We’ve all been there - late night piles of work, the feeling of procrastination overtaking your goals, and that feeling of wanting to give up on whatever it is you’re trying to do. Finding motivation can be hard. Here are five ways to stay on track:
- Always look at the big picture.
A lot of the time, finding motivation to do little tasks or larger stretches of work can be hard because they get lost in the overall goal. Try to remain clear on what it is you want to do and where you want to end up. These visions should be enticing and satisfying to you, so that you will be more motivated to complete the steps to get there.
Whether it’s working hard at your current job to land an even better one or get a promotion, studying to eventually achieve the career or graduate school you want, or even cutting back on spending to save up for something you have always dreamed of, it’s more motivating to keep those larger and happier pictures in mind and work toward them than it is to think about doing unpleasant or monotonous tasks in singularity.
- Have a clear path.
While keeping your “big picture” goal in mind, map out how it is you’re going to get there. Reminding yourself of the overall goal is important, but it can also be scary to achieve if you don’t have clear steps in mind. Have something that you can revisit and make changes to in order to see your progress and feel like you are staying on track.
Find what works for you! If you like crossing items off a list because it makes you feel like you’re accomplishing tasks, make a to-do list. If you don’t like having a list of every little detail you need to finish because it feels overwhelming, stick to just weekly or monthly goals to achieve in the course of the end goal. Or, if you just want to see what your goal looks like, make a physical representation (a diagram, map, etc.) of how you plan to go from point A to point B and so on to get where you want. Regardless of the method, you will stay motivated in the big picture if you have a clearer idea of how to achieve it in smaller steps.
- Reward yourself.
Once you’ve mapped out your goal and the steps to get there, make sure to keep yourself happy and interested by rewarding your progress. The first step in anything is normally the hardest, and once you get over that hurdle it can be easier to continue to take steps toward your end goal. But when tasks become difficult or you lose focus, use rewards as a way to stimulate motivation.
The rewards don’t have to be counterproductive! Celebrate your progress by taking a short break filled with relaxation, spending time with someone you love, or enjoying a quality food or beverage. Don’t fall into a television or phone-watching hole and make your breaks worthwhile!
- Manage your time by scheduling fake due dates. Procrastination often takes over when we know we have more time to do something. We find ourselves saying “I’ll do it tomorrow” because in our mind we still have tomorrow as an option (and a very doable one, at that!) Take this away by scheduling fake due dates and entering them into your calendar. If you act like something needs to be done at a certain date earlier than it actually should be done, you will act accordingly.
If you have a pile of work on your desk that needs to be done by Friday, write down that it is due Wednesday. Keep this in mind and repeat this sentiment, so that Wednesday will stick in your head as the due date and you will act like it really is! And even if you procrastinate towards the fake due date you will have done more work by Wednesday than you originally would have if you always aimed to complete it by Friday.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
You don’t have to work toward your goals alone. If you are struggling, find the appropriate people to help you and don’t feel inferior for doing so. Even just asking for general life advice or smaller pointers will help you stay on track by including someone else in your goals. Often, once you’ve asked for help or advice, people will follow up on how things turned out. This alone will keep you motivated to keep working because you’ll have to give them answers or feel obligated to show progress when they check in with you!