You know the feeling, you have a mounting to do list or a big project and you’ve lost your way. You know that you need to pull your socks up and get motivated, but you just can’t seem to muster the motivation to get going.
Now, motivation is not magic and it doesn’t come in a bottle. But it is something you can design into your life to make sure that you’re feel like you’re winning.
1 Set an achievable goal and visualise it
It’s really common to start off by setting yourself massive goals that are not achievable within the resources or time that you have.
Now, there is a place for really ambitious goals especially when you’re gearing up for a career change or creating a business plan. But in our day to day life or work it can be more motivational to start with an achievable goal that is within your skills and resources, but stretches you a little. And then get it done.
If you take a moment to visualise it into your life – how it will feel when it happens, who will be around you, the sights, the sounds, the smells – then you are already one step closer to believing it will be a reality and to mustering the energy and will to make it happen.
“It’s been found that mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence and self-efficacy, improve motor performance, prime your brain for success, and increase states of flow – all relevant to achieving your best life.” (AJ LeVan, Psychology Today)
2 List the benefits of your goal
Our emotions are one of our strongest motivators. Feelings are a key part of why we do what we do. Whether it choosing a movie (are you in the mood for a RomCom, action film or Western?), a restaurant, going shopping for clothes, deciding who to hang out with or where you want to live or work we are influenced by practical information but more often guided by our emotions. Whether we admit it or not.
In their book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath say that emotions are an essential part of reaching your goal: “Focus on emotions. Knowing something isn’t enough to cause change. Make people (or yourself) feel something.”
So one simple way to harness your emotional motivations is to make a list of the reasons you want to achieve your goal. It’s easy to get blown off course, especially if we are working towards a few different goals in our personal and work life. This is why you need a place – a list on your wall, in a typed action plan, in your journal or on a mood board – where you can go to to ground yourself and be reminded of WHY you are working towards that goal.
“One simple way to harness your emotional motivations is to make a list of the reasons you want to achieve your goal.”
For my personal health and wellness goal I have five key reasons for how achieving my fitness and weight targets will benefit my life now and my future family plans. The benefits can be financial, physical, material, practical or logistical, or they can be about how you’d like to feel or be behaving in a new way once you’re on your way to reaching your goal.
3 Break the goal down into smaller targets and track your progress
Try breaking down your goal into manageable steps with interim milestones that will add up to the whole goal. Then focus on reaching one milestone at a time to stay motivated. This way you can put your full energy and focus on doing just a few actions to reach that milestone and then reward yourself for getting there.
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Confucius
I can’t stress how important it is to track your progress to keep up your motivation. A goal is like a dangling carrot and can be a great inspiration for something to work towards. However, goals by themselves can sometimes feel a long way away, and can leave us feeling deflated and demotivated.
So it’s vital to never set a goal without a way to track your progress towards it. We sometimes forget to stop and reflect on just how far we’ve come even if we’ve not quite reached the final goal yet. That’s how exercise and calorie trackers, like MyFitnessPal and FitBit, help people stay motivated to get active and make better food choices – by showing people how many calories exercise burns or showing on a graph how many pounds they have lost since they started tracking. Great motivation!
4 Reward yourself and celebrate
Once you are in the habit of tracking your progress don’t forget to celebrate your achievements, big or small. Always take the time to celebrate, because these rewards for each little success – and the positive feelings that they generate – play a huge part in staying motivated.
“The more times you succeed at something, the longer your brain stores the information that allowed you to do so well in the first place. That’s because with each success, our brain releases a chemical called dopamine. When dopamine flows into the brain’s reward pathway…we are inspired to re-experience the activity that caused the chemical release in the first place.” (Monica Metha, entrepreneur.com)
Reward yourself each and every time you reach a milestone or goal. You could treat yourself to a some ‘me time’ – a massage, a night out, a new book that you’re been hankering to read or just a night off cosied up in front of a movie.
You can start right now. Think about something you have recently accomplished and plan a way to celebrate it within the next 10 days. It can be as simple as going out for a glass of wine with a friend.
5 Have an attitude of expectancy and gratitude
Where you put your thoughts, your actions will follow. So if you foster a sense of gratitude for what you have and a sense that good things will come you are more likely to have a successful outcome. Expect something great to happen for you every day and it will. Say aloud each morning to yourself in the mirror, “I expect something good to happen for me today!”
Tell us about your ways to stay motivated. What works for you? How do you track your progress? How do you celebrate success? Feel free to leave a comment below.
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