When reaching for a big goal, self-motivation plays a key role. But making a change in your life requires persistence, and many of us find it difficult to stay motivated over time.
When setting out to achieve a long-term goal, whether it’s to get healthy, make a midlife career change, or realise a personal dream, the beginning is easy. You’re full of vitality and determination to face the challenge.
However, many of our most precious goals don’t happen quickly. It takes hard work, persistence, and discipline to change your life.
When results don’t come as quickly as you expect, or when nothing goes right, it’s natural to feel frustrated and have difficulty staying motivated.
Exploring how to find motivation will provide the tools to overcome dips, develop mental toughness, improve your focus on your goals, and keep you on a steady path toward success.
So, let’s begin!
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What Is self-motivation?
In order to find motivation, we first need to understand what we’re really talking about.
Motivation is simply the force driving your behaviour. It’s the why behind everything you do, and the reason you might take up a cause, commit to an action, or work toward a goal. Everything we do is motivated by some combination of conscious and unconscious need or desire.
When we talk about self-motivation, we are going beyond basic motives. What we really mean is the ability to follow through on making a positive change in life — without giving up. Self-motivation requires that you believe in yourself, stay inspired, and keep going despite setbacks.
In other words, we are talking about grit.
Psychologist Angela Duckworth studied the characteristics of high achievers and discovered that passion and perseverance are the key drivers of long-term success. Grit takes you farther than the initial motive behind your goal, after the buzz of excitement wears off. Grit takes you all the way to the finish line.
So, how can we learn to harness these qualities and develop the self-motivation to succeed?
What drives motivation?
Although self-motivation requires a long-term view, it’s important to look at what is motivating you to seek change.
The clearer you are on why, the easier it will be to stay focused on the work you’re doing, and to create the life you want.
Sometimes motives can hide in plain sight, hidden within the subconscious, telling us deep down inside that something needs to change.
Desires can evolve, sometimes in a flash of inspiration, and sometimes through self-discovery over time.
You’ll have an easier time staying motivated by recognising the motives behind your goals.
Becoming aware of these motives, and their source, improves self-awareness while also keeping you on track toward goals that truly matter to you.
How to become more motivated
Change isn’t easy for anyone. Finding self-motivation requires long-term commitment, courage, and perseverance. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
It simply means you have to find ways to give yourself a boost when you need it, and avoid giving up when you hit a dip.
Here are the best ways to stay motivated, no matter how much you feel like giving up:
Urgh. Don’t you just hate this advice?
Still, there’s a reason we’ve all heard it a million times: it can work wonders.
You don’t always need to reason with your emotions or rationalize why you need to do something. You can deal with those negative feelings later on, at the right time. Instead, try setting aside all of the negative emotions and simply START.
As the famous writer Mark Twain once said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
Break tasks down into small steps
Woah… another piece of ground-breaking, never-heard-before advice, right?
Again, there’s a reason so many people recommend that you use this tactic when trying to motivate yourself – sometimes it’s the simplest things done well that work the best.
Remember, you can’t do everything at once. That’s why the painter Vincent Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Here’s a method to help you find motivation to get things done: Write down what you need to do on a piece of paper. Then, write down every single step you need to take to make it happen. Finally, ignore everything except the step you’re working on.
Once in the flow, you may just find it easier to continue with the next task.
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Create a positive mindset
Getting motivated is almost impossible if you’re looking at the situation from a negative viewpoint. On the other hand, positivity can be energizing and help you to motivate yourself.
So, pause and ask yourself, “what’s good about this situation?”
As the author Catherine Pulsifer said, “If we have the attitude that it’s going to be a great day it usually is.”
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Create a feeling of gratitude
When you find yourself stuck in a rut, it can feel impossible to motivate yourself. So before you try to motivate yourself, take a step back and try to appreciate how you feel.
When you feel appreciation for yourself, it’s much easier to stay motivated.
One of the quickest ways to feel good about yourself is to practice gratitude – it’s almost entirely impossible to feel low and grateful at the same time.
To practice gratitude, start by writing down three things you’re grateful for. These could be anything – from your morning coffee, to your pet, or even the comfortable chair you sit on.
Ideally, you could make this part of your daily routine to find everyday motivation.
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Be kind to yourself
When you procrastinate or make a mistake, it’s easy to beat yourself up. In fact, if you’re like many people, you may find that you internally “speak” to yourself in a mean way.
If you notice yourself doing this, pause and try to speak to yourself kindly instead. You wouldn’t speak to someone else that way, so why do it to yourself? You deserve your own kindness.
Try to remember your true inherent value as a human being. Then, allow yourself to gently come back to the task at hand.
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When you realise you’ve made a mistake or finally bring yourself back from a procrastination session, you have a golden opportunity to learn and improve.
Ask yourself, “Why did I make this mistake? How can I avoid making the same mistake in the future?”
If you do this and act on what you learn, you’ll transform mistakes into opportunities.
The entrepreneur Arianna Huffington said, “We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”
Cut your to-do list down
To-do lists can help us organize our tasks and focus on what’s important. However, they can also overwhelm us so much that we end up procrastinating even more.
So, if you find yourself struggling to stay motivated, cut your to-do list down to a more manageable size.
Each day, choose no more than three tasks and make that your new to-do list. Then, ignore all but the first item. You may find that with time, you can take on a longer to-do list.
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Set attainable goals that excite you
If you have a goal that feels too big or unattainable, it may make you feel crippled with anxiety and fear. This is a sure-fire way to prevent yourself from developing motivation.
For now, let go of goals that paralyze you. Instead, choose exciting enough goals to help you motivate yourself, but not so big that you freeze when facing them.
As the politician Theodore Roosevelt said, “Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”
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Imagine your future if you don’t change
This tip can make inspiring yourself easy: Instead of focusing on the change you want, imagine the life you’ll have if you don’t stay motivated.
Ask yourself, “What will life be like in one year, five years, and ten years?”
Here’s a motivational quote from an anonymous wise person: “You can either experience the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The choice is yours.”
Reflect on how far you’ve come
How often do you pause, reflect, and appreciate how far you’ve come?
If you’re like many people, you probably don’t give yourself enough credit for all the growth you’ve gone through.
Take a few minutes to close your eyes and remember your successes, however small – relive and feel into them.
Do this often to help you stay motivated.
Remind yourself of your “why”
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, said, “Motivation comes from working on things we care about.”
Take a moment to write down three reasons you want to find motivation to get things done. Do you want to improve your fitness, get an education, save money, or start a business?
Keep coming up with answers until you find ones that will help you stay motivated.
Eliminate distractions mercilessly
Distractions are the enemy of focus. If you want to get motivated, you have to eliminate distractions.
As the billionaire investor Warren Buffett said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”
The saying goes, “You can have anything you want. However, you can’t have everything you want.”
So, turn your phone off and leave it in a different room. Close the door. Turn the music off. Delete distracting apps.
Remind yourself that you are not punishing yourself – you’re just focusing on your goals. Then, remember what you truly want in the long-term.
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Commit 100% to the deal you’re making
Remember, nothing comes for free.
When you want something, you have to give something in return – whether it’s time, effort, hard work, or emotional discomfort.
That’s the deal.
Take a moment to recognize and appreciate the deal you’re making. Then commit to it 100%. Maya Angelou, the activist and poet, once said, “Nothing will work unless you do.”
Declutter and tidy
It’s extremely difficult to motivate yourself if you can’t see your bedroom floor and your desk looks like something has exploded on it.
Have you ever heard the expression, “tidy space, tidy mind”?
What’s your environment like? Is it tidy, neat, and clean? Or is it messy and cluttered? Work from the outside in and create an environment that helps you to stay motivated.
Change your inputs
You know the saying, “you are what you eat.” And we consume a lot every day – food, music, podcasts, TV, social media.
So, if you’re finding it challenging to motivate yourself, mix things up a bit. Listen to motivational podcasts, check out a must-read book, or watch some inspiring videos.
This can help you to freshen up, get energized, and find motivation to get things done.
Look to people in your life for motivation
Some people energise us, others we find draining.
The motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
So, when possible, seek out enthusiastic, motivated people to spend time with. Let yourself get wrapped up in their positive energy, and you may start developing self-motivation, too.
Ask for help from friends and family
If you’re really struggling to motivate yourself, consider asking a close friend or family member for help. You could ask them to hold you accountable and check up on your progress.
By expressing your goals out loud to someone else, it can help to make them feel more real. Plus, if you know someone will check in on your progress, you may be more likely to follow through.
Follow inspiring people who motivate you
There are so many inspiring people out there who can help you to motivate yourself. Is there an entrepreneur, teacher, musician, or politician you find inspiring?
You can also learn how people you admire stay motivated, and then apply the lessons to your own life.
As the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from their experiences, stupid people already have all the answers.”
Listen to an upbeat song
If you need to motivate yourself quickly, try this super-simple tip: listen to a song you love that’s upbeat, inspiring, and full of energy.
For bonus points, dance like a crazy person at the same time.
Then, as soon as the song finishes, don’t pause – dive straight into action. It may become one of your favourite ways to stay motivated.
Remember your power and potential
Look, you are powerful, and you have enormous potential.
You may not feel like it sometimes, and you may even feel like I’m silly for saying it to you, but it’s true.
The author Alice Walker said, “The most common reason people give up their power is because they think they don’t have any.”
So, please, take a moment to dig deep and try to connect with your inner power and potential – imagine what you could achieve.
Then listen to that quiet voice in your head saying, “You can do this.”
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How to become more motivated – final thought
Remember that changing your life for the better doesn’t happen overnight. When you set out to achieve a big goal, expect to progress in small steps.
When you feel a dip in self-motivation, remember all the concrete actions you can take to avoid crashing and giving up too soon. Turn to your friends, get guidance from wise people in your circle, practice self-care, and stay positive.
Celebrate your successes every step of the way because pursuing a big dream isn’t easy, but you are worth it.
What are your tips for staying motivated? I would love to hear them.
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Hello! My name is Adam and welcome to my space on the internet. Here you can find me writing about topics such as lifestyle, self-care, self-development, finance, saving money and making money. Come and join the community!