Motivation - a silly short how-to

If you have something you should do - for any reason - and you struggle to muster up the motivation to do it, here’s a simple technique to get going:

  1. Write down all the long-term benefits that you can see from doing it.
  2. Pick the most important one. Stick to that one long-term value (for now).
  3. Write down all the immediate benefits from doing it.
  4. Pick the one that is most motivating for you and stick to that for now.

This will give you a clear picture of the single most important long-term purpose for doing something and the most important reason to do it right now.

I should start exercising. I realize I should start doing daily walks for 45 minutes. But why? I write down a bunch of reasons why, like “I want to get in shape”, “I want a more healthy body”, “I want to live longer” or “I don’t want to be puffing and breathing so much when I play with my kids”. I pick the one that is the most motivating for me: “I want to get in shape”.

But why today? Why now? I list all the potential reasons why I should get going right away: “I enjoy a walk in the woods”, “I get a sense of pride”, “My girlfriend gives me praise for it”, “I get to philosophize and structure my thoughts better when I talk to myself while walking”. I pick the last one.

And here I am doing my daily walks - for a long-term purpose and for a specific reason today.

The immediate reason can lose it’s power as you exhaust it. Then simply write a new list of immediate reasons to do it and pick the one that you now fancy the most.

If the long-term purpose loses its motivating power, find another that gives more energy by writing a new list and picking the one that rings true for you.

It can be this simple.