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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How we are with them, when they are their everyday selves and when they aren’t so adorable, will build their view of three things: the world, its people, and themselves. This will then inform how they respond to the world and how they build their very important space in it. 

Will it be a loving, warm, open-hearted space with lots of doors for them to throw open to the people and experiences that are right for them? Or will it be a space with solid, too high walls that close out too many of the people and experiences that would nourish them.

They will learn from what we do with them and to them, for better or worse. We don’t teach them that the world is safe for them to reach into - we show them. We don’t teach them to be kind, respectful, and compassionate. We show them. We don’t teach them that they matter, and that other people matter, and that their voices and their opinions matter. We show them. We don’t teach them that they are little joy mongers who light up the world. We show them. 

But we have to be radically kind with ourselves too. None of this is about perfection. Parenting is hard, and days will be hard, and on too many of those days we’ll be hard too. That’s okay. We’ll say things we shouldn’t say and do things we shouldn’t do. We’re human too. Let’s not put pressure on our kiddos to be perfect by pretending that we are. As long as we repair the ruptures as soon as we can, and bathe them in love and the warmth of us as much as we can, they will be okay.

This also isn’t about not having boundaries. We need to be the guardians of their world and show them where the edges are. But in the guarding of those boundaries we can be strong and loving, strong and gentle. We can love them, and redirect their behaviour.

It’s when we own our stuff(ups) and when we let them see us fall and rise with strength, integrity, and compassion, and when we hold them gently through the mess of it all, that they learn about humility, and vulnerability, and the importance of holding bruised hearts with tender hands. It’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency, and honesty, and the way we respond to them the most.♥️

#parenting #mindfulparenting
Anxiety and courage always exist together. It can be no other way. Anxiety is a call to courage. It means you're about to do something brave, so when there is one the other will be there too. Their courage might feel so small and be whisper quiet, but it will always be there and always ready to show up when they need it to.
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But courage doesn’t always feel like courage, and it won't always show itself as a readiness. Instead, it might show as a rising - from fear, from uncertainty, from anger. None of these mean an absence of courage. They are the making of space, and the opportunity for courage to rise.
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When the noise from anxiety is loud and obtuse, we’ll have to gently add our voices to usher their courage into the light. We can do this speaking of it and to it, and by shifting the focus from their anxiety to their brave. The one we focus on is ultimately what will become powerful. It will be the one we energise. Anxiety will already have their focus, so we’ll need to make sure their courage has ours.
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But we have to speak to their fear as well, in a way that makes space for it to be held and soothed, with strength. Their fear has an important job to do - to recruit the support of someone who can help them feel safe. Only when their fear has been heard will it rest and make way for their brave.
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What does this look like? Tell them their stories of brave, but acknowledge the fear that made it tough. Stories help them process their emotional experiences in a safe way. It brings word to the feelings and helps those big feelings make sense and find containment. ‘You were really worried about that exam weren’t you. You couldn’t get to sleep the night before. It was tough going to school but you got up, you got dressed, you ... and you did it. Then you ...’
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In the moment, speak to their brave by first acknowledging their need to flee (or fight), then tell them what you know to be true - ‘This feels scary for you doesn’t it. I know you want to run. It makes so much sense that you would want to do that. I also know you can do hard things. My darling, I know it with everything in me.’
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#positiveparenting #parenting #childanxiety #anxietyinchildren #mindfulpare
Separation anxiety has an important job to do - it’s designed to keep children safe by driving them to stay close to their important adults. Gosh it can feel brutal sometimes though.

Whenever there is separation from an attachment person there will be anxiety unless there are two things: attachment with another trusted, loving adult; and a felt sense of you holding on, even when you aren't beside them. Putting these in place will help soften anxiety.

As long as children are are in the loving care of a trusted adult, there's no need to avoid separation. We'll need to remind ourselves of this so we can hold on to ourselves when our own anxiety is rising in response to theirs. 

If separation is the problem, connection has to be the solution. The connection can be with any loving adult, but it's more than an adult being present. It needs an adult who, through their strong, warm, loving presence, shows the child their abundant intention to care for that child, and their joy in doing so. This can be helped along by showing that you trust the adult to love that child big in our absence. 'I know [important adult] loves you and is going to take such good care of you.'

To help your young one feel held on to by you, even in absence, let them know you'll be thinking of them and can't wait to see them. Bolster this by giving them something of yours to hold while you're gone - a scarf, a note - anything that will be felt as 'you'.

They know you are the one who makes sure their world is safe, so they’ll be looking to you for signs of safety: 'Do you think we'll be okay if we aren't together?' First, validate: 'You really want to stay with me, don't you. I wish I could stay with you too! It's hard being away from your special people isn't it.' Then, be their brave. Let it be big enough to wrap around them so they can rest in the safety and strength of it: 'I know you can do this, love. We can do hard things can't we.'

Part of growing up brave is learning that the presence of anxiety doesn't always mean something is wrong. Sometimes it means they are on the edge of brave - and being away from you for a while counts as brave.
Even the most loving, emotionally available adult might feel frustration, anger, helplessness or distress in response to a child’s big feelings. This is how it’s meant to work. 

Their distress (fight/flight) will raise distress in us. The purpose is to move us to protect or support or them, but of course it doesn’t always work this way. When their big feelings recruit ours it can drive us more to fight (anger, blame), or to flee (avoid, ignore, separate them from us) which can steal our capacity to support them. It will happen to all of us from time to time. 

Kids and teens can’t learn to manage big feelings on their own until they’ve done it plenty of times with a calm, loving adult. This is where co-regulation comes in. It helps build the vital neural pathways between big feelings and calm. They can’t build those pathways on their own. 

It’s like driving a car. We can tell them how to drive as much as we like, but ‘talking about’ won’t mean they’re ready to hit the road by themselves. Instead we sit with them in the front seat for hours, driving ‘with’ until they can do it on their own. Feelings are the same. We feel ‘with’, over and over, until they can do it on their own. 

What can help is pausing for a moment to see the behaviour for what it is - a call for support. It’s NOT bad behaviour or bad parenting. It’s not that.

Our own feelings can give us a clue to what our children are feeling. It’s a normal, healthy, adaptive way for them to share an emotional load they weren’t meant to carry on their own. Self-regulation makes space for us to hold those feelings with them until those big feelings ease. 

Self-regulation can happen in micro moments. First, see the feelings or behaviour for what it is - a call for support. Then breathe. This will calm your nervous system, so you can calm theirs. In the same way we will catch their distress, they will also catch ours - but they can also catch our calm. Breathe, validate, and be ‘with’. And you don’t need to do more than that.
When things feel hard or the world feels big, children will be looking to their important adults for signs of safety. They will be asking, ‘Do you think I'm safe?' 'Do you think I can do this?' With everything in us, we have to send the message, ‘Yes! Yes love, this is hard and you are safe. You can do hard things.'

Even if we believe they are up to the challenge, it can be difficult to communicate this with absolute confidence. We love them, and when they're distressed, we're going to feel it. Inadvertently, we can align with their fear and send signals of danger, especially through nonverbals. 

What they need is for us to align with their 'brave' - that part of them that wants to do hard things and has the courage to do them. It might be small but it will be there. Like a muscle, courage strengthens with use - little by little, but the potential is always there.

First, let them feel you inside their world, not outside of it. This lets their anxious brain know that support is here - that you see what they see and you get it. This happens through validation. It doesn't mean you agree. It means that you see what they see, and feel what they feel. Meet the intensity of their emotion, so they can feel you with them. It can come off as insincere if your nonverbals are overly calm in the face of their distress. (Think a zen-like low, monotone voice and neutral face - both can be read as threat by an anxious brain). Try:

'This is big for you isn't it!' 
'It's awful having to do things you haven't done before. What you are feeling makes so much sense. I'd feel the same!

Once they really feel you there with them, then they can trust what comes next, which is your felt belief that they will be safe, and that they can do hard things. 

Even if things don't go to plan, you know they will cope. This can be hard, especially because it is so easy to 'catch' their anxiety. When it feels like anxiety is drawing you both in, take a moment, breathe, and ask, 'Do I believe in them, or their anxiety?' Let your answer guide you, because you know your young one was built for big, beautiful things. It's in them. Anxiety is part of their move towards brave, not the end of it.

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