The hardest part of changing your life is often getting motivated. But how do you get motivated? At The Art of Charm, we’re deeply interested in the science behind what motivates someone to get off the couch and start making real changes in their lives.
So we were stoked to find out that science has opinions on how to best motivate yourself for maximum results. We get it: Motivating yourself isn’t easy and it can even be painful. However, with some of the latest results from the hard sciences, we can help you to take a little bit of an edge off taking the first step in a 1,000-mile journey.
1. Kill Your Inner Drill Sergeant
The science is in and you know what doesn’t motivate? Berating yourself. In fact, being happy is going to make you a more productive person. A study at the University of Warwick found that happy people are 12 percent more productive than unhappy people. This is why top companies like Google are heavily invested in customer satisfaction and quality of life issues.
One of the most successful companies in the last 50 years of American history and they have places where their employees can take naps. That’s how invested in employee satisfaction they are at Big G.
What does this mean for you? It means killing the negative self-talk and rewarding yourself when you achieve your goal, even if your goal is just to get off the couch. You don’t have to train yourself like a dog. A mental pat on the back is a great way to keep yourself motivated when times get tough.
2. Appreciate Small Victories
Both on our alumni page and in our home base every Monday we do Small Victory Monday. People say what one thing they’ve accomplished this week that’s personally meaningful for them.
It’s not just about making a day that’s generally painful a little easier to swallow. It’s also about creating the habit of acknowledging all the small things we do in our lives and giving ourselves credit for them. Don’t just congratulate yourself right after you do something right. Take a minute out of your day every day to reflect on all the small victories you’ve made. After all, big victories are generally just a bunch of very small ones added up together.
3. Make Motivated Friends
It’s not some fancy New Age thing, it’s just common sense: like breeds like. So if the people you’re spending the most time with aren’t motivated, what are the chances that you’re going to be?
Not very good as it turns out.
Lazy people can be a drag on the group. What’s more, if you become the motivated person, sometimes old friends aren’t going to like it. This doesn’t mean that you have to start throwing life-long friends over the side of the boat. What it means is that you need to start making some friends who are as motivated as you and will help keep you moving toward your goal.
Meetups can be a great place to do this, as can the gym or yoga and martial arts classes. And hey, I might be a partisan here, but I think that the alumni from The Art of Charm are some of the best guys to have around you to help keep you motivated. That’s why we try to keep all of them in touch with each other.
Not only can they prod you to be better, than can also provide you with much-needed support for when things get tough — and they will. See the next section for more on this.
4. Take Setbacks in Stride
We’re not big fans of the term “failure” here at The Art of Charm. We see what most people would call failure as little more than a bump in the road on the way to success. However, many people can be derailed by these minor setbacks, causing their entire motivation to collapse.
Simply put, whenever you’re trying something new you need to accept the fact that it’s not always going to go as planned. Think of the thing in life that you’re best at. How good were you at it when you first started? Even if you had some natural talent, that natural talent was honed into a real skill through lots of training, practice and, above all, effort.
See setbacks as a way to learn and move forward. Don’t let them cripple you.
5. Get Some Skin in the Game
We all know or have heard about the guy who threw six bucks every day he didn’t smoke into a jar and used it to pay for a new car or take a dream vacation. Great. Now let’s hack that principle for greater effect. Some ways that you can do this include:
Aherk: Aherk is an app that will do things like posting embarrassing pictures of you to the Internet if you don’t complete a task by a certain time. While that might be a little bit brutal, it can be the nudge that you need to get the ball rolling. Chances are pretty good that if the choice is between going to the gym or posting your least favorite picture of yourself ever (think middle school levels of embarrassment), you’re going to find time to get things done.
Make a bet with yourself: Still having trouble? Give your buddy a hundred bucks. If by the end of the day, you’ve completed what you’ve set out to do, you get your money back. If not, you just spent $100 on the privilege of procrastination. How does it feel?
Productivity apps: Besides Aherk, there are a number of less sadistic productivity apps that will do things like make donations to charity or start deleting your work if you’re not keeping at it. Your mileage may vary, but I know people who have used these to great effect.
The point here is this: If you give yourself consequences for not being productive, you’ll be more inclined to actually get things done. Otherwise, you just enter (and re-enter) the spiral of “I have to do X, but I’d rather play Xbox instead.” Get out of it.
In all this the main thing to remember is that — on some level — you want to challenge yourself, or you wouldn’t be interested in self-improvement in the first place. Sure you want to be better, but why? Because you crave the excitement that comes into your life when you have some kind of a challenge.
Sitting around, being inertial is boring. Get out there and challenge yourself today. Indeed, a challenge might be just the motivation that you’ve been longing for.Jordan Harbinger is a Wall Street lawyer turned Social Dynamics expert and coach. He is the co-founder of The Art of Charm, a dating and relationships coaching company. If you’re interested in The Art of Charm residential programs, apply for a strategy call with a coach.