Last year, I finished up a major project that was two years in the making. It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. There were many moments I thought I’d never finish, at which point I would find myself lying on the floor like a slug, utterly defeated while watching Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill. Yes, it really did come to that.

Motivation was rather scarce, so much so that I found myself searching for it by pinning so-called motivational pins on Pinterest, convinced that this actually counted as work toward my project. I drew an inordinate amount of inspiration from those classic Ryan Gosling ‘Hey Girl’ memes. After all, what could be more motivating than Ryan telling me, ‘Hey girl, I admire your dedication to your research; even if your findings aren’t significant, you’ll always be significant to me’. I would save these pins to a private board, find my inspiration, and be on my way (sort of but not really).

The point is, though, I managed to keep digging deep, meet all my deadlines, and eventually reach the finish line. In retrospect, I still shake my head at how I pulled it all off. But, in reality, I know that this was the result of finding motivation when it truly mattered. ‘Motivation’ sounds like a bit of a buzzword these days (my Pinterest board certainly confirms the buzzword status), but motivation is a legitimate thing and we all need it! Here’s a few things I learned about staying motivated while in the midst of constant deadlines and heavy workloads.

Stay in your lane

Many years ago, one of my favorite motivational speakers gave a talk on discovering and pursuing your life’s calling. He simply said to ‘do what you love, and do lots of it’. This is pretty basic, and seems obvious, but it really is easy to be motivated by something you enjoy. There’s nothing worse than performing mundane tasks that do not feed your interests. When I stay in my lane, that is, when I stick with what I’m good at and what I enjoy, my work is a lot less burdensome and I can easily keep going.

Comparison is toxic

There’s always someone one step ahead, there’s always someone ten steps ahead, and there’s always someone ten miles ahead. Comparing yourself to others will rob you of motivation and productivity. Avoid the things that fuel comparison – in other words, stay off Instagram! It’s distorted reality, and at best, is merely a one-dimensional reflection of reality. Do what YOU do best, and focus all your energy on that, because it is significant.

People matter

Chances are you’re in your chosen field to service a need or fix a problem that will help people. Keep those people firmly in the forefront of your mind – they are why you do what you do! When you look for ways to help people, there’s unending opportunities that await you, and a lot of satisfaction as well.

Step by step

Abraham Lincoln once said that the future comes but one day at a time. Often, the path from a project’s conception to its realization is very long, difficult, and time consuming. It’s overwhelming when you think of the big picture. So, don’t do that. Breaking a project down into smaller, more manageable components makes your task a lot less daunting. You maintain perspective this way, and are much less likely to feel overwhelmed (or quit).

This too shall pass

While I was on the home stretch of my project, many people told me repeatedly, ‘You’re almost there! Keep going!’. I’d roll my eyes and put Dawson’s Creek back on. Those people really annoyed me and made me want to scream; but, those people were right – I was almost done. So, when you can’t see the trees because you’re lost in the forest, or when the daily grind wears you down a bit too much, remind yourself that the light at the end of the tunnel does exist. Get excited, you’re about to reach your goal! This is a BIG deal!


Written By Catherine Keron