It’s not easy to motivate yourself. If you’re like many people, you know the drill:
- Set the alarm early … then can’t get out of bed.
- Decide to lose weight ... then go on a binge eating spree.
- Write a to-do list … then get overwhelmed and escape into a Netflix binge.
These cycles can seem like they’ll never end. And all the while, you feel drained and lack self-motivation to get things done.
But there are ways to find motivation, and—critically—stay motivated.
Here are 11 ways to motivate yourself so you can become the person you want to be and achieve your goals.
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11 self-motivation techniques to try
1. Set deadlines for your goals
Scheduling your goal is an effective way to amplify your motivation. Whatever your objective, assigning it a calendar date makes it tangible. For instance, if you’re focused on completing a professional project, having a fixed deadline is key.
When your goal doesn’t naturally have a deadline, it’s crucial to set one yourself. This might mean picking a date to finish a personal art project or setting a timeline for learning a new language.
Having a deadline keeps your motivation steady and allows you to measure your progress. Plus, you get a clear sense of how much more effort is needed to achieve your objectives.
2. Break tasks down into small steps
Remember, you can’t do everything at once. That’s why painter Vincent van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Here’s a method to help you find motivation to get things done: Write down what you need to do on a piece of paper. Then, write down every single step you need to take to make it happen. Finally, ignore everything except the step you’re working on.
Once in the flow, you may just find it easier to continue with the next task.
3. Align to-dos with your daily activities
Integrating goal-related tasks into your daily routine can significantly enhance efficiency and contribute to self-improvement.
To begin, identify a regular activity in your daily life, such as enjoying your morning coffee. Next, establish a connection between this routine and a small, specific task related to your goal.
For instance, you might decide, “After my morning coffee, I’ll spend 10 minutes planning my day.” This effective strategy is commonly referred to as “if-then” planning.
This approach excels at forming new habits by associating them with existing ones. Start with manageable tasks and gradually increase their complexity.
4. Practice gratitude daily
One of the quickest ways to feel good about yourself is to practice gratitude—it’s almost entirely impossible to feel low and grateful at the same time.
To practice gratitude, start by writing down three things you’re grateful for. These could be anything— your morning coffee, your pet, or even the comfortable chair you sit on.
Ideally, you could make a gratitude journal to appreciate the small things in life on a daily basis.
5. Change your environment
Altering your surroundings is another simple yet effective way to boost motivation. This claim is backed by a 2020 Nature Neuroscience study, which found that variety in our daily environments can lead to more positive emotions. Here’s how to achieve this:
- Shift your workspace: Move to a new spot. It could be a different room or even a café. New sights and sounds can refresh your mind.
- Add new elements: Introduce something different to your space, like a plant or a piece of art. These additions can make your environment more stimulating and enjoyable.
- Use aroma for focus: Scents like peppermint or citrus can invigorate your senses and improve concentration.
6. Switch tasks when stuck
Anyone can encounter a stumbling block. When this happens, shifting to a different task can be a smart move.
Moving onto something else allows your brain to subconsciously mull over the first task. This can lead to unexpected insights or solutions. Plus, it’s a great way to get more work done.
Additionally, the sense of achievement from completing other tasks can boost your confidence. This positive feeling can carry over when you revisit the initial task, providing you with the motivation and mental clarity needed to tackle it effectively.
7. Track your progress
Did you know that consistently monitoring progress toward goals improves the chance of success? When you can see how far you’ve come, it becomes a powerful motivator to keep going.
You can track your progress in various ways. A simple method is using a to-do list or calendar, where you tick off completed tasks or days. Digital tools like Monday.com are also effective for tracking and measuring progress.
For a more visual approach, create a progress bar on a poster board and fill it in as you move closer to your goal. This visual reminder of your progress will keep your motivation high and help improve your personal development.
8. Surround yourself with positive people
Positivity is contagious, so surrounding yourself with upbeat and driven people makes a big difference.
Think about it: When your friends face challenges with a smile or your colleagues chase their goals with determination, it rubs off on you. You start to adopt their can-do attitude and find yourself pushing harder toward your own goals.
To maximize this effect, actively seek out and spend time with these positive influences. This could be through joining clubs, attending workshops, or simply making more time for friends who inspire you.
9. Eliminate distractions
Distractions are a major reason people lose motivation and focus. To get motivated, it’s essential to eliminate distractions.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
So, take decisive action. Turn your phone off and leave it in another room. Close your door. Turn the music off. Delete apps that distract you.
Remind yourself that this isn’t punishment, it’s prioritizing your goals. Then, refocus on what you truly want in the long term.
10. Reward yourself
Immediate rewards can enhance a person’s sense of motivation. When you reward yourself for hitting small targets or big achievements, your interest and enjoyment in the task at hand can increase significantly.
These rewards don’t have to be extravagant or expensive. Here’s a list of simple, cost-effective ways to reward yourself:
- Enjoy a favorite snack
- Read a chapter of a book
- Spend time meditating
- Take a short break
- Have a relaxing bath
- Call a friend or family member
Rewards have long been associated with positive outcomes, so use them to your heart’s advantage and watch your motivation soar.
11. Remind yourself of your “why”
Sheryl Sandberg, the former COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.org, says, “Motivation comes from working on things we care about.”
Take a moment to write down three reasons you want to find motivation to get things done. Do you want to improve your fitness? Get an education? Save money? Start a business?
Keep coming up with answers until you find ones that will help you stay motivated and live a fulfilling life.
Increase your motivation today
Getting motivated can be tough—and staying motivated can be even tougher. But remember, everyone faces these challenges. The key is finding what works for you.
Focus on small steps, celebrate your wins, and don’t be too hard on yourself. With these 11 tips, you’re well-equipped to boost your motivation.
How to motivate yourself FAQ
What is the difference between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation?
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are two different types of motivation, each driven by different factors.
- Intrinsic or internal motivation comes from within an individual. When you’re intrinsically motivated, you engage in an activity because you find it inherently rewarding and satisfying, not because of an external reward or pressure.
- Extrinsic or external motivation is driven by external factors. When you’re extrinsically motivated, your behavior is influenced by external rewards like money, praise, awards, or even the fear of punishment.
How to find motivation?
The hardest part of finding motivation often is starting your search. You don’t need a perfect plan to get started. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a task or full of negative emotions, find something small—no matter how small—to get started. This could be as simple as something you’re already doing—like reading an article on motivation.
Where to find motivation
You might find it hard to get going on a big task or a long-term goal. A trick from positive psychology is to break it down into smaller tasks. That way, you see real progress, even if it’s just an hour’s work or a few minutes here and there.
Also, take a look back at what you’ve achieved in the past months or years. Doing this retrospective can be eye-opening. You’ll often be surprised at how far you’ve already come, and that’s a big part of celebrating your success.
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