When most people think of motivation, they recall a feeling when they're excited and have loads of ambition to finish the task or goal at hand. That part of motivation is easy when you're focused and enthusiastic. What happens when the enthusiasm and ambition dissipate? This is where most fail to understand what motivation truly is. It isn't just excitement and enthusiasm that constitutes motivation but rather the discipline to keep moving forward when it's the last thing you want to do. It's important to learn how to stay motivated.
Set a Goal
The first step to being motivated is to know what you're trying to achieve. Be very specific and visualize what you want to accomplish right down to the details. If your goal is to run a marathon, envision what you're going to wear, the feeling of the breeze through your hair, the excitement when you cross the finish line, seeing the people there cheering you on, and feeling the sweat rolling down your cheek.
Setting a goal, especially a large one, can be intimidating and may feel impossible to achieve before you even get started. This is where the concept of chunking comes in. Break your big goal down into smaller goals that are much more easily accomplished, and begin by focusing only on that first goal.
Chunking allows you to make your tasks much more manageable, giving you small victories along the way, which can significantly improve motivation. The small victories will trigger a dopamine release, i.e., the feel-good chemical, allowing the “easy” kind of motivation to stick with you.
The downside to this tactic is that some of these mini-goals may be trivial or menial, another potential motivation drain. In these times, make sure you stay focused on the big picture. Keep that end goal in mind so it doesn't get lost in the mundane of the current mini-task at hand, and remember what it is you're striving for in the end.
Know Your Why
The single most powerful thing when it comes to staying motivated while struggling through setbacks and lack of enthusiasm is to know exactly why you want to accomplish this goal. As long as your why is more powerful than the obstacles in your path, nothing can stop you. Write it down. Scientific studies show that the act of writing creates more of a cerebral engagement than any other method. Being specific about your why and continually referring to and reflecting upon it is crucial to maintain motivation.
Develop a Strategy
Have a detailed plan that encompasses exactly what you want to do but remain fluid. If you find flaws in your plan as you go, don't be afraid to change it on the fly. Part of this strategy should include how to deal with a lack of enthusiasm or excitement. To keep your struggles in perspective and stay motivated, find others who have overcome much more yet still succeeded and tap into their energy. Listening to someone passionate about what they're doing, especially if it's similar to your goal, can also boost your energy levels.
Also, make sure the goals you have set for yourself are indeed your goals and not what others think you should be doing. Your motivation will come from doing what you truly want to do.
As you develop your strategy, don't obsess or worry about the things you can't control. Focus on what you can control and work around or through the rest. Fixating on negative "what ifs" can derail your progress if you aren't careful. To combat this, always seek and consume positive, inspirational, and uplifting news and information. It doesn't even need to be related to what you're doing. Something positive can quickly change your mood and get you back on track.
Consistency Is Key
Every single day should consist of some action that gets you closer to your goals. Take action even if you aren't feeling it that day, and honestly, especially if you aren't feeling it. Always be consistent and deliberate in the pursuit of your goals.
Positive self-talk is also very important and can be an absolute game-changer when trying to stay consistent with your goals. Always remind yourself that you can do this and that you will attain your goals. On days when you would rather do nothing, tell yourself you WILL take a step towards your goal no matter how small or how difficult it may be. Build yourself up, no matter how much you feel like quitting.
Finding ways to make achieving your goals fun is another tip to help you stay consistent and motivated. For example, look for ways to turn your tasks into a game, and reward yourself for completing each task by splurging on a dessert or getting that gift for yourself you've always wanted. Approaching your goals with a positive outlook and finding ways to make them more enjoyable can help you in staying determined and motivated.
The mistake most people make is assuming that motivation is just the energy and enthusiasm you feel when first starting a task or goal, and when that wanes, they quit. Understanding that motivation is much more than that and requires discipline can help you stay on task to complete your goals. Louise Heitecan help you realize that you have it within yourself to obtain the motivation and discipline to accomplish your goals.
Louise Heite is a certified life & business coach, leadership consultant, and holistic wellness advocate who helps founders, entrepreneurs, and leaders fuel their best selves and find breakthrough success.
With a track record of proven results, she helped scale and lead global customer support groups, built strong partnerships with Fortune 500 companies, and headed a crisis management team that brought over 2,000 people to safety. She is passionate about helping high-achieving individuals live life on purpose.