Motivation: Even when you don’t feel like it

We want to believe that tomorrow will bring us motivation. We are sold the myth that we will be a better version tomorrow and start meal-prepping and reading two books per month. Our ability to dream and not act is what drives a billion-dollar industry. Are you looking for ways to motivate yourself?

You can use motivation to create systems that keep you going, even when it’s not easy. You can think of motivation as the “hyperdrive” switch that allows Han Solo and Chewbacca to traverse galaxies. Hyperdrive can’t be sustained if it’s constantly on, but it gets the team to A and B for brief bursts. Or G. Or G. Let’s turn on our internal hyperdrive.

Step 1: Prepare for Failure

This seems counterintuitive doesn’t it. However, the great BJ Fogg founder and director Stanford University’s Behavior Design Lab says we should assume our future self to be lazy. It’s okay. It’s okay. Take a moment to take a deep breath, and then chant affirmations in front of the mirror. This is not a disincentive statement. It’s meant to highlight the urgent need for it.

It’s possible to make it easier for your future self

It is important to think of your motivation reservoir in a small, portable vessel that can be filled with random refills. You can even do this:

Motivation = Short term

What are we to do? There’s always streaming and shopping online. However, this is not sustainable. What’s the long-term solution to this problem? This is how the equation looks right now:

? = Long term

Return to BJ Fogg. He likes to tell the story of a trip he took to make more tea. Instead of spending his mornings looking through the cabinets and setting the kettle on fire to get some leafy goodness, he decided that motivation would not last. He set up a tea station with his favorite tea varieties. He was able to grab his favorite teas easily with an electric kettle and quick access to cups. Even when he didn’t feel like coffee.

Herein lies the key. He created a system that would allow him to keep his new behavior going even when motivation is low. It was easier for him to do it again. This is how the formula now looks:

Systems = long-term

Be persistent

What is the average time it takes to develop a habit? The jury is out, and the 21-day rule is dangerously absurd. Imagine a marathon-running coach training someone who has never run long distances. In 21 days. It took 21 days.

Research shows it can take your brain longer to adapt to a new process. The new minimum is 66 days, and the maximum is close to a full year. But here’s the kicker: the research was conducted in 2009! Why do we still promote the 21-day habit? It’s convenient and feeds the billion-dollar motivation industry. You are constantly on an endless rollercoaster ride of motivation, from guilt to shame to failure to guilt, to shame to shame to, guess what?, back to motivation.

If you realize that it can take anywhere from 2 months to 1 year to create a new habit, it’s much less likely that you will be able to stop it within a month. Right?

Here’s the deal. You can’t make a system work unless you try. Persistence is key.

Step 2: Add it to your calendar

All the gadgets and gizmos that claim to help you be more productive are irrelevant. These tools can actually distract from the task at hand.

You can repeat the same thing: Calendar is king.

You can learn to use your calendar effectively and you won’t need to clutter up your phone with unnecessary apps.

Limit motivational tools to a minimum

Bet you were taken by surprise when this heading appeared. You probably expected a long list books, podcasts, conferences, and tools that would get you started. This is not how it works, Mando.

We are not saying that all motivational tools should be avoided. We are merely pointing out that not all motivational tools work the same. Only use tools that give you a boost, and don’t take up too much of your valuable resources like time and money.

All this does is increase your already overwhelming pile of things that you won’t be able to get to. This only increases your guilt. What are we supposed do?

Keep it simple. Do not be distracted by flashy icons and shiny lights. It’s a great time to channel your minimalist side and only use what you really need. A pen, a notebook, a calendar. The Notes app is for those who are digitally literate.

Also, you’ll have to do a huge purge. You won’t get motivated to clean your home if you watch 50 YouTube videos that show how to clean. Purge, purge, purge. You can narrow it down to the one that motivates you the most. You can spend as little time motivating yourself and then you can go for it when you’re full!

It’s not worth spending 3 hours trying to find motivation for a half-hour task.

What about the fitness enthusiast who is a novice? Subscribe to a gym that has all the amenities you can imagine. But they lack the motivation to ride their exercise bike. You might not need the motivation you seek, but it is important to focus.

Let’s take a look at focus for a second

What if your goal is to improve your overall fitness? All your systems are in place and gear is set up in the morning. But you are still having trouble launching. You might be missing a component: focus.

Noah Kagan is the founder of AppSumo. He believes that simplicity is the key to his success. Make the simplest version of your goal your sole focus.

Let’s now look at your fitness journey. Let’s say you are able to run 5 m in six months. This is one thing you can focus on. It’s easier to set daily, weekly, or monthly goals to achieve that goal. This means you will know what you should do and what your goal is when you go to the gym.

What about cleaning out your home? How about a goal to clear your house every night before you go to bed? It becomes much easier to add to your list once you have made it a habit. In a matter of months, you will find it much easier to keep up the Martha Stewart pace.

Make plans and keep track of reminders

You know that it takes approximately ten hours to complete the project. But, it is 10 PM, and the project is due by the first of the morning. It could be a case either of work overload, or procrastination. Many of us have been in trouble due to the “p” word.

It’s obvious that you rush to complete the task, but is it up to your standards? Is it up to your standards? It may not.

Planning ahead allows you to be more flexible and adapt to potential pitfalls and distractions. If you don’t plan ahead, 99 percent of the work will be done.

It is therefore natural to download a productivity software that… Get out your calendar. If you have specific dates to work on certain projects, a month view is a great place to start. You can set reminders to remind you to reach milestones by specific dates. When they are specific, it’s difficult to ignore them.

You’ll find pockets of time that you didn’t know existed when you slowly implement this system with persistence.

People who have complete control over their projects might find it difficult to set a timer for a workday. You can think of project managers and business owners. If you are able to set small goals along the way, and then you consistently meet them, you can assign a start time and an end time to your workday.

Anyone who has ever felt like they are losing their way will understand how important it is to have a beginning and an end. Before you can make your system work for you, first learn how to use it.

Tips for getting started

The hardest part is getting started. It will take the most effort to learn how to motivate yourself at the beginning, as this is where you implement your systems. It is important to know where to begin.

Tip 1: Set small goals

It’s a mountain. We all know. Waiting until tomorrow or when you have the perfect pants or the right pen will not make the mountain smaller. What will make the mountain less? You can do it by chipping away. So cliche, right? But it’s not without reason.

It is important to simplify a project before you start. Cleaning the kitchen after a dinner party is one example. Hiring a professional cleaner would make the task much easier. It doesn’t help me. Let’s get back to the kitchen. Make a list, and then check it off as you go.

  1. All decorations that are not food-related should be thrown out or tossed.
  2. Clear cups and plates for food and drink.
  3. If you have leftovers, keep them in a safe place.
  4. Rinse the dishes and put them in the dishwasher
  5. Start the dishwasher cycle.
  6. Take out any leftover dishes and wash them.
  7. Clear counters of any clutter and give them an easy wipe.
  8. Wipe other surfaces and sweep the floor.
  9. Clean the floor and empty all cleaning materials.

Although it may seem simple, once you see the project in its smallest parts, it can be difficult to envision the final result. This can be done for any project. If you find it difficult to get started, it may not be sufficiently broken down. Start with the first step, and then see if it can be broken down further.

Tip 2 – Set a timer

Set a timer for each section once you have broken down the steps. You will be able to stay focused as you know that you have a limited time to complete the task. Saving up for a wedding is a great example of a large, complex goal that requires a timer. There is nothing that motivates you more than working through a wedding planning plan.

You can book this for a specific date or buy it by another date. It is important to set deadlines for your savings if you want to reach your financial goals. If you need $10,000 to pay for the venue within 6 months, but have not saved any money, you will need to save $1,700 each month.

Tip 3: Get rid of competing motivators

Although we are blaming BJ Fogg for this article, the man is a genius! A little secret is what he knows about motivation. Good intentions can evaporate when faced with scorching heat. It’s not only social media and endless streaming, but all of them compete for your attention.

Have you ever wanted to run one morning, only to find out that your water pipes burst? You might also consider finishing your course material ahead-of-time, only to find that your computer flashes the blue light of death.

There will always be other motivators that could distract you from your goals. The key is to get back on the train as quickly as possible. To ensure that you are on the right track, you might also consider a plan B and C. Those who are serious about their goals will always have a plan B or C. Runners always have an extra pair, writers have multiple platforms for their words, and moms always have an extra diaper in the bag.

What about the competitive?

Tip 4 – Set yourself up for success

You’ve been told to prepare for failure, and this is a huge step in setting yourself up for success. The other thing that isn’t tied to failure is the ability to account for all possible variables. You can account for the weather, financial emergencies, health issues, family crises, and even an extraordinary vacation.

You can plan for all the variables to get you to the finish line. Although you might not be able prepare for every possibility that could throw you off-course, it is a good idea start with the obvious.

Consider the people who have made a difference in your life. People who are great at what they do, such as academic wizards and career moguls. What are they sharing in common? Self-discipline. Self-discipline is only possible if you practice it consistently. This small investment can make all the difference and set you up for success.


Everything you need to be motivated is already in your possession. Show kindness to yourself to make it easier for you to achieve your goals. You can actually build new habits by combining systems and persistence. Systems and persistence are two key levers in creating new habits. We now know that it takes more time to build a habit than we thought.