As we come to the end of another year, many people slow down. Motivation dwindles, and we begin to drag our heels to work, to school and anywhere else we 'have' to go.
But is this inevitable? Or can you power through to the end of the year, and get a head start on everyone else?
What Is Motivation?
There's a bunch of different theories and definitions for motivation. But quite simply, motivation is: “the desire to do things—the crucial element in setting and attaining goals”.
Motivation is behind why an athlete gets up in the morning, despite being sore and fatigued. It's what keeps an entrepreneur going when business seems bleak. In fact, motivation is the key behind pretty much everything amazing that has ever been accomplished.
There are two main types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is all about internal feelings, such as singing because you enjoy it. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is about outside influences, which might mean singing for financial benefit, or for the fans.
Why Do We 'Lose' It?
We never really 'lose' motivation as such. We just no longer feel like a task is important enough to do, and we will either dump it or procrastinate.
Simply put, it's a balancing act. In order to have sufficient motivation to complete a task, we need the reward to be worth the effort. This is a very subjective thing, and it is why the two types of motivation can make all the difference.
Very few of us actually get sufficient extrinsic motivational factors to keep us going to the end of the year. Even if you're earning millions, you'll usually be working hard enough for it to seem out of balance.
Without intrinsic factors to keep you going, your effort dwindles. The reward doesn't seem to be worth the effort anymore, and you lose momentum.
How to Boost Motivation
In today's society, we seem to have shifted the focus on motivation. Instead of a healthy mix of the two types, we are strongly focused on extrinsic factors, such as money.
By being unaware of the intrinsic factors, we are losing out on potential rewards. This shifts the equation so that the effort can easily outweigh the benefits.
Combined with a busy, stressful lifestyle, it's no wonder why we've burned out by the end of the year. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can try to boost your motivation levels naturally.
Reconnect With Your 'Why'
This is the number one way to get your intrinsic motivation back. It's time to look within, and find out why you do what you do.
If you have things that aren't getting done, write out why you want to get them done. It might be 'so it's off my to-do list', 'financial gain' or something else.
You'll most likely find that there are few internal factors motivating you to get the job done. In fact, there might only be one or two factors total, which is a recipe for procrastination.
If it's something that absolutely must be done, you either need to increase the reward or reduce the effort. Usually, the easiest to do is increase the reward.
How can you reward yourself for achieving your goals? Can you add in an extrinsic boost, such as a massage or a day off once it's completed? Or can you find an intrinsic reward—a way to enjoy the task? If the task is particularly unpleasant or stressful, you might even want to add a bit of both.
Drop the Decision Load
Every time you have to make a decision, you use up a little bit of energy. So, when you spend all your energy on deciding on lunch and what to wear, you have nothing left for the big things.
That's why many successful entrepreneurs recommend dropping your decision burden. They might wear the same sort of clothes every day, or have a set wardrobe for the week. The menu might look the same for the majority of their meals. Exercise is scheduled in at the start of the week or month, so it's already set.
So, why not try conserving your brain power, and plan ahead? If you can live the more frivolous parts of your life on auto-pilot, you'll have more effort left for the important things.
Shrink the To-Do List
Many of us will write a to-do list every day that is dozens of items long. Even just looking at that list makes you feel overwhelmed! It's a guaranteed way to add stress, as well as waste energy on worrying instead of acting.
Condense your list down to just a couple of big tasks per day. Make sure those tasks are important, and the urgent ones to complete. And then get them done—no excuses.
By making your list more achievable, you lessen the effort to put in every day. Try it for a week, and see how much more you get done.
A Day for Play
One mistake that a lot of driven people make is to be all work and no play. This might assuage your guilt about work, but it won't make you more efficient or motivated. In fact, it will make you less productive.
When was the last day you took off just to have fun, with no chores, or to-do lists, but just pure joy? The most likely answer is a very long time ago.
We were not put on this earth just to slave away at a job or business. Enjoyment is an essential part of health and well-being, but we so often overlook it.
Schedule in a day off, and make some fun plans. Whether it's the movies, a massage, a road trip, or just a day in front of Netflix with your pooch, sink into the relaxation it brings you. Use it as an intrinsic reward for everything you've already achieved.
If you really believe you can't manage a whole day, try for a half day, or even an hour every day to spend in enjoyment. I promise you will feel rejuvenated and ready to hustle once you commit to enjoying life again!
A lot of loss of motivation can come from the feeling that you haven't achieved anything or experienced any benefit. The truth is, there's plenty you have done! That's where gratitude comes in.
How you choose to express gratitude is a personal decision. Some people use formal practices, such as journaling. They may choose to express it verbally to their partner or friends. You can list a few things to be grateful for in your head at the end of the day.
Gratitude helps you realize how many rewards you have actually received for your work, and that your effort has paid off. This makes it easier for you to work towards goals.
What do you want to achieve before the end of the year? Do some brainstorming, and then incorporate these tips into your daily life. You'll be ahead of the game in no time.