What you value (your “why,” in other words) is the most critical factor in getting motivated.
When it comes to tackling something on your to-do list, ask yourself why you’re doing it and how it aligns with your values. In fact, creating a list of your core values will help you make connections to your list of tasks and build motivation to accomplish them.
If your task is doing the dishes, for example, maybe something you value is your family. Visualizing the love you have for your family can help drive your desire to complete the task.
Having accountability partners will also help build extrinsic motivation. This is why coaching is helpful for so many people. Asking friends or co-workers to check in with you after a certain amount of time also works. The desire to share your accomplishments can increase motivation to start checking things off your lists.
Our environment and resources can play a big role in building motivation. If you walk into your workspace and feel overwhelmed, for example, it might be time for change. Take a look around to audit which things inspire you and align with your values, and which things leave you feeling overwhelmed. Get rid of things that negatively impact you so that your environment aligns with and supports your work.
From there, ask yourself whether you have the right resources. If not, what tools, education, training, mentoring or coaching could benefit you? Getting the right support and resources will help eliminate distractions, increase your focus and give you the ability to increase your personal motivation.
In my office, I’ve added ambient music and lighting to get me in a good headspace. I also use the Do Not Disturb function on my phone to minimize distractions.
The INCUP method
For those of us who are neurodivergent, and even for those who aren’t, the INCUP method is effective at building motivation.
INCUP stands for interest, novelty, challenge, urgency and passion. These five areas can help with task initiation, and they can drive meaning behind motivation:
1. Interest: Take on tasks in areas of interest. For example, if you love numbers, working on your data or financial tasks first can help drive motivation. If you’re creative, working on projects that feed your creativity can help build motivation momentum.
2. Novelty: Make a boring or routine task different and new. For instance, try conducting an ongoing job search from different coffee shops with free Wi-Fi. Or create different playlists to listen to while doing administrative tasks.
3. Challenge: Adopt a gamified approach to projects by setting small and large milestones and then creating goals and rewards. Write them down and check them off to increase your confidence and feel empowered.
4. Urgency: Boost your consistency and motivation by creating a project plan with actionable daily tasks that have deadlines. This makes it easier to show up for yourself. It might even help you complete your task or project ahead of schedule!
5. Passion or play: Shift from “I have to do” to “I get to do” by engaging in activities that make you feel passionate or excited. Add in elements of fun or play if needed, to increase your happiness and alignment.
In the end, motivation is dynamic and requires self-awareness and effort. The right tools, rewards, environment and techniques to get motivated and stay motivated will be different for each person and will depend on your environment, your values and your emotions. But if you put in the time to understand what best motivates you, and you work according to that knowledge, you’ll not only accomplish more, but you’ll do it in a way that aligns with who you are.