If you’ve ever led a team, then you’re all too familiar with the challenges in motivating others who just aren’t feeling it. If you’ve ever had to search for a job, then you’re all too familiar with the challenges in motivating yourself!
Self-motivation is no easy task. Some days you wake up and you can take on the world and be the most productive person ever. Other days, you’d prefer to watch Netflix or play video games rather than to continue with the job search, complete the grid or do your accounting. Lack of self-motivation isn’t just limited to tasks you dislike. You could be working on the most interesting project for your client and getting paid a fair rate, but some days, you’d still rather chat with your colleagues.
Motivating yourself extends beyond time management. Even the most organized and productive IT contractors fall into a slump. That’s because motivation is emotional. It ignores rational thinking and if you’re not in the proper headspace, it’s just not there. So how can you overcome your temporary lack of drive and push yourself to do what needs to be done? Here are a few hacks to get you started:
Get Yourself in a Positive Mindset
You’re more likely to procrastinate when you’re in a bad mood, so the logical first step is to make sure you’re in a good mood. There are various ways to do that, including:
- Remaining optimistic by tracking your progress and celebrating success
- Setting the right environment with a clean workspace and happy music
- Getting plenty of sleep and exercise
- Taking breaks as necessary
Set Meaningful Goals
Obviously you have goals: “Update my resume by the end of today”, “Complete the project on time and on budget”, “Do my taxes before the deadline”. Now you need to take those goals and make them more meaningful:
- Make your goals mean something to you that’s deeper than “If I don’t succeed I’ll get fired.”
- Keep reminding yourself of that goal AND its benefits and why you’re truly trying to achieve it
- Don’t punish yourself for not achieving a goal, rather be constructive to understand what happened and move on.
Don’t Go It Alone
Even if you prefer to work alone, it still helps to have somebody on the sidelines who knows your goals. This will help to keep you motivated. When there are other people involved, you make yourself accountable and suddenly there’s extra pressure to get the work done.
- Find others who are as motivated as you are (or more) and bring them into your circle
- Expand your network with other IT contractors to share challenges and mentor each other
- Don’t be afraid to get a little competitive to help drive your motivation
- In times you really need motivation, try a commitment device. Give a friend (or even better, a foe) $100. If you don’t succeed, they keep the money. stickK will help you create a commitment contract, set stakes and manage the entire process online.
At some point you might have to fake it ’til you make them. If it takes a cold shower or jolt of coffee to wake you up so be it, but if you don’t start somewhere, you’ll never start at all.
- Reduce all possible distractions so you have no choice but to work
- Set routines that will let you know where to start — and change up those routines occasionally to keep it interesting.
- Take baby steps with small simple tasks. Often just working 5 minutes will get you into the flow.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, everybody falls into unmotivated slumps. The most successful people are those that know how to deal with it. How do you motivate yourself to get moving? Are there are any specific tasks you find are harder to get started than others?