Oftentimes, it’s not enough to have a goal.
If the goal is challenging (the most worthwhile goals are), you will need motivational methods that are effective for you personally, methods that help you focus no matter how "hard" the task feels.
Below, I describe the methods that have worked best for me and my clients.
As you read this post, I invite you to score each method on a scale of 0 to 10. Zero means “For sure this won’t work for me” and 10 means “This is, or will be, game-changing for my productivity!”
If you'd like, comment at the bottom of the post with your score for each of these. Most importantly, commit to using the method that works best for you!
Use your method anytime you have an important project.
Here are the 5 methods:
::: ONE ::: Reconnect with the Why
This method is perfect for those of us who are dreamers.
We love to envision what is possible. We love seeing the impact of our actions.
If that describes you, then you’ll need to connect any important action to a bigger "why", especially when the action feels intimidating or isn't motivating.
If you take the steps, what good things will happen as a result? Whom will it help? What does it create in the world?
Take a moment now and connect the action to the bigger vision.
Can you imagine, in your mind’s eye, a movie scene that reveals what the completed project looks like?
Why is this important for the world?
How is it helping others?
Also, how is it benefitting you? Envision any details that uplift you.
Can you imagine the feelings you’ll have? Take a moment and experience it in your heart.
If you aren't good at visualization, try this instead: take 3 minutes to write about your bigger vision. Just open a document and start answering the questions above.
Some people find it helpful to record it as a self-hypnosis.
::: TWO ::: Clarity about the How
Sometimes we aren’t taking action because we’re not clear what the exact next steps are.
So when I find myself procrastinating, I do this:
1. Write down what is the thing I’m trying to accomplish, for example “Write a blog post.”
2. Write down each of the baby steps -- very doable action steps, for example:
(a) Open a blank document
(b) Brainstorm 3 points that I’d like to make in the post
(c) Write a few sentences about each point
(d) Rearrange and edit the sentences
3. If any step feels daunting, chunk that down into even more granular steps, e.g. “Brainstorm 3 points” can instead be “What’s 1 thing I feel is true about this topic that I’d like more people to think about?” and “What’s another thing?”
When I look at the list of steps and think "Oh I can definitely do this, if I just follow the steps" then I know I've chunked it down enough to make it doable.
4. Take a moment and “see” myself doing the actions with joy and grace… “I see myself typing away about this topic with a gentle smile on my face, and occasionally experience a pleasant “aha” moment!”
And then I get started right away on the first small action step. Even if I only have time to do that first small step, it will start the process in my mind. My subconsciously will be working on it even when I attend to other things.
To take this method even further, try setting a little deadline for the various action steps on your list. Example:
(a) Open a blank document -- 2:01pm
(b) Brainstorm 3 points that I’d like to make in the post -- 2:10pm
(c) Write a few sentences about each point -- 2:30pm
(d) Rearrange and edit the sentences -- 2:50pm
What about you? What project is important to you, but you’re procrastinating on it? Try using the steps above to clarify the exact next actions for you.
::: THREE ::: Co-Working
This is a strangely effective tool that I use several times a day: Focusmate.
Yes, several hours every working day, I am co-working on Focusmate.
Basically, it’s getting together with another person online, check-in for a minute about what your important project is, and then you will each simply work quietly on your own project for the duration of the session, and then check in again at the end.
This simple accountability method has helped me to self-publish 4 books, create more than a dozen online courses, and build a thriving business even though I work from home.
If you haven’t tried it, I urge you to at least give it 3 sessions. It might just change your life, as it has for many of my clients.
Part of why it works so well is that you schedule Focusmate sessions, so you are scheduling time (and someone is counting on you to be there) to focus on what’s important to you.
Join Focusmate. I hope to see you there!
::: FOUR ::: Accountability Partner
Research has shown that when you write down your goals and action commitments, and then share it with an Accountability Partner, and then report back to your partner, the average increase in productivity is 77%. Check out the research here.
An accountability partner could be:
Meet once a week for 15-30 minutes. Or when something is really important, you might even meet daily. The accountability can go both ways -- each person reports on their project.
A simple format for accountability meetings:
You could even consider having multiple accountability partners, if each person can only meet with you once a month or once a week, and you want accountability more often.
IMPORTANT -- After the call, send your action commitment to your accountability partner. Expect them to send theirs (if they are also needing accountability from you.) Again, research shows that by doing this, people accomplish 77% more.
If you really cannot schedule a time with your accountability partner… you can have accountability by privately messaging your partner each week.
::: FIVE ::: Create a Public Event, Promising A Deliverable
The more people are expecting you to do something, the more likely you’ll do it.
With this method of public accountability, you announce a deliverable with a specific deadline to your network/audience.
You’ll likely complete it by the deadline, so you don't embarrass yourself! :)
This method is not for everybody, but it has worked extraordinarily well for me. Along with Focumate, public accountability keeps me on track to create webinars, launch books, and other accomplishments in my business over the years.
Here's a simple way to do it:
Go to Facebook Events -- on that page you'll find the "create event" button on the left side. Create an event with the date/time being the deadline for accomplishing your project. Invite your friends and ask for their support. Along the way, post on that event page with your progress.
This can work really well if you are creating content for an online course, a webinar, a presentation, a book, or updating your website.
Announce something you believe is doable, but a bit of a stretch. Not something that will stress you out, but will feel challenging to you in a good way.
There you have it, 5 powerful methods to keep you motivated in doing your important projects.
No matter which method you use, I wish you love as your deeper motivation: the joy and privilege of working on purpose, in service to your higher mission, knowing that all will turn out beautifully.
Your turn -- comment below on which method you're excited to try... or if you already know what works best for you, let us know. Also feel free to comment with any questions, or if you have another method that has motivated you to do challenging but important projects.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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Here's why :)