Motivation Strategies

Yesterday I talked about depression versus laziness. You can read the details here. They are not the same. My theory is that people who are lazy have trouble with self-discipline, they put what they want to do over what they should do. I know people like this and they are perfectly content to do things this way. People with depression on the other hand, know what they should do and put that first, but lack the motivation to do it. For me, this applies to chores as well as the things I enjoy. This theory makes sense to me because depression is a disorder that messes with your ability to feel your emotions. Motivation is driven by emotion and if your emotions don’t work properly, well you see the connection.

eye of the tiger

The Eye of the Tiger

My motivation has hit an all-time low, I’ve lost my “eye of the tiger” so to speak. Having my routine strategy is impossible with my supervisor, so I’m looking into new strategies to get myself to keep going. These are some of the ones I’ve found.

  1. Chart Your progress. If exercise is your goal, you could do a training log. This allows you to look back and see how far you’ve come. You can put a check for every day you worked out and an X for those you didn’t. Making the check mark should make you proud. That will motivate you to keep going. A quick way to visualize progress, I like that idea. I’d need a chart for every goal though…that’s a lot of charts.
  2. Hold Yourself Back. When starting something I tend to go all out, then burn out. I need to pace myself with my goals to maintain motivation and interest over time.
  3. Join a Focus Group. I can see how this would be a good idea. You meet people with similar goals and you report your progress. It’s moral support, but also a way to make yourself accountable. I find it hard to get motivated when the results are just for me. If there is a whole group of people waiting to hear my progress, I’ll be more likely to get in gear.
  4. Visualize. I’m already doing this, I have an empty frame waiting for my Ph.D. diploma. You could put your running shoes by the door to encourage you to go for a walk or put the healthy snacks at the front of the fridge so you’ll be more likely to grab those.
  5. Get a Goal Buddy. I get it, you push and encourage each other. I guess it creates a bit of friendly competition too.
  6. Just Get Started. This is so true. Some days it’s just too hard and I think about how hard it is going to be. Instead of dwelling on it, I should just get started or plan to do 5 minutes. Once I start it never turns out to be as hard as I thought it was going to be.
  7. Think Positive. Negative self-talk is a huge de-motivator! Why bother trying when you know you’re going to fail, right? I really need to be more aware and catch my distorted thoughts.
  8. Keep a Daily Journal. Record the tasks you’ve completed and the ones you still have to do. Seeing how much you are accomplishing can propel you forward.
  9. Make it a Pleasure. If it seems like hard work, make it a treat. Re-frame the goal as something you want to do instead of what you should do. I will cook dinner tonight because I will save money and eat healthier. This will make me feel better tomorrow. That could work.
  10. Be Patient. Learn to be happy with progress. Changes will not happen overnight. I REALLY need to work on this!
  11. Break it Down. Getting overwhelmed kills your motivation. Break a single goal into smaller manageable pieces. It will reduce stress and you’ll be more likely to get started. I need to apply this one to work.
  12. Reward Yourself Often. Make sure to acknowledge each milestone. Having something to look forward to is motivating. This will work for some people, but I’m a bit stumped for myself. I shouldn’t rely on edible treats because I’m trying to lose weight and I can’t spend money because I’m a poor student. What does that leave me with?
  13. Find Inspiration. It can be from anywhere; blogs, stories, forums, friends,family, quotes, music, photos, people you meet or hear about. This I already do. I look for motivational quotes on Pinterest when I feel like I can’t do anything.
  14. Get a Coach/Take a Class. Putting money towards your goal helps you hold yourself accountable. This wont work for me right now, no spending!!
  15. Have Good Reasons. Write down your reasons to remind yourself or do it for someone you love. It’s often easier to get going when you are doing it for someone else. This one will probably work for me.
  16. Envision Success. Daydream about finishing your goal. How will you feel? Who will be proud? How will you celebrate? What will you wear? My imagination hasn’t been great lately, I don’t think this one will work for me.
  17. Beware of Your Urges to Quit. This is good! I’ll make a tally of all the times I want to quit, noting why, when and where. Figuring out my triggers will allow me to anticipate them and figure out a plan to avoid them.
  18. Never Skip More Than 2 Days in a Row. Falling out of a habit means starting all over again, which can be really hard. I can see how this would apply to exercise, but what about work? I am not giving up my long weekends!

I’m going to give some of these a try. If anyone has any more suggestions for my list, I’m all ears!


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sfashary
    May 17, 2014 @ 12:54:25

    Wonderful post! They all make for good points and I honestly have always had a problem with motivation. I feel like I know the reason for it. I kind of have a bed for a desk. My laptop is on my bed, I’m laying down all day and sitting up on it is always uncomfortable. The lack of a proper work space has put me off from doing so much like sketching, drawing, crafting and even get motivated enough to exercise.

    I always start projects that I never end up finishing or are left on pause for a long time because I don’t have a space for it but recently I’ve decided enough was enough. I’ve been wanting to go to Ikea and get a desk and a bed for the room that I was supposed to move into months and I feel like that is the first step towards a lot of things that I want to do. Kind of like knocking down a huge wall that has kept me held back for many stupid reasons and I wasn’t sure if ‘Not having a space’ was an excuse to not do anything or a real reason.

    I like this list, I’ll definitely try some of it out sometime!


  2. Princess of Dragons
    May 17, 2014 @ 16:12:58

    I too have had the laziness versus depression battle with myself a couple of times, but now I’m helping some of my other friends out with it as well. I can definately recommend the buddy system since I have been a buddy to some of my friend with various activities, and charts of my progress have never failed to motivate me, but I do love maths and graphs.

    On a slightly seperate topic, having enjoyed reading your blog so much I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award! If you want to accept it, follow the link and see what you have to do:


    • somberscribbler
      May 19, 2014 @ 10:44:02

      It’s kind of you to help motivate your friends. I used to have a workout buddy, that was a great help. Keep it up!
      And thanks again for the award, I had fun with it 🙂


  3. littlecely
    May 18, 2014 @ 04:42:54

    This is some great advice. I tend to burn out as well when I am too gung ho about starting or continuing projects. These are really some things I should work on. Thanks for sharing


  4. Marian Cleary (@soundwords)
    May 18, 2014 @ 15:51:53

    Hi — just wanted to let you know that I loved your last two posts and it described ME and my ways. I’m using your musings as a way forward into looking at why I too can work to deadlines, organise my work, work to a high standard and feel a buzz out of this and the feedback I get from clients (so not lazy) but everything else sort of wafts around me neglected and eventually resentfully tackled like I’m in a horrible battle, which makes me hate myself for being so ‘behind’ with everything (cos no motivation). Which makes me do even less because I don’t think it’s worth doing stuff for myself… So thank you very much indeed. I’ve been depressed off and on for years and my mindset is, well, set. But I hope with your inspiration I can unpick all this a bit and find out that there is a point to doing things; good things and less fun stuff, on the grounds that that makes for a nicer place to be — organised kids, tidy house, etc — and get on with living a little in the knowledge I have achieved things. Thank you!


  5. somberscribbler
    May 19, 2014 @ 10:47:26

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your words! I know the battle you mention all too well. I hope trying some of these strategies will break the cycle for us both.


  6. Trackback: Motivation Progress Report | Somber Scribbler

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