We all know the feeling when you’re in a slump and everything feels like you’re running uphill in sand, but the good news is that research shows you can influence your own motivation and self-control.
I’ve gathered 10 ways to help you tap into your greatness and boost your motivation. You always have the greatness in you, sometimes it just needs activating!
1 Buddy Up
This is a proven method for staying on track with exercise goals in particular, as you are no longer tackling them your own. Even when you’re struggling to find your own motivation, you have someone else there to hold you accountable for your own inaction.
During the toughest of times, it also means that you have someone on side to cheer you on, offer kind words of advice, and help pick you back up after a defeat.
2 Eat the Elephant
Desmond Tutu said “there is only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time”. This is so intuitive, but the mentality often alludes us when we’re faced with a huge task that seems overwhelming. Anything can be accomplished, though, when we break it down and take on one bitesized chunk at a time…
When embarking on something major, even getting started can feel challenging due to an immobilising fear of the task’s magnitude. Divide it up into baby steps which are manageable and know that no one expects you to achieve everything in one go, so don’t expect it of yourself.
3 Be SMART
Goal setting is key for motivation. When we have vague goals, we don’t get much traction because without a clear vision of where to go – it’s hard to commit.
Psychotherapist Denise Fournier (Ph.D) says that “setting goals is important for creating a meaningful, satisfying, successful life”. To tap into our limitless potential as human beings, we have to know exactly what it is that we want to accomplish.
Defined goals provide the foundation for great achievements, and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar reminds us that “a goal properly set is halfway reached”.
4 Enjoy Yourself
Getting pleasure out of an activity, like a workout, increases our motivation. If the task is something that we don’t want to do, then behavioural research shows that even financial incentives aren’t enough to keep us on track.
Self-Determination Theory (SDT) says that goals are either intrinsically or extrinsically controlled. When you reach your intrinsic goals, you enjoy the activity in itself, so you aren’t even aware of how much time has passed. Extrinsically controlled goals, on the other hand, exist when your focus isn’t on the actual activity – but how it can help you to reach a desired outcome.
In life, there will be times for both types of goals, but you will feel far more motivated when the activity itself brings you pleasure instead of just the final outcome which can feel a million miles away. Psychologists Edwin Locke and Gary Latham claim that well-chosen goals are part of the “high-performance cycle” because the right goals generate excitement and a sense of self-efficacy. In other words, we are more likely to feel motivated if we think: “I AM capable of reaching these goals”.
5 Timetable It
Motivating yourself to get started on a task can be hard. Yet most people will already be living according to a schedule of some sort, whether it’s a work calendar or personal diary, so if you add in allotted time for your goal then you will feel more compelled to stick to it like the rest of your obligations.
When we know that we’ll only have to do the task for 1 hour instead of giving ourselves a whole ‘day’ then it is much easier to use time to its maximum potential. Otherwise, we can easily find other ways to fill time if we give ourselves more than we need (cat videos anyone?) If you schedule time for your goal between other activities, then it also gives you the time pressure of needing to complete it before your next meeting.
Take note of Parkinson’s Law here – the time that you assign to a task is the time that you will take to complete it.
6 Treat Yo’self
This goes nicely with breaking the activity into bitesized chunks. It is easier to stay motivated for an hour instead of ‘an afternoon’ and you’ll be even more motivated when there’s a reward for completing one of your scheduled time-slots. These treats can be anything from a tea/coffee, toilet break or 2 minutes of social media! Whatever keeps you motivated and isn’t unhealthy in excess.
Think of it this way, more chunks that you divide your task into = more treats!
7 Get Creative
Visual aids such as a mood board or imagery around your home provide inspiration and make your vision something that you can see with your own eyes. They give you something tangible to work towards, which in turn works wonders for keeping motivation high. The process of creating a moodboard is very personal and you can decide which elements of your vision you want to include, and which you don’t.
Getting crystal clear on your end result and being reminded of it daily will raise your motivation to whole new levels!
8 Change of Scenery
A change of scene refreshes our energy. Even for the most motivated individual, doing the same task for long periods of time can get very monotonous and entice us to create boredom-induced distractions.
Make sure that you aren’t chained to the desk/treadmill for 3 hours at a time, as this will ultimately have an adverse effect on your motivation when you start to associate the task with struggle and monotony. Mix it up and move into a new space if you need to, and ensure that you’re keeping your brain engaged with regular breaks.
9 Read Up
Nothing is more inspirational than reading stories of those who have walked the path of success before you, especially when they came from humble beginnings or an old life which resonates with yours now. It’s important to consider which idols you can research and emulate in order to prove that your goal is achievable and worth pursuing.
If they can do it, so can you!
10 Positive Always Wins
Goals turn dissatisfaction with our situation into an intention to improve it. You should always be proud of yourself for making a decision to change your life for the better! If motivation is running low, try to remember the reasons why you started on this path in the first place…
What benefits were you hoping to achieve? I bet if you really think about it – then you’ve come quite some way from when you first had the idea?
Give yourself credit where credit is due, and never be too hard on yourself.
Motivation is not in constant supply.
But, while motivation comes and goes, if you can stick to your timetable and attack those bitesized chunks then you can steadily move towards your goals without relying on the appearance of a single emotion.
The words of Confucius are still as applicable today as they were 2500 years ago –
“It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop”.