How many times have we started a project with a lot of exciting ideas, burning enthusiasm, and high hopes, only to later find it scrapped and buried in the bin? It’s a great feeling to harness such energy in the beginning, but it’s sad how easy it is to lose it after the first few weeks or months.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could hold on to that feeling of motivation? If we could continue working without losing excitement. Do we need to obtain psychology degrees or meditate daily in order to have better control over our thought processes and feelings? Motivation and momentum can be short-lived but without them, greater endeavors are impossible to complete. So is there a way to achieve great things and maintain constant enthusiasm? It is possible, and it requires some practice, but we can start by making a habit out of the following techniques.
- Do less in the beginning. If you have a new project (eg. your new blog) on your hands and work 10 hours on it during the first couple of days, you can easily suffer a burnout. It’s better to work an hour or two, leave the project alone, do something else, and come back the next day. This will keep your motivation up, because you’re not overworking.
- Set short-term goals. Setting goals and scheduling them gives you a simple task list for your project. You can assign a task or two for each day that you work on the project, and feel comfortable working toward a visible goal. This way you can also work more effectively and without procrastinating, because you already know beforehand what you are supposed to complete each day.
- Make an outline for your project. With bigger tasks it’s always convenient to have an outline that shows what the final product should roughly look like. You will also have a better idea of what you’re actually working on. If we just come up with an idea and mindlessly start working on it, we lose track easily and finally end up with little motivation.
- Postpone working on the project. After making an outline, it’s good to sleep on it. You’ll not only get better ideas, but also fuel your motivation by stimulating anticipation. But you should frequently come back to the project by thinking of new ideas. It’s also bad to leave it untouched, because then you’ll just forget about it. I like to keep a journal for new projects.
- Talk to someone about your project. When you talk to someone about your plans, it attaches you to the project. You’ll also have more incentive to work on it, now that someone else too knows about it.
Obstacles are inevitable in whatever we do, so we have to learn to accept them. And success often requires a lot of commitment, so we should be careful not to lose motivation at a critical moment. Sometimes it’s good to put off a project for a while and take a break, but at the same time we should do something to ensure that we’re not going to give up on it. For example, when I want to take a longer break from a project, I mark down the next step in my calendar to serve as a reminder.
Motivation is a critical factor in success, so we should take the right steps to learn how to maintain it. And it feels much better if we can take pleasure in doing something that we normally think of as boring (school projects come to my mind).
Next, I would be happy to hear your tips on sustaining motivation. Please share them in the comments below.