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By Dr. Jill

Kick-Start Your Motivation: An Easy 5-Step Strategy

If you get frustrated and mentally stressed by your inability to stay motivated when you're pursuing a goal, here's a proven way to kick-start your motivation.

In a way—goal accomplishment can be compared to driving your car.

You can push down on the gas pedal as hard as you wish—but you won't move forward if your other foot is planted solidly on the brake. To get going, you first need to take your foot off whatever is putting the brakes on your motivation.

You know what it feels like to be "stuck." And you also know that once your motivation weakens, it can be tough to get re-motivated. This is often the "missing link" in goal attainment.

But getting motivated and staying motivated is really only a question of developing a winning strategy. Once you know how, it becomes second nature!

So what can you do when you just can't seem to get yourself in action?

A Strategy that Works
Here's a strategy I use to deal with heavy work overloads that try to "put the brakes" on my motivation:

1. First, I identify one thing I can do right now. It really doesn't matter how small that one thing is. I just start somewhere—usually with shortening my "to do" list to a "short list" of five things I KNOW I can accomplish today!

Because let's face it: If we start out with a to-do list of tough tasks as long as our arm, we're setting ourselves up for failure.

2. Next I select one thing on my "short list" that I feel capable of starting and completing right now. Let me give you an example. Every so often I find I have collected such a huge pile of papers, books and notes on my desk that the clutter is driving me to distraction. I can't find anything.

The first item on my "short list" is to organize my desk.

I put away any books I'm not actively reading or using. Then I sort those piles of paperwork into three piles: Discard, file and take action. All the paperwork then goes into the trash can, a "to be filed" folder or a "hot pile."

I have now started and completed one very important task!

2. Then I tackle item #2 on my short list. This item is usually to organize my "hot pile." My technique is to divide these items into separate folders labeled:

  • Critical

  • High Priority

  • ASAP

As I do this, I always find some items have such low priority they get tossed or are added to my to be filed folder.

This is easy to do, and I always end up with a great sense of accomplishment.

Try This Simple Approach
If you're feeling overwhelmed with a big project, this strategy works equally well—and often effectively dissolves stress and frustration. Try these steps:

(1) Pick a task you want completed but can't seem to get started on because it seems overwhelming.

(2) Ask yourself: "What is the one little thing I CAN do right now? It doesn't matter how small it seems—because that one thing WILL get you started.

(3) Do it!

(4) Repeat step 2. Again ask yourself: "What is next single thing I CAN do right now?"

(5) Do it, now!

Don't put yourself under pressure. Even a tiny step forward is still a step forward. And each one will move you away from that uncomfortable feeling of overwhelm and motivational paralysis.

Take It To the Next Level
This same approach can be applied to huge goals. To keep yourself motivated on target, break your goal down into smaller and smaller sub-goals, until you reach a "task level" list of things that can be completed in one day.

This is a very powerful way to dramatically improve your goal achievement results.

. . . . .

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Last Updated 12/22/2004