Do you ever find yourself lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, just dreading what’s to come with your day? You can feel your anxiety creeping up through your body, putting you on edge. In turn, you want to just shut down and not do anything at all? Been there, done that, lived that life for years. From time to time I still do. But, after I was hospitalized for being suicidal, I learned a lot of tips that really altered the way I looked at life and I learned how to appreciate what I’ve been through. Ever since the day I was released from the hospital, I decided I wasn’t going to keep living my life just going through the motions.
Because of that, I figured out how to change my mindset. Since then I’ve built two successful side hustles, graduated with my bachelors, survived a deployment, finished my masters (in two months), and improved an already amazing marriage. So much so, I’d describe it as a real life fairy tale every single day *insert heart eye emoji*… but I may be biased! 🙂
So what’s your goal? Why do you want to be motivated? Think about that while you read through these suggestions.
Follow the 5-minute rule
The 5-minute rule is that if a task will take you five minutes or less to complete, do it now. These tasks could be anything from folding the laundry to putting away the dishes. It could also be things like taking off your make-up or getting your outfit ready for work the night before.
I used to get so overwhelmed with all of the little tasks that would pile up on my daily schedule that I would end up getting nothing accomplished that day. In turn, I’d go to bed feeling worse about myself. Ever since I started using the 5-minute rule on myself, tasks don’t appear near as overwhelming. Besides, it’s nice to not have those annoying little tasks hanging over your head all day.
My productivity levels have increased tenfold ever since implementing the 5-minute rule. Nine times out of ten, I’ll end up getting motivated to accomplish more tasks and that five minutes turns into thirty!
Don’t give yourself the opportunity to say no
Do you have a goal you want to accomplish? Make it as much of your routine as showering and brushing your teeth. My cousin is a personal trainer and he once told me, “You brush your teeth every morning, right? You need to make the gym as daily and habitual as brushing your teeth. You can’t not brush your teeth, so you can’t not go to the gym.”
I always thought that was really good advice. If you want to accomplish something, saying no is not an answer, just like not brushing your teeth isn’t an answer! Now that I’ve overused that example…
If the idea of your task becoming optional even pops into your head for a second, you are going to be more apt to not accomplishing your goal that day.
For me, there are three things I do not allow myself to say no to: the gym, my blog, and my reselling side hustle on Poshmark. The second it creeps into my head that I don’t feel like blogging today or there isn’t room in my schedule for the gym, is the second I stop being motivated to go. I gave myself an opportunity to justify it enough to myself to say no. Being a procrastinator, it’s hard for me to ignore that option and I know I’m not alone.
Give yourself a reason why to stay motivated
It’s hard to make sure you do something everyday if you don’t have an end goal in mind. Your reason why should be something that you think about at least once per day.
Having a reason why gives you excitement. My reasons why are to go to the gym to build more confidence and to save/earn more money for our travels. These two reasons keep me extremely motivated when I start to think about them. You need to have a reason to get excited and crawl out of bed in the morning.
Is your goal to find financial freedom? What about to write a book or start your own business? Know your reason why and don’t ever go a day without thinking about it.
Keep an hour-by-hour planner instead of daily
By planning your day down to the hour, you’re planning smarter. You give yourself a start and end time to work on something and it becomes much less overwhelming.
I usually get stressed out extremely easy when it comes to daily tasks. I start thinking, “oh man, I have to write a blog post, upload new items to Poshmark, go to the gym, work on homework, cook dinner, and so much more…” At that point, overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel!
I have a calendar that breaks my day down by hours and now that I can assign each task an hour or two at a time, it gives me a point when I know I have to start and finish. By doing this, you’re going to be a lot more motivated to get work done by knowing you’re on a time schedule and that you have a stopping point.
Remind yourself of this important fact
Time is going to pass no matter what. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, each day will still pass by regardless.
This one always gets me motivated when I’m feeling down. I like to remind myself that in a year from now, I could either have a strongly established blog that makes me a full-time income, or I could give up and wonder what if.
Besides, don’t you want to know what could happen? If it doesn’t, it isn’t the end of the world and you can move on. If it is, then you just changed your life forever, my friend.
Understand your limits
You’re not going to be able to do it all. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? If you push yourself too much too quick, you’re going to become resentful, burnout, and never start back up again.
When you start feeling overwhelmed, take note of what’s going on. Are there too many people around? Is there too many items on your to-do list? Write everything down and then take a break from what you’re doing. Many times I start to feel overwhelmed when I don’t have any structure to my day. This is when I stop everything I’m doing, take a deep breath, and break it down to one thing at a time.
Learn to say no to others
Following that last point, learning to say no to others helps you understand your limits SO much! Ever since I started telling people I couldn’t help them or that I wasn’t in the mood to go out, my motivation rose and my confidence skyrocketed.
People don’t expect you to say yes every single time, unless you give them that expectation.
Learning to say no to people has changed the way I do just about everything. I am so much happier, my stress is minimal, and over time I stopped caring what others thought about me. It has been the most freeing thing I’ve learned to do.
Break tasks down into simpler steps
I like to look at my goal as the “finish line”. Then I break the goal down into all the steps that it will take to obtain that goal, these are the “checkpoints”. Each time I reach a checkpoint, I reward myself with something small. Then once I reach the finish line, I get my “big reward”!
Breaking tasks down into smaller and simpler steps makes the overall goal much less overwhelming and much more obtainable in your mind. Also, once you reach each checkpoint, the reward subconsciously and consciously gives you the motivation to keep moving forward.
Make a vision board
I LOVE vision boards and think they are so fun and inspiring. My vision board contains places we want to travel to, my future vehicle, fitness goals I want to achieve…It is so inspiring to look back and see what I have accomplished.
I try to not focus on what I haven’t finished and praise myself for the hard work I put towards my completed tasks. When I’m feeling more depressed or anxious, I really try as hard as I can to not consume myself with anything I’d consider a failure and focus only on the accomplishments.
Your mental health comes first. You can always make up work, school, or chores. If your boss or teacher doesn’t agree with you taking time for your mental health, then it’s probably not that healthy of an environment to place yourself in anyways.
Avoid doing too many things at once
Write down everything you want to do and have to do. Rank them in order of priority. Then determine how many of those tasks you can do each day before you start becoming overwhelmed.
My personal choice is to choose fewer tasks to accomplish throughout the day, then if I feel up to doing more I can do more. If not, then I won’t feel discouraged because I already finished my list that day.
Change the way you talk to yourself
If you say negative things about yourself, you will soon start to believe them. Many people develop these negative thought patterns before their earliest memories are even formed. This means that a lifetime of negative self talk needs to be reversed. It is difficult, but isn’t impossible.
To do this, you need to constantly encourage yourself. Find the things you like about yourself and become obsessed with them. Focus on them until you are so unbelievably proud of those features, physical and mental. If you catch yourself saying something negative, snap your wrist with a rubber band and counteract it with three positive thoughts.
It takes a long time to change your thought process from negative to positive. Rarely will it become a permanent thing. When things start to go wrong, your brain will almost always want to override and go back to it’s normal negative thought process.
This is where you have to learn how to defeat those negative thoughts to be able to replace them with positive ones. It is hard at first, but from my own personal experience, it definitely becomes MUCH easier the more you practice!
Have an accountability partner
Whether your goal is to pay off debt, lose ten pounds, or finish graduate school, one way to stay extremely motivated is to have an accountability partner.
When I have Trent asking me if I went to the gym today or my friends ask me if I’ve written that 25 page paper yet, it keeps me on track. I personally feel shame when I have to say no to these questions, and I know a lot of others feel the same way. That’s why having an accountability partner is such a popular way to stay motivated.
You have someone who understands exactly what you’re going through. You can laugh, cry, yell, scream or whatever you need to do and they will do it with you. I honestly have no idea where I’d be without my graduate school friends. They have quickly turned into the best friends I’ve ever had because of this. We are there for each other in times of freak outs and in celebrating the good times as well.
It makes life much more fun having accountability partners to relate to.
Watch/listen/read inspirational testimonies
Hearing about how others have succeeded makes it so much more motivating to me. It relights a spark inside of me and leads me to keep going. There is hope in these testimonies that it is possible to reach your goal.
You can find these testimonies on YouTube, different podcasts, Ted talks, blog posts, and more.
Do the smaller tasks first
If I asked you to take away once piece of advice from this entire post, it would be this. Most people think it’s better to knock out the biggest task first and work your way down to the smallest.
It’s actually quite the opposite. If you go for the biggest task first, you don’t have enough motivation and momentum built up yet to tackle this and that leads to a quick burnout.
What you want to do is start with the smallest task on your list. Once you’re able to cross that off, you will have a sense of accomplishment. Then do the next smallest, and then the next smallest. By doing it this way, when it comes time to take on the biggest task, it no longer feels overwhelming.
Have you ever heard of the “foot-in-the-door” technique. This is where someone asks for a small favor, and then the favors they ask for become larger and more intricate. It is done this way because once you’ve done a few smaller tasks for them, it is much more likely you’ll say yes to a larger favor without any hesitation.
This is the outlook you need to have when it comes to crossing off your to-do list every day. This has changed the way I do things and made my life so much easier and less stressful.