Motivation is Fickle

Motivation is fickle. It comes and goes and is a key element that separates those who are successful in their endeavours and those who give up.

Sometimes you have no trouble jumping out of bed at 5am, sprinting to the gym and smashing yourself in a killer session. You’re so motivated you can bang out a 5,000 word assignment without a break, finish your quarterly bookkeeping or clean the entire house without complaining.

Other times you simply can’t be bothered. You hit the snooze button 3 times and roll over, you fall asleep 5 mins into an assignment and decide instead to play Call of Duty 4; you pay off the books for another month or live in a pigsty.

We all feel like this sometimes.

So what can you do to combat these days when your motivation is lacking?

Try these 5 strategies…

1. Make it hard for yourself to say no.

If it’s physical training, I do this by getting all of my training equipment ready and putting it in the car early or a place where I can see it. I grab my gi, mouth-guard, belt, water bottle, tape and anything else I need.

It’s a commitment process. I’m building momentum and making it hard for myself to say no when the time comes and I need to get in the car and drive to training.

The same process can be applied to any situation. If it’s studying, lay all of your books and studying equipment out well before you actually intend on starting. If it’s house cleaning, pull out the vacuum cleaner and put it in the middle of the room so you have to walk over it every time you cross the living room.

Set yourself up for success by constantly reminding yourself of the task you need to complete. This will make it hard for you to not follow through.

2. Make yourself accountable

Tell those you have a high opinion of and trust, about the mission you’ve undertaken. A mentor, coach, teacher, parent or family member.

This will not only help keep you accountable, which will drive your motivation, but those very people you’ve told will also help keep you driven. After all, you’ve confided in them and they want you to succeed. They will also, more than likely, be motivated by you.

3. Make one positive change

What’s one thing you can do/change in order to keep motivated and on track?

If you’re struggling to get out of bed each morning, position your alarm clock out of arm’s reach so you must actually get out of bed to turn it off. Have your list of tasks you need to complete for that day under your phone so you can see it right after you wake.

Stop watching television and start reading a book. Train one extra day per week. Cut down on fast food. Learn something new. Clear out your house of junk.

Making just one positive change can have a dramatic effect on your life. One change will lead to another and then another and soon you’ve completely overhauled your life for the better.

4. Know your best time to train/study/work

When I was studying, I remember struggling to concentrate and focus in the evening after work. I found it hard to even stay awake. So I decided to try studying in the morning. I set my alarm and dragged myself out of bed at 5am to study. It worked great! I felt more focused and motivated and was able to absorb and retain the information better. This is entirely an individual preference. I know of others who simply cannot study in the morning and would rather do it at night after dinner.

Another example is exercise. I personally would rather train at lunch-time, but this depends on what exercise I’m doing. If it’s weights, I definitely prefer midday or afternoons. If it’s cardio, I don’t mind mornings.

The key is to test and adjust and find out when you’re best time is to train/study/work. That way your motivation will be at its greatest, you’ll be performing at your peak and get the most from your session (whatever session that may be).

5. Take 1 step toward your goal

As Bruce Lee once said, “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. Make at least one definite move daily toward your goal.”

This comes back to the ‘small wins’ principle. If you’re struggling with motivation or overwhelmed with everything you need to do, concentrate on only one thing you need to complete. Block everything else out for a moment and focus on that one single task.

If you can do this, you’re already beginning to build momentum and your motivation will soon return.

Key takeaway:

Build a process for those days you lack motivation. You know you’ll feel awesome after you’ve completed the very thing you don’t want to do.