I figured out how to be a self-starter when I got to college and realized no one but me cared if I failed or thrived. The motivation to get up, be on time, be my best, had to come from the belief that my success was important.
It was a trial and error process – I felt the full weight of the repercussions if I didn’t take responsibility for myself. It also taught me how to be a self-starter and do things before I felt ready.
Why is self-staring so hard
Self-starting is more than having the willpower to start and follow through – it is the prospect of entering unknown territory. It is trying something new that you haven’t done before and aren’t good at yet. It’s a combination of trying, failing, learning, and repeating that process over and over again. Self-starting is hard because it requires the ability to implore your own inspirational energy to go after what you want.
Developing a self-starting momentum requires a certain level of resilience, confidence, grit, and passion.
Things that can hold you back from being a self-starter
There will always be challenges ahead of you, there will always be roadblocks, but there will always be a solution. If we get too caught up in our fear of the unknown, of failure, of what if, we won’t be able to see the solutions to our problems. Part of staying motivated and continuing on your path to success is not letting fear creep in and dissuade you.
– Lack of Feedback
Feedback is an incredibly motivational tool. Angela Duckworth, professor of behavioral Psychology and author of Grit, talks about the importance of feedback. She explains that anyone who wants to be an expert should, “Seek feedback – experts are more interested in what they did wrong than what they did right. Feedback should be immediate and informative”. Not only is feedback essential to allow you to feel like you are progressing but it will keep you focused on the bigger picture.
– Focus on outcome instead of process
Focusing on rewards and outcomes can be a good thing, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that motivates you. There’s a balance you need to find between internal motivation and external motivation. If you are working towards an end goal, the journey itself should feel as rewarding as reaching the goal itself. If each step of the way is miserable, you are more likely to quit.
How do you cultivate a self-starting attitude?
Gain confidence by trying things outside of your comfort zone
No one wants to venture into the unknown. Why? Because it’s terrifying. The first time I had to go to a networking event alone, I was incredibly nervous. It was awkward. I had to walk up to random people and try to start an engaging conversation. I was definitely outside of my comfort zone, and I didn’t want to do it. Do you know what happened after I did it once? I did it 7 more times, and each time it got a little easier. Now I have no problem going to events alone.
Try things that make you uncomfortable. You’ll realize that you have the confidence and ability to do ANYTHING.
Hold yourself accountable
If you want to be a self-starter, you have to hold yourself responsible for your decisions and actions. It’s your life, the actions you take are your own. Whether you choose to follow through with what you say or be a flake is up to you. Choosing not to make a decision is a choice, all in itself.
You are the only person invested in your success, so show up.
Overcome your fear of making mistakes
Whenever you try something for the first time, you make mistakes. You probably make a lot of mistakes. It’s uncomfortable, no one likes being wrong, but stick through it. Look at it as a learning experience and the opportunity to be better.
Self-starting and staying motivated
It isn’t easy and it takes more than will power alone. We need the right tools to be able to plan our goals and stick to our guns.
You have to recognize and actively seek out the things that motivate you. Understand the structure of motivation and how it affects you.
There are two types of motivation intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic is simply put, internal motivation – you are motivated by your goals, personal success, or satisfaction with life.
Extrinsic motivation is drawn from factors outside of you – think deadlines, bonuses, rewards, praise for your hard work, anything that you will receive as a result of accomplishing the goal.
This matters when setting a goal because you want to identify what factors are motivating you and position yourself better to implement those motivators in your routine.
10 Motivational Tools To Become A Self-Starter
1. Review your goals
Start by reviewing your goals. If you’re feeling uninspired by them, reevaluate.
Is this what you really want?
How specific are your goals?
Can you make them more specific?
Would it be helpful if you gave yourself a time frame?
Reviewing your goals (or writing new ones) should help you reignite your sense of motivation – just don’t forget to plan the action steps to go along.
2. Evaluate routines and habits
Do your priorities reflect what you are actually spending your time doing. We can get off-track with our goals not just because of lack of motivation but because we feel overwhelmed. If you feel like you have no time for anything, evaluate your routines, and take a look at the time-sucks that exist.
If you find you are spending too much unnecessary time (say binge-watching Netflix), replace it with something productive.
I removed watching TV from my routine and instead replaced it with writing. I used to go home every night and immediately put on the TV. Why? Because watching TV relaxed me after work. I changed my habit by finding a way to make writing equally relaxing. I play soft music, have a glass of wine, put on my diffuser, and set the atmosphere to be productive but enjoyable.
Get creative, find a way to do productive things, but make them enjoyable.
3. Have someone hold you accountable
If you have trouble getting motivated on your own it might be beneficial to set up a system of accountability.
There are a couple ways to do this:
A: Have someone you know hold you accountable – they would provide regular feedback and make sure you do what you say you’re going to do.
B: Let social media hold you accountable – Jose Lopez, Instagram fitness pro swears by this approach.
He says in a blog post, “The simple act of sharing parts of my workout, what I was eating and drinking, and also connecting with other like-minded people has created a sense of accountability and helped me establish new healthy habits.”
If you don’t want to post your journey on your own social find and join a group of like-minded people. I run a Facebook group called The Ultimate Goal Setting Group. Here, I share motivational posts, stories about my journey, and encourage others to do the same.
Find a group that works for you and keeps you accountable.
4. Have a visual of what you’re working towards
While I believe that the most essential part of achieving a goal is falling in love with the process, it’s also crucial that your intentions have vision.
We are all in some way, working towards an end goal. The process of working towards a goal means you are striving for something. Make sure you are crystal clear on your vision. Not only does this provide clarity and precision on what you are aiming for, but writing down and visualizing our goals can actually help you stay more committed to following through.
A couple suggestions to help you visualize your goals
- A Pinterest Board filled with pictures of your vision and desired outcome (you can check mine out here)
- You can do the same on paper. Print inspirational photos and make your own vision board that way
- If you can draw (I’m jealous of you) but drawing your vision is one of the best ways to visualize your goals.
Visualization isn’t just self-help bs. There are studies that back the effectiveness of visualization. Athletes use this technique to perform better, “Studies show that visualization increases athletic performance by improving motivation, coordination, and concentration. It also aids in relaxation and helps reduce fear and anxiety.”
Try it for yourself, the key to this is not only visualizing the outcome but the steps you need to take to achieve the intention.
5. Work with a mentor
Working with a mentor is great for a couple of reasons – They will give you feedback on a subject matter of their expertise.
The other reason is a bit sneakier, but likely, even more effective in terms of motivation. When you work with a mentor, you want them to see you as trying hard and doing well. You want the gold star of approval. Though it might be subconscious in terms of motivation, your desire to please will push you to work harder.
I’ve never had a mentor (though I wish I did), but if you’re interested in finding one check out NPR’s article on finding mentors.
6. Review your action plan
If you haven’t created a goal map or action plan, stop what you’re doing and get on it!
To be a self-starter, you have to have a plan or a goal. Otherwise, what are you working towards? What is getting you motivated? When you get out of bed in the morning, what’s even getting you excited about the day?! It doesn’t have to be a huge goal, but working towards something and having a reason “why” will make self-motivation 100X easier.
To create your own goal map, sign up to receive my free goal setting guide here.
7. Find videos that inspire you
When I was in a bad place, and wasn’t sure what my next step was going to be, I watched motivational videos every morning and evening to give me hope and keep me focused on the bigger picture. It melted away any self-doubt, uncertainty, or anxiety that I harbored and put me in the mindset to crush my goals.
Below are a few you can try, but definitely click through YouTube and find some that resonate with you.
8. A motivational message directly to your inbox
Every week I put out a newsletter full of motivational tips. It’s a mix of what I’m currently struggling with, what I’m learning from those struggles, and how I stay motivated every day.
Plus, my emails are funny and personal. You can sign up to be part of the club here.
You don’t have to sign up for my list, just find one that gets you excited. I’ve listed a few You awesome newsletters from blogs or brands that I follow. It can be a fun way to get a quick burst of inspiration in your day.
- Let’s Reach Success (Awesome goal setting tips for bloggers)
- The Middle Finger Project (Super funny and relatable)
- The Ambition Plan (Everything you need to achieve your career goals)
9. Listen to podcasts
I am a podcast junkie.I have gained so much knowledge and information from listening to them.
There is a podcast for just about everything now, so if there is some topic you want to learn more about or find someone who has been through the same thing you’re currently going through, there is a podcast for you. My goal is to always be learning new skills that pertain to my goals. Podcasts are a hub of knowledge that I constantly tap into.
If you are new to the podcast world here are a few you might want to try out:
- Millionaire Podcast (Success stories of entrepreneurs who have built million dollar companies)
- Beyond The To-Do List (Productivity tips)
- The Accidental Creative (Quick daily idea, tip, or strategy to help you be better at what you do each day.)
- Stop, Collaborate and Listen (Leveraging collaboration to achieve your goals)
- NPR – Hidden Brain (Reveal unconscious patterns that drive human behavior)
10. Find meaning
Having a purpose and knowing your purpose is the greatest form of intrinsic motivation. The real magic happens when you have a burning desire and drive to accomplish something. When you can’t quit because the mission is too critical and you fall in love with the process.
I encourage you to fully understand why your goal matters to you. Think about what would happen if you didn’t achieve your goal. Think about whether or not you enjoy the process of achieving your goal. The more specific and defined you can get about why you’ve made a choice to pursue this, the stronger you will feel about following through no matter what.
It’s not always going to be easy, there are going to be days where you want to quit, but with the right tools and the ability to stay focused and motivated you can accomplish anything.