Staying motivated is not one of those ancient guarded secrets that is impossible to uncover. If you have set appropriate goals in terms of your wants and abilities, everything else comes down to following some simple motivation tips. We have prepared a list of helpful tools that might help you dig yourself out of a rut and get motivated.
1. What is motivation?
Motivation is not this mystical unattainable quality you either possess or don’t. Within all of us is the ability get motivated in order to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. You just have to reach in, think about it, make a plan and go for it.
Motivation is I the impulse and desire that helps you achieve the goals you have set for yourself, but it’s not permanent. It is highly impacted by:
- your mood
- how important the goal is to you
- your expectations
This is why you can notice fluctuations in your drive and motivation depending on how you feel, the type of goal you have set for yourself, and what and how much you expect from yourself. But it does not have to end there. By knowing how motivation works and staying prepared, you can control how things impact you and minimize the negative effect they have on your drive.
2. Why is motivation important?
Staying motivated is an important tool that can help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself. The key to success is not in the ability you have but in the motivation that drives you. By staying motivated and pursuing your goals, you can notice positive side effects along the way:
- Improving your skill level over time
- Increase in your productivity
- Learning new things
- Improving your life
- Inspiring others
So not only will it help you reach your goals but it will also provide you with discipline and other tools along the way. If you stick with it and put effort toward your goals every day, you will notice yourself gaining new skills, being more productive and pleased with yourself, learning a ton of new things along the way, improving the quality of your life and along the way maybe even inspire others.
3. What to do if you lose motivation?
The reasons you may not stay motivated are multi-faceted and do not always come from the same source. It may be that you are under a lot of stress or you are experiencing pressure. Other times it can be something less evident such as being bored of your routine, setting goals that are too high, or simply comparing yourself to others.
If you found a description of yourself in the lines above – don’t worry! There are a few simple, yet effective things you can do, to realign, get back on track and get motivated. Here are some useful motivation tips:
Did you dream of creating a better future for yourself and others?
Remember why you got started and think of the people that you are doing it for, be it yourself, your family, or the whole world. Take a moment and imagine what will the world look like when you accomplish your goal. What will it feel like? Do not be afraid and daydream a little bit. Imagination is a powerful tool. And if you find that your dreams have changed along the way, don’t worry – realign your goals so that they better suit the current version of you.
Was it a book you’ve read or a movie you’ve watched?
Read or watch it again! There are so many new things you can discover by revisiting your old motivation sources. You can also add bits of the things that inspired you to your daily routine for example write down a motivational quote from your favorite book or movie and put it on the wall or start every morning by drinking from a cup that has your favorite action hero on it. It is truly the little things that count.
Don’t try to do too much all at once:
By changing your habits, you are changing your entire life and change is hard, especially on that big of a scale. Nothing happens overnight, so start small. Instead of wanting to do everything at once, go step by step. This will ease the pressure you feel and is in general a more sustainable way to go about achieving your goals. A small change is still better than no change at all.
Do not be afraid to change your goal:
Take a closer look at your goals and evaluate them.
Are the goals you are setting for yourself too small? Set bigger ones! If the goals you set for yourself are not big enough, consequentially they do not give you that motivational spark and drive. Do not be afraid to dream big.
Are the goals you are setting too big? Even though you can never dream too big, maybe you are setting a goal that is unrealistic for this period of your life, or perhaps the timeline is too short. This is possibly causing you too much stress, negatively affects your mood, and consequentially impacts your motivation. Do not be afraid to re-adjust. The best ones out there are those who are constantly adapting to new environments and learning to survive even in the most unusual circumstances. And don’t worry, even if you set your goals too low, you can always set them higher later.
Was it a person you have met?
Have you had an incredible conversation with a friend or were inspired by a colleague? Is there a famous person or an athlete that has a truly inspirational origin story? Do not be afraid to contact them. If you have the chance call them for a chat or write them an e-mail. You can tell them about your goals and how they have inspired you to pursue them. They can help you stay on track and maybe even offer some good advice or a funny anecdote that will keep you motivated.
Do not compare yourself with others:
Nothing can quite kill your drive as comparing yourself with others and thinking you should have been in the same position by now. First of all, everyone’s lives and paths are different, something that other people enjoy might not be for you and vice versa. Second of all, not everyone started at the same spot. There are people who have had things handed over to them on a silver platter and there are others who have put in incredible amounts of work to be where they are. Where you stand right now is an amalgamation of your circumstances and the work you have put in so far. Be proud of it. You are where you need to be.
Look at how far you have come:
Speaking of being proud of it, we often forget where we started and are blinded by constantly thinking about where we are now and where we should have been. Remember your beginnings. The resources and skills you’ve lacked but still decided to pursue your dreams and stick with it. Think of your progress and the effort it took to achieve it and be glad about it.
Remember to have fun:
It is really easy to get wrapped up in your thoughts while you are constantly focusing on working and achieving your goals. So, remember that it is okay to have fun and enjoy things. Change up your routine, play some fun music while you do your work, go for a walk in-between, reward yourself with a nice dessert. Whatever makes you happy will keep you going.
Get an accountability partner:
If you find it hard to start working on things and stay motivated on your own, find an accountability partner. It can be someone with similar goals or completely different ones. Make a plan to check on each other via messages or calls or can even meet up for lunch. You can also swap roles and change up your environment by deciding to help them work on their goals and then in return they can help you with your plans. A new environment and new people can do wonders and help you stay motivated.
Approach tasks in new ways:
Sometimes when things become routine, they get boring and motivation is not really the problem. Try switching things up a little bit and approach your work by disrupting the routine. It can be as simple as changing the route you take every time or getting started earlier than usual.
Take a break:
Whether you like to admit it not, being constantly at work is draining and can negatively affect your health, happiness, mood, and motivation. In order to do better in the future, you need to start preparing now and one way of preparing is reseting.
Rest helps your body regenerate and clear your mind of negative thoughts. Reconnect with nature, go for a hike, or read a good book. Who knows, maybe you find some motivation along the way.
4. Set goals that motivate you:
Setting your goals can often be tricky but you can try setting them in a way that will help you with staying motivated. Here are some motivation tips and tricks that can help:
Set goals that align with your values:
Staying motivated and achieving goals can be hard when the goal you have set for yourself isn’t something that is truly important to you. Take a moment to review your core values and set a goal that is in line with them. Make sure that the output of the goal is far more important than the input. This way it will be far easier to stay focused and put in the work that is necessary.
When you find yourself struggling with motivation and have no idea how to keep going or where else to pull the strength from – visualize. Imagine how good will it feel when your goal is already accomplished and observe how will it help you stay motivated.
Set reminders and create habits:
Staying motivated is much easier if you create a habit. Instead of setting a goal to for example read 20 books, create a 15 minute per day reading habit. Stick to it and you will be surprised at how many books you can actually read by reading for a short period of time every day. There are plenty of apps out there that can help you track your habits and push you to stick with them. Any goal can be broken down and achieved by taking small steps at a time.
5. Set SMART goals:
If you are one of those people that learns by abbreviations and word plays, this one is for you. Goals that are smart are:
Specific – dealing with a particular area or task
Measurable – having to do with well defined, quantifiable measures of success
Attainable – not of out the realm of possibility, you must have the needed resources and skill
Relevant – the goal should be within your personal limits in terms of abilities and time
Time-bound – you should have a clear set timeline or a deadline
There might be any other or similar version of acronyms that you could follow, but this simple and easy-to-remember trick will surely help you stay on track and stay motivated.
6. Break goals into smaller, mini-goals
Break down your goals into smaller units:
This one really is a life changing motivation tip. Sometimes a goal can seem intimidating which will then further discourage you and make you lose motivation. In such cases, it is helpful to break it down into smaller chunks. If for example, you have a big assignment due next week, break it down so that you can write a specific part each day. Writing the whole assignment seems like a lot, whereas writing a page of it every day seems manageable. This way you make achieving the goal less stressful and you will get an extra boost of motivation every day when you accomplish a task.
7. Put your goals down on paper
Make a list:
Another great motivation tip is making a list. If you are a person that likes to jot things down, making a list might be just the thing for you. Write down all of your tasks on a to-do list and check them off as you move through your week. Every checkmark signifying an accomplished task can give you an extra boost of dopamine that you need. Plus it helps you keep organized as well.
Create a mood board:
If you are more of a visual person, making a mood board might significantly increase your motivation. You can do it the old-fashioned way by cutting things out of magazines and newspapers or digitally, by designing a template using different online resources. A motivational quote or two and some pretty pictures and you are on your way to success.
Write a journal or a poem:
If you are the type of person that likes to express themselves by writing, getting a journal might serve you well. For example you can jot down random bursts of inspiration, some quotes for motivation, some of your thoughts and observations, or even a poem.
Write yourself a letter:
Another fun idea is to write a letter to your future self. Write down the dreams, goals, and inspirations you have for the future and save them somewhere you do not look every day. Open it in a year, when the goal is complete or simply when motivation is running low. You’d be surprised at what your own words can do for you.
8. Plan for setbacks
Setting goals and achieving them is a lot like boxing. You need to be prepared for everything, even the punches coming your way. Sometimes things will not go as expected and that is ok. A successful person plans ahead, even for the bad times. Make a plan for the time when things won’t go your way, be prepared to react, and potentially even learn from the drawbacks. Remember, prevention is better than the cure.
Remove the distractions:
Do whatever you need to do in order to stop being distracted by electronic devices or other people. Put your phone on silent or perhaps even cut your internet access. A change of environment might also help: work from a coffee shop, a library, or the office.
Stay in the zone:
Not everything about staying focused has to do with distractions in the form of other people and devices. You can do a lot by preparing your mind and your space for it to be easier to stay in the flow. Simple things you can do include:
- Cleaning out your desk area
- Making sure that the space where you work is bright and aired out
- Meditate before you start working
- Play your favorite music
Be well organized:
Another great way to always be prepared is to be well organized. If you are the type of person that prefers a pen-to-paper method of planning getting a nice, well set out planner will help. Make sure that all the things you need to do are written down and have a due date. If color coordination is your thing, go for it.
If you are of the type that likes to use online planners and computer reminders there are plenty of resources out there where you can do just that. You can even sync up all of your devices, so you can have access to your planner everywhere you go.
Do not worry about the things you cannot control:
This is not just a motivation tip but a life tip. You have to find moderation even in organization and planning. Drawbacks do happen and sometimes all the things going wrong may stress you out even more if you are overly prepared. What you can do is make sure that you have an overall plan but let it be flexible enough that disruptions will not break your entire schedule and you will be able to work around them. Being able to wing it is sometimes just as important as being well prepared.
9. Join an online (or off-line) group to help keep you focused and get motivated
Keeping yourself accountable and sticking to a habit in order to achieve your goals can be challenging if you are doing it alone. But you do not have to. Consider finding a group of like-minded individuals with a similar plan, be it online or in person.
The internet is your oyster. There are plenty of resourceful sites where you can find people with similar ideas and plans. You can watch videos online, read blog posts or meet via communication platforms.
If you live in a vibrant area filled with interesting meeting places – go out there! Checking tourist information sites or local online event groups might help you find what you are looking for.
If you are out of luck and can’t find a group that shares your interests, maybe try creating one. Start a book club or find a pen pal!
Meeting other people, you can share ideas and exchange information with, can prove to be quite the motivational thrill you are looking for.
10. Just get started
There is no good reason to put of your goals and procrastinate. Be it that you lack money or time. These are just good excuses to not do anything about it. There is always a way to start chipping away at your goal, no matter how small the initial contribution is. I am sure you are well familiar with the story about the tortoise and the hare. In case you need to be reminded: doing things slowly is still better than doing them quickly and carelessly.
And if you are concerned by the time passing, it is going to pass anyway, whether you start your project or not. So just get started, preferably right now.
11. Reward yourself. Often.
Working on your goals and staying motivated is especially hard if you feel like you have to sacrifice a lot of your time and resources and get nothing in return. Sometimes it takes a long time for a goal to be accomplished, other times the results are not seen as quickly as you would like. In such cases, it is important to reward yourself. Reward and punishment are the strongest motivations and research shows, that those who practice reward instead of punishment are happier and more successful. It is much easier to stick to something if you enjoy the process, be it exercise, saving money, or something completely different. Take time out of your busy schedule to congratulate yourself on the work you have done and the effort you have put into it.
Here are some simple ways in which you can reward yourself:
- Take an interesting class
- Watch a good movie or TV show
- Get your favorite dessert
- Take a break
12. Find inspiration on a daily basis
You can find motivation anywhere you look. Allow yourself to be inspired by the everyday activities and events, however mundane they may seem.
- Set yourself an inspiring and upbeat alarm tone, so that if nothing else, you start your morning off on the right foot.
- Look out the window and either be happy because the weather is great or get excited by the fact that you get to use your favorite umbrella.
- Get inspired by the cup you get to drink your morning coffee or tea from
- Prepare yourself a nice meal and be excited about the flavors you get to experience
- Do you get to read a nice book or watch a funny movie when you get home? Great, let it inspire you.
Listing all the things that can excite you in the span of one day would be impossible as there is simply so much to look forward to if only you dare to look.
13. Get a coach or take a class
Having a support system is very important. The people you surround yourself with will determine how successful you will be and how you respond to challenges. Belonging to a group of like-minded individuals works like magic and if you find yourself lacking such a group, getting a coach or taking a motivational class might be just the thing for you.
A coach is a professional who has been where you are. He or she has heard it all and knows every trick there is to overcome the obstacles you are facing and they will gladly help you get on your way. You will be surprised by the way their experience and tools help you find what you have been missing.
Taking a class is the other option. You will receive guidance from a professional and be able to exchange ideas with the people attending the same course. Some of them might be troubled by the same problems or have been in the past. Hearing some first-hand experiences will do the trick and get you out of your slump.