So you’ve kicked off a project, you’re highly motivated but after three weeks things slow down. You’ve put a lot of effort and you aren’t really seeing results yet. You begin to feel your motivation bleed away. In this article, I will be looking at some techniques for pushing past those feelings and helping you to maintain your focus and drive.
Remember, it is a marathon not a sprint
Long-term projects, such as building a business, losing weight or learning a musical instrument, require time to develop. Everyone does things differently things but put enough time into it and you will eventually get there. When I was at school my best sports event was long distance running. Two main things inspired me: John Travolta in Grease running track and an Iron Maiden song called The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. It was something I really enjoyed because the challenge wasn’t to compete against the other boys; it was to challenge myself. Every year I won points for my House but that’s not the important thing. It taught me to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how long it takes; you will reach your destination.
Write a mission statement
Take some time to think about why you are doing the project and what your original motivations for starting it were. It’s best to do this before starting the project when your energy is high but it can be done at any time and there are benefits for doing it at the first hurdle. Sometimes when things get tough it is easy to lose enthusiasm for your project. Creating or rereading your mission statement will remind you of all the wonderful aspirations you had at the beginning and this will help you to overcome the first hurdle.
Use music to get you in the right head space
Whenever I am feeling low like I don’t want to go on, I play that Iron Maiden song to inspire me and keep me going. It really works. There are many pieces of music that can provide inspiration and give you the boost you need. Personally, I like to listen to Metal in the mornings as a rousing start to the day. However you should find some music that works for you. Often when you are working on a project there will be times when it is inappropriate to use music, like when you are in the office. What tools and tricks can be used to press on?
Mix things up a bit
When I am working on a project, I find that sometimes focusing on a different aspect of the work can renew my impetus. If I’m working on a painting and I’m getting a little bit bored with it (never do a bored painting, it really shows through) I might switch to another aspect of painting that I need to get done. For example, uploading work to the Internet or learning about colour mixing. Then I will return to the project in hand with fresh eyes. Beware of procrastination; remember to switch to something that works towards or compliments your current project not something unrelated.
Have a snack, stay on track
Taking a break is a similar to switching in that it gives your brain time to reset. Even the act of making a cup of tea can refresh you just enough to restore your enthusiasm. It is a good idea to have a snack during your break; my choice is a banana. This keeps my blood sugar up. Blood sugar levels can have a strong effect on mood and concentration so regular breaks and snacks can help keep you on track.
Good luck and don’t give up. Show that first motivational hurdle who’s boss.