How To Stay Motivated
How To Stay Motivated- What Drives My Ambition
For my first ever blog post, I want to cover the most common question I am asked by people I meet in person and online. “How do you stay so motivated?” I fear this question is partly asking, “How do you want to work so much?” and also stating, “Why are you pushing yourself so hard?” Staying motivated to do anything and everything is something I’ve both taught myself to do and partly the outcome of not ever feeling ‘good enough’. Growing up, I was often reminded by my parents and father in particular that I was not ‘good enough’. This may sound horrible, and it isn’t how I’d suggest parents treat their children, though I now see it as a positive in my life. I captured and bottled those years of negative comments and turned them into something strong, beautiful and powerful.
How To Stay Motivated- Turn A Negative Into A Positive
Initially, pushing myself to do something I didn’t want to do is how I actioned my thoughts, desires, dreams and simple tasks. One of my many jobs was as a cleaner. I cleaned bathrooms, toilets and dorms in a camp facility. This job was not enjoyable and I could see that staff would often get distracted, take time off or waste great lengths of time on simple tasks. The best ways to stay focused and motivated was to turn the uninteresting and unsatisfying tasks into small achievable self competitions. I’d set myself a time limit for each toilet to clean whilst ensuring the quality of job was met. I would play little games in my head, imagining that I was competing for a prize. I’d imagine that cleaning 20 toilets in a set time would result in meeting a famous person or winning prize money.
I would do this for almost all my 30+ jobs I worked over the years- from cabinet builder to chef and hairdresser to high school teacher. It helped me stay focused and motivated and also often resulted in greater job opportunities and much greater job satisfaction. With that said, toilet cleaning really wasn’t great fun, even with the imaginary prize of dinner with Penélope Cruz.
I stay motivated through various approaches on perspective, purpose and reward of tasks. Being an artist is a fun job, but it’s still work. I have to create to make a living and to build my career, though I don’t have to create each and every day. I’m a bit of a ‘dot point’ kinda guy. I like lists and I like things set out in easy to read sections. Thus, I will provide my most useful approaches to staying motivated in the points below:
Top 5 Ways to Stay Motivated
- Turn tasks into smaller achievable goals with little real or imaginary rewards at the end. I set myself an uninterrupted focus of 1-3 hours of painting before I reward myself with a coffee or 5 minute sit in the sun.
- Write down a ‘to do’ list with the same approach as the example above. I highlight each completed task as a highlighter makes it seem very official!
- Focus with positive perspective- think about how lucky you are to have this task to do. Not everyone has the ability, access or opportunities to work on the task you are working on. Cleaning toilets was great- I had a consistent job, got lunch breaks in a park and was paid weekly! How lucky was I.
- Use some negative energy to drive positive change. I sometimes use a negative comment from the past to help push my desire to achieve a positive outcome. Often I was told “Stop drawing and playing music, you’ll never make a cent doing that”. I keep this in mind when I feel unmotivated and push on to create an even greater artwork with more unique creativity and skill.
- Set a routine for the least enjoyable tasks. I never enjoyed gym workouts. Though once I forced a routine with a positive reward and a very negative discipline, I quickly stuck to a weekly plan and started enjoying the workouts and results. Years later, I get excited to go to the gym each morning.
Finding The ‘Happy Place’
Possibly the best way to stay motivated is to stay happy. It sounds and seems simple, but with so many distractions out there, so much negativity easily thrown in our faces, it can be difficult. I try to avoid things like weight scales, mirrors with poor lighting, grumpy people, ‘hangry’ people, complainers, the local news, advertising, most social media and unnecessarily competitive people. We’re all running our own long distance race- if we’re lucky. Run along side other runners that share smiles, confident strides, great stories and maybe have good deodorant. No one wants to run beside a stinky person. If all else fails and you can’t find motivation- rest, enjoy what you can achieve and then come back to it later.
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