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 seem like they’ll never end, right?
All the while, you feel drained and lack self-motivation to get things done.
Just me? Ah, OK. Anyway …
Surely there are ways to find motivation, and—critically—stay motivated? Thankfully, there are.
Here are 19 ways to motivate yourself so you can become the person you want to be and achieve your goals.
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19 self motivation techniques to try
1. Just start
Urgh. Don’t you just hate this advice?
Still, there’s a reason we’ve all heard it a million times: it can work wonders.
You don’t always need to reason with your emotions or rationalize why you need to do something. You can deal with those negative feelings later on, at the right time. Instead, try setting aside all of the negative emotions and simply START.
As the famous writer Mark Twain once said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
2. Break tasks down into small steps
Sometimes it’s the simplest things done well that work the best.
Remember, you can’t do everything at once. That’s why the 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. Create a positive mindset
Getting motivated is almost impossible if you’re looking at the situation from a negative viewpoint. On the other hand, positivity can be energizing and help you to motivate yourself.
So, pause and ask yourself, “What’s good about this situation?”
As the author Catherine Pulsifer said, “If we have the attitude that it’s going to be a great day, it usually is.”
4. Create a feeling of gratitude
When you find yourself stuck in a rut, it can feel impossible to motivate yourself. So before you try to motivate yourself, take a step back and try to appreciate how you feel.
When you feel appreciation for yourself, it’s much easier to stay motivated.
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—from your morning coffee, to 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. Be kind to yourself
When you procrastinate or make a mistake, it’s easy to beat yourself up. In fact, if you’re like many people, you may find that you internally “speak” to yourself in a mean way.
If you notice yourself doing this, pause and try to speak to yourself kindly instead. You wouldn’t speak to someone else that way, so why do it to yourself? You deserve your own kindness.
Try to remember your true inherent value as a human being. Then, allow yourself to gently come back to the task at hand.
6. Be constructive
Mistakes are a golden opportunity to learn and improve. When you commit one, ask yourself, “Why did I make this mistake? How can I avoid making the same mistake in the future?”
If you do this and act on what you learn, you’ll transform mistakes into opportunities.
The entrepreneur Arianna Huffington said, “We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes—understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”
7. Trim your to-do list
To-do lists can help us organize our tasks and focus on what’s important. However, they can also overwhelm us so much that we end up procrastinating even more.
So, if you find yourself struggling to stay motivated, cut your to-do list down to a more manageable size.
Each day, choose no more than three tasks and make that your new to-do list. Then, ignore all but the first item. You may find that, with time, you can take on a longer to-do list.
8. Set attainable goals that excite you
If you have a goal that feels too big or unattainable, it can make you feel crippled with anxiety and fear. This is a surefire way to lose motivation.
For now, let go of goals that paralyze you. Instead, choose exciting enough goals to help you motivate yourself, but not so big that you freeze when facing them.
As the politician Theodore Roosevelt said, “Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”
9. Imagine your future if you don’t change
This tip can make it easy to inspire yourself: Instead of focusing on the change you want, imagine the fulfilling life you’ll have if you stay self-motivated.
Ask yourself, “What will life be like in one year, five years, and 10 years?”
Here’s a motivational quote to get you going: “You can either experience the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The choice is yours.”
10. Reflect on how far you’ve come
How often do you take a short break to reflect how far you’ve come?
If you’re like many people, you probably don’t give yourself enough credit for all the growth you’ve gone through.
Take a few minutes to close your eyes and remember your successes, however small—relive and feel into them.
Do this often to help fuel your personal development.
11. Remind yourself of your “why”
Sheryl Sandberg, the former COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.org, said, “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, or start a business?
Keep coming up with answers until you find ones that will help you stay motivated.
12. Eliminate distractions mercilessly
Distractions are the enemy of focus. If you want to get motivated, you have to eliminate distractions.
As the billionaire investor Warren Buffett said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
The saying goes, “You can have anything you want. However, you can’t have everything you want.”
So, turn your phone off and leave it in a different room. Close the door. Turn the music off. Delete distracting apps.
Remind yourself that you are not punishing yourself—you’re just focusing on your goals. Then, remember what you truly want in the long-term.
13. Commit 100% to the deal you’re making
Remember, nothing comes for free.
When you want something, you have to give something in return—whether it’s time, effort, hard work, or emotional discomfort.
That’s the deal.
Take a moment to recognize and appreciate the deal you’re making. Then commit to it 100%. Maya Angelou, the activist and poet, once said, “Nothing will work unless you do.”
14. Declutter and tidy up
It’s extremely difficult to motivate yourself if you can’t see your bedroom floor and your desk looks like something exploded on it.
Have you ever heard the expression “Tidy space, tidy mind”?
What’s your environment like? Is it tidy, neat, and clean? Or is it messy and cluttered? Work from the outside in and create an environment that helps you to stay motivated.
15. Spice up your routine
You know the saying “You are what you eat.” We consume a lot every day—food, music, podcasts, TV, social media.
This can help you to freshen up, get energized, and find motivation to get things done.
16. Ask family and friends to help
If you’re really struggling to motivate yourself, consider asking a close friend or family member for help. You could ask them to hold you accountable and check up on your progress.
By expressing your goals out loud to someone else, it can help to make them feel more real. Plus, if you know someone will check in on your progress, you may be more likely to follow through.
17. Follow people who inspire and motivate
There are so many inspiring people out there who can help you improve motivation. Is there an entrepreneur, teacher, musician, or politician you find inspiring?
You can also learn how people you admire stay motivated, and then apply the lessons to your own life.
As the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from their experiences, stupid people already have all the answers.”
18. Listen to an upbeat song
If you need to motivate yourself quickly, try this super-simple tip: Listen to a song you love that’s upbeat, inspiring, and full of energy.
For bonus points, dance like a crazy person at the same time.
Then, as soon as the song finishes, don’t pause—dive straight into action. It may become one of your favorite self-help exercises for boosting mood and motivation. (Remember, a good mood is a good motivator.)
19. Remember your power and potential
Look—you are powerful, and you have enormous potential.
You may not feel like it sometimes, but it’s true.
The author Alice Walker said, “The most common reason people give up their power is because they think they don’t have any.”
So take a moment to dig deep and try to connect with your inner power and potential—imagine what you could achieve.
Increase your motivation today
Getting motivated can be tough—and it can be even more challenging to stay motivated. In summary, here are 19 ways to motivate yourself:
- Just start and wait for the motivation to catch up with you.
- Break tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps.
- Foster positive psychology by asking yourself, “What’s good about this situation?”
- Create positive feelings by writing down three things you’re grateful for.
- Be kind to yourself when you make a mistake, then come back to the task at hand.
- Accepting your mistakes is a necessary part of progress—accept and learn from them.
- Cut overwhelming to-do lists down and focus on just one thing at a time.
- Let go of goals that overwhelm you, and set attainable goals that energize you.
- Imagine your future if you don’t motivate yourself.
- Reflect on your past successes and use the positive feelings to stay motivated.
- Remind yourself of the reason why you want to find motivation to get things done.
- Remember the trade-off you need to make to get what you want, then commit 100%.
- Eliminate the things that distract you and then focus on one thing to achieve your goals.
- Tidy space, tidy mind—declutter and organize your space to help motivate yourself.
- Stay motivated by experiencing different food, music, books, or podcasts.
- Ask close friends and family to help hold you accountable.
- Follow people who inspire you online.
- Listen—and dance!—to an upbeat song. Then dive into action when it finishes.
- Connect with your true potential—you’re more powerful than you think.
How to motivate yourself FAQ
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 may find it difficult to get motivated to complete a big task or achieve a goal that may take years to realize. One way to find motivation is to break things down into smaller tasks. That way, you can make real progress in a day (or maybe just an hour or a few minutes).
You may also want to do a “retrospective” on achievements in months or years past—you may be surprised at how far you’ve already come.
What to do when you have no motivation
You don’t have to find motivation on your own. If you’re feeling stuck or preoccupied with negative energy, ask friends or family to provide more perspective or help you talk through your goals.
Don’t have anyone to talk to right now? There are hundreds of inspirational personalities online who share their wisdom in every format—short and long, text and video. Find a few people in your area (e.g., business, relationships) who fill your inbox or social media feed with positivity.
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