When you want to do more of something – but you are finding it difficult to fit in the time, or find the motivation – here’s something to try: Do one unit a day. For example, if you are trying to write a novel, you might find it helpful to resolve yourself to write one page a day. That way, by the end of a year, you’ll have written 365 pages. That’s a whole book! And you will only have sat down for long enough to write one page each day. Even if you only want to improve your writing, you could challenge yourself to fill one self-contained page a day in an exercise book. By the end of a year the exercise book will be full! You’ll have improved, and you can have fun reading what you’ve written. If you want to get better at guitar, you could play a song a day, or learn a chord a day. Imagine how bloody big your mental chord library would be then! Or, you could learn one cool guitar trick per day, or watch one music theory video per day. If you want to get better at drawing, you can do something similar – watch Youtube tutorials and do a drawing per day. Be creative with setting your challenges. That adds to the enjoyment.
The purpose of this is to take pressure off you by dissolving the idea that in order to get good at something, you must sit down for ages at a time and study it. I find that taking tasks in bite-size pieces helps me get them done and stops me from viewing them as big and intimidating. You can break anything down into infinitely small pieces; we can all do tiny tasks. And when we find those difficult, we can break them up even more.
When you think like this, ideas stop being so abstract and hard-to-reach. You can set realistic goals. And you can feel satisfied when you have done each small thing you told yourself you would do.
A friend taught me a similar idea. He suggested making 100 small marks on a piece of paper, and crossing one off each time you practice a certain skill. When you hit 100, you know you’ve done a certain activity 100 times! Again, you have a goal, and bite-size pieces.
With these things, you can be as generous or hard on yourself as you like. You can permit yourself to make up for other days in advance. For example, you can write three pages in a day and then take it easy on yourself for the next two days. Or you can go in the opposite direction, and tell yourself that you have to start again if you miss a day.
Do you have any ideas for increasing your motivation? What would you like to be better at?