The Best Way to Motivate Yourself to Work Toward Your Goals

As I’ve suggested previously, if you want to get closer to fulfilling your potential, stop looking at your comfort zone as some silly circle to “get out of”:

The wrong way to look at your comfort zone

And start looking at it as a body to train to be stronger, more flexible, and more capable. Like this:

New and improved comfort zone diagram

If you’re willing to go along with me on this model, the natural next question is:

How do you improve your comfort zone’s fitness?

You already know the answer to that, though:

Do challenging things that you’ll be glad you did. 

And I bet you already have ideas, like:

  • Sign up for improv lessons.
  • Tell Bob what you really think.
  • Set up your goldfish training blog. 
  • Host a “2-hour cocktail party.”
  • Etcetera.

So the real question is: 

How do you motivate yourself to do these challenging things?

Again, you probably have some answers:

  • Rely on your whip-wielding mom/partner/boss.
  • Pay someone to put a fire under your butt.
  • Drink buckets of coffee and Red Bull and watch a David Goggins video.

Those all work, but over the years I’ve come to discover that the best way to motivate myself to train my comfort zone toward what I know it can become is this:

A workout log.

 WATCH: “1 thing you need for a sexy comfort zone” (44 sec) on YouTube/Instagram

Log Your Slog

One of the best moves I ever made was to experiment with keeping a log of everything I do.

When I started, I believed I was putting in hard work. I put in lots of hours. And I ticked tons of to-do boxes.

But when I reviewed the logs of my performance, I faced the pitiful reality.

It was as if I’d gone to the gym every day only to spend my time pedaling one speed on the stationary bike. I had done next to nothing that challenged my comfort zone’s capabilities.

So I made a weekly “workout plan”: challenging myself to do specific tasks that strengthened, stretched, and expanded all the areas of my comfort zone.

I didn’t accomplish everything I had planned, but I did more than before. So when I reviewed that week, I felt better about the work I’d done.

This motivated me to keep pushing myself.

And I’ve kept at it since.

My comfort zone’s still far from being extraordinarily fit. So planning, logging, and reviewing what you do is no magic fix. But it’s way better than spinning your wheels.

Read: How to Evolve a System for Organizing Your Life

Organize Your Life

If you copy someone else’s planning, logging, and review process, you’ll probably find it too cumbersome and give it up. 

So instead:

Start as simple as you can, then evolve your own system from there. 

To give you some ideas—and maybe inspiration—watch or read the evolutionary tale of my own life organization system.

Thought Starters

  • ⚓️ Beware of going overboard. “When you save time and feel great [from optimizing], you’re gonna have more time and energy to plan out how to save more time and feel even better.” – NYT satire video on over-optimization.
  • ⏲ True productivity? Maybe productivity is best measured by how good you feel when reviewing what you’ve accomplished over the past week/month/year. (This brings to mind the “Redo-It Ratio” productivity measure I wrote about two years ago.)
  • ⏸ It’s worth a pause. “People waste years of their lives not being willing to waste hours of their lives.” – Michael Lewis.

Until next time,


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