In my last post (here if you missed it) were 14 “quick fixes” for instant motivation. But to maintain your motivation consistently and effectively you may need some more long-term strategies… 

domino effect

photo credit: Jeff Pioquinto (licence)

Today I’ll give some tips for planning in advance to deal with those moments when motivation deserts you and inertia or procrastination start to weigh you down.

“Be Prepared”!

As in so many other areas of Self-Improvement, this evergreen Boy Scout motto is relevant to staying motivated. By planning and preparing in advance you can

  • reduce the number of “can’t-get-going” moments you encounter, and
  • increase your chances of pushing through them when they occur.

Not all techniques will apply to everyone, so be selective. Identify and explore those which make the most sense to you.

14 Tips for PLANNING your Motivation INTENTIONALLY

Unlike my Instant Power-up motivation methods, these tips all involve some advance thought and work:

  • Schedule your tasks
    You’ve probably heard it before: “What doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done”. Add important tasks to your planner with a specific time-frame. “Go to gym” on your to do list is easier to ignore than an actual calendar appointment with yourself for “Strength training, 7.30am-8.15am”. Be specific.
  • Set realistic expectations
    Whether you plan your day in a To-Do list, diary, calendar, planner or just scribble on the back of an envelope, try to set achievable tasks and goals. As a general rule we tend to underestimate what we can achieve in a year but overestimate what we can get through in a day. Failing to finish your list can be demotivating; getting everything done with time to spare is a great boost.
  • Plan with patience
    Some of our tasks are larger than other and may take days, weeks or even months to complete. These should be broken down into smaller micro-tasks, but it’s important to keep an eye on the big picture, too. Impatience can be demotivating, so as you plan ahead, try to develop a willingness to wait for the longer-term rewards.
  • Write a contract with yourself
    Tough task? Hold yourself accountable to it by writing down your commitment and displaying it somewhere you can see it often. See it as less of a “goal” and more of a “solemn promise” to yourself.
  • Seek wider accountability
    Stating your intentions to others can be a great motivator. Share your weight loss goals with a trusted friend or relative. Announce your new gym regime to your Facebook friends. Write a sales page for your next eBook and start collecting subscribers before you create it. Blog about your Self-Improvement (hey what a great idea…)
  • Record your progress
    A physical (or digital) record of your Self-Improvement progress can be highly motivating, even when it tells a story of both success and failure. Writing down your victories in a notebook or spreadsheet, or even just checking off items on your To Do list can give a real lift to your day.
  • Display some photos
    Is there a visual representation of your goal or desire? A photograph of a successful writer or musician? A fake degree or grade certificate with your name pasted in? Display it in your workspace and use it to regularly visualise your future success, particularly when you feel stuck.
  • Develop a mantra
    Prepare a phrase to repeat when you lack motivation. As you use your mantra, your brain will learn to take it as a cue to get into “go mode”. Some ideas:
    “Work now, play later!”
    “Pain is temporary, quitting is permanent”
    “I can, I will, right now!”

    My own mantra is “JFDI” which stands for “Just Flippin’ Do It!” (Yes, the “F” can stand for something rather more offensive…)
  • Make it into a game or competition
    Turning your task into a game and competing with yourself (or others) can be helpful. I score my progress weekly on a spreadsheet that tells me what percentage of my planned tasks were completed. Trying to beat last week’s score is hard to resist (I suspect this is partly a “man thing”.) Explore ways to “gamify” your least-motivated tasks; even just setting up a challenge can start you on the road to success.
  • Reward yourself (appropriately)
    Promise yourself a treat after you finish a task or meet a particular goal. But make sure the prize is appropriate: awarding yourself chocolate for losing weight is generally counter-productive! Maybe a movie, or a new shirt? Or just some quiet time in the park.
  • Reach for a quote
    I’m definitely sold on the power of quotes and sayings to inspire and motivate; in fact, I wrote a blog post about it: “Motivation By Quotation!” If you find positive quotations helpful, have a supply of them to hand in a book, on cards or saved as bookmarks in your browser. 
  • Make yourself a motivational tool kit
    This tip is really about looking through all the ideas above, plus the tips in my previous post, and making a check list of the top techniques that work for you. Keep it somewhere safe and bring it out to use whenever your motivation starts to drain away. Self-Improvement experts (such as yourself) always have their very best tools to hand whenever they need them.
  • Develop good attitude and thought patterns
    Developing an intentionally and consistently positive attitude to life is a key Self-Improvement skill. When it comes to getting motivated, feeling good about yourself and your life is a real help. That’s not to say your life has to be perfect (I wish!) It might actually be highly challenging right now. But you can still focus on the positives and get grateful for what you have. I believe gratitude is an excellent stimulant for positive thought patterns. A good attitude will feed your motivation (and a bad one will starve it.)
  • Be more mindful
    Mindfulness is an area of growing interest and it has much to offer for Self-Improvement. Studying and developing mindfulness is a good foundation for growing your ability to deal positively and non-judgementally with your procrastination and lack of motivation. Mindfulness is a subject I will definitely return to in future posts…watch this space!

How About You?

How are you planning for your own motivation?  Are you using any of these tips already?  Could you use more?  Do you have tricks and hacks of your own? Make sure you “Leave a Reply” below so that we can all learn from each other!

To our continued Self-Improvement and success!

David Hendra
The Self-Improvement Guy