Maintaining Motivation

Motivation is defined as “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way” or “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something”. It’s easy to come up with a lot of lofty goals at the beginning of the year but difficult to keep them going.

“It’s not something that you’re going to have continuously if you don’t cultivate it.”

Episode Breakdown

07:30 Difficulties Getting and Staying Motivated

Inertia – You’re comfortable where you are, or not sufficiently uncomfortable to force a change.

“Since I’ve been in the workforce I’ve seen a lot of developers that get a comfortable job, they like it and that drive that motivation fades.”

Fear – Change always comes with risk, and the risks of your current approach may not be as obvious as those of what you’d like to do.

Prioritization – Maybe your goal isn’t as important to you as you say it is.

Impatience – You think success will be easier than it actually is. Consequently, you either don’t get going on it or you do get going and get frustrated by the first impediment to success.

“Successful people make it look easy, you don’t see the background.”

Overwhelm – You have too much to do.

Ingratitude – You spend more time thinking about what “should” be here, rather than looking forward to what you want.

Meaninglessness – You don’t really know what the point of it is.

Tips To Get and Stay Motivated

17:45 Planning To Get and Stay Motivated

“The big thing here is to actually consciously think about your motivation.”

Take time every day to plan towards reaching your goals. Come out with concrete steps you can achieve today that you get you closer to your goal. You can mix this into your daily meditation if that’s your thing. Actually execute on the small goals. Things are not as intimidating when they are small things. Start trying to break bad habits that don’t line up with your goals.

“Your bad is what holds you back and your good is what moves you forward.”

24:38 Internalize Your Motivation

Internalize the goal that you are trying to achieve. Compare your goals to what you actually do and then adjust one or the other. Do it continually. Map the short term goals you have to something you need right now. It’s hard to maintain motivation over the long-term without getting some benefit in the short term. Go for a single goal. As my friend David Whitley says “Don’t half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”. This will keep your goals from conflicting and help you avoid burnout.

“It’s very strange how people react when they start seeing you being successful.”

Shut up about it, except with a tight circle of trusted friends. You have to appropriately balance the risk that you will spend more time talking than acting with the very human need to have other people holding you accountable. So, talk to people that will hold you accountable, and leave everyone else out of it.

36:20 Set Yourself Up For Success

“Having periodic or random rewards tends to keep people motivated.”

Set yourself up with rewards at intervals or when particular goals are reached. Periodic rewards are a great way to mitigate the risk of burnout when pursuing longer term goals. Don’t start immediately. SCHEDULE your start and build your own anticipation towards it. Plan in the meantime.

“It’s really valuable to think about how a psychologist would force a person to do what you are trying to do and then do that yourself.”

Get around people doing the same thing. Your peer group determines what behavior you consider normal. If you are around people achieving success, it will seem normal and that makes it easier to go after it. Ruthlessly squash negative thoughts when they arise by replacing them with positive ones. “The weight isn’t too heavy – it’s going to be epic when I can lift it.”

48:40 Protecting Your Motivation

Don’t overdo it. Don’t start by working out 5 times a week. Start out once a week and make it short. Building on weak success always beats trying to build on epic failure.

Avoid the naysayers. You’ll have people in your life that will suddenly get very cranky with you when you start to succeed. Step away from them.

Get enough sleep, relaxation, alone time, etc. in order to be able to recharge. You are trying to run a marathon, not a sprint.

Pick realistic interim goals. You shouldn’t try (probably) to write a book in a month. You can, however, possibly swing a chapter a week.

Get away from social procrastination. Facebook, twitter, etc., are a waste of time when you are trying to be motivated, as they offer endless distraction and put you into a position to compare your life to everyone else’s.

Make some progress every single day, including holidays. It doesn’t have to be much. Don’t let a slump start.

Exercise and eat well. It’s easy to let these slip when under pressure, but degraded health catches up with you quickly.

Announce your successes. Yes, you get to brag a little. The positive feedback from doing so will help you and the negative feedback will show you who not to trust.

IoTease: Project


With just a Raspberry Pi, a few LEDs, and a pool noodle you can build a fun toy lightsaber at home. This is a fun project that you can easily do with no soldering and the kids can help. The description is full of great photos to help you out.

Tricks of the Trade

Burnout is horrible. If you can’t fix it doing what you are doing, you have to find something else to do. There is no fix for burnout that consists of just powering through. It’s the flip side of motivation, really. Once you are burnt out, it will stay that way until you take active steps to fix it. Start with getting out of the situation that caused it.

Editor’s Notes:

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,