How To Stay Motivated And Reach Your Big Woodworking Goals
It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. Woodworking in general has many challenges not only within a project but within a physical and mental realm too. There are, of course, tasks which you may not like at all, yet you find motivation to complete even them because you recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.
How exactly do some of us manage to stay motivated most of the time? I mean everyone has their own unique ways of staying motivated in the workshop/garage/little space in your house. Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want done:
1. Find the good reasons
Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.
Not all the tasks have the good reasons to do them seen at first sight, but if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.
But if you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.
Even when you set goals, there need to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.
Some ideas for what a good reason can be:
- A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
- Personal gain – you will learn something new about woodworking or you will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way. (Not sure if I can get any better at sanding though…)
- A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task and what a pleasure it is to share your creation with the world!
- A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.
2. Make it fun
When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it. Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do.
Take woodworking for example: Some people enjoy hand planing their favourite piece of solid wood whilst others may feel that it’s a pass time they’d prefer not to do.
These Woodworkers like hand planing not only because of the aesthetics it gives the wood but also because they find it fun (Some even therapeutic)! At a certain time of the project these woodworkers will plane because they feel that nothing else will fit that specific time and moment more perfectly than hand planing.
Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!
A simple approach is to start working on any task from asking yourself a few questions:
- How can I enjoy this task?
- What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
- How can I make this work the best part of my day?
The answers will pop up momentarily, as long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable. *Insert positive thinking mindset*
Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing, no matter how hard you try making it fun. I don’t want to argue – you’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.
However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.
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3. Take a different approach
When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look at the whole task looking for a different approach.
You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.
In Woodwork there are a magnitude of different approaches to a problem. So we technically have no excuse to simply give up on halfway into a project. If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.
Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal. My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.
4. Recognize your progress
Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.
We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it. This means genuinely stop, take a few steps back and admire what you’ve accomplished show far. Whip out your phone, take a picture and share it with family and friends.
Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:
Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.
Somehow, it is in a human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.
For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such an approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.
5. Reward yourself
This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. I’m happy to confirm that this is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!
Feeling down about doing sanding? Dread the idea of working on some joints? You’re not alone in that, I’m telling you!
Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. Note: The keyword in the last sentence is “justify” As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way. For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.
For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself further with your favourite food. For even bigger and more demanding tasks, you may want to reward yourself by doing something completely relaxing.
Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating – but take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.
The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.
Mix It Up
Now that you’ve got some tips for staying motivated on your next project,here are the keys: Mix and match all of them to suit you and your project.
Keep the end in mind. Stay focused. Reward Yourself. You’ll become not only a better woodworker but a better person too.