Pump up your motivation for anything

Female rock climber.

Having motivation for some things while delaying others interests me. It took me a while to figure out what I would jump on getting ahead of and what things I would leave to the last minute. I finally realized that I thrive under pressure and I can get a lot done extremely quickly. I like to feel like I’m running a marathon without the finish line in sight and I’m racing to win. So I tend to cram a lot of things into tight timeframes. I like to work through things in a timeframe that would cause others a lot of stress. Super short work deadlines and not enough time, no problem. I’ll get it done.

But when I have lots of time, like with shopping for birthday or Christmas presents – nope. Unless I’m making the gift, I’ll wait until the last minute. I’ve gone Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve more than once. I’ve bought birthday presents the day of a party. I put a lot of upfront thought into gifts, but the physical act of getting it is last minute. Maybe that’s why I shop online so much!

If most people think about it, there is something that they tend not to want to do and leave it behind to get to other things. You might grab a coffee first, or you’re too tired, so you’ll workout later…the list is endless.

People procrastinate for many reasons. Regardless of why you put things off, there are ways to get moving.

Here are some reasons for procrastination and ways to avoid them.

Issue: Confusion

You’re about to tackle something large and complicated, and you don’t know where to begin. If it’s at work, you spend hours going through information, but you can’t seem to start. Time passes, and you get more nervous about finishing on time. At home, you decide to reorganize your living space (or for me, my closet, which I will never get to at this point!) but there’s too much nostalgia attached to pieces, and you don’t know what to get rid of and where to place things.

Solution: Break it down

At the start of a huge project, break it into smaller parts. Set a long-range goal for completing it and divide the work into manageable sections.

Issue: Fear of risk-taking

At work, you’re asked to take on new responsibilities in sales to backfill until they can hire someone.

You’ve never done it before, and you don’t know how to develop new clients. While you’re flattered by your manager’s confidence in you, you’re afraid to make mistakes. The work sits there while you decide what to do next.

Solution: Learn to enjoy risk

Portait of female swimmer

Taking risks helps you learn. Most successful people face new possibilities knowing they’ll make mistakes. But they also know that they’ll gain valuable information along the way. Look at your fear of failure. The negative consequences of not getting it done are far greater than the dangers.

Issue: Lack of priorities

We live in a world where everything seems to be urgent. Family members and friends at some point need you urgently (and the same goes for you with them as well) and sometimes it happens all at once. Or at work, everything you’re handed to do is marked urgent. You try to get everything done and help as many people in your personal life as you can, but you never seem to accomplish anything.

Your motivation and confidence lower because you can’t get some of them done.

Solution: Learn how to prioritize

Make a list of everything you need to get done. Choose your priorities using the ABC method. Put each item on your list in one of the following categories:

  • Priority A: Must-Do
  • Priority B: Should-Do
  • Priority C: Nice-to-Do

When you’re doing this, ask yourself why you’re doing it and how it relates to your goals and objectives. Consider the urgency of the request (including family and friends). Ask yourself if you are the person that needs to do it, or if it can be done by someone else.

Issue: Perfectionism

You have a new idea of something you want to start, for example, a blog. You start writing out what you want to do but keep changing it until it’s just right. But time’s gone by, and your standards are keeping you from either starting it or finishing setting it up.

Solution: Focus on completing it

It’s important to have high standards, but perfectionism can stop you. Consider the importance of what you’re doing and let the purpose determine how much time to spend. Focus on completing the work. If you finish early, you can go back and fix some of the things you want to be better.

The goal and motivator approach to procrastination

Close up of a man reading a book under the shade of a tree

When something you’re doing starts falling through, you may need some extra motivation to finish. Sometimes it takes a goal and motivator to overcome procrastination and get the job done.


For many, rewards work better than penalties. For others, the trick for motivation is if there is a negative result from not doing something. Look at the following list of goals and motivators and add some of your own. Then, choose the ones that work best for you.


  • A thank you when you finish something
  • Small gifts to yourself when you complete sections of something big
  • Taking time off when you’ve finished


  • Firm deadlines
  • Making regular progress reports to someone else

Your motivation

What motivates you in your work, school or personal life? Give each of these a number from most powerful motivator to the least:

  • enjoyment
  • family needs
  • friendships
  • mental health
  • physical health
  • security
  • independence
  • money and possessions
  • influence
  • status
  • personal achievements
  • fear of failure
  • financial pressure
  • boredom
  • other people’s expectations
  • getting even with others
  • envy or jealousy

Happy interracial family is blowing bubbles

What were your top five motivators? What do they tell you about what’s important to you?

Some of these are considered negative motivators (such as boredom, envy, living up to others’ expectations or doing things solely for possessions) If you ranked several of these among your top five motivators consider working towards replacing them with more positive ones. For example, the positive motivator for boredom is enjoyment. Read my post Rewrite your script to think more positively for tips.

Sometimes negative motivators mean you might need a change in your life. What changes can you think of that would help you turn your negative motivators into positive ones?

If you’re having trouble kicking your motivation up or getting more positive motivators, try speaking to a health care professional.

These are some of my tips. Do you have any ways to kick motivation into high gear?



    1. Awesome article! I struggle with procrastination on a minute by minute basis .. and I can see my boys suffering with the same thing and it’s so frustrating. I need to put some of these small steps in place to deal with these issues. Soon.

      1. Thank you very much! I’m so glad you found something useful in the article. I was in the same boat and it’s a continual work in progress. Let me know if you find any these tips helpful or if you find some additional ones that work for you. Have a great day!

    2. Haha! I once tried to deny it and I had to stop myself mid-sentence – as I was in a store 10 minutes before a party picking up a birthday card at the time – I mean who was I trying to fool but myself! I hope you can find some of these tips work for you. Have a wonderful day!

  1. From a perfectionist and a hardcore procrastinator…this is a great article filled with lots of great information and tips. Good job…I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future.

  2. This is sooo true! I love how your blog posts are SPOT ON! I find myself that I am more productive and get more studying done when I’m crunched for time instead when I plan ahead way too much and find no motivation in finishing my school work. Thanks for sharing Samantha! Xo, Stephanie

    1. Thanks so much Stephanie! Maybe we’re personality twins! (I just found out this term recently!) At least someone will think I’m spot on 🙂 . Thanks for sharing your story!! Have a wonderful day Stephanie!

  3. As for the exercise at the end, I would say top five motivators for me:
    Money & possessions
    Mental health
    Physical health
    Personal achievements

      1. Ok agreed on this list as well but didn’t want to include the family & friends. They can be a pain in the ass sometimes haha

  4. Very well written Sam. Hit many important key notes. I love the ABC method. I think I need to apply that more often. One important thing about feeling confused is when we don’t know or don’t understand the unknown. It’s just like when you read a book and your can’t move forward or you find it so boring. That is probably because you didn’t understand a word or a sentence and where stuck on that specific word/sentence and then you are ultimately confused and maybe give up. Similar theory when you are just confused in general about taking actions. We really need to do pros and cons and make sure we understand each aspect and that all questions are answered. Just my thought on this.

    1. Thanks a lot Rudina! I agree with what you say about the unknown, especially around stopping you in your tracks. I’m a big believer in pros and cons lists and do them for many things. But sometimes time doesn’t permit it other than maybe a 1 minute run through and a leap of faith (I’m not sure if I’m saying the right thing here) has to be done. I’ve been in situations at work where I’ve had to trust my judgement or my abilities and just go for it. I get answers to my questions as I go but for my initial response I will do on a quick judgement call.

      1. Yes totally agree. A good leader is measurement by how well and how quick they make decisions when under pressure

  5. Well said! This really hit home. I used to procrastinate and have been working on it so I feel I’m getting better. These tips are sure to help too.

  6. Well said Samantha! It was a personal connection for me. I was a big procastinator back in university. My biggest challenge was a getting a task started. Once I got going, I was on a roll. Over the years, I made a list of goals and try to persevere to achieve them and I felt better and stressful when under pressure.

    1. Thanks so much Marko! I’m glad you found something that connected with you. I was like that in university too! It’s great that you were able to find a way to move past the procrastination through creating goals. Great way to get motivated! Thanks a lot for sharing your story as well. Have a wonderful day!

    1. Thanks so much Karen! I really appreciate that. I found them very helpful for me too. Especially for me, knowing my drivers helped me prioritize the things in my life better. I hope you have a wonderful day!

  7. I really found this article informative. The exercise at the end i’s particularly interesting. I tested myself out to see what my motivation was. I need some more thinking time but I surprised myself a little!

  8. Great information! I never thought about the positive/ negative motivation response before. I’m going to do the exercise. Really well done.

    1. Thank you very much. It’s hard to think of it that way but sometimes when you’re driven by negative motivators, you’re not necessarily focusing on the right things. I hope you find it helpful for you!

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