Motivating yourself is one of the main things that sets high achievers apart, and it’s hard. How do you keep pushing onward when your heart isn’t in it? In her research, Fishbach has identified some simple tactics: Set goals that are intrinsically rewarding, and make them very specific. If a task isn’t satisfying, focus on aspects of it that are or combine it with pleasant activities. Reward yourself in the right way for getting things done. To avoid slumps, break objectives into subgoals; look at how much you’ve accomplished until you’re halfway there; and then count down what you have left to do. And use social influence: Let high performers inspire you, boost your get-up-and-go by giving advice, and keep the people you want to succeed for front of mind.
Motivating yourself is hard. In fact, I often compare it to one of the exploits of the fictional German hero Baron Munchausen: Trying to sustain your drive through a task, a project, or even a career can sometimes feel like pulling yourself out of a swamp by your own hair. We seem to have a natural aversion to persistent effort that no amount of caffeine or inspirational posters can fix.
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