Note: This is a guest post from Daniel Wong of Living Large
“I really should exercise more…”
“I really should get on a proper sleep schedule…”
“I really should stop procrastinating…”
“I really should stop spending so much time on Facebook…”
There are so many “should” things we want to do, but there are so few of them that we actually end up doing.
We often trade long-term satisfaction for short-term fun, lasting fulfillment for fleeting happiness. I don’t know about you, but whenever I do this, a part of me feels annoyed and frustrated with myself.
Why don’t I have more willpower and motivation to make the right choice when I’m faced with temptation?
If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, this article is for you. I’ve come up with a list of eleven things you can do to develop a lifestyle of motivation. These tips will help you get motivated so that you’ll take the actions you know you ought to””even when you don’t feel like it.
1. Put up some motivational quotes on your wall
Put these quotes up where you usually do your work. Here are a few of my favorites:
Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.
Phillips Brooks, clergyman and author
Take the first step. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.
Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights activist
Give 100 percent in everything every day, because it’s not like if you give 80 percent today you can make up for it by giving 120 percent tomorrow.
2. Change the quotes every month
We get used to things very quickly, and after a while the motivational quotes on your wall will become just another part of the background that you don’t notice. To prevent this from happening, change the quotes every month or so.
3. Find out when you work best
You probably work better during a specific time of day. Figure out when that time is for you, and try to schedule your creative work for then. This strategy will improve the quality of your work and the efficiency with which you produce that work.
4. Do the hardest task first
We all like to check things off lists, and we usually start with the easiest things first. This approach doesn’t maximize your effectiveness, so instead you need to do the hardest task first. Whatever your most challenging task is, complete it first. Once you knock that task out, you’ll feel a surge in motivation.
5. Smile when you wake up
This might sound a little crazy, but this technique alone has vastly enhanced the quality of my life. Zig Ziglar calls your alarm clock your “opportunity clock,” because every day you awaken to many fantastic opportunities to learn, build relationships, appreciate beauty, and touch lives. If we force ourselves to think about all the amazing things life has to offer, we’ll have no choice but to smile””a smile that will defeat even excessive levels of grogginess.
6. Review your to-do list at the end of each day
Even if you don’t manage to accomplish everything on your to-do list, it’s encouraging to review the list at the end of the day. In this way, you remind yourself of the progress you’ve made, despite the fact that you didn’t complete all the tasks you had hoped to. If you do, in fact, complete everything on your list, you should be proud. This will remind you that it’s time to celebrate, which leads us to the next technique.
7. Celebrate EVERYTHING
If you’re constantly on the lookout for occasions to celebrate, you’ll realize that there are plenty of them. Learn to celebrate the small things: completing a report, finishing an assignment, writing a blog post. To celebrate, you can go to the beach, read a book, or have a good meal. When you’re always ready to celebrate, it’s much easier to be upbeat because you’re aware of even the seemingly insignificant, but deeply beautiful, occurrences of life.
8. Read uplifting books
A few years ago, I realized I could spend at least ten minutes a day reading in the bathroom while sitting on the throne. I’m not kidding! Especially if you’re trained in speed-reading, you can get through a good amount of reading in ten minutes.
Filling our minds with uplifting messages is more important than we realize, because most of the messages we’re bombarded with on TV and on the radio are negative. “The economy continues to tank,” “Global warming threatens our food supply,” … the list goes on. Spending at least ten minutes a day reading an encouraging book is the least you can do to combat all of this pessimism. It could be an autobiography, novel, or history book. Just make sure that it’s a book with a positive message.
9. Do something social every day
Even the most introverted people need regular social interactions to energize them. After all, if we ask ourselves what’s most important to us, relationships with friends and family will appear high on most of our lists. If these relationships really mean that much to us, doesn’t it make sense that we intentionally make time for them?
Having dinner with your family and talking to a close friend are sure ways to lift your spirits and reinvigorate you in the other areas of your life.
10. Surround yourself with positive people
As a follow-up to tip #9, you need to select your friends carefully. You can’t choose your family, but you can definitely choose your friends. I’ve heard it said that you’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with. This means that if the five people you hang out with most are encouraging, cheerful, motivated, and hardworking, it’s unavoidable that you’ll become like them. On the contrary, if the people you surround yourself with are pessimistic, moody, dishonest, and lazy, you’ll become like them in no time, too.
11. Have at least fifteen minutes of alone time every day
This might seem to be in conflict with tip #9, but these two tips actually complement each other. By “alone time,” I’m not simply referring to time that you spend alone. Alone time is when you think, reflect, and dream. It’s an opportunity to separate yourself from all of your busyness to ask yourself what’s truly important, and whether your actions reflect that.
Alone time is never a waste of time. It’s an investment that pays off in the long run, not necessarily in terms of achievements and accolades, but definitely in terms of wisdom, peace of mind, and fulfillment.
If you want to build a better family, a better career, a better business, a better healthcare system, a better economy, and a better world, the all-important first step is to build a better you.
Building a better you will require you to become a person of greater commitment and character. It will require you to do the right thing even when you don’t feel like it. It will require you to develop a lifestyle of motivation.
So try out these eleven tips for yourself today. The world is counting on you.
Daniel Wong is passionate about helping young adults to maximize their education, career and life at Living Large. He is the author of “The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success,” which will be published by Morgan James Publishing by early 2012. You can find him on Twitter.
Photo by Agustin Ruiz