How to Get Motivated

See acknowledgment of creator Alex Vermeer.

Why a post on Motivation in a blog about the Argentine tango?

  • I liked the information in the original poster, and I wanted it in a form (that I find) easier to use.
  • The Argentine tango is a dance of special challenges. Many are drawn to it for the many-layered music, the fancy footwork, and the intimate embrace. Many drop out when they discover the physical and emotional challenges of the dance. It takes motivation to pursue progress in the dance in a mindful way.

How to Get Motivated

A Guide to Defeating Procrastination

How to Get Motivated

The solution is simple. To increase motivation and decrease procrastination you must:
+Increase our Expectancy of success and the certainty of being rewarded.
+Increase the Value and pleasantness of doing a task.
-Decrease our Impulsiveness by removing distractions and maintaining focus.
-Decrease the Delay of the reward by having more immediate, salient deadlines.

Get Motivated

Start

  • What are you avoiding?
  • What are you not motivated to do?
  • Be Specific!

Decrease Impulsiveness

Set a Goal

  • Make them: Specific, Realistic, Meaningful
  • Break it down!
  • Input–“For x minutes.”–is often better than output–“Finish this.”
  • “Achieve this” is better than “Avoid that.”

Run a “Dash”

  • Commit to doing it for only 5 minutes. Set a timer.

Eliminate Temptations

  • Recognize what is tempting you.
  • Eliminate it! (Or hide it.)
  • Focus on the abstract aspects of your temptation (not the fun parts).

Make Failure Painful

  • How will failure be painful?
  • Make it more painful.
  • Make a costly bet with someone.

Eliminate Distractions

  • Recognize what is distracting you.
  • Eliminate it! (Or hide it.)

Create Routines & Habits

  • Can part of this be turned into a habit?
  • Can part of this be added to an existing routine?
  • Separate work and play.
  • Schedule leisure before work.

Use Goal Reminders

  • Read an inspiring quote.
  • Look at your goals.
  • Make your goals visible.

Stop Suppressing Thoughts

  • Do not ‘force’ distractions out of your head.

Make Progress Visual

  • Track your progress.

Use Negative Pairing

  • Pair temptations with undesirable images.
  • Imagine a disastrous outcome.

Increase Value

Find Meaning

  • Set and review your major life goals.
  • How does this connect?

Find Flow

  • Match difficulty with skill.
  • Too easy? Make it harder. Too hard? Make it easier.

Create Competition

  • Compete against yourself.
  • Compete against others.
  • Turn it into a game, make it fun!

Get Some Energy

  • Get your blood moving.
  • Splash cold water on your face.
  • Eat well.
  • Energize your environment. (e.g. music)
  • Plan around your energy, not time.

Create a Reward

  • Reward your success.
  • Make the situation more rewarding.

Keep Your Brain Healthy

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Take genuine breaks.
  • Reduce your commitments.

Use Productive Procrastination

  • What can you avoid doing by doing this?

Add Accountability

  • Who knows about this?
  • Can you make it public?

Mix Bitter & Sweet

  • Combine long-term interests with short-term gains.

Find Passion

  • Know what you are passionate about.
  • Is this connected?
  • Is this intrinsically motivating?

Increase Expectancy

Action is Required

  • Remember, lack of effort guarantees failure!

Recognize Success

  • Achieve one goal after another.
  • Recognize small improvements as victories.
  • Keep a daily log.

Get Inspired

  • Review your inspirations.
  • Know what inspires you and why.
  • Make your inspirations visible.

Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best

  • What could go wrong?
  • Draw on past experiences.
  • Make a backup plan.

Accept Your Procrastination

  • Don’t trivialize “I’ll only give in once.”
  • Log your procrastination habits.
  • Remember that you are human.

Contrast

  • Compare ideal state with current state.
  • Visualize and contrast the present and future.

Check Your Mindset

  • Qualities and skills are cultivated through effort.
  • Nothing is carved in stone.

The Procrastination Equation

The Procrastination Equation–discussed in detail by Piers Steel in his book by the same name–accounts for every major scientific finding on procrastination and draws upon the best current theories of motivation. It looks like this:

Motivation = (Expectancy x Value) / (Impulsiveness x Delay)

Expectancy refers to the perceived odds of getting a reward and whether we expect success or failure.
Value refers to the pleasantness of doing a task and the size of its reward.
Impulsiveness refers to the tendency to get distracted or lose focus on a task.
Delay refers to the time between the present and a task’s reward or completion.

How to Use This Poster

  1. Notice when you are procrastinating. Be specific about what you are avoiding.
  2. Pick an action from one of the three branches to either increase value, increase expectancy, or decrease impulsiveness.
  3. Use the tips to help you implement the action.
  4. Repeat Steps 1-3 until you are motivated.

Tips

Tip! If you feel overwhelmed by how many possible actions there are, focus on implementing just one.

Tip! Keep track of what works best for you.

Tip! Delay is hard to address directly. It is covered in other actions especially Set a Goal under Decrease Impulsiveness.

Tips! If you run into problems, always remember the main reason for the action: to either increase value, increase expectancy, decrease impulsiveness, or decrease delay.

Acknowledgments

Alex Vermeer has created a beautiful color flowchart of this material at alexvermeer.com/getmotivated. Scroll down to the DOWNLOAD IT HERE! section where you can have a free download of the poster in a variety of resolutions.

The text here and its organization is copied nearly verbatim from the poster by Mr. Vermeer. The poster includes so many blocks of information that I found it difficult to use online or print in a form I could use without a magnifying glass. So I created this for my reference.

This poster was inspired by The Procrastination Equation by Piers Steel. See this book for extensive detail on the causes of procrastination and the many methods for defeating it. Buy his book and support the scientific investigation of procrastination and motivation!

How to Get Motivated v2.0 by Alex Vermeer Also check out alexvermeer.com/getmotivated

Licensing

Mr. Vermeer generously licenses his poster under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 CA), which permits sharing and adapting the material, provided source attribution is given, it is used for non-commercial purposes, and it is shared under the same license.

This adaptation of Mr. Vermeer’s How to Get Motivated poster is licensed under the same terms as his poster.

What do you *you* think?