Staying motivated might be easier than getting motivated in the first place, but that doesn't mean it takes no effort at all. Complacency can kick in during a period of high motivation — you assume the motivation will last and go easy on yourself if you miss a deadline or two. When you feel inspired, it's hard to imagine returning to your previous state; just as it's difficult to imagine feeling inspired when your motivation has deserted you. However, when you are riding high on a tide of motivation, it's the perfect time to implement some strategies to ensure your motivation lasts as long as possible. Here are the strategies which work well for me:
1. Step up your challenges. As I explained in a post on momentum, it's easier to get excited about new opportunities when things are already in full flow. Changing up a gear or two can keep you inspired and productive. Keep your goals realistic, but make them big: aim to enter more writing competitions, set an ambitious deadline for completing your novel draft, self-publish some short stories, etc.
2. Plan your future. When you have decided on some short term challenges, start thinking about long term ones. Again, ensure it's possible to achieve your goals, but go big. Schedule future challenges in your planner or calendar. Commit to your plans and chase your dreams.
3. Develop contingency plans. Preparing for difficult times is not tempting fate: it's common sense. What will you do if things go wrong and your motivation goes out of the window? Which goals are your top priorities? Which can you delay? Think about where you can get support — friends, online forums, books or whatever — when your confidence slips.
4. Keep taking action. Watch out for complacency and avoid procrastinating. Most of us know our personal go-to excuses, so bear them in mind and view them as red flags. Whenever you find yourself thinking "there's no hurry — the competition deadline is over a week away" or "it makes no difference whether I do this or not" (insert your favourite excuse), treat it as a reminder to redouble your efforts. If you skip one deadline, take special care to meet the next. If you move some tasks from one to-do list to the next, make sure you do them first.
5. Have fun! Feeling motivated is enjoyable. It makes you fall in love with your work — and often your life — all over again. Relish the thrill you get from completing a task or meeting a deadline. Enjoy searching for new challenges and opportunities. When you're having fun, you're more likely to continue doing the things which result in your high level of motivation.