How to get motivated and stay motivated

Avatar for Mish Khot By in counselling, emotional wellbeing, Life Coach, Self improvement on 11/11/2020
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With this most unusual year coming to an end, have you been looking back to see what you’ve achieved? There have been so many challenges this year, so much to adjust to and so many new things to worry about. It’s only natural that many of the things you wanted from this year may not have happened. But what about the goals you’ve missed because you haven’t felt motivated enough to work for them? In this article, we’re going to discuss how to get motivated and more importantly, how to stay motivated.

how to get motivated

Why is it important to get (and stay) motivated?

Motivation is the fire that fuels your engine. It drives you to work towards your goals and helps you stay on track. It gives you a framework on which you can build your career and life. While everyone has a goal or an ambition – I want to be thinner, I want to be stronger, I want to be richer or more successful, I want to run my own business – most people don’t have the motivation to do the legwork.

Motivation is what gets you to where you want to be in life. It pushes you to work hard and get back up in the face of defeat or setbacks. But motivation is not just a feeling that pays off in the long run. Before you learn how to get motivated and how to stay motivated, it is important to understand that motivation can also bring immense benefits along the way. Some of these benefits are:

  • Gives you a sense of purpose in life
  • Develops your problem-solving and analytical abilities
  • Helps you drop unhealthy habits and work on developing good ones
  • Teaches you how to manage challenges and opportunities
  • Enhances self-worth and improves general wellbeing
  • Helps ward off depression and lethargy by giving you something to work towards

It is important to know that the size and scope of your goals is not important. What matters is that you live every day with motivation.

How to get motivated – Step 1

No matter what kind of goal you set for yourself, knowing how to get motivated is as important as knowing how to stay motivated. You know this from your annual New Year resolutions – you decide on building a whole new life in December but by the first week of January, you’re not feeling as motivated.

new year resolutions

It’s not enough to decide on a goal. You will have to stoke that internal fire on a regular basis even if you’re having a busy day. The energy to do this will come if you know how much the goal means to you. If you’re worried about how to get motivated, here is a project for you to try this weekend:

Decide how much the goal ties in with your meaning and self-worth.

Analyse the reasons behind your dream or goal. Why do you want this specific goal for yourself? What will it mean to you if you achieve it? Will your life feel incomplete if you don’t achieve it? When you admit to yourself how much you want this, you are solidifying your motivation into a burning ambition.

Think about what you stand to gain from the goal.

When you achieve it, what will that do for you? If you’re working towards paying off a mortgage, how much better will your life be once you achieve it? Will it mean that you can finally take that trip to Paris that you dream about? Visualization is an important factor in how to get motivated. If you can picture yourself celebrating when you achieve your goal, you will have a mental image that motivates you on the days when your motivation levels are low.

celebrating a win

Consider your own actions.

Is there something you do to sabotage your own efforts? Do you have a preconceived notion about yourself that gets in the way of achieving your goals? If you want to turn vegan but are telling yourself that you love meat too much to give it up, does that affect your motivation? Instead tell yourself that you can’t wait to move to a complete vegan lifestyle. Would that help you more?

How to get motivated – Step 2

If you’re reading this, you’re probably feeling low on motivation and looking for encouragement. While we can write plenty about how to get motivated and how to stay motivated, it has to come from within to be truly effective.

The most popular reason for low motivation is thinking of a goal as too big to achieve or not knowing where to start. It can be nerve-wracking to contemplate a tall mountain and wonder how you’ll ever get to the top, but when you’re worried about how to get motivated, the most effective way is to take small steps.

make a list of tasks

Motivation is the same; if you can break down a goal into steps and create a roadmap, you will be able to see a path for yourself. Here are some tips:

Write down your big final goal. For example: I want to lose weight.

Refine your goal until you have something measurable. Add a timeline or a unit of measurement, or both. For example: I want to lose 15 kgs over the next three months.

Make a list of the actions you plan to do to get there. For example: Cut out sugar, replace treats with low-cal versions, eat healthier, exercise more.

Now break down each action into smaller, more achievable steps. For example: To cut out sugar: Stop buying my morning coffee at the café. Don’t stock ice-cream or chocolate at home. Replace fizzy drinks with water or fresh juice.

Set a deadline for each step. For example: Clean out all sugary treats from the kitchen this Saturday. Go grocery-shopping on Sunday to buy veggies and fruit for the new week.

Wondering how to get motivated? Making a roadmap like this can really help. Put it up where you can see it or save it on your phone so you can look at it whenever you’re feeling low on motivation.

How to stay motivated – Step 1

Getting motivated is easier than figuring out how to stay motivated. Here’s a pro tip: Develop a set of hacks or tricks you play on your mind to help you get motivated again. If you’re one month into your journey towards your goal and you feel your motivation flagging, these quick tips might help:

Find your tribe.

team exercise for motivation

Look for motivated friends or family members who are enthusiastic about the same things you’re working towards and talk to them. If you’re trying to lose weight and are getting bored of your limited diet, talk to that friend who loves the gym. Hearing from someone about how much they love the diet or the workout you’re trying can help you rediscover your enthusiasm. Plus they might have some new ideas on how to get motivated.

If you’re trying to work out more frequently, commit to a weekly workout in a fitness class so that you can’t make excuses. A group of people working towards the same goals can be incredibly inspiring.

Look after yourself.

If you are ill, chronically fatigued, or mentally burned out, you’re going to find it hard to stay motivated. Get enough sleep, eat healthy and get some activity in, and you’ll feel the difference in your mood and motivation levels. By looking after your health, you’re setting yourself up for success.  

Remind yourself why you are doing what you’re doing.

You might find that meditation helps you stay focused on your goals. Maybe that weekend Muay Thai class reminds you that you want to get stronger. Whether you’re spending a few minutes every morning on positive affirmations or tracking your runs on a fitness app, make time for anything that helps you stay on course.

How to stay motivated – Step 2

No matter how realistic or practical you are about your goals, a long-term happiness can seem very far off when faced with a temptation that offers a short-term reward. Tracking your progress and giving yourself smaller rewards – something that makes you happy but isn’t as expensive – can help you stay motivated.

For example: If you’re working towards paying off that mortgage by next year, you might want to avoid spending on this year’s Black Friday sales. But you’re tempted by the incredibly low prices and are seriously considering buying that new designer jacket, even though it’ll set you back a bit. Instead look back at how much you’ve already managed to pay off, think about all the effort you’ve made to get so far, and reward yourself with a new haircut or dessert instead.

small rewards

Here are some tips on tracking your progress and understanding how to stay motivated:

  • Bring the goals into your daily life with apps or reminders.
  • Create a way to monitor your progress, even if it’s a simple chart on your refrigerator.
  • Decide on a series of rewards for every small step achieved

Make sure you give yourself the rewards you chose so that you begin to enjoy the process and trust your own ability.

A handy hack that teaches you how to get motivated and stay motivated

Here’s another trick to help you get motivated: positive and negative motivation. This exercise helps you consider the pros and cons of your goals.

Positive motivation makes you look at the positives that will come out of not only completing your goal but also taking actions towards them. For example: If I get stronger, I can play with my kids longer and teach them sports or take them on a scuba trip that they’ll always remember.

Negative motivation makes you focus on the negatives that will help should you fail to take action towards your goals. For example: If I don’t work out this morning, I’ll feel lethargic and cranky all day.

Both forms of motivation are powerful in their own right and are effective at helping you learn how to stay motivated. Some of us respond better to a positive motivation that helps us focus on what we really want, and some of us do things more resolutely if we are trying to avoid the negative outcome.

Here are some more tips to help you get motivated and stay motivated:

Set up SMART goals

All your goals should always be SMART i.e. Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-bound. You are far more likely to attain goals that say “increase customer acquisition by 25%” rather than “make my company grow”.

Do all the heavy lifting in the beginning

It takes a lot of effort to set up your systems and processes in the beginning itself but you can reap enormous rewards in the long run by optimizing your efforts and eliminating drudgery.

Celebrate all wins, no matter how small

Acknowledging your efforts and rewarding yourself on completing even the smaller steps is a great way to stay motivated.

Focus on the others

While the goals you are trying to achieve are yours, they might affect other people in your life as well. Your kids will have a more engaged and active parent if you are healthy. Your employees will be happier and more enthusiastic if you can reward them with a year-end bonus as your company grows. When you feel your motivation flagging, shift your attention outwards and look at someone else’s happiness. This will motivate you to make a difference in not only your life but also in theirs.

How we can help

There are some things you can do to motivate yourself: Listen to a podcast, read a book, use an app like Headspace to help you practice focus and mindfulness, or remind yourself of your goals regularly.

If you find yourself losing motivation, remember that you can find external help too. Avaana can help you find a group fitness class or talk to a life coach to help you feel more motivated.

Avatar for Mish Khot

Mishana Khot is a fiction author and co-founder of The Great Next, an adventure travel company. She has been featured in National Geographic, Forbes magazine, and other publications, and has over 15 years of experience with health, travel, and lifestyle brands.

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