Are you wondering how to get motivated for your next big goal? Do you feel like you need motivation? Here are nine tips to get motivated and four tips if you lose motivation. Let’s go and pursue your goals!
Motivation is a powerful way to reach your goals. When you’re motivated, you can move mountains and feel like you’re on top of the world. Other times, when motivation is hard to find, you find yourself laying on the couch binging on your favorite show for hours (or days). I’ve experienced a lack of motivation for the last couple of weeks. In this post, I’ll share all about how I’m picking myself back up again, and how to get motivated. We’ll also talk about how to stay motivated months from now.
Unlike what many think, motivation is not something that you experience or don’t experience on a given day. Motivation is a skill you can learn, and there is a psychology behind it. Learning about motivation makes it easier to work hard on your goals and means you don’t have to force yourself to do things. We’ll go deep into the best ideas to get motivated, and use those to stay motivated long term. As you’ll notice, motivation is practical, and you can take simple steps to get motivated each day.
What is Motivation?
Motivation is the drive you have to reach your goals and dream. The stronger the reason WHY you are doing something, the stronger your motivation. In essence, motivation is the degree to which you want to change your current situation.
At some point, you are tired of your situation, and you decide to take action. You would choose to go for a 5 mile run over sitting on the couch. You would start an extra side hustle, instead of being stuck in your job for 40 more years. This crossover point is usually reached after a couple of weeks knowing what we want to do, but not taking any action. When you’re feeling motivated, your current situation is your pain point, and you want to take action to overcome that.
Why is Motivation Important?
Motivation allows you to change old habits and to overcome challenges that are coming your way. If you are feeling a tiny bit of motivation and you are taking the first small step to where you want to be – that’s already the start of a new habit!
The moment you act on that first small spark of motivation, the motivation keeps coming in. Once you have started a task, you are gaining momentum to continue working on it. Like a snowball, you’ll notice that the ball keeps rolling and keeps getting bigger and bigger. Once you have started a task or a habit change, it is easier to continue doing it. Starting is often the hard part.
As Tim Ferris says in his Four Hour Work Week:
“If we define risk as ‘the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome,’ inaction is the greatest risk of all.”
How To Get Motivated & Stay Focused
Many people want to know how to get motivated and achieve their goals. While it is not always easy, some tips will help you when you’re feeling stuck. Whether you want to know how to motivate yourself or how to motivate your team, this is where you can get started.
Tip 1: Do ONE Thing, Have ONE Goal
When you’re trying to do different things at the same time, it can be hard to maintain energy and focus. Instead of setting multiple goals, which can be overwhelming, try to set one goal. Working hard on one goal is simpler. Put all your focus and motivation toward that one goal.
When you reach one goal, you can focus on the next. And the next. And the next. Continually improve yourself by striving for higher goals, but be aware that you’re not tackling five goals in the same week. Your energy becomes scattered, which can make you lose focus and motivation. The next quote summarizes it perfectly: ‘Where your attention goes, energy flows, and results show’ – T. Harv Eker.
Tip 2: Know your WHY
One of the first steps to get yourself motivated is to know WHY you are doing something. If you value a habit or outcome in your life, you’re more likely to take action towards it. Jenna Cambria and Allan Wigfield from the University of Maryland published a paper where they found that students who value a school subject are more likely to study it independently.
For example, when students value economics, they will learn about it and study it without teachers needing to motivate them. When you know why you are doing something, you are motivated to spend your time learning more about it. It is important to note that when someone wants you to do something, you still need to search for your own why. ‘Because my doctor wants to’ is not something that will lead to you losing weight or quit smoking. Your why could be because you want to be a fit grandparent, or you want to have a healthy lifestyle when you grow older.
Tip 3: Start Small
When you want to start working towards something, start small. When you are taking on big tasks, you may feel overwhelmed and not even start at all. Set goals that are attainable and break them down. Schedule the first small step that you know you’re able to do, and get stuff done.
Starting small means that you are building on a feeling of competence. You take the first small step you know you can take, take the next small step, and so on. The book Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience supports the idea that you persist in a task that leads to an increased feeling of competence. You want to challenge yourself, but you want to prevent having no idea what you’re doing. Taking baby steps makes sure you will continue feeling competent.
The Harvard Business Review found that small wins and minor milestones are a powerful force behind being productive and creative. When you are starting small and slowly growing your feeling of competence, you’re more likely to stay motivated. Getting started is often the hardest part.
Tip 4: Schedule It
Most people widely underestimate how important it is to put your work on the calendar. A couple of examples in my life are:
- When I get up, I work on my money mindset by stating money affirmations
- Every morning I get up at 6 am without feeling tired, and I write until 8 am
- Every week I work out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before lunch
When I wanted to write but didn’t schedule it, I just hoped I would have some time left in the evenings to write. You can imagine that didn’t work out so well. Putting it on your calendar and setting a schedule for yourself is a great way to reduce any decisions you make during the day. You’re creating a habit to put what you want in practice at certain moments.
Tip 5: Post It Somewhere
I put my goals on my blog all the time for accountability. There’s just something about making your goals public that makes you more likely to follow through. Don’t have a blog? No problem. You can talk about it to friends and family. You can put it on your wall, on your screensaver, on your fridge, or your computer.
Hang your goals around your house if you want to. It’s like a reminder of what you’re working on. Another great thing is to write it down in a journal. Make a schedule in a journal and color the days you completed your goal. You can also make a calendar and hang it on your wall. When you stick to your habit for a couple of days, you don’t want to break the pattern. That makes your habit stick.
Tip 6: Set a Future Start Day
Set a start day in the future, and this will be your Start Day. The most important day of your life. You are doing everything you can to prepare for this day. Research, learn, get comfortable, and get excited about your upcoming start day. You are delaying your goal and building up motivation before you even got started.
Tip 7: Get support
Find your support network online or offline. Surround yourself with people who cheer for you, people who are working on the same goals. If you know people who are going facing the same challenges, you can work through them together. When you’re feeling unmotivated, they can cheer you on. There will most likely be people in the support network who are ahead of you. They can help you, and you can help them. If you want to get to your goal quicker, getting a mentor can speed up your timeline.
Tip 8: Ask for help
The going will likely get tough at some point during your journey. There will be a moment when you want to quit. A moment where you feel as if nothing you do it working. Those are the moments you need help the most. Ask for help from your friends, your family, your peers, and your network. ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ – African Proverb
Tip 9: Reward Yourself
Whenever you reach a milestone, reward yourself. Celebrate your success to give yourself a feeling of accomplishment and continue the momentum. Often when we work toward a goal, we don’t stop when we reach it. We will say, okay cool, and continue working on our next goal.
Celebrating every milestone and patting yourself on the back along the way is extremely important. Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. You have earned it. If rewarding yourself isn’t working, you can commit a dollar amount. You give your friend $50. If you complete your task at the end of the day, you’ll get your $50 back. If you don’t, you lose the $50. Even better: donate the money to a charity. That will probably get you motivated.
What To Do If You Lose Motivation?
At some point, you will likely lose your motivation. Use these tips to stay motivated and keep moving forward, even when you don’t feel motivated.
Tip 1: Create Routines
Creating a routine is a great way to get motivated. The work of many high performers is not reliant on motivation. Here are a couple of ways to apply routine and habits to get motivated:
- Want to get fit? Work out every day at a set time and put on the same playlist that gets you pumped to work out. You could even do the same warm-up before starting.
- Want to eat healthier? Drink two glasses of water as soon as you wake up. Take the same lunch and snacks every day to the office.
- Do you want to work on a project and be focused? Prepare the same drink, at the same time, and sit yourself down at the same spot daily. Want to make it more fun? Think of creating your routine.
I love routines. Once you start your routine, you’re unlikely to stop. You are so used to it, and your routine is putting you in the right mindset. I remember when I started writing, I would have two hours in the morning to write. I would open my laptop and stare at an empty page. There were absolutely zero ideas in my head. I would spend one hour thinking about something fun to write about, some days even more. That’s just wasted time.
Now, I open my laptop the night before and figure out what I will write about. The next day, I go through a morning routine that includes meditation, and journaling. Right after that, I can start writing. That is a great routine that prepares me to keep writing consistently.
Tip 2: Check Your Goals
Ask yourself: are my goals realistic to achieve in the timeframe I set for it? Often we overestimate what we can do in a week. You don’t meet your goals, which is frustrating and can lead to loss of motivation. Break down your goal in smaller pieces that are easier to achieve. If you have one goal for the week, and that goal is to launch a new website, that can be overwhelming. Instead, you can choose your brand colors, design a quick logo, set up your theme, write a couple of blog posts, and set up your social media accounts.
On top of that, base your goals on actions and not on results. Setting a goal of having 5,000 Twitter followers can be overwhelming. Instead, set a goal that you tweet five times per week. Now you can take consistent action towards your goal. Think about your goals and ask yourself: how could I come one step closer to my goal?
Tip 3: Get Motivated From Others
Motivation, for me, can come from others who are where I want to be. People who are living my ideal life. I love to read their blogs, their books, and their success stories. Let your mentor, your friends, or your support group motivate you. It is okay to take some motivation from others to lit the fire inside of you again.
Tip 4: Remember Your Why
Remember why you started all of this. What is it that you want? What are you trying to achieve? Instead of focusing on how hard it is, focus on what it will bring you. Instead of focusing on how hard your workout is going to be, focus on how great you’re going to feel afterward. Focus on the goal you have in your mind. Remind yourself of your end goal, and staying motivated will become easier.
Getting motivated is more a science than an art. Set one goal, know why you want to achieve that goal, and start small. When you want to keep going, schedule your habit, post it somewhere, or set a future start date. Get support, ask for help, and reward yourself along the way. There will probably be moments when you will lose motivation. Create routines so that you will automatically start with your behavior. You can also check your goals, get motivation from others, and check in on your why.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “far and away, the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Nowadays people want to skip the hard work and just get the prize. We want to get fit without working out, successful without struggle or failure. Despite how it feels when you start, I never felt terrible after I finished the work. Honestly, most days starting is the hardest thing. Show up, do the work, and make yourself proud!
This article originally appeared on Your Money Geek and has been republished with permission.