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

Reply

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Lead with warmth and confidence: ‘Yes I know this feels big, and yes I know you can handle it.’ 

We’re not saying they’ll handle it well, and we’re not dismissing their anxiety. What we’re saying is ‘I know you can handle the discomfort of anxiety.’ 

It’s not our job to relive this discomfort. We’ll want to, but we don’t have to. Our job is to give them the experiences they need (when it’s safe) to let them see that they can handle the discomfort of anxiety. 

This is important, because there will  always be anxiety when they do something brave, new, important, growthful. 

They can feel anxious and do brave. Leading with warmth and confidence is about, ‘Yes, I believe you that this feels bad, and yes, I believe in you.’ When we believe in them, they will follow. So often though, it will start with us.♥️
There are things we do because we love them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll feel loved because of those things.

Of course our kids know we love them, and we know they love us. But sometimes, they might feel disconnected from that feeling of being ‘loved by’. As parents, we might feel disconnected from the feeling of being ‘appreciated by’.

It’s no coincidence that sometimes their need to feel loved, and our need to feel appreciated collide. This collision won’t sound like crashing metal or breaking concrete. It will sound like anger, frustration, demanding, nagging. 

It will feel like not mattering, resentment, disconnection. It can burst through us like meteors of anger, frustration, irritation, defiance. It can be this way for us and our young ones. (And our adult relationships too.)

We humans have funny ways of saying, ‘I miss you.’

Our ‘I miss you’ might sound like nagging, annoyance, anger. It might feel like resentment, rage, being taken for granted, sadness, loneliness. It might look like being less playful, less delighting in their presence.

Their ‘I miss you’ might look like tantrums, aggression, tears, ignoring, defiant indifference, attention-seeking (attention-needing). It might sound like demands, anger, frustration.

The point is, there are things we do because we love them - cleaning, the laundry, the groceries, cooking. And yes, we want them to be grateful, but feeling grateful and feeling loved are different things. 

Sometimes the things that make them feel loved are so surprising and simple and unexpected - seeking them out for play, micro-connections, the way you touch their hair at bedtime, the sound of your laugh at their jokes, when you delight in their presence (‘Gosh I’ve missed you today!’ Or, ‘I love being your mum so much. I love it better than everything. Even chips. If someone said you can be queen of the universe or Molly’s mum, I’d say ‘Pfft don’t annoy me with your offers of a crown. I’m Molly’s mum and I’ll never love being anything more.’’)

So ask them, ‘What do I do that makes you feel loved?’ If they say ‘When you buy me Lego’, gently guide them away from bought things, and towards what you do for them or with them.♥️
We don’t have to protect them from the discomfort of anxiety. We’ll want to, but we don’t have to.

OAnxiety often feels bigger than them, but it isn’t. This is a wisdom that only comes from experience. The more they sit with their anxiety, the more they will see that they can feel anxious and do brave anyway. Sometimes brave means moving forward. Sometimes it means standing still while the feeling washes away. 

It’s about sharing the space, not getting pushed out of it.

Our job as their adults isn’t to fix the discomfort of anxiety, but to help them recognise that they can handle that discomfort - because it’s going to be there whenever they do something brave, hard , important. When we move them to avoid anxiety, we potentially, inadvertently, also move them to avoid brave, hard, growthful things. 

‘Brave’ rarely feels brave. It will feel jagged and raw. Sometimes fragile and threadbare. Sometimes it will as though it’s breathing fire. But that’s how brave feels sometimes. 

The more they sit with the discomfort of anxiety, the more they will see that anxiety isn’t an enemy. They don’t have to be scared of it. It’s a faithful ally, a protector, and it’s telling them, ‘Brave lives here. Stay with me. Let me show you.’♥️
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#parenting #childanxiety #anxietyinkids #teenanxiety
We have to stop treating anxiety as a disorder. Even for kids who have seismic levels of anxiety, pathologising anxiety will not serve them at all. All it will do is add to their need to avoid the thing that’s driving anxiety, which will most often be something brave, hard, important. (Of course if they are in front of an actual danger, we help anxiety do its job and get them out of the way of that danger, but that’s not the anxiety we’re talking about here.)

The key to anxiety isn’t in the ‘getting rid of’ anxiety, but in the ‘moving with’ anxiety. 

The story they (or we) put to their anxiety will determine their response. ‘You have anxiety. We need to fix it or avoid the thing that’s causing it,’ will drive a different response to, ‘Of course you have anxiety. You’re about to do something brave. What’s one little step you can take towards it?’

This doesn’t mean they will be able to ‘move with’ their anxiety straight away. The point is, the way we talk to them about anxiety matters. 

We don’t want them to be scared of anxiety, because we don’t want them to be scared of the brave, important, new, hard things that drive anxiety. Instead, we want to validate and normalise their anxiety, and attach it to a story that opens the way for brave: 

‘Yes you feel anxious - that’s because you’re about to do something brave. Sometimes it feels like it happens for no reason at all. That’s because we don’t always know what your brain is thinking. Maybe it’s thinking about doing something brave. Maybe it’s thinking about something that happened last week or last year. We don’t always know, and that’s okay. It can feel scary, and you’re safe. I would never let you do something unsafe, or something I didn’t think you could handle. Yes you feel anxious, and yes you can do this. You mightn’t feel brave, but you can do brave. What can I do to help you be brave right now?’♥️

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