Unmotivated employees cost companies $300billion each year.
How many times have you set well-planned goals and followed them for days until you finally lost the motivation and sprung back to the start?
All of us have been there. The puzzle of motivation has webbed everyone.
The struggle to stay motivated is real. These fluctuations are a part of success and everyone is guilty of them.
You might get motivated to accomplish something and follow the schedule you set strictly, for a week. After that, we’ve all experienced our energies and inspiration melt away.
However, there are still theories that you could use when you just “don’t feel like” working towards your goal.
Let me tell you all about these theories to help you become productive even when you don’t feel motivated:
1. Don’t Make Goals, Make Habits
I’m gonna break the big bubble to you: Your goals are overrated.
Like everyone, I also relied too much on self-discipline and became overconfident in my abilities. Little did I know, staying motivated required much more than that.
You don’t need goals, you need habits.
Habits are easy. They stick when goals don’t. And habits are specific, you know what you need to do and when do you need to do it.
The reason why most of us make goals and not habits is because, goals feel much more inspiring in our minds than habits.
But the reality is, you need to develop the underlying habits for you to change yourself.
Goals finish and swing back to where you started. With habits, you have to just consistently repeat what you’ve been doing for weeks until it finally becomes a way of your life.
In Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, he notes how many of the famous artists followed a consistent ritual:
- Anthony Trollope, who wrote more than two dozen books in his lifetime, wrote 3000 words every morning.
- Haruki Murakami wakes up at 4AM, writes for five hours and then goes for a run.
Creative work isn’t created by setting up a fancy, sexy-sounding goal, it’s done by following consistent rituals and practices, developing them into habits.
When you say something cliche like: “I will write a bestseller this year”, it becomes much easier to put that goal off till June, July or at whatever point when you realize it’s too late.
On the other hand, habits only take 66 days of consistent effort to become automatic.
So screw goals, no matter how cool they sound. Adopt habits. Make rituals. Pick any small component of your goal and do it for the next 66 days.
Did you read that? I said pick any small component of your goal:
2. Start Small
If you keep the difficulty level of your to an epitome you cannot reach, you will become demotivated to continue it at all. It is too difficult.
On the extreme, if you keep it too low, you will get demotivated because it is too easy.
Tasks that are below your current abilities are boring, tasks that are beyond are discouraging. You have to set a target that’s right on the boundary. Keep the difficulty level juuusst right.
You shouldn’t need motivation to start. Starting is the most important part. Keep it so simple that you cannot deny it.
So, let’s go back to: “I will write bestseller this year.” Start by writing just 200 words each day.
That shouldn’t be hard. Anyone can sit down to write 200 words. If you procrastinate on this as well, make it even smaller: Write just 10 words each day.
It doesn’t take effort to sit down and write 10 words. And yes, you aren’t allowed to judge how those words are.
They can be crappy, meaningless, boring, it just has to be 10 words.
A common misconception about motivation is that, it is a cause of action. In real life, it’s the opposite.
Action is the cause of motivation.
That’s why keep starting simple. When you get started, you’ll realize that it becomes easier to continue.
You don’t have to be willing to finish, you have to be willing to start. Willingness to start is the tiniest things that makes the biggest difference.
But, how do you get the willingness to start?
3. Create The Right Environment
Environment is often underrated.
Sure, your self-discipline, willpower and luck matter, but these things are overvalued. Environment matters more.
Unknowingly, environment shapes human behavior. You’re more likely to study in a library and more likely to blow away all the hours amidst your peers.
One of the easiest and crucial tricks to not falling into procrastination is creating an inevitable environment.
Create an environment that makes it harder not to do it rather than doing it.
Environment overpowers your personal characteristics. Your determination matters, but the odds of your success are maximised if you work in an environment that accelerates your actions.
You will be willing to start your bestseller if you go in a silent place (probably full of scenery) and you feel all poetic and quiet.
Let the environment put your decisions on autopilot.
Staying motivated in the long run is a tricky business. We tend to lose inspiration after a couple of weeks and swing back to where we started.
With the following tips you can stay motivated even when you don’t feel like it:
- Build habits instead of goals. Goals may sound cooler in our brains, but habits are easier to build and to achieve. By forming a habit, you don’t only achieve your goal, you change way of your life.
- Start with the smallest component of your target. Design simple tasks that you cannot deny. If you keep the difficulty level just right according to your abilities, you will not be demotivated.
- Environment is often underrated. Create an environment that makes you take actions that you scheduled.
What strategies do you follow for keeping yourself motivated? How did these theories work for you?
I’d love to know in the comments below.