How to stay motivated when you’d rather be elsewhere

Self-motivation is the factor that separates the most successful from the mediocre. More than skill or talent, the ability to start a task and keep at it even when you’d rather not is often the key factor that determines those who reach the top of their field. However, knowing this fact is not enough. No one functions at 100% each day. We are all human and we all have limits on how much of an unpleasant task we can perform before our interest wanes. Unfortunately, important tasks tend to come with some degree of unpleasantness. They either take a long time, require careful application of skill, collaboration with others you’d rather avoid or a combination of all three. This can create conditions where a person would rather not start a task because they feel the effort required is not worth the initial reward.

What do you do when you find yourself showing up at work but not being able to push yourself to complete tasks? As it turns out, quite a lot.

Set goals

It is a proven fact that people who have written down SMART goals get a lot more done than those who do not. There is something about writing down very clearly what you intend to achieve that gives you focus. A written down goal is much more powerful than a vague motto such as Being the best I can. How do you measure the best? Against what standard? Such vague statements can make you feel good about yourself but they won’t give you the push you need when you’d rather not work.

Dart on Target
Those who write down goals get things done

Give yourself rewards

Everybody loves chocolate. Promising yourself a reward for a job well done can be a good motivator. Rewards can be as simple as your favourite snack, an episode of anime or an hour of video game. Rewards should be used with caution, however. The size of the reward should be comparable to what was achieved. Don’t spend ₦500,000 to get yourself a reward for meeting your sales target for the week when the sales bonus you will receive is ₦50,000. You also need to avoid the temptation to reward completion of poor-quality work. Fast work is useless if it’s full of errors.

Build momentum, then sustain progress

Is your goal of making 3,000 sales calls a day looking too daunting. Let’s break it down. How many do you need to make per day. 3,000 calls divided by 30 days in a month equals just 100 calls per day. Does that number still seem too big. How about 50 before noon and 50 after lunch? Still too big. Do 5 calls now and take a 10-minute break, then continue. Sometimes, the first step is the stumbling block that needs to be overcome. Once you start, it’s easier to keep going.

Momentum
What can you start work on right now?

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