10 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself Every Day

10 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself Every Day

 

There are myriad psychology models and theories on what motivates us to do the things we do: how we respond to incentives, achievement theories, and so on.

I look at motivation as excitement. So how can you remain motivated in a simple way that works every single day? Here are 10 ways.

1. Take a break–you deserve it.

The only way we can perform at an optimal level is create time for rest. The moment you know you can’t take any time off is usually when you need it most.

So take that long delayed vacation, and return to your business with renewed enthusiasm.

2. Keep your cards close to your chest.

Finally running that marathon? Excited about your new diet? Bursting at the seams over your new project? Good. Keep it to yourself.

Announcing your intent to do these feats will backfire. Resist the urge to reap the barrage of Facebook likes, and gushing comments. The positive feedback you receive from your network will trick your brain into thinking you’ve already accomplished your goal, sabotaging your once-motivated brain to do said feat.

So keep it to yourself and share the good news once you’ve already done it.

3. Confront death, and define your legacy.

Death is a powerful motivator. We get bogged down in mindless activities. They make us feel like we’re accomplishing things, when in reality we’re just spinning in circles.

Knowing that you have finite time on this planet helps sharpen your focus. Everything we do is another step in defining our legacy. This may seem like heady posturing, but both can be powerful motivators.

4. Celebrate the little wins, no matter how small.

Little wins may seem like just that–little.

Celebrating these wins can help to create positive habits. You break the inertia of mediocrity by teaching everyone around you how to win. They get the chance to bask in that emotion.

Vishen Lakhiani, CEO of Mindvalley, has gone so far as implementing what he calls the “awesome bell.” Which he rings (you guessed it) anytime something awesome happens.

5. Slash your to-do list in half.

Slashing your aggressive to-do list in half will allow room for success. Knowing that it’s realistic for you to complete the list is empowering.

6. Be gentle with yourself.

Stop comparing the accomplishments in your life with those of your neighbor. The story you create in your head will never be as good, and the reality will never be as bad.

There are many people who are smarter than you. The moment you can embrace this notion, you’re free. Free to explore. Free to follow what excites you. Free to ignore what they do, or how they do it, and focus on you.

7. Hack the way your brain perceives your new habits.

Recently, I began waking up two hours earlier than usual during the week. Instead of viewing it as two hours less I get to sleep, I view it as two extra hours to my day, allowing me to add a full workday per week.

8. Embrace vulnerability.

We live in a culture where we horde Instagram followers, and Facebook likes. The perception of our lives being anything less than perfect is a daunting notion. The glossy Facebookification of our lives can create a dangerous facade of success.

Sharing defeats and admitting failure is a powerful cultivator of motivation, allowing you to move past the failure. Work through the emotion instead of taking it out on someone else. Then move on to something more constructive.

Sharing these vulnerable moments also cultivates deeper connection with peers.

9. Do what you love (sort of).

Find what it is you love to do and get proficient at it. Success dwells at the fulcrum of passion and excellence.

But be careful. Make sure that you can make a living from your passion. I’m passionate about a lot of things that I know I’m not so amazing at and that I definitely can’t make a living at. I love playing guitar. My daughter loves when I play songs from the movie Frozen. It’s fun. I’m never going to be a rock star.

10. Focus.

There is a an anecdote I’ve heard about Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Gates’s father at a dinner party. A guest asked them what the most important quality for success was today and all three responded “Focus” at the same exact time. They all smiled and laughed to each other because they hadn’t really prepared the answer.

We are all inundated with texts and emails. These are no longer just work interruptions. Because of the mini-computers we carry around in our pockets, the flood of information distracts us wherever we happen to be, 24/7.

So turn off your iPhone, stop trolling your ex-lover’s Facebook page, and get to work.

How Reading Books Helps Your Brain Recharge

It may seem counterintuitive, but absorbing information through old-fashioned books gives your brain a break.

 

Imagine being the founder of not one but two companies dedicated to books and not finding the time to read any. That’s the situation that Hugh McGuire, founder of LibriVox and Pressbooks, found himself in a few years ago. Like many of us, he was battling an onslaught of digital information, and his beloved paperbacks were collecting dust. After a while, though, he realized he sorely missed the quiet time he used to spend with a book in hand. He also realized that he was tired all the time, and struggling to focus in every area of life.

Writing for Harvard Business Review, he explained:

“I was distracted when at work, distracted when with family and friends, constantly tired, irritable, and always swimming against a wash of ambient stress induced by my constant itch for digital information. My stress had an electronic feel to it, as if it was made up of the very bits and bytes on my screens.”

He found that a slower form of information, books, was the antidote to his information overload. So he made them part of his routine again. According to McGuire, “Reading books again has given me more time to reflect, to think, and has increased both my focus and the creative mental space to solve work problems.”

As any entrepreneur will tell you, problem-solving is critical for launching or running a business. But so is giving our busy brains a rest, and books help with that too. According to neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, focused reading uses about 42 calories per hour, whereas absorbing new information (e.g., scanning Twitter or the news headlines) burns around 65 calories per hour.

Research has found that reading novels improves our brain functions on a variety of levels, including the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and flex your imagination. It also boosts our innovative thinking skills. Take it from Elon Musk, arguably one of the most innovative minds of our time. He’s said that growing up, he spent more than 10 hours a day pouring through science fiction novels. In today’s rapidly changing world, innovation is necessary for any business to stay competitive.

Reading is the best, not to mention the easiest, way to shore up our creative thinking and give our brains a break from digital overload — which, according to a 2019 Workplace Productivity Report, more than half of the workforce experiences. With that in mind, here are some strategies for making quality reading time a part of your daily routine.

1. Stash your devices

It seems simple, but detaching from our phones and tablets is often easier said than done. New information — like the ping of a new DM or refreshing our Twitter feed — triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in our brains.

On top of that, our devices are designed to be addictive: Just ask a slew of former Silicon Valley big wigs, like Google’s former in-house ethicist, Tristan Harris, who have become whistleblowers for the addictive and unhealthy nature of our phones. Even the guy who literally wrote the book on getting people addicted — Nir Eyal, author of “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” — has done a 180°. More recently, he wrote a book with the opposite sentiment of his former title: “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.” It’s a guide to freeing people from the pull of their devices.

Say what you will about Eyal’s flip-flopping, his book includes smart tips for maintaining your attention: like don’t hang out on Slack, limit meetings to just one laptop, and keep your phone on silent. I like to go one step further by putting my phone completely out of sight — in a drawer or even another room — when I need uninterrupted focus time.

It’s impossible to concentrate and fully immerse yourself in a book when you’re constantly checking your messages. So stick with the old adage: out of sight, out of mind.

Related: Low Productivity? You May Need a Digital Detox.

2. If you don’t have hours, read in short intervals

As CEO of my online form company, I don’t have uninterrupted hours each day to dedicate to reading. But as Wharton professor Adam Grant writes, “Leaders who don’t have time to read are leaders who don’t make time to learn.”

If the most successful entrepreneurs manage to find the time, I can, too. Sometimes, that means being a little thrifty: like reading in short bursts throughout the day — on the way to work or waiting in line at the coffee shop. Or, instead of zoning out with Netflix before bed, try squeezing in a few chapters.

What’s more, research has found that we retain more information when we learn in short, spaced-out intervals, rather than trying to cram it all in at once.

If you’re struggling to concentrate or just having an off-day, the Pomodoro Technique can be highly effective. It entails setting a timer for 25 minutes, committing to concentrating during that time period, then giving yourself five minutes to do anything — grab a snack, take a quick stroll or something else non-work-related. Once you’ve completed four “pomodoros,” you can give yourself a longer break.

Even if you only do one or two pomodoros, you’ll be surprised at how the time flies.

Related: Reading One Book a Week Won’t Make You Successful

3. Choose your material thoughtfully

It’s no surprise that if you choose something you genuinely enjoy, you’ll be more likely to follow through with it. Plus, fully immersing yourself in one captivating book will give you so much more than speeding through a dozen books while your mind wanders elsewhere. Only when we’re fully absorbed can we reach that priceless state of flow: the “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”

Colleagues often tell me that it’s too difficult or time-consuming to find great books. True enough, there are thousands of titles to choose from. That’s why I recommend delegating the legwork. See who your favorite authors or experts are reading. You can puruse Adam Grant’s favorite leadership books or author Steven Pinker’s ten titles he’d take to a desert island. I also like using What Should I Read Next, a website that uses a huge database to offer recommendations based on books you’ve already enjoyed.

Simply put: For productive, intelligent leaders, reading books is literally the oldest trick in the book. It gives your brain a chance to recharge and absorb new information, and there’s no hacking your way out that.

Morning Habits, Jump-Start Your Brain For Success

Ever wondered why most successful people have morning habits? No, it’s not because they’re OCD or odd in any way. They develop habits for this one simple reason: to reduce friction in their lives so they can focus on what they do best. Makes sense, right?

“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” — John Dryden

Those who have tasted success, whether it’s big or small, will come to realise that time holds the most value in life — there is simply never enough time and there is always too much to think about. So, by adding, changing, or developing habits or routines will simplify our lives and save us time.

Here are a few questions to help you jump-start shaping your own ideal morning habits:

  • If I could plan my ideal morning, what would it look like?

Your First Minutes

About one year ago, I watched this YouTube video from Jim Kwik, Brain Coach, where he shared his morning habits on how he jump-start his brain for success, focus and productivity.

According to Kwik: “The first 60 minutes of your day can either set you up for maximum productivity and bring you closer to your long-term and short-term goals or cause you to lose another day to distractions and mental fog. Just like an athlete takes care of his body, we need to take good care of our brains to become who we aspire to be.”

And he’s right. What you do to start your day determines how the rest of your day will look like. Therefore, your morning habits are critical for lifetime success. Therefore, I started to change my morning habits bit by bit.

Do keep in mind that morning habits are different for everyone. For example, my morning habits usually take 120 minutes. Yes, that’s two hours. Knowing exactly how the first 120 minutes of my day looks like is powerful. It helps me feel in control, which in turn reduces anxiety and increases my productivity throughout the day.

Here are my top five morning habits to jump-start my brain towards success:


1. Remember Your Dreams

Often when you’re awake, you live your life through the everyday learning, facing challenges, and thinking about solutions and ideas in different aspects of your life. However, it’s not always the case that you find them in that exact moment of time.

So, when you’re asleep, your mind is still working on this search for solution and ideas. Did you know your dream could contain the very advice and insight you needed? Most of us don’t remember our dreams or don’t make the effort to remember them. When dreams are properly interpreted, they bring guidance to achieve what may seem impossible in the first place.


2. Brush Teeth With Your Non-Dominant Hand

This one is fun and challenging. Try to use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth. You will notice it is harder to be precise with your movements. When I first started to brush my teeth with my non-dominant (right) hand, it was hard to move my hand instead of my head.

Here is why it helps you jump-start your brain: Your brain is an organ that improves through mental stimulation, which adapts and rewires itself non-stop through the growth of new neurons.

Therefore, by using your non-dominant hand will support neural connections in your brain, and even grow new ones. Basically, it is similar to how physical exercise improves your body’s functioning and grows muscles.


3. Drink Up To Two Glasses Of Water

The recommended nightly sleep of six to eight hours is a long period to go without drinking water. Hydration is a must when it comes to daily productivity because your brain is made up of 73% water. So, staying hydrated is critical for maintaining optimal brain activity. Of course, it is a daylong process, but starting with a glass or two of water right away is a step in the right direction.

One of the biggest underestimated indicators of weariness or low energy is that you are dehydrated. Water helps in both body regulation and brain function. Also, it is closely related to balancing out our moods.


4. Hit The Gym

A recent study published in the journal Neurology: Clinical Practice suggests: “Exercise affects the brain in a variety of different ways, from preserving the brain’s nerve network that starts to decline with age, to boosting the function of neurons and improving blood flow to brain cells, as well as promoting the production of growth factors to help cells involved in higher level thinking tasks.”

Therefore, living an active lifestyle with regular physical activities greatly helps to keep every bit of tissues in your brain as young and active as those throughout the rest of your body. In fact, it seems to help slow or even reverse the brain’s physical degeneration over time.


5. Eat Healthy Brain Food Breakfast

Eating a healthy breakfast can jump-start your brain and boost your productivity and focus throughout the morning. Try combining these five “brain foods” in your morning meal to give yourself a mental edge.

  • Blueberries — These tiny berries are packed full of antioxidants that protect your brain from oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, helping to improve cognition and memory.

You can be creative in how you combine these five brain foods. Whatever you do, don’t skip breakfast, even if you’re short on time. By skipping a healthy breakfast, you might save some time but at the cost of your creativity, as well as problem-solving ability. So, head to the kitchen before heading out the door in the morning. Your brain will thank you.

  • What is your current morning habit?