageable chunks, that can be completed within a day.
And then I get going. You need to make tasks and project milestones as easy as possible for you to start working on them. But you need to work.
Take it One Day at a Time
The other day I read an interview about an author and he explained what motivation means to him: “I write today to postpone the day, that I won’t be able to write anymore. It’s the same reason why I work out. To postpone the day, I won’t be able to work out anymore.”
So, work hard and take it one day at a time. Or one step at a time. I don’t have to finish my whole project today. I don’t have to have a finished novel by the end of the week, I won’t have a strong and lean body after just one workout. And that’s fine.
How do you motivate yourself? What’s your personal recipe? Comment and let me know 🙂
Weekly Nuggets of Wisdom
Here’s my list full of inspiration to read, listen to, watch and do about “Motivation” – I hope you enjoy it!
…reading: “The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield. A must for every writer or creative person. Like a kick in the butt. It’s super thin so you can read it within an hour or two and it explains the concept of overcoming the resistance to do anything that needs to be done.
Also just because: God, I’m a real sucker for everything Beyoncé does. And this Vogue interview is no exception: It’s a beautiful piece about body positivity, motherhood, heritage and strong & fierce women. Maybe I’ll print it and hang it above my bed. Yes, it’s really that wonderful! Oh, and the pictures are breath-taking, too!
…listening to: I know, I know, I’m repeating myself. Cheryl Strayed is one of my favorite authors. She’s wise, she’s kind and honest, she gives great life advice and writes awesome books. And she’s hilarious AF. This podcast episode with Tim Ferriss proves it: Cheryl Strayed – How to be creative like a motherf*ucker.
…watching: Mel Robbins’ TEDx Talk about Motivation is definitely one of those videos, we should watch once a month. It’s an eye-opening kick in the ass to get going with whatever we’re hesitating to do. About 22 minutes long.
…doing: How about finally starting to work on your dream goal right now? Write down 5 of your S.M.A.R.T. goals today and split them into smaller achievable chunks. Realize one of those small “sub-goals” in the next 24 hours. Make sure that it’s a realistic sub-goal and possible to do. If it’s not, split that sub-goal down into even smaller goals. You can achieve anything in life, I believe in you <3
Tell me about your goal setting journey in the comment section below 🙂