I’m sure you’re familiar with that burst of inspiration, like fireworks going off in your head, when ideas rush in all at once and it’s hard to keep up with them.

Those inspirational surges of creativity often feel like everything falls into place, and suddenly what was a puzzle becomes easy.

But do you find that after these “lightbulb” moments, your plans still don’t come together?

How to Keep Your Motivation

“Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky, is an excellent book on this subject. One of the things he discusses, is how organised people will always have an advantage over creative geniuses with no organisational skills.

He defines impact as Creativity X Organisation.

For example 100 X 0 = 0

Someone with half the creativity, and only a little organisation, will have a lot more impact – e.g. 50 X 2 = 100.

He gives examples of this as creative geniuses who only ever produced one piece of work, and other artists, such as highly prolific author James Patterson (widely lambasted by critics as having no skill), who have had bestseller after bestseller.

6 tips for building and maintaining motivation:

1. Start Each Day with Some Momentum

It’s easier to be motivated when things are already going well for you.

Rather than checking email straight away, before you do anything else work for just 25 minutes on your most important or most procrastinated upon task.

Time yourself, and don’t do anything else during those 25 minutes. If you find yourself going off-track, reset the timer.

Usually it’s just the first 5 minutes that are difficult, and once the wheels get turning, your momentum keeps you going.

2. Catch Yourself when a Slump Begins

If you have one unproductive day where you procrastinate and waste time, it’s easier to let that turn into two days. Before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself the whole week is a write-off and you’ll be better off delaying any valuable work until Monday.

When you see yourself falling into bad habits take corrective action immediately and use it to build positive momentum for other activities.

3. Break Big Ideas Down into Small, Tangible Goals

It can be great when you have a brilliant idea, for example about a new business you’re sure is going to become huge.

Brilliant ideas are often big, and can be a bit vague.

If your big goal is to become an agency serving 100 clients, it can be difficult to see what you need to do today in order to work towards that goal.

I first like to set a list of 15 – 25 BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals), then decide on around five 3-5 year priorities. These priorities should be smaller, but must relate to the BHAGs in some way. If the 5 priorities were to be achieved, then the BHAGs would be closer to becoming a reality.

Once the 3-5 year priorities are identified, identify five more one year goals – relating to each of the 3-5 year priorities – that are smaller still and move you towards achieving the priorities.

Lastly, identify around five smaller quarterly priorities that if completed, would move you significantly closer to achieving the 1 year goals.

Breaking your big goals down like this provides you with a roadmap to achieving your vision.

To read more about this process, read Scaling Up, particularly the section about the One Page Strategic Plan.

4. Reward Yourself for Achieving Milestones

This has been shown to be effective for people on long weight loss journeys. They would buy themselves nice clothes smaller than their current size as motivation. When they could fit into them, the new clothes were the reward for their hard work.

This also works in the opposite fashion, the clothes sitting there were also a discouragement from doing nothing and staying the same weight.

Set yourself rewards for achieving the small tangible goals explained in the previous section.

5. Make a List of the Reasons you Want to Accomplish Your Goal

Reminding yourself why you want to achieve the goal you set yourself can be powerful.

Making a list of these reasons serves as a good reminder for why it’s worth getting up early or putting in extra work when you just want to watch Suits on Netflix.

A goal of “Start my own business” could become:

  • Because I want to appear successful in front of my peers
  • Because I want to prove people wrong who said I couldn’t do it
  • Because I want to earn more money
  • Because I want to have more freedom
  • Because I want to decide where I work from
  • Etc.

For extra power, write the list by hand and re-write it every so often. Studies have shown that writing by hand engages the brain more actively in the process.

6. Make Yourself Accountable to People

Tell people about your goal and get them to check in on your progress towards it.

This is a double-edged sword, as many people do this and still don’t follow through on their plans – looking foolish in the process.

Joining a group of other people, either in person or online, who are on a mission to achieving a similar goal can be motivating.