How to Stay Motivated and Have the Best 2021

When it comes to making sure you have the best year ever, motivation is surely going to crop up in your thinking. That’s why we put together a quick article talking all about how motivation isn’t the be-all and end-all, and how you can start making things happen and taking control in your life, starting today.

Change the Way You View Motivation

The big problem with motivation for a lot of people is they’ve got it the wrong way round. They think that motivation strikes, then they get the work done. This is completely the wrong way round. You don’t work because you’re motivated, you work because you’ve got a goal. Then the motivation comes flooding in with the momentum. It’s very rarely the other way round. Sure, you need a little motivation to get started, once you get the ball rolling, motivation seems in almost endless supply. As I said, it is like a chicken and egg riddle, and the sooner you start realising that first you do the work, then you get to be motivated, the better.

View motivation as your reward for the work you do, instead of the work you do being conditional on said motivation. Being motivated is an amazing feeling, paramount to being happy and purposeful. People don’t give motivation the credence it deserves. Unlike the relentlessly nebulous idea of happiness, being in a state of motivation is a state of momentum, competence, drive, engagement. Purpose, in other words. That is, it’s own reward. We don’t work because we want the reward of the work only, we work because humans are naturally industrious, and as long as you’re doing something that matters to you, the work quickly becomes its own reward.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others – The Big Motivation Killers

Now we’ve changed the ways in which you’re viewing motivation, how about things that are actively stealing your motivation? What elements in your life are stealing away your drive and love of doing things? Internally speaking, there’s quite a few, and they all need challenging, starting now.

For instance, comparing yourself to others is a huge stumbling block way before you even think about nearing competence. If you keep following tons of truly amazing artists on social media, and the vast majority of said artists simply spend all their posts showing off the very crème de la crème of their output, and they combine that with showing off an extravagantly successful lifestyle, that’s not encouraging to someone who’s yet to try putting brush to canvas yet. Surrounding yourself with the output of the ultra-successful before you even near competence, and worse, comparing yourself with them, is a one-way street to lost motivation. So, don’t do it!

I think about it like this. A couple hundred years ago, if you were a good artist, there was a strong chance you could be the best artist you knew in your area, niche, town, whatever. Now, courtesy of the all-connecting internet, no one, not even the actual best, is the best for long. There’s always going to be someone better, no matter what you do. Social media thrusts that better person in your face continually.

Other elements that work against you is things like failing to balance out your workload across your priorities correctly, as well as neglecting yourself and self-care. Sure, you’re working now, but if you keep neglecting yourself, how long are you going to be effective for? A lot of this way of thinking focuses on maintaining efficacy over long periods of time.
It might be satisfying to work fifteen-hour days on some passion project you’re absolutely obsessed with. However, how long are you going to be able to do this for before you need to take a total break, burnout or just get sick of it? By going too hard like this, you’re imposing a hard limit to how long you can go on working like that. By restricting how much you’re working, and prioritising other areas of your life, you can end up achieving far more, over a longer period. It’s in the rest periods that our greatest ideas tend to come to us, not while we’re relentlessly trying to come up with new ideas. That’s why they always say to sleep on things.

Having Defined, Realistic Goals is Key

When it comes to maintaining and utilising that all-important motivation, nothing is more valuable than having defined, realistic goals. You want a goal that is a definitive stretch for you, something of real value, but it has to be actually achievable. If it’s not achievable, you’re just spinning your wheels and banging your head against a wall.

Likewise, it’s vital to define your goals too. If your goals aren’t defined, how are you to know whether you’ve achieved them or not? That’s right, you basically can’t know. You need to set up some hard guidelines for yourself on what constitutes hitting your goals. Once you’ve got them, you can thrive within them.

Without well-thought-out goals that are achievable, you’re going to struggle to build any kind of plan to actually said goals. Once you have these goals in mind, you can write out daily to-do lists and prioritise different elements in order to achieve what you want to be achieving. You could boil down things that are unimportant to you to the bare essentials, and prioritise the goals you truly care about to the point where you make the progress you want to be making. It’s about managing your time and focus in such a way that you’re not burning yourself out, but you are making real progress and getting exactly what you need to get done.

Don’t Underestimate What You Can Achieve in a Year with Motivation

Another thing to bear in mind is that the human mind is interesting, and not always in a useful way. We have this continual tendency to overestimate what we can achieve in a day, while massively underestimating what we can get done in a whole year. If you start thinking in terms of smaller daily tasks and bigger yearly goals, you’ll get more done than if you tried to cram fifteen hours of work into each and every day while having nebulous and weak yearly goals.

Think about exactly where you want to be in a year’s time. What do you want to be doing? More importantly, what do you need to do right now to get there? These are all the questions you need to be asking yourself if you want to make the most of the coming year and start making each year count. Stop beating yourself up for wasting that day last week, and reflect instead on the years you’ve wasted. Still don’t beat yourself up, though. That’s a gratuitous waste of time. Just make the change and get on with things.

The Motivational Power of Reflection and Self-Awareness

It all essentially comes down to knowing your strengths and weaknesses, interests and passions. If you know these elements, you can build a plan and rally yourself around it to achieve huge things, no matter what your goals are. Most people are working with and against themselves in equal measure, and that limits them. If you can make the most of your urge to socialise instead of putting in the hours learning the skill at home, plan that socialising in. Maybe your social leaning is what’s going to help you sell that learnt skill later on. We need to be taking account of all our abilities, and making fool-proof plans that allow us to thrive without being unhappy or drained.

Actually getting to know yourself can be a bit of an ask however. It can be hard to truly know where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Sure, we all list the obvious cliches “I’m a bit of a perfectionist”, that kind of nonsense, but we all have weaknesses and strengths, and the sooner you know them, the sooner you can mitigate the weaknesses and play to your strengths. This essentially all comes down to reflection and self-awareness. Think about yourself, past and present, and the ways in which you interact with the world, friends, partners, family, work. What have people said about you? Both in positive frames and in cruel judgement. Incorporate these into your way of thinking.

Putting it All into Action

Fundamentally, we all have the essential tools to make 2021 the best year ever. The trouble is, far too many of us are wasting our efforts on videogames, social media, jobs that we don’t value and other traps. Sure, if you’ve got dependents, you can’t really do too much about the job thing without being extremely strategic, but even when you’re working a rubbish job you can plan an escape route in your free time.

Essentially, it comes down to priorities. If you can learn to prioritise the things that really matter to you, the motivation will come flooding in and you’ll quickly see real, palpable results. Remember, the work comes first, not the motivation. It’s never too late to make a change.