During the Cold War, the CIA came up with an acronym for what persuaded agents to defect from the Soviet Union to the West, and vice versa. That acronym is MICE.
There are several varieties to this, but the most common one is money, ideology, coercion, and ego. While these are used to describe as to what motivates an agent to turn, we can ourselves turn these on us.
The oldest motivator known to man. Although we’d like to believe that our motivation is entirely altruistic, there is nothing wrong with a financial motivator. It can be something as simple as knowing that as soon as you get better at a certain skill set you may get promotion therein qualifying you for more money, or you can dangle your own carrot. “I’ll buy myself X once I do Y” is a great kick starter.
This is meant as a change of heart. Some Western agents believed that the mighty communist machine was inevitable and joined the Reds. While most of the time, Soviet and Eastern agents would see the freedom and joys of the West and turn over here. Regardless, we can use this as a motivator for ourselves. I am not saying we need to destroy our beliefs! To the contrary. Ideology is belief and we need to embrace them. Just knowing what you’re doing is important is enough. One just needs a constant reminder.
No, do not go out and blackmail yourself! While this was used to force agents to spill the beans (i.e. we have photos of you and your mistress we can share with your wife unless you tell us your nation’s secrets) we can instead look at coercion as accountability. Telling everyone on facebook that you’re going to start exercising is a perfect example. It forces you, or coerces you, to keep going forward with your goal.
This one is probably the biggest motivator yet easily dismissed because of our – ironically enough – ego. “I’m learning to play guitar/learn a language/get in shape/etc., etc., because I care about bettering myself.” That may be true, but you also care what other people think of you. And that’s okay! The line between ego and ideology can get blurred but at the end they both pander to our self beliefs and what others think of them.
So if you’re having a hard time getting yourself going on a certain goal or project, look no further than yourself. Yes, that man in the mirror may be the main force stopping you, but with the right change of perspective, that same reflection can serve as the main motivator you need.