Do you have ideas you want to implement, or projects you want to do, but never seem to get them done? How hard do you push yourself to achieve what you really want in life? Your answers to these questions reveal something about your self-motivation.
Self-motivation is your internal drive to keep moving forward. It presses on in the face of obstacles and opposition. It doesn’t give in to the fear of possible failure, or get paralyzed by thinking your efforts may not be good enough.
Here are four basic principles to help you take initiative in the direction of your desires.
1. Be confident. I don’t mean prideful or arrogant, but realistic about the abilities God has given you. It’s not humble to sell yourself short or put yourself down – it’s just defeating self-talk. Know your strengths and build on them. What have you done well and enjoyed doing? Make a list. Your confidence increases as you see a track record of what you’ve already achieved.
2. Set Goals: Research indicates that challenging goals lead to increased effort and a greater level of commitment toward achievement. Goals provide a clear sense of direction, and act as promises to yourself – ones you’ll want to keep.
I use, and encourage others to use, the SMART process of setting goals. Write out each goal using this formula:
Specific: What exactly will you accomplish?
Measurable: How will you know when you have reached this goal?
Achievable: Is achieving this goal realistic with effort and commitment? Have you the resources to achieve this goal? If not, how will you get them?
Relevant: Why is this goal significant to you, or your organization? Is it in line with your priorities?
Time-Bound: When will this goal be achieved? Set a date.
Break big, long-term goals into smaller pieces (sub-goals). Winning at these smaller, easier to reach sub-goals provides encouragement and a feeling of success as you move toward completion of the end goal.
3. Monitor progress. Give yourself regular feedback. Ask, “How am I doing? What is going well. What do I like best about how I am progressing toward my goal? What do I need to do next so I stay on target, or get back on target.” Establish regular “check-in” dates and congratulate yourself for progress made.
4. Reward yourself. Recognition and reward are critical when seeking to provide a motivational environment for others, and they are necessary when you want to increase your self-motivation. Don’t wait until the end goal has been reached, reward yourself as you achieve steps on the journey to completion. You need to decide what reward is meaningful. It may be:
- reading a good book at your favorite coffee spot
- buying something small for yourself
- watching a good movie
- getting away for a half-day
- paying someone to clean your house, or do the yardwork
- play golf, or go fishing
Whatever it is, reward yourself for your progress.
How are you going to improve your self-motivation?