The Tiny Guide to Motivation

by Tammy Strobel on October 13, 2010

We all have days when motivation is hard to locate, where we don’t feel creative or very inspired to keep going.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, however I have learned a lot about how to stay motivated since I left my day job earlier this year. So, let’s talk a little bit about what motivation is and how you can harness it.

What is motivation?

According to the dictionary motivation is…

“the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way…the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”

Without motivation, you’re stuck. Stuck with all kinds of nasty feelings, including despair, denial, and fear. If you’re anything like me you probably call your lack of motivation or stuckness by many metaphors, like:

The world is passing me by. I’m frozen. Blocked. Trapped. Enslaved.

You can make a choice to get unstuck. All you need is a little motivation.

How to Find Motivation

Whenever I start feeling unmotivated, I think about the big picture. And if my motivation level is really, really low, then I go volunteer. If I can’t help myself then I can use my time to help others.

Other things that help me stay motivated include:

  • Inspirational books and blogs
  • Taking photographs
  • Working with creative people
  • Exercise
  • Knitting
  • NOT watching TV
  • Fulfilling a promise
  • Rewards

Finding motivation isn’t as hard as it seems. There are so many mediums you can pull from to keep you going. But how can you stay motivated over the long-run?

When you start feeling stuck and unmotivated, remember these simple tips:

1. Work on projects you love.

2. Break out of your routine.

3. Be the change you want to see in the world.

4. Continually evaluate your successes and failures.

5. Share your knowledge with others.

6. Follow your own advice.

7. Cultivate gratitude.

8. Use your privilege for good.

9. Invest in yourself.

10. Embrace challenges life throws at you.

Now It’s Time to Take Action

If you’re having a hard time staying motivated, set a side a few hours and write down your goals. Why? Setting goals is a key part of staying motivated. Setting a goal will give you something to strive towards. For example, in my early twenties I decided I would overcome my eating disorder. It was my main goal and focus for many years. By seeking the help I needed and volunteering with others I was empowered and motivated to stay healthy.

To stay motivated it’s essential to complete your goals and you can do that by taking one tiny step everyday. Some goals take longer to meet than others and that’s okay. Once you meet goal x, you’ll feel a sense of mastery, accomplishment, and be empowered to help others do the same.

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If this post helped you, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! Thanks. :)

1 Stanley Lee October 13, 2010

Finding motivation is important. Finding a way to sustain the motivation as a habit is even more important.

2 Leigh October 13, 2010

I love tip #8. That has been on my mind a lot lately. Might you expand on that idea in a later blog entry? Even if you don’t, I probably will!

3 Tammy October 13, 2010

@Leigh – sure I will! And I think you should too. :)

4 lisasfoods October 13, 2010

Well said, and I love the part about volunteering. It’s true – it’s easy to whine and complain when we have a hard time (I know I can get that way) – but when we can give back to our communities and to those in need, it makes you look at the bigger picture more.

5 Anne Marie Hiestand October 13, 2010

As a mother struggling with an eating disorder and with PPD, this blog inspires me. There are still days where I find it difficult to get out of bed, and nothing but my beautiful son motivates me to get out there and live. Step 10 especially resonates with me at this point in my life. Accepting situations as they truly are and using strength, courage, and support to get through them is a challenging task, but in the end has so much more benifit than giving up, and giving in.

I think I am going to enlist my partner in making a list of goals, and launch off from there. I already know that I would like to start volunteering more. As a SAHM what better way to utilize my (somewhat)free time?

6 Tammy October 13, 2010

@Anne Marie – thank you for sharing your experience. Step 10 has been really helpful for me too. :) The best advice I can give is – lean on your support network. They are there to help you get through the tough times. :)

And speaking of volunteering, have you looked into Volunteer Match?

Wishing you all the best! :)

7 Ana October 13, 2010

Hi Tammy,

I have been lurking around and getting inspired by your words for a few months now :). I particularly enjoyed today’s post, as I try really hard to pursue tips #’s 1, 2 and 10 daily.

Thank you for keeping it real.

8 Tammy October 13, 2010

Ana – thanks for un-lurking leaving a comment! :) It’s great hearing from you. Thanks so much for reading. :)

9 Brenda October 13, 2010

I don’t know what it is Tammy, but each time I read your blog you touch on a subject, challenge or emotion I am dealing with. As a new blogger I struggle daily with the motivation and confidence in myself to keep writing. I can’t say it enough Tammy, your blog truly inspires me on a weekly basis to not give up on my dreams. Today I made a new list of creative projects to help me stay motivated. Project number 1 will be to make my mom a cookbook (in spanish) to help her eat better and take control of her health. I’ll let you guys know how it turns out.
Cheers,
Brenda

10 Martina October 13, 2010

Like Brenda said: almost everytime I am visiting here, you talk about something that touches my heart at the right moment. Thanks for your great insight!
For me, it helps to take a babystep in the right direction when feeling not so motivated. Often, I continue, sometimes even without noticing.
Its also motivating to meet interesting people who are ahead of you – their example inspires me to keep going.
And – be honest and responsible to yourself! Today, I skipped my Pilates class due to a flu and headache. But as I promised myself to do a little bit every day, I will just do some easier exercices at home, just a few minutes. So I can continue better tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

11 Arvind Devalia October 14, 2010

Tammy, thanks for another timely and very useful post.

Sometimes we can wait forever to motivate ourselves, whereas all we need to do is get started – your ten simple tips will help anyone to do just that.

I love your tip #3 – be the change you want to be in the world. So if I want to make a difference in the world, I need to show the way and not be help back by a lack of motivation.

Thinking about the bigger picture and my life purpose certainly helps me get going again – thanks for the reminder for how to do so:-)

12 Jennifer October 14, 2010

“Whenever I start feeling unmotivated, I think about the big picture. And if my motivation level is really, really low, then I go volunteer. If I can’t help myself then I can use my time to help others.”… LOVE THIS! I never thought about it from this perspective… but how could you not get motivated when you are helping someone else?! Thanks for another great post Tammy! :)

13 Leigh Purtill October 14, 2010

Tammy, great reminders for all of us, as always with your inspiring posts. As a dancer, I find physical movement motivates more more than anything else. Even a walk around the block will get my head into a different – more positive – space.

14 Lisa October 14, 2010

Volunteering always energizes me and gives me a new zest towards my own life.

15 Karla October 14, 2010

Hi Tammy,
Like the others have said, as a new blogger I find your site to be truly inspirational.
I find it much easier to be motivated when I am well rested. When I am tired I have a hard time getting myself to do anything, never mind something creative.

16 Nabanita Ghosh October 14, 2010

Very useful information. Shall definitely apply and let you know. Thank you so much for sharing this knowledge. :)

Best wishes,

17 Domestic Kate October 17, 2010

Great post! My feeling about motivation is that doing something is better than doing nothing. When I see problems in my life, the best thing to do is to get out of my head and into action. I spend too much time worrying and not enough time planning out how I can work towards addressing those worries and implementing those changes, but once I do start working towards that change, I immediately feel better about my life.

18 Krista (kristastes) October 20, 2010

Love this post — thank you!

19 Becca Truly October 30, 2010

Good Saturday Tammy!

A couple of books I think you may like regarding motivation and Change are: Drive by Daniel Pink, outlines studies that reveal what really motivates us and gives practical ideas about motivating yourself and others and Switch by Dan and Chip Heath, which outlines great suggestions on small steps toward changing (ex “modifying the path”, making the path towards change less resistive.), as well as revealing common misperceptions about others who are hesitant about change.

Becca, who already had her online/digital sabbatical earlier this week :)

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