How to Stay Motivated — When it’s Easier to Stop
Ever since I was young I’ve had a sweet spot for music. That music love has stayed with me, even when others have long since gone. Music of any kind will move me. Sometimes it’s a dancing move, while a different song will move me emotionally. And there are always those songs that will lift my spirits whatever the state of my mind. It’s a permanent connection that lives within me.
One such song is Straight Ahead by Kool & the Gang (and still smile at that band name). A snippet of the lyrics go like this:
Keep your head above and your heart in love
Keep your feelings now
Keep moving straight ahead
Dispersed between pumping disco beats, this an uptempo shoe-shuffler. I’m smiling and doing my best not to fall over while moving to it.
On a deeper level I like the the happy and positive message it’s trying to get across. Keep my head above the troubled sea of life, and make sure there’s room in your heart for love. Don’t look to the past or the future to be happy, but keep your feelings now. Keep moving forward, just keep moving.
If I’m looking for motivation to do something I will always find a song that will do that, move me onward. But music is not for everyone so I’ve put down a few ideas that help me keep moving to a loving and purposeful life.
What rocks your boat?
I needed to find my go to when I needed a dose of inspiration and motivation. Music helps me but it wasn’t the only thing I rely on. I use these to rock my boat onward on calm windless days.
“The Way Get Started Is To Quit Talking And Begin Doing.”
Do a test run
There’s less pressure in doing something that is not permanent. It needs less motivation and I can start right away with little planning. And starting something is the hardest thing to do when I lack motivation. So I’ll go for a test drive. And anyone who’s been looking for a car knows that once you’re behind the wheel of that shiny new car, the motivation to buy it suddenly appears.
Write it down, Write down what you want to do, and how you plan to do it in a simple one-page scribble/doodle. No need for artwork here, I don’t want it to seem so serious, that it needs a computer flowchart diagram. It will be quick and plant the seed for the motivation to grow from.
“Accountability breeds response-ability.”
Stephen R. Covey
The next step adds the spark to the waiting fire. I tell people about what I want to do and how I want to do it in brief. They don’t need to know the details or I’ll have to get them to sign a non-disclosure agreement! Brief is all it takes to set up a commitment between yourself and others. I am pushed forward by my desire to follow through on what I said I was going to do. This commitment has more to do with me than it is them. I’m not doing it for them (even though they may benefit in some way), I’m doing it to uphold my life values. I want to do what I say. To be honest, reliable, and trustworthy.
Where’s the fun in it?
If it’s no fun, it has little chance of motivating me. There needs to be some lights of joy no matter how hard or serious the work. My energy is not infinite, but I’ve found that a sense of humor keeps my batteries charged for longer.
“The Pessimist Sees Difficulty In Every Opportunity. The Optimist Sees Opportunity In Every Difficulty.”
I’m looking to be the clown in the room. I don’t need to make anyone laugh, but I can look on the bright side of what I’m doing. And a smile here and there is the tonic to someone else’s gin.
Rewards in values, feelings, and experiences
I don’t need a carrot, a vegetable or diamond kind. What motivates me is to live on purpose. I want to feel like I am giving something back to the world I live in. If I’m helping others that’s more than enough motivation I need to keep moving forwards. If what I’m doing is reducing a bad habit and increasing a good one, then I’m all for it.
“If you’re looking for immediate rewards, you’re only looking for the money.” Eartha Kitt
If my rewards add something to my values, feelings, or experiences then I’ll be a better person for it. These are not physical rewards but add a lot more value than physical ones can. I look forward to reviewing my spiritual balance each month, and it’s more important than any bank balance.
Keep it simple
I try not mix and match my workload. I’ll focus on one thing at a time, without the need to multitask. I’ve never found trying to do more than one thing at a time productive or successful.
“Knowing Is Not Enough; We Must Apply. Wishing Is Not Enough; We Must Do.”
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Too much input will hinder my motivation too. I like music, but I will not have it playing in the background while I’m working. The same goes for the environment I’m in. The more noise and distractions there are the less motivated I am to focus on my task. Less is definitely more. A clutter-free quiet working environment is seriously good motivation. So the local coffee shop at any time of day is not coming near me soon.
Make space for work
I’ve made the time for work now I need to make space for it. This is two-fold. My space needs to be clean and clutter-free, but I also need to allow enough space in my day to be creative and productive. I could have the minimal office space, with white walls and designer furniture, but if I’m so busy that I rush from one task to another then my motivation will flop like a wet biscuit.
I will schedule breaks and overestimate the time it will take me to do something. This way I reduce the pressure on the task and free up some down time to let the creative juices ferment.
Go for a walk or do some exercise. It helps me get creative and relax. If I’m relaxed I’m thinking straight. There are less reasons to back off finishing my tasks if I’m healthy in mind and body. A quick walk and I’m back fully charged and motivated to carry on.
Watch and listen to others
To watch or listen to someone who has experienced something close to what you want to do is great motivation. So I’ll watch a video or listen to a podcast to get me moving. There are so many it can be hard to choose the right one. I’m never one for watching things the minute they’re released so I can rely on the opinions and ratings of others.
It’s a learning experience and a motivating one. So there’s no need to expand on this one any further. Just don’t waste time scrolling through endless pages trying to make a choice. Pick one and keep moving.
I’ve listed eight of the motivation tools I use. It’s a personal thing but I do hope one or two will help you as they help me. And rest assured Kool and the Gang is still on my favorites list.