7 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Hard When You're Really Not in the Mood
Motivation is rather elusive, isn’t it? Some days you feel it, and other days you can’t grab a measly corner of it no matter how hard you try. You stare at the computer screen, willing yourself to type, create, develop, and instead you find yourself simply going through the motions, barely caring about the work you’re producing. Needless to say, you’re totally uninspired, and you don’t know how to make yourself feel otherwise.
Quora users have been there, and they have real and practical solutions for digging up that lost motivation and getting a job not just done—but completed with a sense of passion. Read on for seven tips and tricks that’ll get you motivated in no time.
1. Don’t Think About it as Hard Work
There is only one way for me to motivate myself to work hard: I don’t think about it as hard work. I think about it as part of making myself into who I want to be. Once I’ve made the choice to do something, I try not to think so much about how difficult or frustrating or impossible that might be; I just think about how good it must feel to be that, or how proud I might be to have done that. Make hard look easy.
Think about it: If the project you’re faced with isn’t viewed as drudgery, but rather as a piece of the puzzle that’s helping you along your career path, then perhaps the energy required to do it will be easier to come by.
2. Create Small, Bite-Sized Goals
There’s a reason donut holes are so lovable. They’re easy to eat. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a dozen of them. This is how goals should be too. Of course you should have a really big, audacious goal. But make sure you break down that goal into bite-sized, consumable goals. This way you’ll feel like you’re making progress in your journey and you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete the smaller goals. A feeling of progress and achievement is a beautiful combination.
You’ve no doubt heard this advice before, but have you applied it to motivation? Completing a large project is daunting when you don’t know where to begin. How can you finish if you don’t even know where you’re starting? So, rather than focusing on a large, scary goal, take one thing at a time, and break the big goal into ideas you can digest one at a time.
3. Read Daily
Make sure you carve out time in your day to read. (I recommend the early mornings before everyone is awake.) Read for at least one hour a day. If that’s too much, start with 20 minutes [a day] and do it for one month (habit). Develop a belief that reading is the quickest way to success. It will make reading a breeze, and extremely fun/rewarding (if you’re driven by success). The most successful people in the world attribute their success to reading a lot of books (Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Elon Musk).
Although it may sound counter-productive to set aside reading time when really what you’re looking for is motivation to work hard, sometimes it’s necessary to do something seemingly unrelated to tackle the task at hand. Developing a daily reading habit is one thing that’s likely to have a long-lasting impact on your thought processes, ultimately inspiring you in all areas of your life.
4. Stop Caring About the Things That Don’t Matter
Doing things that don’t mean anything costs [us] a ton of mental energy. Look at your aggregated to-do list, find things you know that you don’t care about, and get rid of as many of these activities as possible. You will stay more consistently motivated if you’re working on activities that are inherently meaningful or are part of a larger mission.
Look very carefully and closely at your list, and shave off anything that’s both truly demotivating and unnecessary for you to do. It’s not always best to finish what you started if, down the line, you can’t even remember the reason you started something in the first place.
5. Set a Quit Time
Entrepreneurs tend to stray from the typical 8 to 5 workday, and global accessibility through emails and Skype makes it more than easy to have a 24-hour workday. But it’s important to recognize when enough is enough. Set a realistic quitting time for yourself, and stick to it most days of the week. Stop answering emails after 8 PM, or take Sundays off. You’ll feel more refreshed and more productive when you allow yourself some down time.
Raise your hand if you’re motivated 24/7! I didn’t think I’d see any hands. It’s unrealistic to feel energized all the time, to want to plow through tasks all the time. You need to give yourself a rest, and if that means giving yourself a specified set time to unplug or turn away from the demands of your job, then do it. It’s likely to help you perform harder and smarter in the hours that you do allot for work.
6. Just Do It
To get motivated to start doing something, from my own experience, the most effective trick for me is to just do it (sounds trite, but it works). As soon as you think something needs to be done, jump into it, doing it immediately (of course, provided the conditions are feasible). You must not think about anything else, suppressing all other thoughts, keeping your mind blank, acting like a robot. Yes, it sounds weird, but it does work! Otherwise, you will debate whether you should do it now or there were too many issues with doing it, or there are other more pleasurable and exciting things to do over this boring task.
Now here’s some worthwhile advice: Instead of waiting around, willing yourself to feel motivated, what if you just went ahead and started doing the work you know you need to do? Dive into the project and trust that the focus will be what you need.
7. Celebrate Wins
Start acknowledging all the good you are doing. Don’t discount the little things. I mean, how many times do you scold yourself for doing something small that wasn’t perfect? How often do you think the good things such as being on time, or signing a new client is simply how it’s meant to be? They need celebrating. You need more wins in your life. This will motivate you, encourage you, and help you see how brilliant you truly are.
If you’re constantly waiting for a long-term payoff, you forget how crucial all the little wins are. And it can be challenging to stay motivated and on top of things if there’s no reward in sight. Treat yourself with small things and don’t underestimate how gratifying it can feel to recognize tiny advancements.
What other motivation tips work for you? Let me know on Twitter!
Stacey Lastoe is the Senior Editor/Writer of The Muse. She started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author