Getting (and staying) motivated is hard

If you’re anything like me, you love nothing more than getting that extra 10 minutes in bed each morning.

Particularly when the wind is howling and there’s not much more light outside than there is in your darkened bedroom.

But, if you’re anything like me, you still get up and get at it.

Hundreds of times each day we have to choose between the things we want to do and the things we should do. Bed vs exercise, prospecting calls vs two hours on Facebook, take-away or home cooking.

We know what’s good for us but we love what’s easy.

The worst part is, most of us actually want what’s good for us too. Yet we struggle to muster even half the motivation required to do the work. We self-sabotage ourselves, feel defeated and realign our goals to meet our lack of motivation. Or worse, we quit, promising ourselves we’ll “do it tomorrow”.

Any of this sound familiar?

On the flip-side, we all know people who rip in and get the job done. They set their sights high and they work until it’s mission accomplished. Their mission (I like this term so I’m going to keep using it) is a non-negotiable part of their life. It's who they've become.

It's important to remember that getting what we want involves doing the things that we may find boring, unpleasant, or mentally draining.

I hate running. But I enjoy running half marathons surrounded by other like-minded people. I couldn’t finish a race without putting myself through a load of painful, boring and monotonous training.

I’d wager you love doing a deal. What are your chances of feeling that buzz without a load of painful, boring and monotonous training (work) first.

Our brains want the quick win. We all find it difficult to keep up our motivation during our most uncomfortable, unpleasant or boring tasks.

People with higher self-control earn more money, perform better at work, and are generally healthier and happier. Knowing this, let’s talk strategies for making sure we’re all making the most of our motivation, no matter how limited it may be.

  1. Decide what’s worth the effort

We have so many decisions to make every single day that making the right ones 100% of the time is going to be impossible. Drop the stuff that doesn’t set your world alight. Remember Pareto’s old rule that 80% of results will come from 20% of the action.

Being clear on what is going to help you achieve your goals will go a long way towards helping you stay motivated.

  1. Focus on the positive consequences

If you’re like me, you wondering if a consequence can be positive. When I hear the word, my mind goes back to my Mum telling me there’d be “consequences” if I didn’t stop hammering a tennis ball against the glass window. Had I kept it up, maybe I’d be writing about something else today... Long story short, yes consequences can be positive.

Remember why you’re doing the tasks you’re doing. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. You’re making those phone calls because they’re a necessary part of the process of selling or letting a property.

The more consistent you are with those calls, the more consistent your opportunities to sell or let properties will be.

That thought in itself should be pretty motivating.

  1. Do it for yourself

Motivation sits on a spectrum. Some people will be very motivated at one end, some in the middle and others right at the other end will find it challenging. Plus, motivation is fluid depending on the person and situation.

This is where intrinsic (internal) motivation can help. Intrinsic motivation is when you're driven to do something because it has a direct link to you. You're choosing to do it, rather than of out of obligation.

Extrinsic motivation (external) is when you're driven to do an activity because someone else has told you to do it, or you feel like it's forced on you. Being told you have to make 100 calls a day might get you started, but I dare say you’ll fudge a few figures most days to get hit target (I hate that saying).

People who are more intrinsically motivated tend to work at a higher intensity and are more consistent (there’s that key C-word again).

So how do you find the internal motivation to do make phone calls or record marketing videos when, let's be honest, they can kind of suck.

Grab a pen and paper, and answer these questions:

  • What's most important to me in my life right now?
  • How does your work align with that?
  • How will my work help me reach other goals in life?

Once you have your answers, align these personal outcomes with the work you need to do.

  1. Give yourself a break

I am useless after about 40 minutes of deep work. Anything can be (and most often is) a distraction. So I’ve learn to go hard for 40 minutes, then give myself 10 minutes of “whatever” time. Check emails, socials, grab something to eat, call a friend - whatever. The point is to celebrate the 40 minutes of extreme productivity with a reset break. Get yourself right out of the zone and give yourself a break. But remember it’s only for 10 minutes (15 is too long, next thing you know an hour will have passed and you’ll push everything back until tomorrow)

Motivation is important in so many domains of our lives at work, school, for our health and well-being, and in our relationships.

We need the motivation to overcome distractions and urges that would lead us away from achieving what we want.

Staying motivated is about finding the appropriate strategies, practicing and forming good habits, and connecting boring or unpleasant situations to your personal goals.

Keep at it!