As I sat getting a stick up my nostril for a COVID test, I distracted myself by reading the sign on the doctor’s wall. “These instruments are expensive to replace. Please do not touch them.”
Would that have motivated you to touch them, not touch them or …?
Your reaction has a lot to do with your perspective. And your perspective is linked to your motivation.
Motivation is something we need in spades as we navigate through these trying times. Yet, we don’t take the time to figure out what specifically amps-up and tamps down our particular motivation. Motivation styles differ from person to person.
Do you know your motivation style?
I’ve got eight ways to amp up your motivation but first, let’s dig a little deeper into that elixir called motivation that we all so desperately need and value.
Motivation comes from inside of us (as opposed to accountability, which is an outside force).
Motivation is like a muscle – it needs working out, and it also needs to rest to be most effective.
The Heath Brothers, in their excellent book- ‘Switch – how to change things when change is hard’ -talk about motivation via the beasts that live inside us, namely our elephant and rider.
Our elephant is our emotional side, and our rider is our rational, holder of the reins side. Both are necessary and important, but we tend to vastly underestimate how hard it is for the rider to steer the elephant.
Here’s a summary of our elephants and riders.
Now that you’re in the know- how important motivation is, here are eight ways to amp yours up.
And bonus: There’s a link to find out your very own motivational style at the end of this post.
Eight ways to amp up your motivation, even and especially if it’s in the dump right now
1. Pay attention to your habits.
Your habits have a HUGE impact on your motivation. They can either suck the life out of your motivation or give it a super, jet fuel- powered lift off.
For example: I’ve recently started meditating regularly. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for ages. I’m proud to say I’m more than 30 days in, meditating regularly. What helps is a bunch of simple habits. For example, I use and adore Insight Meditation. I meditate in the same place, at the same time every day. And I have beautiful things in front of me to look at while I’m settling in. These things have all helped me make meditation a habit, which has really amped-up my motivation to meditate. It’s a victorious cycle (Get it? As opposed to a vicious cycle).
When you’re trying to motivate yourself to do something, build some simple habits around yourself, and you’ll be much more successful and motivated.
2. Make it fun and bundle it up with something else
Fun isn’t well, just fun, it’s strategic. Having fun leads to higher retention and more. So be strategic and bundle up whatever- it is you’re trying to do with something that is fun.
For example: I have a year-long goal to declutter three things a day from my home. A year seems like a really long time, so I knew I needed something fun to motivate me. Enter the ISE app. I take a picture of all the items I’m clearing and upload it to the app, which makes a movie out of each daily image. Super simple (see point three) and super fun.
Think about how you can make some fun out of something you’re trying to motivate yourself to do.
3. Make it simple as in KISS → Keep It Stupid Simple
Trying to get up your motivation to do something? Make a small goal. Then cut it in half. Then in half again. Research shows you’ll be wayyyy more likely to succeed. Make it so easy that you cannot possibly fail or flail.
Now going back to the meditation example. Before starting I turned to a few friends, who I knew meditated and asked for their tips. One of them said when she started, she set her goal as one minute. One minute to meditate! Who can’t do that? Easy peasy.
Think about how you can amp up your motivation by keeping things really simple, like stupid simple.
We need to lift ourselves up and celebrate all the tough stuff we’re wading through. And yet, too often, we finish one thing, only to rush onto the next without patting ourselves on the back in big or small ways.
For example: I happen to live in Nairobi, Kenya, where fresh flowers are abundant and awesome. After completing a big project, I’ll go out and buy an armful, especially tubular roses if they’re in season as they fill my home with a gorgeous scent.
Add to your motivation by celebrating in ways that are meaningful to you. Big and small.
5. Bookend your day
How we start and end our days have a huge impact on us, including but not limited to our motivation. Starting out your day on the wrong side of the bed, and it just takes so much more effort to get back on track. We tend to remember things that happen first and last, so you better believe it’s important to have some rituals or routines around your day. Or what I call bookends.
For example, my morning bookend includes moisturizing my hands and feet, drinking a water bottle’s worth of water, and going for a walk. My evening routine includes practicing piano, planning my next day, and uploading my clutter picture of the day (see number two). Notice how they’re not hard or time-consuming and how they contribute to me starting and ending my day on a good note, a.k.a. motivating me.
(If you’re saying to yourself, ‘Waaaah! Practicing piano is hard!’ Nope, for me, I’m using the Simply Piano app, which makes it fun. And I don’t put pressure on myself, I practice only about fifteen minutes a day.)
We all start and stop our days with bookends, just make sure yours are healthy and make you happy and motivated.
6. Watch your hygiene, your digital hygiene that is
It’s really important to keep up with what’s going on in our community and our world but too much bad news can be hard on your health, wear you down and dampen your motivation.
For example: I balance regular news outlet summary, highlight emails I read using an extension called Momentum, which literally gives me an inspirational quote and picture every time I open a tab.
Take an inventory of your own digital hygiene and see if you need to make an adjustment in order to help your motivation.
7. Watch your brain ears
I used to tell my kids when they were little that they had an extra set of ears inside their heads. And that these ears weren’t all that smart, so you had to be really careful what you told them. If you thought to yourself -“I’m not good at math,” for example, your brain ears would believe you, and poof, you’d suck at math.
Now I call it mindset. Nothing sucks the motivation out of us faster than our own brain ears or mindset.
Make sure, make sure, make sure that you are helping yourself by having kind, gentle, helpful, and motivating thoughts.
8. Record record record
We can easily get adrift in a sea of maybes, sort of, kind of, someday. My final tip to help you increase your motivation is, to record things related to whatever- it is you’re trying to achieve.
Write in your journal, keep an excel sheet to track your progress, make an audio recording, draw, and/or create a digital inspiration board using a tool like Padlet. Doesn’t matter how you record your progress, do it in a way that makes sense for you and watch your motivation take flight.
For example: I’m in the midst of collating the digital tools I use to project manage, record learning content, etc. I’m playing around with Google Sheets by having lovely looking, colorful sheets with gorgeous colors that I can sort quickly and easily. Voila! This record means I can see what my goals are each quarter, month, week, etc.
In summary, when your motivation has abandoned you or what’s there is scarce and needs to be amped- up, use my eight tips and watch your motivation muscles expand.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead.
- Take my motivation survey and find out what fuels (or cools) your jets.
- Pause for a laugh before focusing on your motivation, especially now when down feels like up and up feels like is down!
- Use the eight techniques above and apply them to something you’re specifically needing to get motivated about.
P.S. My free monthly Learning and Development Roundtable on February 19th, about how to create a Learning Plan for you and your team that rocks, is happening soon . Get more info and register here. Deadline to RSVP is Feb 17th.
Jo Ellen says
I attended a short workshop that you were leading at a CSTD conference decades ago. You were engaging, on target, and funny back then and you have continued to be this and more. I love your blogs and all the lessons and tips you give your readers. Thank you very much!
Hi Jo! So lovely to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated. I’m so glad the blogs resonate with you. Cheers. Stay well. Stay safe. Stay creative.
Eugene Kaiga says
Such an amazing read and better yet, fantastic points to point one in the right direction. What I love most about this is the practicality of it all. Thank you for sharing these.
Lee-Anne Ragan says
I’m so delighted it resonated for you Eugene! Cheers. Stay well. Stay safe. Stay creative.