Dear 100 Hour Board,
How do you create self-motivation that outweighs laziness and other demotivating factors?
Example 1: My boss is never mad at me when I'm late and getting up in the morning is not my specialty. Any internal/external motivation I have from not wanting to be judged by my co-workers or not wanting to be that kind of person is outweighed by not wanting to go to work (I don't like my job) and laziness and sometimes other factors.
Example 2: My mental health. I just don't want to make the effort required to have good mental health and sometimes I get little boosts of motivation because I get too far down, but they don't always last. With this there's also things like not even wanting to be happy with my appearance because I don't like the way I look and other things.
Example 3: Exercise takes effort, time, pain, and other things. And I don't think I'll like the way I'll look afterwards anyway so it's hard to want to do it if I figure I won't be attractive afterwards anyway.
Dear Word Processor,
Welcome to one of the greatest plights of our generation. Fun, isn't it?
I am really excited to answer your question, not because I am an expert on the subject, but because I have been there before and have found a lot of things that help me, personally, to get rid of that annoying thing called apathy.
As Sam Bracken says, "The desire to be different is where change begins." You simply cannot change without a strong desire to do so. The fact that you submitted this question shows that you do have at least a starting desire to be different. Now you have to do all you can to help that desire grow.
So, start by taking an inventory of where you are. Are you busy right now? No? Good. Sit down and start with some introspection. Be completely honest with yourself about where you are now and about where you want to be. What are the specific things blocking you from becoming your ideal self? What are the negative effects of choosing to go to work late, not exercise, not care for your mental health, etc. What would some of the benefits be if you started to change those things?
Now, if there is one thing necessary to self-motivation it is positivity. If you are constantly feeling down in the dumps, it is going to be practically impossible to motivate yourself. For this reason, I would suggest attacking the problem of your mental health first. If you are a BYU student, take advantage of the free counseling services. If you are not, seek counseling in some other setting. You may be experiencing some degree of depression, and if that is the case, you are going to need some outside help before you can begin to motivate yourself.
Apart from counseling, one of the best ways to become more positive, and thus more easily motivated, is to surround yourself with positive things. Read motivational books. Start your day off with the teachings of the gospel. Before you leave in the morning, read your scriptures for 5 minutes or watch a 5 minute Mormon Message. This may seem difficult, but planning, accountability, and rewards, all of which I will discuss later, will help.
It's also important to remember that surrounding yourself with positive things is often accomplished through eliminating negative or even neutral things in your life. One of my goals right now is to not watch TV. And let me tell you, I think I discovered one of the secrets of the universe. Yes, I have slipped a couple times (I needed to watch the Parks and Recreation finale, obviously), but in general, cutting TV out has helped me immensely to feel more motivated to do more productive things. During the time I would have spent watching TV, I end up sitting there, realizing I now have nothing to do, and then suddenly thinking, "Well, I could write a letter to my cousin who is on a mission," or, "Well, I guess I could get started on my homework." Cut time-wasters, whatever they may be for you, out of your life.
L. Tom Perry said, "We all make daily entries in our books of life. Occasionally we take it from the shelf and examine the entries we are making. What kind of memories will flood your mind as you examine the pages of your personal entries?" Value your life and your time enough to cut out things that are wasting it. I promise this will help you to feel more motivated across all aspects of your life.
The next essential in creating self-motivation is planning, and by that I mean specific planning. If I tell myself that I'm going to go to the gym tomorrow, the chances of it happening are maybe 20%. If, on the other hand, I write in my planner that from 7PM-8PM I am going to the gym, the chances it will happen improve to maybe 85%.
Buy yourself a planner that has specific lines for each hour of the day and plan each day before you go to bed. Don't just make a to-do list, put each thing that you have to do at a specific time during the day. I am glad that you have going to the gym on your list because honestly, once you do accomplish it, it will motivate you in many other aspects of your life, as well.
In fact, it has been a goal of mine lately to go to the gym three times a week and, wow, has it made a difference. Another thing that helps me is listening to motivating music at the gym, as I walk home from the gym, and even as I am doing daily chores like putting my laundry away. Turn down your Bon Iver just for a while, and make a playlist of motivating music.
Since I have already brought up goal setting, let's talk about it. My favorite method of goal setting is the spiritual-physical-mental-social method. Right now, on the wall right next to my bed I have a post-it note for one goal from each of these areas of life. Physical: Go to the gym 3X a week. Mental: NO TV. Spiritual: Read the scriptures for 15 minutes every day. Social: Talk to at least 3 new people every day.
Make goals and keep them where you can see them, otherwise you will likely forget about them. Don't make too many goals, make just enough that you have a road map for where you are going.
Still, goal setting on its own is not enough. In fact, goal setting can be a well-intentioned road to nowhere without the next step: accountability.
Never allow yourself to be the only person who knows about your goals. Tell as many people as possible about your goals, especially people whose opinion of you is important to you. Tell friends, roommates, family, heck, even post it on Facebook as long as it isn't too personal. Finally, tell the Lord. Then ask specific people to hold you accountable. One of my friends at work is currently holding me responsible for my spiritual and social goals, and it motivates me a lot to know that when I go to work the next day, she is going to be asking me how things are going.
In addition to these kind of social rewards from others, reward yourself! Next to each goal that you make, list a reward of something you are going to give yourself if you succeed. (Again, tell somebody else about it so that you can't cheat). I've also found that one of the greatest rewards I can give myself is being able to record my successes in my journal. Keeping a journal allows you to see how far you have come and gives you motivation to keep going.
Now, for anyone who is actually still reading, I've only got a couple of tips left. First, just as positivity is important in creating self-motivation, keeping up your self-esteem is just as important. Stop comparing yourself to others and make a conscious effort to silence both the critics without and the critics within. Sam Bracken said, "Getting where you want to go begins with opening your eyes and seeing yourself differently. Our potential is almost unlimited, but we hinder ourselves when we allow critics to drag us down or let low self-esteem keep us mired in a pit."
Finally, stay energized. For the kajillionth time, I am putting in a plug for going to the gym, but that is not all. Make sure you get enough protein and take B-vitamins. Don't take naps during the day, and get enough sleep at night, without oversleeping. If you are tired or unhealthy, it will only be that much harder to motivate yourself.
Okay, last but not least, when you really have a hard time getting yourself to do something, just start. Starting is always the hardest part. Put away anything and everything that may be distracting you and just start.
I hope you know that I am not even close to perfect at living all the ideals that I just described, but I feel a lot more motivated, happy, and fulfilled when I do live them. Be patient with yourself, know that you will make mistakes, but keep trying and remind yourself daily of the value of your life and of the time you have been given.