If you’ve ever interviewed for a job, you were asked if you’re self-motivated, or if you’re a self-starter.
The truth is, all motivation is self-motivation. Whether you’re doing your work because you are conscientious and want to get your work done on time, or because you don’t want your boss to get mad, you are the one who is motivating you, in the end.
Getting motivated is not nearly as hard as it may sound. The first step is just to think about what you have to do, and why you’re avoiding it, if you are.
Then think about what you will get out of doing the task, or what will happen if you don’t do it. Either one works; both together are even better.
For instance, if you study for your test, you will get an A, and that will feel good and be exciting. Of course, if you don’t study for the test, you will get a C, or worse, and you don’t want that because it will bring your overall grade down, it will look bad on your transcript, and so on.
By going over what you’re going to get if you do the task, and reviewing the consequences of not doing it, you can motivate yourself by deciding that you want the benefits and don’t want the consequences.
If you “just can’t get motivated,” chances are the stakes are not high enough for you. You can think harder about what you’ll get out of doing this, and motivate yourself with carrots or sticks. Or you can wait until a time when you are more motivated, if that is an option.
In the end, motivating yourself basically just means figuring out what the task will bring you, or cost you if you don’t do it, and then deciding whether you want that benefit, or don’t want those consequences, more than you want what you’re doing instead.