Continuous motivation helps us perform at our best. I listen to inspiring speeches, watch inspiring videos, read inspirational stories and receive daily inspirational quotes. These things help me stay motivated. It’s a daily habit. However, motivation is more like the ignition button on a car. It only starts the car, but starting the car, or starting on your goal for that matter, is no guarantee for finishing the race or realizing your goal.

1. How to Get Motivated

Most people believe that they first need to know how to become motivated before they can take consistent action on their goals. They believe that their lack of motivation is the cause of their inaction.

So let’s begin with a brief definition of motivation.

The scientific literature as well as major motivational speakers define motivation as the desire to do something you believe is worthwhile. It’s your spark to want to pursue a certain realization.

In this sense, motivation helps you pick a path, but simply choosing a path will not help you achieve your goal. If you’re motivated to become a race car driver, then you have a desire to do so because you believe it will be exciting. You might also imagine what it would be like to win a race. All of these things will motivate you to try racing and to do it for some time. However, being motivated to be a race car driver does not come with the guarantee that you will in fact become a successful one.

In their excitement to pursue their chosen path, most people motivate themselves by creating unrealistic plans. Such plans tend to be excessively demanding and contain unrealistic expectation about the length of time it takes to finish a given task and the rate of progress that one can expect to make. As good as it feels to start, this kind of planning will quickly throw them off track and fuel procrastination. Read here on how to overcome procrastination. On the other hand, there are people who set realistic goals for themselves, but their motivation fluctuates. For example, if you’ve turned your passion into a business and you’re currently working on it, then you might’ve experienced some challenging times that have put a dent in your motivation levels. These challenges tend to come in the form of small annoying tasks that you’re just not motivated enough to do, but are necessary for the growth of your business. You also know that if you could just be a little more self-motivated to tackle those challenges, you will be back on track to building your business. This is the problem I want to offer a solution to in this article.

…you’re now wondering, “how do I become MORE motivated?”

My answer: you’re asking the wrong question.

You simply can’t ask of motivation to do all the work for you. There are things that are part of your goals that you simply won’t feel motivated to do. You may be passionate about racing cars, but simply not passionate about the long hours you have to spend doing concentration exercises. You may be passionate about writing, but not passionate about promoting your work at conferences and book festivals. You these things are necessary but you simply can’t motivate yourself to do them. Unbeknownst to many, these small annoying tasks can be so detrimental as to be the main reason behind giving up on your goal. That’s the story of many failures. People are motivated about their goals, but not motivated to do the small necessary annoying tasks that will get them to the finish line.

So how do you do the things you should do when you should do them when you’re not motivated or in the mood to do them?

My answer: you need to over-estimate how big the task is, and then add a time constrain. Yes. It’s counter-intuitive and probably a little hard to grasp, but once you get it, you’ll love it.

…Now let me explain.

2. Belief and Self-Motivation

Let me first say that if you can take care of these things by automating them, then you should absolutely do that. This includes all of your bills, memberships, and monthly subscriptions.

If you can delegate some of these tasks to get some of the burden off your shoulders, then you should hire someone to do these things for you. If it’s weight loss, then hire a personal coach to help you with a workout plan and a nutritional plan. If it’s a business, then hire a secretary or a professional and pay them to take care of what they’re trained to do so you can free up your time to do what you’re good at. If it’s online business and you need somebody to help with your web development or marketing and social media, then go to elance and hire a virtual assistant (VA). Recognize that you need these services, hire somebody, and forget about them. You will remove a whole lot of stress from your life.

Now, if you’re struggling financially and can’t hire somebody, or if you have to do something yourself that you can’t hire somebody for, like eating broccoli, marketing, making phone calls, actually doing a certain workouts or writing and editing an article, then this tool can give you a little extra dynamo to annihilate those tasks quickly and immediately.

So how does over-estimating your tasks work in your favor?

how to be self motivatedI discovered this method when I was in the gym trying to bench 245 pounds (110 kg). I had benched that weight in the past and I always struggled to complete more than 3 reps. So my goal was to get to 4 reps. I had also been trying to bench 225 pounds for 10 reps. My best was 9 reps. On that day, I loaded up the bar with what I thought was 245 pounds, but I wasn’t aware that I only had 225 pounds on there.

I strongly positioned myself to lift what I believed to be 245 pounds and I mentally psyched myself for the lift. I held unto the barbell and with all the power I had within me, I unracked the weight and started benching. I couldn’t believe how light the weight felt, and I benched until I completed 12 full reps. As incredible as that felt, I found out that I only had 225 pounds on the bar. Yet it amazed me how easy it was to complete 12 reps when I had struggled to do 9 in the past. In fact, I surpassed my 225 pound personal record by 3 full reps.

So I began to wonder: why was I able to bench the weight for 12 reps when I believed I had 245 pounds and only for 9 reps when I believed there was 225 pounds. And that’s what I discovered: I was able to do more reps because I had over-estimated how heavy the bar was, so I physically and mentally treated the weight as though it was in fact heavier, and doing so helped me push myself harder and father that what I thought was possible.

This was an amazing discovery and I began to wonder if this formula had implications outside the gym.

3. From Over-estimation to Completion

So I started tackling things I had been putting off. I had a few phone calls I needed to make, some emails I needed to send, and some business marketing I wanted to take care of. And I began to apply the principle.

I began by over-estimating how big each task was and how long it would take to complete, and I decided to add a time constraint to see if it would affect my desire to do the task. So instead of 3 phone calls, I began to imagine that I had to make 10 phone calls and told myself I only had one hour to complete the task. This prompted me to take out my notes and quickly jot down ideas I wanted to talk about. I got on the phone and started calling right away. I was done in 15 minutes.

I applied the principle again for writing emails and I over-estimated what I needed to do and told myself I had to sit down and write 3 different emails, instead of one, and send them out in the next hour. I quickly sat down and started writing away. I finished writing the email in 20 minutes.

I did the same for marketing and by the time I was done, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to finish those tasks. It was exhilarating.

4. The Psychological Basis of Self-Motivation

I later learned that I had done two things that’ve allowed me to push through:

  1. I turned working on my annoying tasks into game. It thus became a fun challenge and my brain responded with enthusiasm. In fact, that’s one of the ways that Steve Chandler recommends in his book, 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself.
  2. I tricked my brain into over-preparing itself to tackle a small task as though it was an enormous one. By artificially inflating the difficulty of the task and adding a deadline, the importance of the task increased dramatically as the deadline appeared ever so imminent. According to the Temporal Motivation Theory (TMT) of motivation, what I had done played in my favor. With the odds seemingly against me, my excitement levels shot up and that gave me a quick burst of motivation to work on task with a looming deadline. That’s why I was able to complete my tasks quickly and immediately.

In summary, small annoying tasks require quick bursts of motivation, and by magnifying the challenge and adding a time constraint, you prepare yourself for a much bigger task thereby making the actual task much, much easier to tackle.

This technique works best on smaller tasks because we can generally finish them in less than an hour, so I caution against using it on bigger tasks. Admittedly, however, I experienced success with this principle when I selectively applied it to larger tasks. Enjoy 🙂