Motivation is what causes us to act and brings us closer to our goals. The most important thing is to understand the things that drive us towards a certain goal (the "why"), allowing us to maintain motivation and establish habits (the "how/what") to achieve those.
Thinking about motivation many buzzwords such as strength, focus, energy, success, movement, progress, goal, voice, or resilience come to mind. The question is what motivates YOU? There is no secret or golden-recipe to being motivated or successful (The book "The motivation myth" by Jeff Haden is my must-read).
For me one of the most important things is to not compare myself to others, as everyone has a very different life path, motivation, and tools available. I try to be the best version of myself and improve this version where possible. To achieve this, I will invest "extra" energy where possible. e.g work an additional hour, take an extra course, read another book, or rehearse once more. It's the little "extra" steps that allow me to be confident that I have done everything I can to achieve a goal, reinforcing positive outcomes when I achieve something and helping me not to be disappointed when I don't achieve something ("hello rejection my old friend"), as I did everything I could to be prepared.
Another thing that helped me to be motivated, especially when doing things I am not good at or don't like too much, is to actually do them regularly. This helps to make these things less of a big thing, but more of a habit.
Short-Term Motivation and Focus
Identifying the times when you can get certain things done best is crucial to perform them with a positive mindset and being able to focus your energy on the tasks ahead. For example, I like to write in the mornings when my mind is fresh, while I do more repetitive, low-input tasks in the evening.
Being able to focus highly depends on the circumstances. These circumstances can be created to allow you to focus on demand. For example, I use music to put me in the moment and the right mind-set to achieve the required task. Depending on the task, for example coding, writing, or giving a talk, all are supported by different music genres.
Not all things to life evolve around work. Taking breaks and having a work-life balance can do wonders to maintain motivation, focus, and energy.
We all have only limited time available, needing to establish which tasks are important, urgent, or both. Categorizing tasks like this helps to allocate resources (time, energy, focus etc) to ensure the tasks will be fulfilled to completion. However, there is a chance that the tasks that are "less important or urgent" fall through the cracks. Making a list of these tasks and blocking out time to fulfill these can help to still complete them. These are my "days of bits and bobs".
“Do not confuse motion and progress.
A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.”
Alfred A. Montapert
The above quote is one of my favourite ways to assess whether I am on the right path to fulfill my vision by realizing that motivation (motion) does not always translate into success (progress).
Learning to say no is challenging, but crucial to avoid stretching oneself too thin. Before taking on new tasks I am asking myself whether I can give it the time, focus, and energy it deserves. If I can, and I have the right motivation to do something, I will say yes. If I don't, then that's a no.
Time management is crucial, especially when working on different tasks. I personally plan the weeks ahead as much as possible and stick to the plan where possible. Using tools such as Google Calendar to organize my time and Trello for project progress tracking help me make the most out of the time I have.
Together, motivation is something very personal and there is no secret on how to become motivated. It is all intrinsic and you have to work what works for you. Understanding the drivers of your intrinsic motivation can help you to maintain motivation even in tough times.