12 Things That Will Always Motivate You to Do a Good Job

Sometimes, it feels like there’s never enough time to do all of the things you want to do—go for a run, call that friend you haven’t spoken to in six months, apply for a new job, finish that report you owe your boss, or send a card to your cousin who just got engaged. The list is endless, and it feels like it will only keep piling on. As soon as you cross an item off your to-do list, you’ve added two more.

You’re burnt out at work and you’re lagging in your personal life. Things are out of whack. But how can you stay motivated to continue doing a good job?

You might try listening to Lose Yourself thirty times, but you may still feel uninspired. It’s easy to let yourself fall into the trap and start mailing it in. You get into work at nine on the dot and leave no later than five.

But you’re a motivated person. This isn’t like you. What can you do to turn it around? How do you stay motivated when you get down like this?

You think to yourself, “I need to do something drastic.” Most of the time though, that’s the exact opposite approach you should take. It’s small, incremental changes and habits that will get you back on track. Sit down and write. Go for a walk and think through your affairs. Start small first.

So, what things can you do to avoid this feeling? How can I get myself out of the constant feeling I’m doing the best I possibly can? There are some simple steps to get you through the rut and focus on your priorities.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Here are 12 things that will always motivate you to do a good job.

1. Preparation Is Key

Before you go to bed, write down your plan for the next day. That way, when you wake up in the morning, you’re not immediately running through a thousand different scenarios in your head, anxious about all the things you have to do. You know that when you get to your desk, there is a gameplan completely mapped out just waiting to be attacked.

Doing this the night before not only reduces your stress levels but it also creates an organized path to productivity for the first critical hours of the day that will give you the momentum you need to carry through the rest of the tasks that come across your desk.

2. Make a List of All the Things You Want This Year

Developing a gameplan for the day is great and will get you moving and motivated, but chances are you also have a lot of long-term intentions in mind that may subconsciously be weighing you down. Start by writing down every single thing you want to accomplish in the next six to twelve months. All of them! Don’t stop writing until you’re empty.

Once you have that list—there may be 10 or 30 items—circle the three most important objectives. This is something that Tony Robbins talks about in his bestseller, Awaken the Giant Within. Narrow your priorities. Focus solely on the most important tasks and nothing else.

3. Find a Trigger

Develop a personal prompt to kickstart each day. Every now and then, you consume something that provides you with a massive spark of inspiration. This is key to knowing what motivates you to do a good job. It could be a good book, an inspirational sports movie, or a great TED talk you just watched. Many writers listen to the same playlist over and over again while they’re writing.

Lin Manuel Miranda, famous for his role in the broadway musical Hamilton, created a playlist for when he encounters writer’s block with songs by Fiona Apple and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. It’s his trigger to get down and dirty—to source his creativity. As soon as he hears that song, he knows it’s time to turn on and work.

4. Focus on Discipline and Routine

In the book Atomic Habits, author James Clear calls out how comedian Jerry Seinfeld writes jokes on a yellow legal pad every single day for two hours. At the end of his writing sessions, he marks that day on the calendar with a big X to continue his daily streak. Not breaking that streak is what keeps him motivated.

In a podcast interview with Tim Ferriss, director and writer Brian Koppelman cited Haruki Murakami’s memoir What I Think About When I Think About Running as one of his favorite books on discipline, and I agree. It’s not a book about running, as the title may suggest. It’s about discipline and sticking to a routine process—a method that is boring but results in the greatest outcomes.

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain

5. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain suggests starting your day with your most difficult task. He calls it “Eating the Frog.”

If you’re dreading that one looming assignment, why not get it out of the way as soon as possible? As soon as you’re finished, the weight is effectively off your shoulders and you can focus on the rest of the day, relaxed and relieved you finished the hard stuff. It’s tough to get through—like swallowing a big frog (not that I know from personal experience)—but once it’s over with, you just may have to burp a couple of times!

6. Use the Pomodoro Method

Something I’ve always adhered to is a method of working called the Pomodoro Method, which is just a fancy term for taking a HIIT exercise approach to other areas of life (it’s named after the Pomodoro kitchen timer tomato).

On for 25 minutes; off for 5 minutes. This is something I’ve done since elementary school. It’s the way I studied or did homework through high school and college—twenty or so minutes of intensely focused work followed by a short break.

The time limit is arbitrary. I sometimes do thirty minutes of work and ten minutes of rest, or one hour of work followed by twenty minutes of rest. Play with it and see what works. You shouldn’t be staring at a screen for that long anyway. Step aside, take a breather, and look out to the horizon. It’s just the mental reset you need to motivate you for the next working session.

7. Treat Yourself

Reward yourself when you finish an important task. If you get through a difficult assignment after an hour of hard work, go for a walk. Treat yourself to an iced coffee or a handful of delicious blueberries. Every now and then, you need to take a breath and enjoy the fact that you accomplished something difficult. Sit back and reflect on it over a good book, a delicious snack, or even a bottle of wine. You’ve earned it!

8. Know That the Work You Put in Will Boost Your Reputation

Any time I think of slacking off, I feel like my reputation is being put on display. I picture my peers secretly saying to themselves, “he doesn’t work hard.” But when I work hard and put in that extra effort, I know it’s not going to go unrecognized. Even if it does, I have the personal satisfaction that I did the best I could.

Do the right thing, regardless of who’s watching, because it’s the right thing to do. Many times you may go unappreciated for months but eventually, that hard work gets recognized. What goes around comes around, and you’ll know no one will ever be able to say you didn’t earn it. That’s what’s important.

9. Act Like Your Role Model Is Watching You

Every time I sit down to write, I imagine all of my favorite writers watching me from afar. What would they want me to do? Should I have my phone next to me? Probably not. Eliminate distractions. You know in your heart what you should be doing, and if you act like your idol is watching you, that imaginary archangel will keep you straight.

10. Learn New Things

Unless you’re an expert who’s been in their field for decades, chances are there’s something else you can learn. Pick up a book on a new topic, ask a colleague in a different department to show you what they do, or take an online course. Learning something new is difficult, but it’s a personal investment into yourself that never depreciates. This will also help you discover what motivates you to do a good job.

As Miyamoto Mushashi says, “If you know the way broadly, you will see it in everything.”

11. Help Others

Coaching or mentoring is a great way to stay motivated and excited about what you do. Nothing makes you realize you’re understanding of something like teaching it to someone else!

12. Set a Time to Stop

It may sound crazy but sometimes, you just need to set a quiet time for yourself. “No matter what, at 6 pm I am closing my laptop.” This will help you keep your priorities straight and make sure that you’re fitting everything you need to do into the working hours you set for yourself. It also sets boundaries with your colleagues that notify them of when to expect things from you.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a ton of easy-to-implement approaches to stay motivated! Whether it’s managing your time, creating a “Work” playlist, or just making a list—doing a good job is as easy as you make it on yourself.

Remember, you don’t have to do anything drastic or makeover your entire life. Start with the simple steps that will make your day just a little more enjoyable. Before you know it, you’ll be hearing praises from the ones who care.

More Tips to Motivate Yourself to Do a Good Job

Having high self-esteem is important if you are aiming for personal or professional success. Interestingly, most people will high levels of self-esteem act in similar ways. That’s why it’s often easy to pick them out in a crowd. There’s something about the way they hold themselves and speak, isn’t there?

We all have different hopes, dreams, experiences, and paths, but confidence has its own universal language. This list will present some of the things you won’t find yourself doing if you have high self-esteem.

1. Compare Yourself to Others

People with low self-esteem are constantly comparing their situation to others. On the other hand, people with higher self-esteem show empathy and compassion while also protecting their own sanity. They know how much they can handle and when they can offer a helping hand.

In the age of social media, however, social comparisons are nearly ubiquitous. One study found that “participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media”. Basically, you will feel worse about yourself if you are constantly getting glimpses into lives that you consider to be better than yours.

Try to limit your time on social media. Also, when you do start scrolling, keep in mind that each profile is carefully crafted to create the appearance of a perfect life. Check yourself when you find yourself wishing for greener grass.

2. Be Mean-Spirited

People with low self-esteem bully others. They take pleasure in putting other people down. People with positive self-esteem see no need to down other people, choosing instead to encourage and celebrate successes.

If you find that you feel the need to put others down, analyze where that’s coming from. If they’ve had success in life, help them feel good about that achievement. They may do the same for you one day.

3. Let Imperfection Ruin Your Day

Perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but obsessing over making everything perfect is a sign that you have low self-esteem and can lead to never-ending negative thoughts. This can turn into an inability to solve problems creatively, which will only make self-esteem issues worse. 

Those with high self-esteem disconnect from the results and do their best without expecting perfection.

People with that kind of confidence understand that messing up is a part of life and that each time they aim and miss success, they’ll at least learn something along the way.

If you miss the mark, or if your plan doesn’t work out exactly as you would have liked, take a deep breath and see if you can pivot in order to do better next time.

4. Dwell on Failure

It’s common to hear people dwelling on all the ways things will go wrong. They are positive that their every failure signals an impossible task or an innate inability to do something. People with healthy self-esteem discover why they failed and try again.

People with higher levels of confidence also tend to adopt a growth mindset. This type of thinking supports the idea that most of your abilities can be improved and altered, as opposed to being fixed.

For example, instead of saying, “I’m just not good at math; that’s why I did bad on the test,” someone with a growth mindset would say, “Math is difficult for me, so I’ll have to put in some more practice to improve next time.”

Next time you experience a failure, check out this video to help you believe in yourself again:

5. Devalue Your Self-Esteem

People with high self-esteem value their own perception of themselves – they understand that they come first and don’t feel guilty about taking care of themselves. They believe charity starts within, and if they don’t believe that, they’ll never have a healthy self-image.

Self-care is often top of the priority list for people with self-esteem. For some ways to practice self-care, check out this article.

6. Try to Please Others

They can’t please all the people all the time, so confident people first focus on doing what will make them feel fulfilled and happy. While they will politely listen to others’ thoughts and advice, they know that their goals and dreams have to be completed on their own terms.

7. Close Yourself off

Confident people have the ability to be vulnerable. It’s those with poor self-esteem that hide all the best parts of themselves behind an emotional wall. Instead of keeping the real you a secret, be open and honest in all your dealings.

As Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, points out, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen”. When you embrace each facet of who you are and allow others to see them as well, it will create deeper, more meaningful connections in your life. When that happens, you’ll realize that perfection doesn’t lead to people liking you more.

You can learn more about the power of vulnerability in this TED talk with Brené Brown:

8. Follow and Avoiding Leading

People with low self-esteem don’t believe they can lead, so they end up following others, sometimes into unhealthy situations. Rather than seeking a sense of belonging, people with high self-esteem walk their own paths and create social circles that build them up.

9. Fish for Compliments

If you’re constantly seeking compliments, you’re not confident. People with high self-esteem always do their best (and go out of their way to do good deeds) because it’s what they want to do, not because they’re seeking recognition. If you need to hear compliments, say them to yourself in the mirror.

You can even try some positive affirmations if you need a confidence boost. Check out these affirmations to get started.

10. Be Lazy

People work harder when they have high self-esteem because they’re not bogged down by doubts and complaints. Those with low self-esteem end up procrastinating and wasting their energy thinking about all the work they have to do rather than rolling up their sleeves and just getting it done.

This may also bounce off perfectionism. Perfectionists often feel intimidated by certain projects if they fear that they won’t be able to complete them perfectly. Tap into your confidence and simply do your best without worrying about a perfect outcome.

11. Shy Away from Risks

When you trust yourself, you’ll be willing to participate more in life. People with low self-esteem are always on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect moment to jump in. Instead of letting life pass you by, have confidence in your success and take the risks necessary to succeed.

12. Gossip

People with low self-esteem are always in other peoples’ business – they’re more interested in what everyone else is doing than themselves. People with high self-esteem are more interested in their own life and stay out of others’ affairs.

Instead of participating in idle gossip, talk about some positive news you heard recently, or that fascinating book you just finished. There’s plenty to talk about beyond what this or that person did wrong in their life.

The Bottom Line

Self-esteem is to success in life. People who maintain a healthy level of self-esteem believe in themselves and push themselves to succeed, while those with low confidence feel a sense of entitlement.

If you need a boost in your self-image and mental health, avoid negative self-talk and the other mistakes of people with low self-esteem. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

More Tips on Building Confidence

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