One of the biggest challenges in meeting any goal, whether it be related to productivity, waking early, changing a habit, exercising, or just becoming happier, is finding the motivation to stick with it. If you can stick with a goal for long enough, you’ll get there. It just takes patience, and motivation. It’s your choice – accomplish the goal or quit.
Motivation is the key, but it’s not always easy to find that motivation.
How Does Motivation Work?
Motivation is what drives you toward a goal, what keeps you going when things get tough, the reason you get up early to exercise or work late to finish a project. There may be times, for example, when you don’t feel like getting up early, and in those times, you may seriously just want to sleep in (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But if you have a reason to want to get up early, something you really want to do, you’ll jump up out of bed with excitement.
The best motivation is a way for you to really want something, to get excited about it, to be passionate about it. If you find ways to really want to do something, you can sustain your effort for much, much longer.
Ways to Motivate Yourself
I’ve found that it’s important to start out with the right motivation, because a good start can build momentum that you can sustain for a long time. If you start out right, you have a much better chance of succeeding. Here are some tips for starting out:
- One goal. Too many people start with too many goals at once and try to do too much. And it saps energy and motivation. It’s probably the most common mistake that people make. You cannot maintain energy and focus (the two most important things in accomplishing a goal) if you are trying to do two or more goals at once. It doesn’t work. You have to choose one goal, for now, and focus on it completely. I know, that’s hard. You can always do your other goals when you’ve accomplished your One Goal.
- Goals rooted in Your Values. Goals should mirror your values and therefore represent things that are personally important to you and that you want to work towards. Reflecting for self-awareness helps you identifying values and setting goals reflectively.
- Examine your motivation. Know your reasons. Give them some thought … and write them down. Really, really want it. It has to be something you’re passionate about, something you’re super excited about, something you want deeply. Make sure that your goal meets these criteria, or you won’t stick with it for long.
- Never skip two days in a row. This rule takes into account our natural tendency to miss days now and then. We are not perfect. So, you missed one day … now the second day is upon you and you are feeling lazy … tell yourself NO! You will not miss two days in a row!
- Get excited. It starts with inspiration, but you have to take that excitement and build on it. By talking to family and friends about it, reading as much about it as possible, visualizing what it would be like to be successful, seeing the benefits of the goal in your head, you get excited about a goal. Once I’ve done that, it’s just a matter of carrying that energy forward and keeping it going.
- Squash negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. It’s important to start monitoring your thoughts, and to recognize negative self-talk. Just spend a few days becoming aware of every negative thought. Then, after a few days, try squashing those negative thoughts like a bug, and then replacing them with a corresponding positive thought. Squash, “This is too hard!” and replace it with, “I can do this!
- Think about the benefits. Thinking about how hard something is puts you off. Instead of thinking about how hard something is, think about what you will get out of it. For example, instead of thinking about how hard it is to wake early, focus on how good you’ll feel when you’re done, and how your day will be so much better. The benefits of something will help energize you.
- Visualize your success. Visualize your successful outcome in great detail. Close your eyes and think about exactly how your successful outcome will look, will feel, will smell and taste and sound like. Where are you when you become successful? How do you look? What are you wearing? Form as clear a mental picture as possible. Do it every day. For at least a few minutes each day. This is the way to keep that motivation going over a long period of time.
- Print it out, post it up. Print out your goal in big words. Make your goal just a few words long, like a mantra and post it up on your wall or refrigerator. Post it at home and work. Put it on your computer desktop. You want to have big reminders about your goal, to keep your focus and keep your excitement going. A picture of your goal also helps greatly.
- Be accountable. Find someone who will make you accountable for your actions, someone who will support you, encourage you and gently challenge you. It’s always great to have your own personal cheerleader in life, someone who is positive and on your side.