5 Life-Changing Tips to Stay Motivated Forever
A lack of motivation hinders your ability to stay ahead of the game. If you're having trouble getting stuff done, then you may want to evaluate what motivates you -- and what doesn't. Understanding the various factors that affect your productivity is crucial to making positive results happen.
These five life-changing tips can motivate you to take control over what's most important in life.
1. Avoid hyperbolic discounting.
People have a tendency to make decisions resulting in immediate rewards rather than those connected to long-term benefits. In economics, this effect is known as hyperbolic discounting.
"We show a preference for rewards that arrive sooner rather than later,” says Bart Schutz, chief persuasion officer at Online Dialog. While your future self holds the potential for a greater reward, your present self is inclined to make decisions involving immediately attainable rewards.
Most people fail to recognize that instant gratification directly correlates to missed opportunities. For example, while automatic finance transfers are considered to be "one of the most effective methods for achieving savings goals," a recent study found only 21 percent of account holders implement this saving strategy, with the other 79 percent preferring to keep their funds within short reach.
In order to make the right choices for your future self, you must place additional value on perceived rewards. Intentionally making decisions that benefit long-term rewards will provide you with a positive feeling and a brighter outlook for the future.
2. Create a reward system.
Incentives are excellent motivators. Most decisions you make are based on a perceived outcome with the least amount of risk. While businesses create value propositions to motivate consumers to purchase products and services, this strategy can be applied to every facet of your personal lifestyle. Identify each step on your journey to reaching your goals and associate a reward with each milestone. As you reach each mark, you'll find your motivation increases as you get closer to your objective.
A variety of tools are designed specifically to motivate you to reach your goals, including mobile applications, productivity software and wearable technology. FitBit's fitness bands motivate you to reach your goals by providing robust analytics based on your physical activity. Stickk.com offers a custom-tailored goal system where you can add financial incentives, enlist friends for support and even work with a referee to validate your progress.
FLIP BAND, a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, is a comfortable, tech-free wristband that you flip inside-out while working on or once you’ve completed a task. If you own an iOS device, you can download the Hear and Now app by BioBeats to practice motivating breathing exercises, manage stress and monitor your heartbeat.
3. Prioritize your task list.
To-do lists only work if you're regularly adding and completing tasks. If you're constantly adding items to your agenda but you don't make the time to complete them, your to-do list may become overwhelming, resulting in a loss of productivity. Processing your action items through a regular routine keeps you focused on reaching your goals.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower operated by what's now known as the Eisenhower Matrix. This four-quadrant matrix involves prioritizing your task list based on urgency and importance. David Allen’s modern productivity methodology, Getting Things Done -- or GTD -- is meant to "apply order to chaos" and is commonly used in task management.
4. Start your workday the night before.
Mornings often pose the biggest threat to motivation. Rather than tackling your daily task list in the morning, begin prioritizing your items the night before, and familiarize yourself with everything you plan to do the next day. According to the WorkAwesome, you’re more motivated in the mornings if you’ve already set up your first task the day before.
Preparing for your next day of work involves more than just an organized task list. Removing unnecessary clutter from your workstation creates a more inviting atmosphere and keeps you focused on the work you need to complete. In fact, many businesses leverage Feng Shui -- an ancient practice for arranging spaces in such a way as to promote the flow of positive energy -- to help motivate employees to be more productive.
5. Stimulate your brain with nutrition.
It's no secret that a healthy diet is important for a healthy lifestyle. If you're struggling to find the energy you need to get things done, you may want to consider adjusting your levels of nutrition. Certain foods are known to improve higher brain function, leading to an increase in motivation. Eating carrots, dark chocolate, seeds and nuts can significantly boost ease of cognition.
While you’re likely aware that carrots are good for your eyes, its high concentration of luteolin can also decrease brain inflammation and increase memory function. According to scientific research, such as a recent study published by NeuroRegulation, dark chocolate "can increase brain characteristics of attention."
The omega-3s found in fish are linked to a decrease in cognitive decline in older adults. Seeds and nuts -- specifically walnuts -- are thought to improve memory, stabilize mood swings and lower stress-related blood pressure.
Creating lifelong success requires a great deal of motivation. Everyone struggles with motivation at one point or another -- especially in the workplace. Employers can leverage these strategies to create a positive work environment where motivation and progress flourish. Implementing these tactics into your daily routine will increase your motivation and bring you closer to reaching your long-term goals.
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.