Find the Motivation to Do That Thing

Motivation. How do we get more of it? What motivates some people to work on their side hustle every day after a long day at work? These are questions I’ve been asking myself, especially now I’m a dad and have a lot less time and energy than I used to.

It turns out a lot of us think about motivation the wrong way. Are you motivated to brush your teeth every day? No but you do it (I hope!). Are you motivated to go to work every single day? Probably not but I imagine you still turn up. Although now a lot of us are working from home, what does turning up really mean? That’s a question for another post. It turns out what we really need, rather than motivation, is discipline. Here are some tips to make it easier to be disciplined.

Make it fun

Enjoy your project or activity a little bit more. Your task could be to sit down and write a blog post. How can you make that more fun in a practical sense?

Put on a playlist. Find one that you really enjoy that isn’t going to distract you too much while you work. I’m listening to some Vulfpeck on Spotify as I write this.

Just start

Just start. It sounds simple. You might have written that blog post last week but how do you write another one today?

One “hack” is to give yourself the simplest task. Turn your PC or iPad on and open up your favourite writing app (my favourites are Notion and Drafts on the iPad). And that’s all you have to do. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t write anything. You started and that’s what matters. You might find though that once you’re there, you’ll start writing anyway. Another version of this is to give yourself a 10 minute time limit. You only have to sit down and write for 10 minutes then you can get up and play video games again. The same logic applies and you’ll find that after that 10 minutes, you might still be writing and won’t want to stop. But if you only write for 10 minutes, that’s ok too.

Shorten the feedback loop

Motivation is short-term pain for long-term gain. Part of the issue is the delayed feedback loop. Losing weight and getting in shape are so difficult because the results take months to show. The same can happen with writing music. You can spend weeks on a new track only to release it and have nobody listen to it. So a second hack to finding motivation or creating discipline is to shorten that feedback loop. A long feedback loop can make us less motivated.

One way of shortening the feedback loop for music is to write shorter tracks or parts of a track. Write 10 seconds of music a day, release it and get feedback straight away. Combine those 10 second snippets into a fully-formed track at the end and you will have built up an audience at the same time as cultivating your discipline. The same strategy could work for blog posts. Write a paragraph every day. At the end of the month, combine the paragraphs on the same topic into their own larger blog post. You could even combine all of those blog posts into a book!

💡 Motivation is based on small successes. We do something. We see a small result. Then that fuels motivation to do the thing again.

This blog post was inspired by Ali Abdaal’s course on Skillshare: Productivity for Creators. Sign up to Skillshare using my link and get 14 days of Premium for free

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