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How do you motivate yourself? I use tricks and games…

Lynne Thompson
3 min readNov 20, 2022

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I use little games, tricks and promised rewards to motivate myself. Like this morning, I got up early and was starting the coffee. There were dishes in the sink and I knew I should change the clean ones in the dishwasher and start a new load. I didn’t feel like doing that, but I used a little challenge that works every time. I say to myself “I bet I can do the dishes before the coffee is done.” And I jump in. And I beat the coffee! Which shows you how quick the chore of dishes really is! You may not be as simple minded as me, because this ALWAYS works. It is the little kick start I need to do the dishes. But pick one that works for you. And of course, there is the reward of freshly made coffee.

Other times, I think about how much better I will feel in the near future if I do the thing. Or, I may promise myself a reward. A walk in the crisp air, a trip to the farmer’s market. A new scented soap (if it’s a bigger task). A cup of coffee out. Whatever it takes. Sometimes the reward is a show I really want to watch. I promise myself I will do X before I sit down to watch the show. In general, I try to put work first, and then the fun later.

Sometimes fear motivates me too. This is very true of work (and when I was younger, school). As a deadline gets closer, my fear of having to show up empty-handed is a strong motivator. But even then, I may not feel like I have much to write or assemble. In those times, I have a small trick I use on myself. I just say to myself “Just do a little bit, just start on it…” and that usually greases the old wheels and I keep going. Whatever works, right?

I have learned that I can just fool around and start something (telling myself I can just do a little, write a few lines, or build a small part of a spreadsheet) and before I know it, I get ideas and keep going. But you have to start. So however you can trick yourself into starting, do it.

Other times, I do let things slide and don’t feel like games or tricks or anything. We all have our moments. I usually go with it and goof off. A movie, a cup of tea and a cookie, a trip to the mall to shop, lunch out with a friend. Or just taking an afternoon nap or reading a good book.

Sooner or later, I am back to myself and a few little tricks or games and I get what I have to get done. What works for you?

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Lynne Thompson

I always wrote (first poem at 6 years old). Tech writer by trade. I have a podcast The Storied Human: see my linktree — https://linktr.ee/StoriedHuman