Motivating Yourself

Practical Tools and Strategies

Many of us need help getting motivated sometimes.

© iStockphoto/Martinan

Are you able to get excited about every task you need to do? Or do you sometimes need a bit more help to make a start, never mind getting the task done? Maybe you're continuing to ignore those overflowing filing cabinets, instead of taking some time out to reorganize them.

Or, you're avoiding that difficult conversation with a person who is always late, choosing instead to tolerate the tardiness. Perhaps you keep rearranging your priorities, so that the tasks you hate always end up at the bottom of the list.

The longer you delay doing something, the more stress and pressure you're likely to feel. After a while, you may even start to lose confidence in your ability to complete the task at all.

Many of us sometimes need help getting motivated. And it can be very frustrating when we know we have to do something, but we just can't get around to making a start.

Motivation Basics

There are essentially two types of motivation:

  • Intrinsic motivation – This is when you are motivated by "internal" factors to meet your own personal needs. Most hobbies and leisure activities are based on intrinsic motivation. We do them because we enjoy them, not because we have to.
  • Extrinsic motivation – This is when you are motivated by "external" factors that are given or controlled by others, for example, by salary or by praise. Our jobs are usually based on extrinsic motivation, although there will be some intrinsic motivation involved if you enjoy aspects of what you do.

Most situations at work involve both types of motivation. If we do a job we enjoy, some of the work we do will be intrinsically motivating. Realistically though, we probably wouldn't go to work if we weren't being paid! Enjoying your job is intrinsically motivating, while being paid a salary to do it is extrinsically motivating.

Even if we do a job we enjoy, problems can crop up when we need to do something that we don't inherently like – such as filing, speaking with staff about performance issues, completing reports, and so on. We have to do undesirable tasks as part of our job, so we have to find a way to motivate ourselves to complete them. That's where self-motivation is necessary.

To motivate yourself, you must...

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