How to Get Motivated – 9 Proven Ways To Fuel Your Motivation

How to Get Motivated - 9 Proven Ways to Fuel Your Motivation

The difference between reaching a goal or not is having the motivation to stay with it during the tough times – and there’ll be more than one tough time along the way. 

If only the motivation and energy that was around at the start of the adventure stayed all the way through. What happens instead is that at the times it’s needed most – times of self-doubt, stumbles, distractions – motivation hits the floor, which is no place for motivation to be.

Almost all goals will be reached eventually. It’s a matter of how hard you can push through the tough times.

How to Get Motivated

Here’s what science can tell us about keeping motivated and on track to putting something brilliant into the world that wouldn’t be there without you.

  1. Start small.

    This is critical. Have small, workable goals that are easy to achieve. Want to run 8km? Start with 1km straight, or 2, or maybe 4. Want to lose 10kg? Start with 2kg. Need to study all weekend? Start with the next hour. Start small, with something that’s reachable, and you’ll astound yourself with what you can do. That’s a promise. Which brings me to …

  2. Celebrate your wins.

    Research has found that celebrating your achievements will motivate you towards future success. This is why it’s critical to line your path to your ultimate goal with small, achievable ones. Write down your achievements and look at them often. It’s easy to forget how far you’ve come. Have something concrete to look back on so you can see the luminescent glow of the things you’ve achieved along the way. When they light up behind you, what’s ahead of you will light up too.

  3. Build anticipation.

    Don’t start straight away. Instead, set a date for a week or two away – more if you like – and mark it on a calendar. This will give you the time to get excited and work out your plan, including your step by step goals. By the time the date rolls around, you’ll have all the energy, focus and commitment you need to achieve your goal – and achieve it you will.

  4. The 20-second rule.

    This one comes from Harvard happiness expert Shawn Achor. Along the way towards your goal, there’ll be times that you just don’t feel like doing what you need to be doing. Don’t let that knock you off track. Those days are going to happen and tomorrow will be better. To limit those times, have a 20 second rule. It works like this. The point of distraction comes and goes within 20 seconds. That’s all it takes to decide to do something other than what you’re meant to be doing – online shopping, the Google rabbit hole … you know how it works. Make the bad habit, or the thing that will hijack your path towards your goal, twenty seconds longer to get to. Put the junk food at the back of the high shelf. Put the remote control batteries in a drawer. Alternatively, put the things you need to be doing more within close, easy reach. Have your exercise gear laid out. Put healthy food at eye level. Have your work space set up and ready to go.

  5. Talk yourself into something easier.

    For the times you just don’t feel like it, tell yourself you’ll just make a start. Let me give you an example – me and running. We get along okay – not great – but okay. I never feel like it but I tell myself that I’ll decide whether or not to go after I put my shoes on. Then, I tell myself I’m going for a walk, not a run. Then, once out the door, I tell myself that I’ll just run for one song and then I’ll see how I feel. I keep doing this for the entire 5km and before I know it, I’m gasping for breath and falling through my front door – which lacks all grace but that’s okay because I’ve done it. I do this every time and I’ll do it next time and the time after that because it works. This can be applied to anything. Need to study? Tell yourself you’ll just sit down for 30 minutes – then see how you feel. Want to lose weight? Tell yourself you’ll just eat carefully for the next hour, or until 5pm and then you’ll see how you feel.

  6. Self-talk in third person.

    Research has shown that people achieve more when the self-talk is in third person. Say ‘You can do this,’ rather than ‘I can do this.’ The exact reason is unclear but quite possibly it’s because when we were young, success started with someone saying, ‘You can do this!’

  7. Change ‘I can’t’ to ‘I won’t.

    When things get tough and the words swirling around making trouble are ‘I can’t,’ change them to, ‘I won’t.’ ‘I can’t’ leaves no choice. ‘I won’t’ makes the decision all yours. ‘Can you?’ or ‘Can’t you?’ … depends on how capable you are. Will you? Or won’t you? … depends on what you decide.

  8. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

    This is a massive one. Comparison is a life-sucking troll and will skittle you off your path before you can say, ‘worse than’. Don’t compare. Learn. Watch. Grow. But don’t compare. Perhaps others are doing something similar to you but nobody will be doing it like you. Your path will be different, the point you’re at will be different and your ending will be different. Different. Not less than.

  9. Don’t let one missed day throw you off the horse.

    We’re only human. Along the way towards a goal we’ll stumble. It’s inevitable. And it’s okay – completely okay – so don’t let it be the thing that makes you throws your hands in the air and turn your back. Think of it as a break, not a failing. Miss one day and then get back to it – don’t let one day roll into two.

Every goal can be met, provided that there is the motivation and resilience to pull you up by the hand when you stumble. 

Use these tips to stay motivated, and when you feel like you’re falling, be motivated by the search for what it is down there you’re meant to find. There’s always something – make sure you’re open to finding it.

7 Comments

Ana

so glad that i stumped upon this site.it is the lowest peak of everything in my life…professional, personal… the great thing is that the site is helping me getting out of the tiny little box into which i have been pushed by none other than the only man whom i have been loving so much till date for more than a decade now that too without realizing about what he was doing to all the self-motivational kind of person i always am.Thank you.

Reply
Ravi C G

I always look for motivation around me, But often lose my path towards goal. I find your tips very helpful I had forgotten to reward my small wins. Thanks for spreading motivation.

Keep writing… Keep Motivating people to do good.

Reply
Hey Sigmund

Thanks Ravi. I’m so pleased this has been helpful for you. It’s very normal to lose the path now and then – the main thing is that you find it again when you need to.

Reply
Barbara Tyler

I teach Goal Setting Workshops and your advice rings true. Great advice…start small…reward yourself…change your self talk. Great article.

Reply
Merie Burton

I’m a psychotherapist in Brisbane, Australia and I absolutely love your website, your philosophy and your insight into our humanness. I am on the “same page” and I will definitely be sending my clients to your website as a wonderful resource.
Thank you
Merie

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Anxiety is a sign that the brain has registered threat and is mobilising the body to get to safety. One of the ways it does this is by organising the body for movement - to fight the danger or flee the danger. 

If there is no need or no opportunity for movement, that fight or flight fuel will still be looking for expression. This can come out as wriggly, fidgety, hyperactive behaviour. This is why any of us might pace or struggle to sit still when we’re anxious. 

If kids or teens are bouncing around, wriggling in their chairs, or having trouble sitting still, it could be anxiety. Remember with anxiety, it’s not about what is actually safe but about what the brain perceives. New or challenging work, doing something unfamiliar, too much going on, a tired or hungry body, anything that comes with any chance of judgement, failure, humiliation can all throw the brain into fight or flight.

When this happens, the body might feel busy, activated, restless. This in itself can drive even more anxiety in kids or teens. Any of us can struggle when we don’t feel comfortable in our own bodies. 

Anxiety is energy with nowhere to go. To move through anxiety, give the energy somewhere to go - a fast walk, a run, a whole-body shake, hula hooping, kicking a ball - any movement that spends the energy will help bring the brain and body back to calm.♥️
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#parenting #anxietyinkids #childanxiety #parenting #parent
This is not bad behaviour. It’s big behaviour a from a brain that has registered threat and is working hard to feel safe again. 

‘Threat’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what the brain perceives. The brain can perceive threat when there is any chance missing out on or messing up something important, anything that feels unfamiliar, hard, or challenging, feeling misunderstood, thinking you might be angry or disappointed with them, being separated from you, being hungry or tired, anything that pushes against their sensory needs - so many things. 

During anxiety, the amygdala in the brain is switched to high volume, so other big feelings will be too. This might look like tears, sadness, or anger. 

Big feelings have a good reason for being there. The amygdala has the very important job of keeping us safe, and it does this beautifully, but not always with grace. One of the ways the amygdala keeps us safe is by calling on big feelings to recruit social support. When big feelings happen, people notice. They might not always notice the way we want to be noticed, but we are noticed. This increases our chances of safety. 

Of course, kids and teens still need our guidance and leadership and the conversations that grow them, but not during the emotional storm. They just won’t hear you anyway because their brain is too busy trying to get back to safety. In that moment, they don’t want to be fixed or ‘grown’. They want to feel seen, safe and heard. 

During the storm, preserve your connection with them as much as you can. You might not always be able to do this, and that’s okay. None of this is about perfection. If you have a rupture, repair it as soon as you can. Then, when their brains and bodies come back to calm, this is the time for the conversations that will grow them. 

Rather than, ‘What consequences do they need to do better?’, shift to, ‘What support do they need to do better?’ The greatest support will come from you in a way they can receive: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can you do differently next time?’ ‘You’re the most wonderful kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen. How can you put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
Big behaviour is a sign of a nervous system in distress. Before anything, that vulnerable nervous system needs to be brought back home to felt safety. 

This will happen most powerfully with relationship and connection. Breathe and be with. Let them know you get it. This can happen with words or nonverbals. It’s about feeling what they feel, but staying regulated.

If they want space, give them space but stay in emotional proximity, ‘Ok I’m just going to stay over here. I’m right here if you need.’

If they’re using spicy words to make sure there is no confusion about how they feel about you right now, flag the behaviour, then make your intent clear, ‘I know how upset you are and I want to understand more about what’s happening for you. I’m not going to do this while you’re speaking to me like this. You can still be mad, but you need to be respectful. I’m here for you.’

Think of how you would respond if a friend was telling you about something that upset her. You wouldn’t tell her to calm down, or try to fix her (she’s not broken), or talk to her about her behaviour. You would just be there. You would ‘drop an anchor’ and steady those rough seas around her until she feels okay enough again. Along the way you would be doing things that let her know your intent to support her. You’d do this with you facial expressions, your voice, your body, your posture. You’d feel her feels, and she’d feel you ‘getting her’. It’s about letting her know that you understand what she’s feeling, even if you don’t understand why (or agree with why). 

It’s the same for our children. As their important big people, they also need leadership. The time for this is after the storm has passed, when their brains and bodies feel safe and calm. Because of your relationship, connection and their felt sense of safety, you will have access to their ‘thinking brain’. This is the time for those meaningful conversations: 
- ‘What happened?’
- ‘What did I do that helped/ didn’t help?’
- ‘What can you do differently next time?’
- ‘You’re a great kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen, but here we are. What can you do to put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
As children grow, and especially by adolescence, we have the illusion of control but whether or not we have any real influence will be up to them. The temptation to control our children will always come from a place of love. Fear will likely have a heavy hand in there too. When they fall, we’ll feel it. Sometimes it will feel like an ache in our core. Sometimes it will feel like failure or guilt, or anger. We might wish we could have stopped them, pushed a little harder, warned a little bigger, stood a little closer. We’re parents and we’re human and it’s what this parenting thing does. It makes fear and anxiety billow around us like lost smoke, too easily.

Remember, they want you to be proud of them, and they want to do the right thing. When they feel your curiosity over judgement, and the safety of you over shame, it will be easier for them to open up to you. Nobody will guide them better than you because nobody will care more about where they land. They know this, but the magic happens when they also know that you are safe and that you will hold them, their needs, their opinions and feelings with strong, gentle, loving hands, no matter what.♥️
Anger is the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. It has important work to do. Anger never exists on its own. It exists to hold other more vulnerable emotions in a way that feels safer. It’s sometimes feels easier, safer, more acceptable, stronger to feel the ‘big’ that comes with anger, than the vulnerability that comes with anxiety, sadness, loneliness. This isn’t deliberate. It’s just another way our bodies and brains try to keep us safe. 

The problem isn’t the anger. The problem is the behaviour that can come with the anger. Let there be no limits on thoughts and feelings, only behaviour. When children are angry, as long as they are safe and others are safe, we don’t need to fix their anger. They aren’t broken. Instead, drop the anchor: as much as you can - and this won’t always be easy - be a calm, steadying, loving presence to help bring their nervous systems back home to calm. 

Then, when they are truly calm, and with love and leadership, have the conversations that will grow them - 
- What happened? 
- What can you do differently next time?
- You’re a really great kid. I know you didn’t want this to happen but here we are. How can you make things right. Would you like some ideas? Do you need some help with that?
- What did I do that helped? What did I do that didn’t help? Is there something that might feel more helpful next time?

When their behaviour falls short of ‘adorable’, rather than asking ‘What consequences they need to do better?’ let the question be, ‘What support do they need to do better.’ Often, the biggest support will be a conversation with you, and that will be enough.♥️
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#parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting #anxietyinkids

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