How to stay motivated to work towards your goal

There is something we all struggle with at one point in time or another. Motivation. So you might ask how can one stay motivated? Again there is no absolute single solution to this, because it somehow depends on your why and other individual constitutions.

On the other hand there are actually a lot of techniques to improve and hold up your motivation, but in the end it comes down to your habits and discipline. This is a huge topic and I do not want to go too much into it in this post. But still I want to give you some advice which has helped myself to stay productive even though I did not feel motivated. In the end you yourself need to find strategies that work for you.

To increase your output although you lack motivation you can try some of this principles:

Start. It sounds trivial, but the most energy is spent on deciding if we start or not. Like going to the gym, or getting up from bed etc. The activation energy you need is the most important aspect here.
That simply starting makes you more acclaimed to accomplish a task is actually backed by science. The science tells us that we as human beings feel discomfort if we do not finish a started task, this is also known as the completion bias which can also lead to the adverse effect. So if you can convince yourself to start with the task you are likely to keep going.
Also without starting you will obviously never achieve anything 😉

Triggers are another simple trick to supply you with motivation. This can be very individual, in my example it is two fold:

  1. First I have a python book always on my private desk, and have the python IDE automatically startup at 7 P.M. so it reminds me of my daily work on this goal.
  2. The second one of my triggers has more to do with my personal why, and even if this might sound strange to some of you I have a tattoo with a certain writing that triggers me to proceed with my work.

Consistency is very important to achieve your goals. The above mentioned triggers can help you with consistency, because they make this behavior into a habit. And habits define in the end who we are. This can be become clear if you think about what defines your character, and in the end it is defined by the things you do each day which in turn are a big part defined by your habits.

Kaizen is a concept from japan where you start any activity just for some minutes a day (like 5). And then with each week (or any other period of time) you increment this time spend by an arbitrary number. I tend to start with half an hour for learning tasks, but for physical activity it can be less. This helps tremendously with generating a new habit simply because some 5 minutes everyone has to spare each day.

Progress reports should be always in reach so you can see how far you have come already. Nothing motivates as much as to look back and see how far one has traveled already. Maybe even have a chart at the wall or something like a dashboard can do the trick. Or speaking in terms of software engineering create a kanban board for yourself to track your progress.

Partition your work. This means work for a period of time and then take a break that amounts to 1/4 or 1/5 of this work period. So for 30 min work period you would then rest for roughly 5-10 minutes. This helps you to absolutely focus on your work and regenerate in your pauses. So you can say it is about intensity and not endurance.
I actually have some anecdotal evidence for this. I know from my studies for university where I did not apply this principle, that very long study sessions are not really pleasant and also are not very effective in the end…

Small successes should be in reach to keep your motivation high. This will be layed out in the planning phase, but can be adjusted from the measurement and evaluation phase on the way to your goal.

Take care of yourself. If you want a fulfilled life in general and reach your goals as fast as possible you should sleep enough, eat healthy and have at least one evening per week that is dedicated to not working but enjoying some real human interaction or something similar. (I personally struggle often with all of this advice, it is still a pretty good piece of advice though)

Why. Remind you of it as often as possible.

With those tips on staying motivated we proceed with some advice on how to increase your productivity. This tips can also be applied in general, but I use them mostly for my learning and goal achievement process.


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