How to Motivate Yourself

Being self motivated means being ready for driven, focused discussion and behavior. It also means being sharp and smart enough not to be manipulated and to be open to positive learning. Knowing how to motivate yourself is a struggle; our drive is constantly assaulted bynegative thoughts and anxiety about the future. Everyone faces doubt and depression. What separates the highly successful is the ability to keep moving forward.

 

Changing Your Mindset

Get positive. It’s pretty hard to get anything done when we’re stuck on thoughts like, “Ugh, life sucks and it’s raining.” Thoughts like those make us want to just curl up in our beds until someone physically drags us out. You can’t do that! Positive thoughts are the only way you’ll even find motivation in the first place.

  • If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, just stop. Don’t finish it. Divert your attention elsewhere. Especially if you’re thinking about your motivation! This task in front of you? It’s doable and you have the abilities to do it. Any other thinking will keep you from even trying.

Be willing to leave your comfort zone. The greatest barrier to achieving your potential is your comfort zone. Great things happen when you make friends with your discomfort zone.

Get hungry. When Les Brown talks about motivation, he repeats, “You got to be hungry!” What he’s saying here is that you have to actually want it. You can’t imagine a life without it. Thinking something would be nice, being full of velleities won’t get you anywhere. Want it. If you don’t really, want it, what are you doing trying to motivate yourself?

Get confident. With thinking positive about your world, you have to think positive about you. If you think you’re incapable, it’ll seriously put a damper on the amount of effort you give this task. Why would you bother doing something you don’t think you can do? Exactly. You won’t.

  • To get started, count your successes. What do you have going for you? What have you done in the past that was awesome? What resources do you have at your disposal? Think of all the things you’ve achieved in the past. For what reason would you not be able to achieve what you want now?! You’ve done similar things before.

Know setbacks will happen. It’s important to go into a behavior (possibly even a lifelong habit) knowing there will be failures along the way. Being a perfectionist about yourself will just leave you frustrated and tempted to give up. There will be times when you fail. You just have to know that you’re capable of getting back up and, better yet, that you will.

  • Your failures or setbacks have nothing to do with you and everything to do with being human. They happen. Sometimes they’ll happen because of you (not every decision can be stellar), but sometimes they’ll happen because of circumstances that are beyond your control. Going into this with a level head will benefit you greatly in the end.

Getting Focus and Developing Momentum

Focus on positive goals. It’s simple to know what we don’t want. It’s simple to know what we’re afraid of. Often it’s harder to pinpoint what exactly would make us happy and what exactly we’re striving for. However, to get anything done, we have to start thinking with positive goals, not negative fears. Instead of “I don’t want to be poor,” a better goal is “I’d like to save X amount of money each month.” See how the latter is much, much more doable? And less scary!

  • Positive here doesn’t mean radiating beams of sunshine. It means something you can do, something in the affirmative. A goal of “not being fat” is demotivating in itself. “Losing ten pounds through diet and exercise” is something that doesn’t leave you frowning at the mere thought of it.

Start small. There’s no way having a goal of “becoming world famous” or “losing 75 pounds by winter” or even “mastering the clarinet” are ever going to happen easily. Alright, so maybe those are a bit extreme, but you get the point. Having a goal that just isn’t going to happen will turn you off and keep you from being successful.

  • Instead of becoming world famous, losing a ton of weight, or mastering the clarinet, opt for having a successful YouTube channel, losing 10 pounds this month, or playing a classical piece on the clarinet. All these things are working toward these super-massive goals, but they’re doable. Doable is something you can stick to.
  • Start small in the mornings. If you have a list of tasks, you may find it beneficial to start with the smallest one. This gets the ball rolling and eases you in to the harder parts of the day. Getting going really is half the battle.

Track your progress. Since the dawn of time, humans have searched for purpose and direction. And this doesn’t just have to do with existentialism — we seek purpose in our jobs, relationships, and even hobbies. If something is unfulfilling, we don’t do it. So whether you’re losing weight, working overtime, or studying for college, track what you’re doing! This will give you drive and show you the positive outcomes of your behavior. It will give you purpose.

  • Make sure to track your behaviors andtheir results. Not only do you need the results to look at and go, “Gee! I am awesome! Look at what I did!” you’ll need the results to see what does and does not work for you. If you try three different methods of studying, three different workouts, etc., which one gave you the best results for your effort? You can then streamline and strategize from there.

Do what you enjoy. Most of us have jobs we aren’t crazy about, workouts we don’t want to do, and a to-do list that we’d pay other people to get completed. These things won’t go away, so we have to make them as manageable and as enjoyable as possible. If you don’t enjoy it, it may be there forever.

  • Think about your job. If it stinks, how can you make it better? Can you ask to work on a specific project that interests you? How can you focus your time on the aspects that you dolike?
  • If working out is a bummer, find a different one! You don’t have to be a marathon runner to burn calories. Go swimming, take a class, or go hiking. If you don’t like the exercise you’re doing, you won’t stick with it.

Take breaks. We are not machines (but even machines need breaks). Studies have shown that students who take breaks are more effective studiers. And it’s common knowledge that our muscles need breaks, too. Breaks aren’t for the lazy — they’re for those that know they want to keep going.

  • It’s up to you to gauge when those breaks need to be. It also depends on what the ultimate end goal is. Not only should there be mini breaks in your day, but there need to be life breaks, too.

Set rewards. Let’s be honest: results just don’t come soon enough. It takes years to make money from a new business, it takes months to reach weight loss goals, and it takes a virtual lifetime to be happy with yourself. That’s just about the opposite of instant gratification. To overcome this unfortunate fact of life, give yourself rewards. Life sure isn’t going to do it for you, so you might as well will.

  • Don’t just use rewards for the big end goal (though by all means do that!). Set up checkpoints for yourself and give rewards at those smaller successes, too. Lost 5 pounds? Great! That warrants a massage. Aced your last three tests? Super! A night out it is! Finished the first half of your book? Wonderful — now it’s time to go shopping.

Make it fun. Straight up, doing something you flat out despise won’t be something you keep up with. The second you can drop it like a bad habit, you will. For that reason, whatever you’re doing — be it saving up money for that new car or losing 15 pounds — you gotta make it enjoyable. The more enjoyable it is, the more you’ll do it. The more you’ll do it, the better you’ll get at it. The better you get at it, the quicker the end result will come.

  • Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Do you hate running? No problem. Take a kickboxing class — the weight will fall off that way, too. Horrible at writing papers? Change to a topic that drives you. Can’t save money to save your life? Switch environments. Your world is malleable — what you make of it can change your motivation entirely.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. In order to find the best way of achieving something, we often have to do things we’ve never done before. Mistakes will happen if you’re growing and getting better. You can X them off your list of possibilities and narrow your path to action down from there. Technically, mistakes are a good thing. At the very least they serve a purpose.

  • There’s also the fear of looking stupid that keeps a lot of people from trying things. Whether it’s raising your hand in class or trying out that new equipment that you’re not sure how to use, it’s human nature to want to stay in our comfort zone. But for the most effective results, if you truly want to get good grades, to get thin, or to get started in that business, you got to do things you may not want to do.
  • On a similar thread, don’t let the mistakes drag you down. It’s too easy to make one, feel like we’re so behind there’s no point in trying anymore and just stop. But if you tell yourself it’s not an option, it won’t happen. Failing doesn’t matter — getting back on the horse is all that does.

Read about it. On the outside, this kind of sounds silly. How could reading about something that you think about all the time really get you motivated? But it does. Hearing other people’s success stories (especially when they make it sound super simple), gets your brain thinking, “Hey! There’s no reason I can’t do that, too!” You all of a sudden become logical. So stop Facebook stalking your high school peers and get to doing something useful.

  • You may think reading stories of people who have succeeded in losing 100 pounds may make you feel overweight and accomplished (for example), but if anything, you should feel driven, empowered, and armed with resources. You can learn from these people! And if their success doesn’t resonate with you, at least it can bring out your competitive edge.

Staying on Track

Keep good company. Unfortunately, people can also be demotivating. We have that friend that desperately wants us to eat another piece of cheesecake. That person is not good company. To get going on our path to success, everyone needs cheerleaders along the way! Tell your friends and family what you’re trying to stay motivated with. Do you have a few close people in your network that can help you focus and stay driven?

  • Having a mentor that’s been through the same things you have will be super useful. Do you know someone who’s started their own business, lost 50 pounds, or otherwise achieved their dreams? Talk to them! How do they do it? Their perseverance and display of just how doable it is may be what you need to stay energized and motivated.

Keep motivators around you. This one is pretty straightforward: we need reminders to keep ourselves going. These can be people or things — whatever might keep you in the right mindset. It’s natural to get off-balance and forget where we want to be — these external motivators offer focus and direction.

  • You can do a whole bunch of small things to get you in gear. Change your desktop background on your computer. Put a post-it note on your wall. A reminder on your phone. Utilize the hubbub around you and put it to your advantage.
  • People can be motivators, too! Tell everyone you know that you’re trying to lose 10 pounds. Hopefully they’ll offer resources and make the path that much easier, in addition to holding you accountable.

Keep learning. As you go, you’re likely to get bored, antsy, or lose attention. To avoid all these pitfalls, keep learning! Spice it up! It’s hard to stay motivated onanything long-term. But if the goal keeps changing, if your knowledge keeps morphing, it’ll be easier.

  • If you’re aiming for weight loss, read success stories and blogs. Talk to trainers at your gym. Hit up a nutritionist. Tackle new elements (methods of training, dieting plans, etc.) one at a time. Keeping it fresh will keep your mind fresh.

Only compare you to you. The best way to get demotivated and fast is to compare yourself to others. You’ll never be them and they’ll never be you, so what’s the point? Though you’ve heard it a billion times before, it bears repeating: the only person you should compare yourself to is your previous self. It’s only if you’ve improved that matters; not how anyone else is doing.

  • This is part of why tracking progress is so necessary. To know where you are, you need to know where you’ve been. If you’ve made progress, you have nothing to be ashamed of, regardless of what the competition is doing.

Stay excited. Things always lose their novelty as soon as we get used to them. Walk by the Sistine Chapel enough times and you’ll stop noticing it’s there. If you’ve been working at this goal for a while, you risk just getting bored. NO! That mustn’t be allowed. You gotta switch it up and keep stimulating your senses.

  • Experiment with new means of reaching your goals. If it’s weight loss, pick up a new healthy habit. If it’s making money, try a new business strategy or budgeting system. Keep yourself on your toes.
  • Surround yourself with images. Constantly reminding yourself what’s out there can be a good way to stay in the game. Change your desktop to a series of motivational images. Write yourself little notes in unexpected places. Remind yourself, “Oh yeah, I’m doing this — and I’m getting there!” That’s surely something to be excited about.

Set larger goals. Once you start hitting those small goals, there’s nowhere to go but up! Start looking at the big picture — focus on the end game. No more baby steps; it’s time for the big leagues. Talk about motivation! You can practically start making the itinerary for Hawaii now! And you’ll fit in that swimsuit, too!

  • Make sure to keep the end goal in mind or it’ll start to feel far away and unachievable. Why have you gone to all this work anyway? You know exactly why — and the light is at the end of the tunnel. What will you do when you reach this one? Onto the next, hopefully!

Spend at least one hour a day in self development. Read good books or listen to inspiring tapes. Driving to and from work provides an excellent opportunity to listen to self improvement tapes.

Help others. When you’re nearer your goals, odds are you’ve learned a lot from your work along the way. Use this knowledge to help others! Not only will it motivate you, but it will motivate them. Don’t you wish you had someone to help you along your way?

  • Have you lost some weight, gotten your business started, or aced that test? Use what you know to help someone else and, better yet, drill it into you. Just like studying out loud and reciting your facts to someone else helps your understanding, helping someone else will keep you focused and feeling good about your progress.

WARNINGS

  • Do NOT worry about the dumb things, because negative thoughts become negative habits, just as positive thoughts become positive habits.
  • Being self motivated does not mean forcefully smiling and trying to please everyone.
  • Do not beat yourself up if you suffer a lapse in your newfound pattern of self motivation. You will get back on track. Be self forgiving.
  • Have courage to confront hurdles if you think you are right.
  • Consult a medical professional if this lack of motivation has been paired with feelings of depression, loneliness, bouts of crying, thoughts of hurting yourself or others, etc. Clinical depression is a serious illness that results from chemicals in the brain being quite literally out of balance. Clinical depression is treatable; many times it is not something which will follow you your whole life. It’s your life; be careful with it. Seeing a doctor if you’re the least bit concerned might cost a bit of coin, but could be priceless to have a professional talk to you, and see how he or she can help.

TIPS

  • Speak as though you are already the way you want to be. Do not say “I am becoming positive”; “I am positive” is much better.
  • There will be hurdles, but you have to keep going. One wrong step can wash out all the good steps you have taken and similarly one right step can also leap you forward. This is life.
  • Know your reasons. Write down why you want to achieve a goal. This will keep you energized.
  • Think about a time that you motivated yourself and saw the benefits.
  • Use the internet to search for answers for your problems. Google a main word and read as much as you can read. Reading articles will give you the ideas and the energy to solve the problem.
  • Focus yourself and your availability: your time and space management. If you can organize your time and work out something that will allow you to build on your motivation and do something to allow you to achieve your goals, you will actually get somewhere.
  • Positive affirmations repeated often will help you become strong. Choose one that fits with your problem. If you are scared, “I am safe.” If you are shy, “I am a confident person.” Avoid using negative words to stay focused.
  • The journey of unleashing your potential is truly a worthy one. During this journey, knowingly or unknowingly you will have helped many unleash their respective potential.

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