In this guide on self-motivation techniques, we’re going to get real about how to motivate yourself when you don’t have anyone else to push you forward.
Maybe you are self-employed and make money on a blog and the only person in charge of your business, maybe you just don’t have supportive friends or family around you, or maybe you want to learn self-motivation techniques to be more motivated and stay focused on your goals without having to rely on external motivation.
Keep in mind that self-motivation is not necessarily synonymous with intrinsic motivation.
It can be part of it, but intrinsic motivation is doing something for the sake of it bring you joy or fulfillment or because you will feel personally accomplished by doing it, whereas I use self-motivation to mean motivating yourself even if it means threatening yourself with punishments at times!
Self-motivation techniques are important to learn in order to be able to get yourself further in life, as you can’t always be relying on other people to help motivate you, so read on to hear my suggestions, coming from someone who almost exclusively self-motivates.
Best tools for Productivity
1. Determine Your Why Before You Start
It’s much easier to start or carry on doing something and stick to a plan if you know why you’re doing it.
And not just the physical “why” but the emotional “why.”
Sure, you could eat 1200 calories a day and work out, but why are you doing it?
Are you doing it to lose weight so you’ll fit into your wedding dress?
Are you doing it to feel healthier and get your dating life on track?
Are you doing it because you know that your health is at risk if you don’t?
What benefits are going to come from doing what you’re trying to motivate yourself to do?
Even the most boring of things, like cleaning the bathroom, come with a physical and emotional why.
You’re doing it to make sure that the bathroom is hygenic and clean, but you’re also doing it because you’ll feel better about your life once it’s clean and you’ll feel much happier knowing that the bathroom is clean and your towels are freshly washed.
It doesn’t have to be a long process, but find the “why” in what you are doing and use that to remind yourself to keep going or to start.
2. Accept the Length Needed for Habit Building
Self-motivation is often required to start building new good habits, but once you’ve started you have to accept the length needed to turn them into habits.
This goes along with how to be more disciplined, but really you need to prep yourself ahead of time for the fact that you may not see immediate results or feel immediate rewards.
They say it takes 20+ days to build a habit, so if you go from playing video games all day to working on your novel with that time instead, it’s going to feel hard at first.
You are going to have days where, quite frankly, that self-motivation that got you to start isn’t enough.
But if you’ve mentally prepared yourself for those moments, you know that you need to push through that pain barrier so you can come out the other side.
3. Come Up with a Rewards and Punishment Scheme
This is why I said that self-motivation techniques can include external rewards and punishment.
Sure, you’ve found your “why”, but on those days where you don’t want to keep doing it anymore, you need to adhere to some sort of other kind of self-motivation and that’s where rewards come in.
Some people find that they respond more favorably to rewards.
For instance, after you lose 50 pounds, you’re treating yourself to a weekend away.
Or after you clean the kitchen, you’re going to make a fresh loaf of bread and enjoy it with butter.
You do have to have enough discipline to stick to this and hold off on those rewards until you have reached the goal, but it’s a great way to motivate you.
Other people find that they respond to punishments.
For example, if you don’t exercise 7 days in a row, you don’t get a slice of that chocolate cake at the birthday party.
Or if you don’t stick to your calorie plan, you cancel your upcoming order for that new video game you wanted.
Working for the fear of losing out on something can be just what some people need to keep going, and you don’t need anyone else to hold those rewards or punishments for you.
You can set them up and deliver them or take them away from yourself.
4. Break Your Time Down in Chunks
Sometimes, it’s easier to get self-motivated for a 20 minute interval rather than 1 hour or longer.
And that’s okay.
These are actually productivity tips.
You don’t have to motivate yourself to work on your new business all day.
You just need to motivate yourself to work on it for the next 20 minutes and then, if you feel like it, you can stop.
This is going to train your brain to help motivate yourself, as you will be able to eventually motivate yourself for longer and longer time periods or bigger and bigger tasks.
It also shows you that often, when you get to the end of that time period, you won’t actually want to stop, which then reinforces the idea that you can do it.
5. Keep a To-Do List and Check it Every Day
Just because you’re using self-motivation techniques doesn’t mean you can’t make a to-do list, it just means that you’re not relying on someone else to tell you your to-do list.
Making to-do lists is one of the best ways to self-motivate, actually, as it means you don’t have to keep all of your tasks in your head and it kind of stares at you at the end of the day with its finished or unfinished tasks to hep keep you accountable.
I recommend making a to-do list every morning, breaking your tasks down in sections and organizing them using a planner so you’re not getting too muddled up, and methodically going through each one to keep yourself on track.
At the end of the day, take a look at it and see what you crossed off, and move anything you didn’t finish to the first to-dos for the next day.
You will feel regret when you have a whole to-do list left unfinished, and equally you’ll feel proud of yourself when you have a completed to-do list.
The best planner for this one is right here.
6. Find What Inner Voice You Listen To the Most
We have all kinds of inner voices telling us lots of different things, but you should identify what inner voice you listen to the most and use that one to help motivate you.
This could relate to the kind of language you use to talk to yourself to get things done.
Is is a pragmatic and practical voice, talking in terms of tasks and spreadsheets and completion dates, or is it more emotional and vague, talking about finding your inner strength and “pushing through?”
On days that you get the most done, take stock of how you talked to yourself that day or the language of your thoughts to see if you can figure out which kind of inner voice works best for you when it comes to self-motivation.
7. Speak to Yourself as You Would a Friend
At the end of the day, you can motivate yourself without putting yourself down.
Yes, there will be times when you use “punishments” to spur yourseld on or you feel disappointed in yourself for eating an entire cheesecake rather than just one slice, but you shouldn’t be tearing yourself down with insults or telling yourself you’re not good enough.
If you have problems with self-esteem and self-motivation, try and talk to yourself like you would a friend who isn’t you.
Would you be saying your negative thoughts to your friend who you know tried their best?
It doesn’t have to be all love and puppies, but you can self-motivate through your failures without turning yourself into a verbal punching bag.
If your friend came to you and said that they wasted the whole week because they lost all self control, you would help them identify where they went wrong and get them back on track and tell them that they can do it.
You’re not going to berate them or tell them they’re worthless or it’s pointless even trying. So don’t do that to yourself.