How to make yourself do something when you don’t feel like it?


If you lack motivation at work, you should consider if you want to keep working there in the first place. You can’t motivate anyone to do something he doesn’t like. It’s like asking “Make me love my wife.” It’s just not possible to do it on demand. Another thing is your goal. Motivation is energy needed to start, keep on working and finally achieve your goal. But you have to set it first. Then you have to use all the psychological and communication knowledge you have to motivate yourself. I suggest a few, in my opinion most helpful, techniques.

Motivation technique number one – public commitment. Inform your family or friends about your plans. Making a promise to our loved ones makes us more motivated, since we don’t want to look unreliable in their eyes.

Motivation technique number two – name what you want to achieve, e.g.: “I will lose 10 kilograms”, “I will earn 10% more money per month” etc. Don’t make your goals sound negative e.g.: “I don’t want to earn a small wage”. Our brain can’t recognize negatives.

Motivation technique number three – define your goal on a behavioral level. Instead of saying “I will be healthy”, say: “I will be running two times per week”. An assumption “I will wake up happy and motivated every day” doesn’t mean anything to our brain. For example, in case of your work, try to come up with something precise e.g.: “I will sign up for a supplementary training” or “I will prepare myself and talk to my boss about getting a rise”. Saying “I will work better” won’t change anything.

DSC_8129Motivation technique number four – measure your goal. You can do it via a prism of what you hear, feel or see on your bank account. If on a scale from 1 to 10 you once rated something as 5 and now you rate it as 8, it means you can measure it too.

I keep saying that it’s always worth to aim higher. Why? It’s better to ask for a 30% payment rise and get only 10% instead of asking for 10% and then thinking to yourself “Maybe I could have gotten 20%…”

Technique number five – on your way to achieving your goal, who can you help? This help can be indirect, immaterial. Imagine that you want to lose weight. Who is going to be happier if you actually lose weight? Me or my wife, proud that she has a good-looking husband? We usually feel much more motivated when we give presents, than when we receive them. That’s why altruism is an important motivation technique.

Technique number six – eliminate excuses. I’m sure it’s easy for everyone to name all the excuses we come up with just to make ourselves believe that we don’t actually have to do what we are supposed to do. For example, convincing yourself that you can “do it later”. Making a list of your most common excuses can help you notice them faster and hopefully make you aware of your little sabotages.

Technique number seven – negative consequences. Can something negative happen if you don’t achieve your goal? If you use this technique in reference to your work it could look like this: “If you don’t motivate yourself, you will get stuck where you are right now, you won’t get a rise and you will waste your potential, just because you are lazy”.

To conclude, I would like to share with you a few comments about motivation in polish culture. Poles tend to motivate themselves mostly in two ways: by negative consequences and ambition. On the one hand they often need a certain level of stress in order to act and on the other hand they define their self-esteem via the prism of career successes. We, as a nation, are still working our way up, which means that we work more than others – about 2000 hours per year, compared to 1400 hours per year for Germans. They matured enough to understand the importance of practical psychology, which offers knowledge similar to the knowledge presented in this article. Practicing those techniques makes us more effective and allows us to manage our motivation in an optimal way.

This article was published in Elle Man magazine.


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