The more I try to start dragging my inner self, kicking and screaming, into this new scary world of writing and creating content, the more I’m starting to realise something.
I tell myself I like to embrace change. That I look forward to trying new ways of doing things. New experiences, new endeavours. But now that I’m trying to get this particular new thing off the ground and keep it flying, I’m finding that my sub conscious doesn’t seem to agree with me.
In fact, whenever I try to set my mind to doing something that involves creating, instead of consuming, I seem to hit up against a wall of inner resistance. Some of it is to do with fear, and I did talk about ways that I’m learning to overcome those fears in my previous post.
But on top of the fear, there’s also times when I just don’t feel like doing the work.
I think there are a few different reasons for this. One reason is the instant gratification monster, who would rather be watching Netflix, reading a book, checking my fave news sites (again), or slaying monsters and solving puzzles in Legend of Zelda. Yeah, I’m a total Nintendo nerd.
Another reason might be that by the time the day is done, I just feel too damn tired to use those precious few minutes of peace and quiet to get some writing done, and work on my business.
It scares me a bit, because when I think about where I want to be – that is, running my own online business where I regularly create, share and inspire – I start to question if I have the inner strength and discipline to get there.
I know that quitting isn’t an option. In the short few months that I’ve had to learn about the opportunities available out there, my thinking has changed to the point where a ‘normal’ job and the accompanying 9 to 5 lifestyle seems almost laughable.
So, here are the strategies that I’m currently using to push past my internal resistance and get moving.
1. Set a timer, and get started
This strategy works well for lots of tasks, especially while I’m at home. Whether it’s working on my website, writing content, working out, even just washing up or cleaning the house.
Particularly when it comes to writing, I’ll pick up my phone, set a 15 or 30 minute timer, and just get started.
Sometimes I’ll challenge myself to see how much I can get done in that 30 minutes. This gets me quite fired up, and sometimes I’ll become so absorbed in the task that I just keep going until I’ve completed it to satisfaction.
Other times, I’ll stop and take a break when the timer goes off, rest for 5 or 10 minutes, set another 30 minute timer, and carry on. Or I might call it a night and go to bed, depending on when it is.
You can do as you please – the point is, you have used that 30 minutes to do something that moves you toward a particular goal.
Something else I like about this method is that I find myself feeling unusually focused when I hit that start button. Try it!
2. Use success triggers to build good habits
You’ll find a lot of definitions of ‘success triggers’ online. But my favourite application of the term comes from Ruth Soukup of Elite Blog Academy fame.
I’m paraphrasing a little, but broadly speaking, she defines success triggers as “taking actions that minimise resistance to the things you don’t want to do, and make them a whole lot easier.”
I think of this as removing obstacles and/or distractions to a specific task. I could write a whole post on this, but here’s a couple of simple examples.
I want to go work out in the morning (task), but I hate having to go through the bedroom drawers in silence by the light of my phone torch so as not to wake my wife, to get my workout gear ready (obstacle).
To be honest I’d rather just turn over and go back to sleep. But the path to my workout becomes a lot smoother if I get all my workout gear ready the night before. I can pack it all in my bag for the gym, or lay it out downstairs, ready to put on in the morning.
You’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking that’s just called preparation, Captain Obvious.
Well that’s true, and that is one way to think of it. But it can also be applied in other ways.
For example, if I want to sit down and write, I know that there are a lot of distractions, obstacles and other tasks that will be vying for my attention.
So I’ve started creating shortcuts on my desktop to the tasks I need to accomplish (i.e. my writing app for starting a new post), and putting deadlines in my to-do app for new content that I want to create. I’ve also removed all distracting bookmarks and other icons for things like Spotify, Google Earth, YouTube, my favorite blogs, so there is less tempation to get sidetracked.
I can sit down, log in, and straight away hit the icon to open a blank page and begin writing.
In short, success triggers are about organising your environment to minimise obstacles and distractions that stand in the way of you getting stuff done.
3. Use the power of visualisation for an instant dose of motivation
This is a powerful one, and it ties back into what I mentioned at the start of this post.
Again I can’t go into too much depth, but suffice to say that you need to spend time thinking carefully on both what your life looks like but probably more importantly how you’re going to feel once you’ve achieved your goal.
Write out how you plan to send your days. Heck, write out how a year of your life might look. What will you do? Where will you go? Who will you spend your time with? Get as much detail out as possible, especially about how you feel as well as what you’ll do.
Don’t put limits on your dreams, and don’t let go of them. Regularly go back and review what you wrote down.
This stuff is super important, because if you only have a vague idea of where you’re going, how will you get there? Imagine if you were going on holiday, but all you knew was that it was somewhere south?
If you know where you want to go, you’ll be motivated to take the steps to get there, even when they are things that your inner self is resisting or putting off.
4. Invest in yourself
This one is all to do with accountability. Some things in life can’t be bought, it’s true. BUT, we do tend to value certain things more when we’ve paid for them.
It’s why you’re more likely to show up to the gym if you’ve paid for a session with a personal trainer, and it’s why you’re more likely to complete a course when you’ve got some skin in the game..
For this reason I highly recommend buying books and online courses to provide your self with motivation and accountability in moving toward your goals, whatever they may be.
Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to make progress using only free resources online. But if you want to progress quickly and avoid making the same mistakes that millions of people have already made, the question you should be asking is not “Can I afford this?” It’s “Can I afford NOT to do this?”
Paying for things with our time is no different. Ever notice how we talk about “spending” time? Money isn’t the only thing we can invest! Also, importantly, we can’t choose to stop spending our time like we can with our cash. Time keeps moving, regardless of what we choose to do with it.
Remembering this makes it easier for me to invest my time in doing hard things that I know will have a future benefit.
As it relates to blogging, content creation, and your online business, think of it like this. Each blog post you write and each email you send out is like a little deposit in the account of your relationship with your audience.
As that relationship account fills up, so does your audience’s trust in you. Businesses are built on trust and relationships, so this is a wise way to spend your time.
Knowing this definitely helps me to push my inner resistant self out of the way.
5. Give yourself recognition
I think this is a super important one, but I feel a bit hypocritical putting it on this list because it is something that I still don’t do.
I tend to beat myself up so much with things that even when I do get a post written or a task completed on my website, I don’t let myself properly recognise that I’ve made progress.
Quite often when I finish writing a piece, I read back over and and think that it’s barely good enough to scrape by, and only manage to post it because I tell myself that I’m going to go back and improve it at some point in the future.
But consider the following.
If you had a really good friend who was working toward a big goal, would you crush and berate them every time they made a mistake, or life got in the way of their progress?
Sounds ridiculous, right? You’d encourage them, tell them how well they were doing, maybe tell them you were proud of them and help them to remember what they had accomplished so far.
And yet some of us, myself included, carry right on treating ourselves exactly the opposite.
Instead we should be recognising that we have genuine value that comes from our own uniqueness, our own story, that we can pass on to other people.
With that recognition comes the ability to have pride in what you do especially when you’ve done something that you reeeally didn’t feel like doing.
It’s that feeling you get when you actually went to the gym and worked out, even though you really didn’t want to!
So those are a few of the most effective ways I’ve found so far to push on through my inner resistance and get things done even when I don’t feel like it!
If you stuck with me this far I hope you got some value out of this post! I want to know about you as well, though…how do you motivate yourself to get hard things done?
Share your tips in the comments below, or if you you’re struggling with something specific ask away and I’ll try to help!