How to motivate yourself

 

1) Get Positive
When do we procrastinate the most? When we’re in a bad mood.

Via Temptation: Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess:

So procrastination is a mood-management technique, albeit (like eating or taking drugs) a shortsighted one. But we’re most prone to it when we think it will actually help… Well, far and away the most procrastination occurred among the bad-mood students who believed their mood could be changed and who had access to fun distractions.

Meanwhile, research shows happiness increases productivity and makes you more successful.

What does the military teach recruits in order to mentally toughen them up? No, it’s not hand-to-hand combat.

It’s optimism. So how do you get optimistic if you’re not feeling it?

Monitor the progress you’re making and celebrate it. Harvard’s Teresa Amabile‘s research found that nothing is more motivating than progress.

Via The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work:

This pattern is what we call the progress principle: of all the positive events that influence inner work life, the single most powerful is progress in meaningful work; of all the negative events, the single most powerful is the opposite of progress—setbacks in the work. We consider this to be a fundamental management principle: facilitating progress is the most effective way for managers to influence inner work life.

2) Get Rewarded
Rewards feel good. Penalties feel bad. And that’s why they both can work well for motivating you.

Research shows that rewards are responsible for three-quarters of why you do things.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Researchers find that perceived self-interest, the rewards one believes are at stake, is the most significant factor in predicting dedication and satisfaction toward work. It accounts for about 75 percent of personal motivation toward accomplishment. – Dickinson 1999

So treat yourself whenever you complete something on your to-do list. (Yes, this is how you train a dog but it will work for you too.)

Having trouble finding a reward awesome enough to get you off your butt? Try a “commitment device” instead:

Give your friend $100. If you get a task done by 5PM, you get your $100 back. If you don’t complete it, you lose the $100.

Your to-do list just got very emotional.

So you’re feeling positive and there are rewards (or penalties) in place. What else do you need? How about nagging, compliments and guilt?

3) Get Peer Pressure
Research shows peer pressure helps kids more than it hurts them.

(And face it, you’re still a big kid, you just have to pretend to be an adult most of the time — and it’s exhausting.)

Surround yourself with people you want to be and it’s far less taxing to do what you should be doing.

Via Charles Duhigg’s excellent book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business:

When people join groups where change seems possible, the potential for that change to occur becomes more real.

The Longevity Project, which studied over 1000 people from youth to death had this to say:

The groups you associate with often determine the type of person you become. For people who want improved health, association with other healthy people is usually the strongest and most direct path of change.

And the research on friendship confirms this. From my interview with Carlin Flora, author of Friendfluence:

Research shows over time, you develop the eating habits, health habits and even career aspirations of those around you. If you’re in a group of people who have really high goals for themselves you’ll take on that same sense of seriousness.