Motivation. It can prove elusive and, yet, it is one of the most important ingredients in creating the life that we most want to be living. Today, I am offering 10 tips on how to really plug into, galvanize, and spark your motivation so that you can fuel your passion projects (and, well, the crap that just needs to get done) on every step of the journey.
Know your why. When I started running and biking, I regularly signed up for races. And, yet, I dreaded race day. Running in a crowd isn’t fun for me. I love open Saturday mornings that can be a bit more leisurely and yet there were all these damn races on my docket. Finally, I stopped and asked myself WHY. Why was I signing up for these races? And, well, I realized two things. I was new to running (I call my brand of athleticism Adult Onset) and so since everyone else was running races, I thought I needed to do the, too, and I worried that I wouldn’t run without a race ahead of me. As it turns out, neither are true. I run because it gives me quiet time in the still of the day to doing something loving for my body while giving my brain space and time to ruminate and dream. I LOVE how I feel after a run and that is plenty of motivation to get me running when I want to (as it turns out, I don’t want to in the dead of winter). Now, the only race I do is the annual Run Big Dream Big race for Circle de Luz because, as it turns out, I do love running for a cause.
If you are just going through the motions with a goal, there’s just not enough there to light your fire. With every goal you set, ask yourself what your WHY is because it is your WHY that is going to keep you invested when things get hard.
Prioritize. I keep track of all my to dos on a big ole running to do list. It is nothing sexy, just a growing list on a yellow legal pad, but I look at it every week when I am doing my weekly review and the very first thing I plan is everything that is time sensitive. Once I have done that, I know what kind of room I have for other, less time sensitive, things, and I put those on my to do list. Often, we’re overwhelmed by a big to do list but if you have perspective and plan to do the time sensitive things first, it isn’t as overwhelming. There will always be more stuff to do, I know, but make your life less stressful by putting in the time for the time-sensitive stuff.
Break things down. There are projects we never start (and then keep moving from to do list to to do list) because they are just so mammoth. Break them down. Any big thing on my list gets broken down into parts. For example, I have a book proposal that I really need to write. I can keep book proposal on my to do list just like that and never find time for it because that’s a huge task and I never have that many hours in a day or I can break it down to create book proposal outline (just a list of what needs to go in the proposal) and then spread out the to dos by writing Part 1 over two days, Part 2 over another two days, etc. Breaking things down really allows you to get more done, faster.
Schedule smart. Know your very best times of days or days of the week to do things and then schedule your tasks appropriately. My heavy concentration work needs to happen before lunch. I like to do laundry on Fridays rather than the weekends because laundry feels like mad work and I want as little to feel like mad work on the weekends as possible. It is still not my favorite chore but I don’t resent it as much when it is not sucking me dry on the weekend. If I am in meetings all day on Monady, I never quite feel right for the rest of the week. Monday is an important day for me to set the tone for my week and so I schedule as little as possible on Mondays (not completely avoidable but mostly so). Know when and how you work best and schedule accordingly.
Know your limits. Don’t force more than you should into a day. Don’t volunteer for things that will drive you bonkers. And just be honest about it. Play to your strengths and let others play to their’s. You do not have to be every girl. You just have to be good at what is true for you. Want to better understand your strengths? Try out Strengthsfinder 2.0.
Have an accountability buddy. If you are most responsive to other people, have an accountability buddy. You don’t even have to be working on the same things. You might tell that person “Hey, I am working on this goal and I would love for you to check in with me once a week” or it may be someone who has a similar goal or responsibility and you can directly support each other on the journey. If you know that you respond most to people in your motivation, use that special connection to see you through your goals!
Set a deadline. Some people most respond to a looming deadline. If that’s you, then you need to give yourself a completion date. Then work backwards, breaking your goal into parts so that you can fit all the parts in before the deadline. Sometimes you can combine a deadline and an accountability buddy (“I am going to have this to you by August 1 to eyeball”, for example) for maximum motivation benefit!
Keep track. Sometimes we have things we need or want to do but we forget them in the midst of everything else. This is where the giant To Do list really does help. Keeping track of what you want to do is an essential step towards actually getting it done (sometimes we think, well, if it is important to me, I’ll remember it. I am hear to say that memory goes a lot sooner than you think!). But don’t just keep track of what you want to do. Also keep track of what you get done. Make a list of accomplishments and in journey pieces. Watching yourself log the hours and effort into making your dreams real creates a feeling of success and success breeds success.
Ask for help. You do not have to fly solo for every thing you want to do. Seek help. From Pinterest research to plan the perfect birthday party for your kid or dinner party for your neighbors to how to train for a 10k to learning how to knit, there is help everywhere—online and in person. And people really love to be asked. In the end, we all just want to be seen, heard, and recognized for what we bring to the table. That is actually a big motivator in and of itself- being recognized. When you celebrate that in someone else, they can’t help but get a boost and welcome your invitation for help.
Now, it is your turn. What do you do to get or stay motivated?