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How to get motivated?
By reading inspirational quotes? By watching motivational videos? Using a motivational app? By repeating a mantra?
There are many ways to motivate yourself. But among all the ones I've tested in recent years, there are only 8 that have really been useful to me.
So here are the 8 techniques, which in my opinion, are the most effective for motivating yourself.
1. How to motivate yourself with Newton's law?
Newton's law of motion is basically a physical law, but it also allows you to understand how to motivate yourself.
This law states that an object at rest tends to remain at rest, while an object in motion tends to remain in motion. Only an external force can change its state.
To better understand, imagine a stationary rock above a hill.
As long as you don't move it, the rock remains fixed. But you just need to exert enough force on it to start moving and rolling down the slope.
All it needs is a little initial nudge to get moving. Then it rolls down the slope without any effort on your part.
This is a great analogy for our motivation.
When we lack motivation, we are the still rock above the hill. We don't want to move around, do housework, play sports, do a daunting task...
To get moving and accomplish all these things, we also need a helping hand.
So what exactly can “set us in motion”?
Well, that's the 10 min technique.
What's the point you ask?
The interest is to overcome the resistance that one feels before carrying out a task.
Because in the end the most difficult thing is not to accomplish a task in itself but to get started. Once you're in, it's much easier to keep going.
When we watch Netflix on our sofa, what is difficult is to turn off the TV and get up to go clean. Once you have the vacuum in your hands, it's much easier to keep going.
When we wake up in the morning to go for a run, what's hard is getting out of bed, putting on our sports gear and taking the first strides. Once you're moving, it's easier to keep going.
And when you want to move a rock over a hill, the hardest part is pushing it. Once it starts rolling, it rolls down the hill on its own without any effort.
The moment preceding the action is therefore always the most difficult. This is why the 10 min technique is useful.
When we tell ourselves that we have to accomplish something for 10 minutes only, we reduce the difficulty. Cleaning for 10 minutes takes little effort and running for 10 minutes is child's play. And it is precisely because we perceive this as easy that we manage to motivate ourselves more easily.
Now how do we do when our task takes us more than 10 min? Does this mean that we should leave all our tasks unfinished?
In fact, very often, we go beyond 10 min. As we are taken by our task and we are in the flow, we do not want to stop but to continue.
The 10 min actually gives us the boost we need to start our task. Once you're in it, just let yourself go and keep going until you've fully realized it.
The objective of the 10 min technique is therefore not to stop us after 10 min but to give us the momentum to start.
2. Cut big projects into small pieces
We have just seen how to motivate ourselves to do a task with Newton's law but what to do when we face a project?
A project takes more effort than a task and we can't trick our brains so easily into using the 10 min technique.
First of all, to motivate yourself to carry out projects, you should not consider them as a whole but rather cut them into small digestible blocks. It changes our perception of the work to be done and we get motivated more easily.
By doing this preparatory work, it encourages us to accomplish our project. It's a bit like when we want to motivate ourselves to play sports, preparing our things in advance can encourage us to exercise when the time comes. Or like when we want to get into the habit of eating more fruits and vegetables, pre-cutting them and highlighting them in the fridge can encourage us to eat more.
The more we pre-chew our work, the easier it is to motivate ourselves.
Personally I also like to use this technique for small everyday things even if they are not related to projects. For example, when I don't have the motivation to go running, in my head I divide the action of running into several micro-actions:
- put my sports stuff
- put on my shoes
- take my phone and headphones
Then I know that I only need to put on my sports gear and then motivate myself to do the rest.
3. Watch the distance traveled
A mountaineer who keeps his eyes fixed on the summit is always discouraged more quickly. Because every time he looks at it, he sees the distance he still has to go, the efforts to be made and the difficult areas he has to cross.
To better appreciate his hike and motivate himself to move forward, he must also take the time to stop to contemplate the landscape and look at the distance covered.
To motivate yourself over the long term, you have to do like the mountaineer.
When we pursue a goal, we must certainly think about the future, plan and move forward, but we must also take the time to stop and contemplate the past to appreciate the progress made. Because if we only look at the distance that awaits us, sooner or later we end up demotivating ourselves.
When we only think about the efforts to be made, the steps to take and the difficulties to overcome, we tire mentally and emotionally. We have the feeling of stagnating or moving too slowly. And in the long run it is often a source of demotivation and abandonment.
4. Remembering what we started for
This advice may sound like a cliché, but to get motivated, sometimes you have to remember what you started with.
When we pursue a goal, we are usually full of enthusiasm and motivation at the beginning. Our vision is clear, our plan is defined and we are excited to move forward.
And then the first difficulties arise. We are progressing more slowly than we thought. We take 1 step forward and 2 steps back… We are caught in the turmoil. And by dint of taking walls, it sometimes happens that we lose hope, that we become demotivated or even sometimes that we want to stop.
In these moments it is important to remember what we started for.
The why is what gives meaning to what we do. If our why is strong enough, it will give us the energy to move forward and overcome all these difficulties.
When I go through difficult times, I stop everything for 5 – 10 minutes and I meditate on my why. Why do I do what I do? Why are these difficulties worth overcoming? Why does overcoming them make sense?
It helps me stay motivated.
5. Surround yourself with the right people to motivate yourself
Jim Rohn said:
We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.
If the people around us are toxic, defeatist or lack motivation, we will tend to look like them.
You like me, we are real sponges. The environment in which we evolve greatly impacts the way we think and act. And our social environment is no exception.
We are “sponges” who, at any age, absorb the emotions and adopt the behaviors and attitudes of our immediate surroundings. – DANIEL DESBIENS
It is therefore important to surround yourself with positive people who support us and share our vision. Not only will they motivate us but they will also be there to help us in difficult times.
6. Take a rest
I realized this a few years ago when I created my first blog while studying. The subject of the blog fascinated me and I loved writing articles. But after a year I started having a lot of trouble motivating myself to animate it.
Yet nothing had changed. I still loved the theme of the blog so much and writing was a real pleasure. And yet when I was in front of my computer, I couldn't get used to it.
And then I took a break. I stopped blogging for 1 month to take some vacation. When I came back I was fired up again and my head was full of ideas.
All I really needed was rest.
Creating a blog in parallel with my studies had tired me a lot. And by taking 1 month break I was able to recharge the batteries and my motivation at the same time.
Sometimes all you need to motivate yourself is a little rest. To do this, the following 3 things must be respected: sleep, breaks, holidays.
- Sleep: Sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night on average is important. Some will need more time, others less, it's all about getting enough sleep and getting into a routine.
- Breaks: Taking a 5-minute break every 25 minutes by following the Pomodoro method can help us better manage our daily energy but also our level of motivation.
- Vacations: When we feel that we are constantly tired and nothing motivates us, it is often a sign that we need to take a vacation. Taking a multi-day break from time to time is crucial for staying motivated over the long haul.
7. How to motivate yourself by rewarding yourself
There's a good reason games are so addictive. When we complete a level or win something, our brain secretes what is called dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that causes the feeling of pleasure. It almost acts like a drug for our brain.
Once released, our brain seeks to secrete it again and it will do everything in its power to do so. It is for this reason that after completing a level, you can't help but continue playing to complete another and then another. Our brain pushes us to play to release more and more dopamine.
Dopamine can cause bad addictions (addiction to games, social networks, etc.), but it can also motivate us to do good things. We just have to learn to use it strategically.
A good way to use dopamine to motivate yourself is to reward yourself every time you complete a task, pass a milestone, or achieve a goal. If we associate doing these things with something pleasant, then our brain will secrete dopamine and it will push us to act in the desired direction.
For example, you can treat yourself to a good restaurant after completing a project. Organize a weekend after having achieved an ambitious goal or even allow yourself to do a Netflix marathon on the weekend after a productive week. The anticipation of these moments of pleasure will motivate us to move forward.
8. Listen to music
In 2007 the USA track and field banned athletes from wearing headphones during competition, believing that listening to music gave some of them a competitive advantage. And for good reason, music can be a powerful source of motivation.
To conclude, here is a reminder of the techniques to motivate yourself:
- Motivate yourself by following Newton's law
- Cut big projects into small pieces
- Watch the distance traveled
- Remembering what we started for
- Surround yourself with the right people
- Take a rest
- reward yourself
- Listen to music
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