How to Get Motivated: 5 Tips to Improve Motivation

One single day. Twenty-four hours to finish all those things you’ve been putting off for days, weeks, or even years. Think of it as a challenge, think of it as a deadline, or think of it as a massive intervention meeting…with yourself. You can think about it however you want, but there’s no need to sugarcoat the truth – you have to learn how to motivate yourself.

Luckily, there are lots of ways to give yourself a much-needed kick in the ass. While it is a very effective strategy to have someone else force you into working, you can’t rely on due dates and the expectations of other people forever.

At some point, you’re going to have to go it alone.

First of all, you need to make a grocery list of all the things you want. The purpose of this is to have a physical list of obtainable accomplishments that you can look at every day when you need to refocus. Organizing your mind will lead to a more organized life, in general.

Hand-writing the list is preferable, and it needs to be stored in a place where you’ll see it frequently.

If you work from home, put it on your computer desk. If your goals involve eating healthy, grab a magnet and slap your list onto the fridge. If your goals involve your daily outlook on life or things like being punctual, tape it to the mirror in your bathroom.

As a motivation quote says, “Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”

For a list of more long-term goals, frame your paper and hang it next to your door so you will meet the world each day with a hopeful attitude.

1. Make A List of Priorities

Of all the things in your life that you would like to achieve, pick 15 that are of the highest priority. Make a list, and then try to organize these priorities according to cost, required effort, and feasibility.

So what exactly should go on this list? Try segmenting your life into these different parts:

1.) Personal Life: These are habits you want to form or personal wants – these things are usually the kind of resolutions you make for New Year’s Eve. (remember to brush your teeth every night before bed, lose those 10 vanity lbs, stop interrupting people during conversation, remember your sister’s birthday card this year, etc.)

2.) Professional or Educational: These are goals to make yourself more marketable or experienced. (earn a college degree, get a specific vocation or teaching license, learn a new trade, get a pay raise, find a more-rewarding or high paying job, pass exams, etc.)

3.) Relationships: Think about the kind of person you would like to be, and how people will view and interact with the ideal version of yourself. (find a lover, bring your romantic relationship to the next level, lose your virginity, reconnect with family so you are no longer the estranged lost sheep, etc.)

4.) Bettering Yourself: These things will make you more well-rounded or relaxed. (learn a new hobby like knitting or painting, join a softball league, take singing lessons, learn how to samba, become a true culinary master, educate yourself on the difference between a Merlot and a Cabernet, study a foreign language, get in shape, etc.)

5.) Bucket List: Probably the most fun out of all the areas…what do you want before you die? (write a book, travel to Europe, earn a million dollars, etc.) If you start to question yourself along the way on why exactly this is necessary, just look around you. Is your life at this exact moment heading in the direction you want?

Writing out your goals is not a waste of time. You’ve undoubtedly spent more time on worse things before. Just sit down, shut up, and write.

Take the list and turn each entry into a goal.

For your short-term goals, divide your list into different categories, and label these categories. (For instance: wish list, finances, etc.)

For your long-term goals, do the same thing, but additionally, rank them according to the years it might take you to reach them.

For example, “lose 10 lbs” would be a short-term, personal goal. Vacation in the Florida Keys would be a long-term travelling goal, and you might assign it a timeline of 1-2 years.

2. Decluttering The Mess To Allow Self-Optimization

While you are posting lists of what you want in life, take a good look at the space around you. Is it less than appealing? Clean up your damn mess. There is a difference between having a “creative” work environment and living in a pigsty.

If squalor is something you really struggle with, invite over someone close to you and actually accept any help they have to offer. From the home of a hoarder to the unwashed day’s dishes in a minimalist abode, the material mess is distracting and demotivating.

How do you ever expect to get anything done if you can’t even motivate yourself to organize the life workspace you see every day?

Depending on exactly how much damage you’ve managed to inflict on your poor house or office, you’re going to need to assign adequate time to clean.

Start a load of laundry and dishes first, because they’ll clean themselves while you work.

Move on to collecting anything that even remotely resembles garbage.

(This is not the time to sort through your month-old stack of mail or tax returns. Put that down and get back to the actual task at hand.)

Next, clear off all the tables or desks in the room. If you also have things piled on your couch, desk chair, or elliptical machine…shame on you, you know what you have to do.

Conquer whatever else is left, remembering to not get bogged down in the overflowing storage boxes or piles of complicated-to-sort paperwork you might have piled up. (It’s a travesty of organization, but you know good and well that there is a time and a place for that later.)

Finally, break out your vacuum or mop. What does a clean floor have to do with motivation? It’s a symbolic measure, you twit. Showing respect and care towards something that you literally walk on every day is a subtle way of telling yourself, “I expect perfection and cleanliness out of myself, even in the small areas.”

3. Expectation Plays Into Your Motivation

Expectation and motivation are like your two best friends from grade school whom you’ve been trying to coax into hooking up for ages. They’re perfect for one another, and you know they’d make a good couple.

If you expect a lot out of yourself, yes, you will be disappointed if you fail. But, you’ll also be more motivated to try in the first place. You need the positivity to think, “Yes, I can do this!” and the expectation to think, “I should do this because _____, so I will do this!”

For example, let’s say you are interviewing for a job tomorrow and you have two choices: will you prepare in advance, or will you wing it? That choice really depends on how motivated you are, and why.

Choice 1 (Prepare in Advance):

1.) You come to terms with the fact that you aren’t ready for your interview.

2.) Your exact thought process says, “I expect more out of myself than just hoping for the best without putting in any effort.”

3.) You look up interview questions and mentally plan out answers.

4.) You leave the interview feeling fulfilled because you did your best.

Choice 2 (Wing it):

1.) You figure you’ll do just fine at the interview. You’re intelligent and your resume is solid.

2.) You fly by the seat of your pants the next morning.

3.)You return from the interview feeling like you could have done better. Okay, so how do you start expecting more out of yourself? Make another list, of course!

This time, you’ll be writing down all the positive things that you’ve accomplished in your life. From scoring with your love interest to becoming head of a board of directors, this list is all about you. When it’s finished, sit down and think long and hard about what you’ve done.

Now, according to past achievements, what are your honest expectations for yourself? If you don’t have a cosmological license or any experience, then you probably shouldn’t expect to see yourself get hired at a high-end hair salon.

Instead, say to yourself, “Self, we are going to earn a license first.”

This is a healthy expectation. If you expect yourself to go places, then the fear of disappointment or failure will keep you from being unmotivated.

Today, right now, set down some guidelines for yourself on paper. What have you done, and what are you capable of?

4. Psychical Change Affects Motivation

Great expectations are fantastic, but what about looking the part? Psychological studies have proven that body language is an excellent way to feel motivated.

If you’ve ever watched Oprah or any presidential debate, you know that good posture is often a characteristic of successful people. Sure, it is about stage presence…but your body language can convince you just as much as those around you.

If you want to feel powerful, sit up straight in your chair and hold your head up. Stop wrapping your arms around your body and confront the world with an attitude that says, “I can and will do this.”

Just like forcing a smile to make yourself feel happier, you can stop slouching to feel more motivated. Try it now.

5. Sweet Treat Yourself

While you’re busy straightening your posture, go ahead and grab a candy bar. It’s not voodoo – it’s science. Huh?

Chocolate, (real chocolate, not syrupy-sweet confectionery goodness you buy from the gas station), convinces your body to releases dopamine into your system.

Dopamine is that lovely little natural chemical that tells your brain that life is good. It makes sense why dopamine would encourage you to get off the couch and go outside.

Looking for a chemical charge to your system without the harmful effects of caffeine?

Moderate amounts of chocolate are the answer to all your motivational prayers.

Look for dark chocolate bars that contain a percentage amount of cacao. It adds a little happiness from pessimistic dullness to get motivated again.

Quick Motivation Tackles

So to summarize, here’s how you should be spending your next free day:

1.) Bust out a pen and paper and make some lists for your priorities and goals.

2.) Hang up these lists while you’re cleaning up your living or workspace.

3.) Take a break, but remember to sit up straight.

4.) Eat some chocolate.

It’s not that hard, right? And you can easily do it in twenty-four hours. In fact, you could probably do it in one. Surely you can afford one hour to permanently alter the way you think about getting motivated.

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