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5 ways to MOTIVATE yourself into ACTION

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When you’re trying to influence change in your life, the one major thing that normally stands in your way is YOU. If you have a tenancy to sit back wishing for change but struggle to move from the sofa, then this post may be for you. And don’t worry, I’m not pointing fingers because I am right there with you my friend.

I sat on the idea of learning to program for a long time, too long in fact! And to be frank, even today I still have days when I can’t be bothered.

In the past, I would have described myself as a frequent wisher, wanting for change, but never take action. So don’t worry, I know your struggle. And that is why I have created this article to help give you the tools that have, and still do, help motivate me into action!

1) READ inspiring and motivational books

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It’s no big secret that some of the most successful people read. And here’s a few big names you may have heard of..

Mark Zuckerberg

The creator of Facebook, who vowed on a Facebook post in 2015 to read one book a week. To quote Mark, “books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today.” If Mr Zuckerberg puts a lot of stock in books then maybe it’s not a bad idea to follow suit.

Oprah Winfrey 

Celebrity, founder, and CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Network has championed books for a long time. She even created the Oprah’s Book Club in 1996. When someone so high profile really advocate for books in this way it’s hard not to take notice!

Elon Musk

Founder of PayPal, Tesla, and Space X, and likely contender of the man credited with colonizing Mars! Guess what his response was when asked how he learnt to build rockets? Obviously, he replied, “I read a lot of books”. It’s quite a humbling response, which demonstrated the capabilities books provide.

Sheryl Sandberg

The Facebook COO and founder of Leanin.org has actually credited one book with having a particular influence on her. To think that one book can inspire someone so successful, and have a big impact is just astounding. That particular book was: Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day” by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda Ruthven.

Bill Gates 

Co-founder of the tech titan Microsoft has been known to read 50 books a year. That’s roughly one a week! Bill Gates has pointed to books as the main way he learns. Despite saying that he has the fortune opportunities to visit interesting places, meet with scientists, and watch lectures online. Gates has still said that “Reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.”

Essentially, reading is good. But how does it help motivation?

Personally, I really enjoy reading inspiring biographies from particular idols of mine. But the main reason I enjoy them so much is that their stories fill me with so much motivation!

It’s easy to think the reason someone is successful is down to sheer dumb luck. I mean, that may be the case in a few very rare instances. But typically, 99% of the time their success is the result of hard work, and dogged determination if the face of overwhelming odds and adversity.

Come, who doesn’t like an underdog story?

And it’s the tale of an underdog, someone who despite hardships, pushed through and achieve what they set out to do. Always make me think the same thing, “if they can overcome that! I am sure I can overcome this”.

Simply, they set an example, and provide you with someone to look up to and strive to emulate. We can all use a role model in our lives.

Here are a few of my favorite motivational reads

I will be compiling a more in dept list in the future.

People with speech bubbles - Designed by Freepik2) Listen to RELATABLE SUCCESS STORIES

This kind of links to the last one, however, when I talk about success stories, I am referring to RELATABLE success stories. The stories of people just like you and me, who have the same dream and same goal.

It’s great to read about how Elon Musk overcame the odds to build the world most successful commercial rocket company. But that not something most of the world’s population can actually relate too! A relatable success story is a powerful thing.

A relatable story is so empowering because it lets you know what your attempting is NOT IMPOSSIBLE. The moment you realize this, well that moment is a game changer. Why? Well, if you know something possible you are more likely to persist. Who will have the motivation to journey down a road they know is a dead end?

It’s hard to continually put energy and time into something, which has no guarantee of success. But you can take comfort in knowing that if you follow their lead, you will eventually reach the same destination.

You can treat a success story as a template for achieving your goal. In addition, they tend to be full of advice and guidance, which is invaluable to someone starting out. I don’t want to say it’s a formula for success, but it’s pretty close.

But above all else, relatable success stories inspire! Just like reading books about the underdog emerging victorious. This kind of story leaves you invigorated, and light a fire in your belly. You vow to follow in their footsteps charge wholeheartedly towards your goal.

Where do you find programmer success stories?

A great place to find success stories are on websites like Free Code Camp, Team Tree House, or Codecademy. Websites like these nearly always have a blog or page dedicated to the people who changed their lives by learning code.

3) Get pumped up with some EXERCISE

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I am sure you are already aware that taking regular exercise has a multitude of benefits that go way beyond just feeling physically fitter.

Countless studies have been conducted, which have shown that exercise can improve your mood, lower stress, boost your energy levels, sharpen your memory, reduce your risk of cancer, and is basically just a good thing!

However, I want to zero in on one key benefit I have experience. And that is a boost to my MOTIVATION! This boost comes from the direct effects of exercise. Namely, a jump in my energy levels, plus a fighting spirit, which stems from a positive mood boost (thank you endorphins!).

It’s not too far-fetched to think that feeling good makes you more pro-active. I mean, come on, think about it for a second. When you feel like crap, you can’t be bothered to do anything. Right?! However, when you feel good and accomplished, you want to take on the world. I am sure you are now beginning to see how exercise might help your motivation.

The mood boost you get from the release of endorphins. The energy you feel from the rush of blood pumping. All these side effects from exercise put you in a positive frame of mind and give you the energy boost you need to motivate yourself into action.

You don’t have to believe me when I boast about the benefits of exercise. Many of the worlds ultra-successful have touted exercise as their No.1 secret, including Richard Branson. And according to Forbes, exercise is one of the 5 things successful people do before 8 am.

It is thought that morning exercise gives you the energy and sense of accomplishment, which psych you up for any challenge the day can throw. While I think this is true, I also believe it can apply to any part of the day, not just the morning.

Personally, I tend to do my exercise in the evening because that’s when my real challenge begins, learning code!

Sometimes after a hard days work, mustering the enthusiasm to wrestle with a programming problem can be nigh on impossible. But I find going for a run or doing a quick workout help me overcome this. Why? Again, like I mentioned earlier, it gives me the energy boost I need when I flagging from parent life. And it fire’s me up with a positive ready to take on the world mentality.

Doing an evening workout does help me, but granted, it can be hard to get started when you are feeling particularly exhausted from the day. That’s where the power of music comes in!

4) The power of MUSIC

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Like a lot of people, I love music, but for me, it’s more than just entertainment. It can be a very useful tool to get me up, moving and motivated to take on the next challenge.

Have you ever listen to music while working out or going for a run? And did you notice that while you were listening to music you ran a little bit faster, or pushed a little bit hard? I can honestly say I have. And that’s because music has such a profound effect on our brains.

A great number of studies have been carried out looking into the links between music and performance. Many look the impact of music on exercise motivation. But personally, I find the results are applicable to motivation in general.

To give you a real sense of the power of music. Back in 2012, Dr Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London, one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of exercise music, wrote that one could think of music as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.”. I feel that statement speaks for itself.

To give you a quick summary, music is said to reduce fatigue, alter the brain to a state of excitement, have relaxing effects, improve motor coordination, and act as a distraction from pain.

When I listen to music as a motivational tool I certainly notice that I become more alert and enter into a state of readiness. However, it does depend a lot on the type of music you are listening to! You’re not going to feel alert in the slightest if your listening to a slow jam. You need something with some energy so you can essentially psych yourself up.

Then next time you are struggling to move from the sofa, whether you need to workout or code. Trying popping your headphones in and hitting play on your favorite energizing track!

Businessman character meditating - Designed by Freepik5) VISUALIZE your life in X number of year

Granted, this one may sound like absolute nonsense, and possibly a bit hippy-dippy, but hear me out!

It can really help to visualize your life in the future and where you hope to be in the next 2, 3 or even 5 years. Hell, you could go as far as 10 years! Now, why does it help? Well, it tempts you with what is possible IF, and only IF, you put the work in.

I compare it to dangling a carrot in front of a donkey. You know that donkey is going to keep moving forward as long as he sees that carrot. And it’s exactly the same principle.

You need to keep your much-desired dream firmly locked in place to keep you moving forward. Every step is a step closer to reaching your end goal.

However, be aware of the dangers of getting stuck in this dream stage. It is all too easy to say “in 10 year’s everything is going to be amazing because of x, y, z”, without actually taking action towards x, y, z. I’ll admit I have been guilty of this, probably like most people.

But why does this happen? In my onion, by accepting that future you has already achieved your goal, the responsibility shifts from present you to future you.

Subconsciously you believe that it’s all under control because future you is on the case. As a result, you stop worrying so much about taking action because you believe that at some point in the future things will be different.

This is coming from someone who has fallen into that trap. And as much as I wish it were the case, things don’t happen unless you make them happen. So the trick is not to be so arrogant as to think you WILL achieve your goals, but instead, that you COULD.

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About the Author Owen

Creator of Code Dad, father and self-taught programmer. My mission is to balance life, work, family, all while learning to code, and hopefully help others who want to do the same.

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