How Do I Motivate Myself?

As I wrote about in my "card of the year" post, one of the big challenges I have is how to motivate myself to do the things I KNOW I need to do, the things I know will give me more energy if I just did them. This is a problem many people have -- how do I stoke the fire, light a flame under my ass, make myself invest the energy to get something going and follow through?

Here are five ways to get a handle on this:

  1. Know how you want to wake up. In "The Morning Miracle," Hal Elrod writes about setting an intention for how you want to wake up the next morning before you go to sleep. This is brilliant. So often we have unconscious scripts we just run about how our days will go--why not overwrite this with an intention for what you do want?
  2. Make it easy. When kids are little, you need to make it easy to find their snacks or put away their toys; so easy, that they can't possibly not do it. Don't set yourself up for failure by making things difficult. Get out of bed and right into your workout clothes if you want to work out in the morning, or put your journal and a glass of water next to your bed if you truly intend to write some morning pages.
  3. Treat yourself like a toddler. Reward yourself. Give yourself skittles. Put pretty stickers in your planner when you Do The Thing. Brag to someone, like you just ate all your peas and want your damn ice cream now.
  4. Remember the lesson of the strength card -- you're not trying to control yourself, you're working with yourself. Sometimes just your attitude can crush any motivation you had to begin with. If you're telling yourself you should exercise because you're weak and pathetic, you won't get anywhere. If you remind yourself how you feel better after you exercise, that you only have to do a little and you can amp up as you go along when you feel stronger, then you're more likely to work out.
  5. Tend to your basic needs. Often we undermine ourselves because our basic needs aren't being met. This results in a lack mentality that we almost don't notice we're having if we're so used to running on the hamster wheel and never getting ahead. If you feel like you're wanting in something, that feeling is going to come out as a maladaptive self-soothing behavior like skipping your workouts or emotional eating. Treat yourself right, and you may find your energy increases naturally.