Get out of debt
Stress can certainly be a motivation to clear out your financial backlog, but mostly it just makes us feel awful. A better way to motivate yourself out of debt is by giving yourself something to look forward to: the day that you’re debt-free. There are plenty of online tools out there that can help you visualize your debt avalanche (or snowball, if interest outstrips your payments). These tools will not only tell you when you’ll be back in the black, but also how much extra dough goes to interest. The motivation kicks in when you realize that paying off an extra $50 a month can reduce your debt time by a year and save you a thousand bucks.
Finish a project
Turns out Jerry Seinfeld is a regular font of wisdom (http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret). The comic actor suggests that if you are going to arrive at a goal—writing a book, creating a website, or penning new jokes, in Seinfeld’s case—you’ll have to work on it everyday. Nothing new, right? But Seinfeld’s trick is to put some time in every single day, no matter how much or how little. By keeping yourself moving forward on a daily basis, you’ll accomplish more than if you set aside the same amount of time in a single block.
Become more productive
Although there are many tricks that can help you boost your productivity, few things can motivate you to get work done quite like the right music. Music that pumps you up with inspirational imagery can get you in the right mindset, and according to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, background noise that’s around 70 decibels (or around the intensity of a normal conversation between two people) can increase your output. But don’t drown out the world around you. Noise levels of 85 decibels or higher will kill your creativity.
Start a side business
The easiest way to motivate yourself to start a side business is by turning one of the hobbies you’d do for free anyway into a gig you can make money off of on weekends and weeknights. Most anything can be tapped for cash flow — a passion for basketball can turn into running a local kiddie skills clinic; a passion for art can turn into one or two freelance jobs under your own company flag; even a part-time addiction to video games can be turned into a paying YouTube channel or gear sponsorship. If you have a hobby, chances are somebody has already paved the way for you to make some walking around money on it.
Find a new job
You can visit the usual suspects to look for online job postings, but what’s the use? Even LinkedIn reminds you how competitive the job market is by making the number of applicants for a job posting public. However, there is a way to find job postings without the added pressure of knowing your resume is a drop in the filing cabinet, which can be a very motivational feeling. Using Google, you can find unadvertised job postings by searching “site:X” (where X is a company or job search website) plus “intitle:careers” and a job title. Some companies don’t waste resources on listing positions publicly, so searching Twitter is also an easy way to weed out the competition and show off your ingenuity.