How to Get Motivated Enough to Get Things Done

Activities like exercise, building skills, reading a book cannot be done on the last day. But we postpone starting these things or are at best do it intermittently. How do we motivate ourselves?

Rome was built on the last day.

The above line is a common project management adage. It means that things get done at the last minute, even if there was enough time to plan well.

It is human nature to prioritise things on the basis of the pleasure principle – personal gratification and ease of use, or the pain principle, that is avoidance of discomfort.

Each day, there is some crisis that throws intentions into disarray. I use the word intentions deliberately, since ‘intentions’ are not actions. ‘Want’ does not lead to action. Motivation comes in between.

Motivation to do things come because of 2 reasons.

The obvious one is the stick-carrot or risk-reward. Enough has been written in management literature about it. The other reason is probability of success. The two are multiplicative. Whatever be the size of the carrot or stick, if the chances of success is low, things won’t happen. Similarly, if it is easy to do but the reward is not great, it won’t happen.

A word about reward

    It is in the eye of the beholder. It is very difficult to fathom what motivates another unless I know the person. What I consider as gratifying may not be important at all to my colleague. Which is why most HR policies can only be at best, hygiene factors. Motivators is the job of the immediate manager.

I have meandered a bit. The aim of this blogcast was to point out that, as it is, we are not motivated enough, and on top of that, if we have to do things on a consistent and regular basis, it requires a sustained stamina for what seems like a marathon, with no end in sight nor any instant gratification. Hence, Rome is built on the last possible day.

Activities like exercise, building skills, reading a book cannot be done on the last day.

But we postpone starting these things or are at best do it intermittently. How do we motivate ourselves so that we do not wake up one day to see a muffin-waist, or need to finish a lot of books before the exam? How do we motivate ourselves to ace that super tough aptitude test, so that we can get admitted in a top business school?

We can’t. All of us are different. If we are in the military, such activities are regimented and forced on us because they are the raison d’etre for the army. If we are civilians, with a choice, most of us will fall on the wayside, so to speak.

I do not mean to say it is futile to attempt to regularise our life. Our moms have got up every day for all our life to provide food to the family. She did not do ‘last day Rome’ by cooking food for the month on one day. She did not look at motivation theories or excuses thereof. She did it every day out of a sense of duty or love. Maybe she had no choice, or she considered the alternative, or she got tuned to that way of life. She is a true professional and mostly taken for granted.

If we need motivation or inspiration, we do not need to go far.

Look at our mothers, and be inspired by her, to keep plugging away and be a true professional. Rome will be built day by dayHealth Fitness Articles, brick by brick.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Prof. Chandra Kant, is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and currently, a senior professor at Indus Business Academy, a top business school in Bangalore, India. He teaches, change management, business leadership and Self Management.

3 Factors That Make You Hard to Motivate?

There will always be times in your life when you have to perform tasks that you deem unpleasant for one reason or another

Working with a co-worker you don’t like, going to work on Mondays, taking the garbage out, driving to meet the in-laws at the airport, having dinner with the spouse’s friends… Doing these things just siphons whatever motivation you have inside you and makes you feel sad, tired, sorry, even annoyed. But did you know that there are also things inside you that actually make it difficult to feel excited and enthusiastic? Get to learn the factors that make you hard to motivate:

Your mindset
Your mindset is a major factor that can make you hard to motivate. This is because it can severely limit your understanding of the world and all experiences in general. Your mindset can sometimes be composed of growth-inhibiting beliefs, prejudices, biases and standards.

If, for example, you believe that nothing good can come out of your staff, you’ll fail to see that there is a clerk there that actually has management potential. If you refuse to believe that you can actually write for a famous magazine because you’re a person from a small town, you’ll miss out on an opportunity to expose your talent and reap its rewards.

Your comfort zone
We all have certain limitations in our minds. These limits are things we decide on based on our own personal beliefs, ethics and standards. Within these limits, we feel comfortable in and can pretty much do as we like.

Once we approach the outer edges, we begin to feel discomfort, shyness, embarrassment or annoyance. We do not wish to go further because we do not like what we don’t know or haven’t experienced. Because we have a fear of the unknown, we’d rather stay within our comfort zones because we feel safe there.

The problem here is that a narrow comfort zone can be a major factor that makes you hard to motivate. Each time you are presented with a new idea or experience, you check to see if it fits into your comfort zone. If it doesn’t, then you simply refuse, no questions asked. This is unfortunate because many of these ideas and experiences can be good for you. But you’ll probably never know because you don’t have the motivation to try them.

Your past experience
Did you get burned by the stove? That’s probably why you hate to cook. Did your former bosses fail to show appreciation for your hard work? That’s probably one reason why you don’t feel motivated about your job.

Your background – personal, social and professional experiences – has a lot to do with how you decide things in your life. They can also be factors that make you hard to motivate. If these experiences are negative, they tend to make you more hesitant and unsure of yourself because they affect your self-esteem and confidence.

If, for example, you’ve only been met with rejection or ridicule in your life, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine if you don’t feel a strong need to excel or to improve yourself. You’ll probably be thinking – ‘So what? Nothing I ever did was good anyway. Why would things change now?’

Unless you consciously make an effort to identify these past experiences and then refuse to let them rule your life, you will always be hard to motivate.