We all have days where our motivation falls flat. Just the thought of getting started with your work is overwhelming. If you need to get the gears turning, you can motivate yourself simply by making a choice, big or small. In this video from the Tech Insider YouTube channel, Charles Duhigg, the author of Smarter Faster Better, shares a classic motivational trick once used by the US Marines when reforming boot camp. To teach their recruits how to self-motivate, they redesigned boot camp so that they were forced to make a lot more choices. For example, in the mess hall after lunch, recruits would be told to clean the kitchen. That's it. They weren't told where the cleaning supplies were, what to do with the leftover food or how to operate the industrial dishwasher. They had to make choices in order to accomplish their goal of cleaning and resetting the kitchen for dinner.
According to Duhigg, making choices cultivates an interior locus of control, or the belief that you have control over your own destiny. By making choices, you show yourself that you can determine how your life turns out — or at least guide it a certain direction. Because of that, learning how to make choices is the key to motivation. So, if you're sitting at your desk having a hard time motivating yourself, find a choice to make. It can be big or small, it doesn't matter. Choose to start going through your email at the middle of your inbox instead of the top, or tell someone who asked you to lunch that you will go but you want a certain type of food. Find a choice that will get you to feel like you're in control and make it.