Do you have a list of things you want to achieve, change or finish but never seem to get around to? What’s missing is motivation and I’m here to help you get some. In fact, you can put it on your list!

If you don’t get things done, you are not alone. Many of us are very good at knowing what we want to do. But we’re not so good at actually doing something about it! So, how can you get more things done?

De-stress to get things done.

Stress can have a huge effect on motivation. It’s said that stress leaves you with 100% of your emotional brain working but only about 40% of your thinking brain. This makes it hard to take on anything new or change the way you do things.

If stress is a serious problem for you, read some of the other articles on this blog, or contact me for some advice and support.

Break down the list

Take all the things on your ‘to-do’ list, one by one, and ask yourself…

  • How important is it to me to achieve this, on a scale of one to ten?
  • Does this goal come with a deadline?

Use this information to put the things on your list in order of priority. Taking them one by one will feel less overwhelming, and feeling overwhelmed is bad for your motivation,

Generally, aim to do the things that are most important to you first. If less important things have a tighter deadline, you might have to allow for this, though.

Take small steps toward your goal

Take the first item on your list and ask yourself…

  • is this actually possible or realistic? (if no, you’ll have to re-think!)
  • do I need equipment, help or new skills to achieve it?
  • if yes, where can I get what I need?
  • if no, what actually gets in the way of me going ahead? Are there specific problems or is it just a general lack of energy or oomph?
  • if there are specific problems, what can I change to stop them from getting in the way? Or at least to reduce the likelihood of this happening?

Set yourself a goal and a deadline by which you’ll achieve it. For example, if you want to quit smoking but need help to do so, you might set ‘I will research hypnotherapists in my area and choose one to work with, by Thursday next week’. Once you’ve done that, set the next goal. That might be ‘I will contact my chosen therapist and make an appointment by [date]’. Keep setting these interim goals until you reach where you want to be.

What if you don’t reach your goals?

In that case, ask yourself these very important questions.

  • Why do I want [your goal] in the first place?
  • Is the goal something I feel I want to do or something I feel I must do?
  • Are there reasons I’d actually prefer not to do it at all?

It surprises some people to learn we are more motivated by things we want to do thank things we feel we should or must do. Let’s look at an example.

Jim decides his goal is to quit smoking. His wife doesn’t like the smell, and his kids nag all the time. He feels guilty because he knows the family could have a decent holiday or a new car with the money he currently spends on cigarettes. On the other hand, Jim enjoys smoking. It’s nice to go outside for half an hour and get some peaceful time alone. He doesn’t like flying, his health is currently good, and the car reliably gets him from A to B.

Next door, Fred also wants to quit. His family support his plan to quit, but Fred is the one who’s really had enough. He dislikes the taste and hates having to stand outside in the rain to smoke. And although his health is OK, he’s noticing a real impact on his fitness levels. Fred has a baby grandson in Australia who he’s never seen, but can’t afford to go unless he quits.

You can probably see that, while they both have some motivation to quit smoking, Jim feels he should and Fred really wants what quitting will do for him.

Now imagine they both stop smoking. Unfortunately, soon afterwards, there is heavy rain which floods both their homes. Both families have to go into temporary housing, deal with insurance companies etc. Jim and Fred both feel very stressed.

Jim takes one look at the temporary housing and goes back to smoking. He’s stressed, so even his wife and kids have to admit it’s understandable. For Jim, problems are a good reason (or an excuse) to forget the goal for a while and get back to having his ‘me’ time and avoiding long-haul holidays. His motivation isn’t strong enough to see him through difficulties.

The stress and inconvenience of the flood are making it more difficult for Fred to stay stopped as well. He’s having cravings, but he’s already fitter and won’t allow anything to stop him from seeing his grandson. Problems, for Fred, are things that get in the way of what he wants. He has enough motivation to put up with a lot (including cravings) to overcome them.

Your goal might be something different. But you still need to find – and keep in mind – very powerful reasons for reaching your goal. Things you want from it instead of things you want to avoid.

Still having trouble?

Try making a list of what your reasons are. Can you think of ways to increase the ‘want to’ and worry less about the ‘ought to’?

If not, a qualified hypnotherapist can help you do exactly this. Contact me so I can help you.

Author: Debbie Waller is a professional therapist, specialising in stress, anxiety and related issues, including gut-directed hypnotherapy to help with the symptoms of IBS. She also offers EMDR/Blast which is used for trauma, PTSD, phobias and OCD. For more information on any of these services, phone 01977 678593. 

Researcher: Rae Waller is an experienced researcher and writer with a special interest in mental health issues. Rae offers drafting, fact-checking, proofreading, and editing for anything from a leaflet to a website, a blog or a book, and can also provide diversity reading, especially for LGBTQ+ and autism-related issues. Please contact for further information.