What I Learned about Motivation from Writing a Book

how to stay motivated

How to stay motivated…

Ever had a project you knew was extremely important but couldn’t stay motivated long enough to get it done?

I was extremely motivated to begin writing my book, and I charged out of the gate following my project plan.

But, staying motivated long enough to finish has been much more difficult.

As Chief Burnout Officer I often help others with burnout, but I have to watch myself most of all.  I’m a full time coach, consultant, employee, husband, and father to a 3 year old. The most productive time I have to work on my book is between 5-7 am every morning. Once my daughter wakes up I’m in Dad mode. Once the emails start flying and the phone rings I’m in day job mode.

Although sometimes it’s been a struggle, it’s been amazing how much I’ve learned about motivation during the process. I’m delighted to share three important lessons I’ve learned that can help you stay motivated on any “marathon” project you’re facing:

  • While it’s important to start a project with motivation, it’s equally important to have a plan to sustain it.
  • The shortest path to staying motivated starts with a personal reason ‘why’.
  • If you learn to sustain your motivation, you can accomplish things you never thought were possible.

Motivation is Your Reason for Taking Action

The dictionary defines motivation as “a reason to take action or work”, so by having a strong “reason” you’ve got a powerful stimulus to take action and approach your day with more enthusiasm.

Over time though, you’ll often find “the reason” isn’t enough to keep going and your motivation can start to dwindle.  It’s like becoming numb to the stimulus of those early big motivators like money, title, atta-boys, putting money away for the kid’s tuition, etc…

Even going a step further, when I started writing this book I drew my motivation from envisioning the people I wanted to impact…my coworkers, a future generation of employees, and my daughter when she’s old enough to start considering her own career. I still find these to be motivating reasons to finish the book but truthfully they aren’t enough for the biggest projects. My inner critic says “they should be”, but they just don’t get it done in your darkest moments.

They don’t sustain because they’re external motivators.

Instead go deeper.


“Why is it important for Me?”

As soon as I considered this question, I grabbed my journal and spent all morning writing about it.

It boiled down to these reasons for me:

  • Achieve what I thought was impossible
  • To do more of the work I love
  • I’m the kind of guy who finishes what I start
  • More…clarity, impact, beauty, satisfaction, connection

Although I noticed my motivation slowly returning, I knew there was one more critical factor in staying motivated.

Creating a Motivating Reminder

Once you have your deeper, personal reasons identified, you’ll want an easy way to remember them…especially when unexpected challenges arise.

Here’s my own personal reminder for my book project that helped me stay motivated.  It’s taped beside my desk.

How to Stay Motivated

Five Steps to Stay Motivated

You can quickly develop your own personal strategy to stay motivated. Start with these five steps:

  1. Make it project specific – Identify an important project that you’d like to sustain your motivation for.
  2. Schedule time – Block out time on your calendar to reflect on ‘why’ you’re working on the project in the first place.
  3. Answer ‘the’ Question – Answer “Why is the project important to me?”
  4. Make it about You – Focus on identifying internal reasons versus external motivators.
  5. Create your reminder: – Try taping a reminder above your desk, setting a recurring reminder on your calendar, or putting one on the dashboard of your car.

Try these steps to stay motivated for your next project. Notice the difference it makes!


PS: I’m “motivated” to share more about my upcoming book soon.  Stay tuned!

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