Getting motivated is one of the hardest things in the world for some people. It seems that the larger a task is – and the more you need to do it – the less you want to actually do it. The next time you have a big task ahead of you, keep the following guide on how to get and stay motivated in mind.
If you want to be motivated then you need a target. It’s almost impossible to motivate yourself to complete vague and undefined goals as they are simply not feasible. Defining your goals and then breaking them into even smaller goals enables you to handle a large task in manageable sized chunks. The small goals should still have some meaning for you, and they have to be something you can actually do, or you’ll still find it challenging to stay motivated.
Work out which goals are the most important for you. Which is the goal that motivates you most? Which one do you really want to do? Think realistically about the goal and assess how attainable it really is given how much time, money, and other resources you have to dedicate to it. Sometimes goals can build on each other, so these are important considerations to make. Focusing on one or two goals helps to keep the feeling of being overwhelmed at bay. Finding yourself overwhelmed is the fastest way to kill your motivation. If you do feel overwhelmed, then it makes you tempted to give up on your goals because it contributes to procrastination.
After organizing goals and ranking them by importance, decide the first few most-important goals. Put together a to-do list of objectives or daily tasks you can do to stay on top of your goals, no matter how long it takes. To go back to our example of medical school, this could be to study a chapter of an MCAT prep book every day.
Keep a list of daily tasks and cross through the ones you manage to achieve. This will help you stay motivated as you move forward, as it serves as a reminder that you have been productive. It also feels good. Keep repeating the process until you master the objective, and then find another objective to work on instead.
If you think negatively, it makes goals seem less achievable. It makes even the smallest task feel monumental. Taking a positive approach to the same goal makes it seem manageable by comparison. Studies have shown that when people are sad they literally underestimate the steepness of a hill when compared to people in neutral or happier states.
If you are having trouble staying motivated right now, but you have succeeded with goals in the past, then take some time to feel proud about those past accomplishments. You have no doubt succeeded at something in life, even if you don’t have any success in the past with your current goals. It can be something as simple as being part of a charity. Be proud of the things you did and what they enabled. If you worked in a soup kitchen or example, then washing the dishes meant that more people there were able to eat. If you weren’t there, then less people would have been able to enjoy their meals on a clean plate.
Stay passionate about your goals. This will fuel your motivation and keep you energized to stay on target. Being passionate about the goal will also help you stick with it during the tough times that leave you feeling like you should give up.
You need to be engaged in learning, studying, and actually achieving your goals rather than having a focus on external things; such as how people are going to think and feel about when you achieve your goals.
Don’t let yourself worry about failing. Thinking about failure can make you feel like your lack for success never goes away. It makes you think less of yourself, and convinces you that other people think less of you too. This isn’t the case. Mistakes are there to be learned from. Embrace them.
When you struggle to keep yourself motivated, just remember the times in the past where you stayed on track and accomplished your goals. Remember what happened after you achieved your goal, and how you felt about your success.
If you aren’t feeling motivated about something, then the best thing it do is just start doing it. Sometimes things get built up in our minds and we can feel like they are much worse than they really are. This is a process known as affective forecasting, and people are terrible for doing it. Starting something will make you realise that – in reality – it wasn’t bad at all.
One of the major barriers to staying motivated is finding yourself distracted by other things that seem a lot more interesting than what you are working on. Keep yourself motivated by getting rid of distractions, so that you can’t even engage them in the first place. If there’s nothing around that could possibly distract you, then you aren’t going to be distracted.
Some people find competition to be motivating. Think back and consider the cases you felt more motivated to reach a goal because you were in competition with someone who was also trying to reach it – or you decided to compete with yourself. If that sounds like you, then find a way to build some friendly competition. You don’t even need to let the person you are competing with know that you see them as competition. Just try to out do your chosen rival, and push yourself to the next level.
You can always count on others to give you the motivation you need, provided you build a support network for the job. Let your family and friends know what you are doing, what you want to achieve, and what struggles you are facing. Talking the situation out with them helps you to stay motivated. It also keeps those emotion-sapping negative thoughts away.
Keep in mind that your body needs support itself. Your body will certainly let you know if you ignore its needs for too long. It leaves you feeling negative, draining you of any motivation you had. Eating healthy is an often-overlooked aspect of staying motivated. Get some lean meat, fruits, vegetables, and nuts into your diet.
Exercising and working out releases endorphins that leave you feeling good. Feeling good – especially about yourself – keeps your motivation levels boosted. Exercising also reduces stress and is able to combat depression. Stress and depression are two major factors leaving you fatigued and unmotivated. Listen to music that gets you pumped when you exercise. This gives you self motivation and pushes you to work harder.
Even though you might feel that caffeine motivates you, having too much of the stuff leaves you anxious and jittery. That leaves you feeling stressed and anxious, which is one of the fastest ways to lose any motivation you might have had. It leaves you feeling overwhelmed which, contrary to what you might believe about caffeine, makes you shut down
Not getting enough sleep leaves you in a state of poor mental health. It causes fatigue, anxiety, and sadness; all of which drain you of your motivation to accomplish your goals.
Negative thoughts ruin your performance. You need to have faith in yourself and believe that you can correct any mistakes the next time around.
Sometimes people find themselves creating a defeatist attitude without meaning to; sometimes without even realising it. They give up, telling themselves that something like their genetics or destiny means that there is no point in even trying. The only person that decides on your destiny is you, and genetics can only hold you back so much. It’s possible to reach your goals, no matter what.
There are going to be some people in your life that sap your motivation and don’t want you to succeed. They want you to stay on their level, rather than getting ahead of them. These are the people that try to control you as you go about your activities and try to reach your goals.
If you do not believe you are valuable, you are likely to quit your endeavours sooner rather than later. After all, why bother trying if you imagine you do not deserve success or suppose you will fail anyway? Boost self-belief and get rid of doubt about your abilities. Understand you have unique gifts to share. There is no one like you on the planet, so nobody else can life your life’s purpose.
Do not let myths about success hold you back. Often, people attribute other people’s achievements to natural talent, intelligence, or even genetics rather than good ole’ fashion hard work and determination. If you think success comes easy or naturally to everyone but you then you will never get ahead. Everyone has to work hard regardless of what talents they were born with, do not believe the info commercials or hype surrounding these false overnight success stories. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.
The journey to your dreams might not be easy, but it is possible! Instead of allowing challenges to zap away all of your enthusiasm and motivation, be ready to face them. Create rules to motivate you and keep you going strong. For instance, the rule “I will ignore naysayers” will stop you from feeling down if people are persistent on telling you that you will fail.
One day, you will look back on your journey to success and realize is was as important as reaching your goal. Sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. Instead of imagining you must struggle to get what you want, know that you are already living the dream. The steps you take are part of your accomplishments. Appreciate them, celebrate every little joyful moment.
Rejoice as you reach each milestone. Treat yourself, dance, sing, go to a movie, get anyone who helped you to join in on the moment and have a little fun. It is impossible to be successful and stay motivated if you are not at least having a little fun along the way. Keep staying upbeat and your positive attitude will continue to fuel your motivation.
It is inevitable that you will make mistakes and encounter delays. Sometimes plans will fall through, and unexpected events will present challenge along the way. Accept you will face stumbling blocks, and learn from them. If you make mistakes, do not beat yourself up. Know each one pushes you closer to making plans watertight and becoming an expert at whatever you decide to do.
Remember you and you alone control your destiny. Yes there will be others that will try and hold you back, but you must keep the mind-set that nothing can stop you. Find a way to make it happen, do not give up no matter how tough it gets. Live by the motto that you will not take NO for an answer!
I hope this guide helps you to get and stay motivated and that it is able to help you achieve your goals.
Craig is the founder of LifeGuider, he is dedicated to improving not only himself but also others in being more physically fit and mentally capable of handling life’s challenges. He is not your regular life coach, no fancy clothes or fast cars, just a regular “Ole Joe” who has experienced the ups and downs of life like everyone else.
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