Most of us can find a reason to get motivated, the struggle is finding a way to stay motivated. I have spent a good portion of my life in the motivated “enough” zone, often falling short of my full potential. My motivation muscle was not performing due to lack of training even though I was entirely capable of excelling.
Over the last year — whether in my workouts, software engineering practice, or daily routine — I have spent more time consistently at what I call peak motivation than any other time in my life. While at peak motivation, I have absolute certainty of my success. Keeping this mindset activated is a goal I set for myself every day.
Keep track of your goals.
We’ve all heard this, but it works. Remember to keep your goals realistic and measurable. Write them down and make them visible, refer back to them. Milestone markers are great — celebrate your successes and redefine goals if you fall short. It is perfectly acceptable to keep your goals to yourself.
There is also value in writing down the reasons to stay motivated, and what motivated you from the start. I have my motivations written on a whiteboard visible from my desk.
Exercise is probably the most effective mood setter (or changer) that I have experienced. There has never been a time in my life that I have regretted exercising no matter how much I didn’t feel like completing that first rep.
One thing that bothers me about people advising workouts is that they often imply that you have to workout for an hour to receive benefits. There are plenty of benefits to be had if you commit 10–15 minutes to a workout when you’re not up for more.
The art of taking a break.
Taking breaks are proven to boost productivity.
“frequent-break-takers outshone the competition by getting more done with more focus during their working time. There’s a neurological reason for that, Bradberry adds. The human brain naturally works in bursts of high activity that last about an hour, and then it switches to low activity for a while. When that happens, it’s in your best interest to take a break.”
Our brains are designed to work a certain way, and learning to work with that is much more effective than trying to work against it. Be sure to keep breaks frequent and short, which in turn boosts productivity. An extended break, however, can pull you completely out of work mode — and in turn create the need for a warm up time when you return to completing tasks. This ends up requiring more focus time to complete the same tasks, decreasing your available time do the things you enjoy later in the evening.
After a full day, a wind down at the end of the night is essential. Do something that you enjoy and relaxes you for at least 30 minutes in the evening. You should be out of work mode by the time you go to bed. Sleeping well is essential to staying motivated and productive the following day.
There are numerous proven benefits to getting to bed early and starting your day early. Time and time again, studies show waking up early is a common theme of successful people. Early risers who start their day with productivity set a tone of motivation throughout the remainder of the day, and how they respond to challenges that emerge.
Give yourself a day off.
You can get a lot done by working 7 days a week. I have done this and will again on occasion in the future. Even so, my experience has shown me that spending a day away from software at the end of the week prepares me for the weekly reset of challenges.
I will add that I like to spend 20 minutes on my day off preparing mentally for the coming week — making a to-do list or spending a little time with some reading material on software engineering that I know I will be able to put down.
And with that..
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Motivation is a topic of great personal importance; I wholeheartedly believe that my increased motivation in the past year has altered my path in life permanently — and driven me towards the decision to pursue a career in my passion, software engineering. I encourage you to train your motivation muscle daily.