Have you ever said you want to do something, but you’re just not motivated? You wait for motivation to come to you first telling yourself that once it’s here you will start. But weeks and months go by and you still haven’t started the project you wanted to, or made it to the gym, meanwhile your gym membership is costing you money. You had an idea with the best of intentions but never followed through.
When you set out to make a change in your life, or set bigger, long-term goals (e.g., Weight loss, fitness, behaviour change) your motivation can decline, and you will likely encounter some obstacles. The more obstacles you encounter, the more difficult it is to keep your motivation at a high level. In these moments, you need strategies or a daily ritual to boost your motivation and lift it back up to where you need it.
8 simple ways you can supercharge your motivation:
1. Focus on the things you can control
The more you focus on things out of your control, the less motivated you will feel. When you focus completely on things you can control, you will realise that you can quickly and easily change your situation. Every day, focus on the things right in front of you. Don’t waste your time or energy on things out of your control.
2. Remember your “WHY” and create purposeful action
Why are you pursuing the goal or dream in the first place? What is the driver that motivated you to embark on the journey? Is it more time with your family? Getting the dream job? Improving your health? Maybe it’s to read one book each month? The important thing is not to concentrate too much on how you feel, instead, focus on the WHY – the purpose behind the action. Remember your WHY and repeat it to yourself often, make it daily a ritual by writing it on your bathroom mirror where you will be reminded frequently or have a reminder note on your desk.
If your WHY is to be able to go on a hike or run around after your kids, then that is WHY you are going for that walk or run. When you complete it, that’s when you focus on how you feel (see No. 4. – Act first, feel later).
3. Celebrate the small wins
It’s important to keep the big picture in front of you, but it’s also crucial to celebrate the small wins. Remember, you climb a ladder one rung at a time. You’re reaching your goal one step at a time. Celebrating the small wins will allow you to see the progress you’re making and increase your motivation levels.
4. Act first, feel later
The best way to get motivated is to just get started. Too often we wait to feel motivated before we take action, however once you take the first step, you’ll feel motivated to keep going.
The key is to just get started, no matter how you feel, and it doesn’t have to be anything big.
- If you’re struggling to get up in the morning to go to the gym, or for a run, have your training gear and sneakers laid out ready to go in the morning. Do some exercises at home to warm up.
- You want to read one book a month? Start with just 5 minutes of uninterrupted reading time (you’ll likely keep going once you start!).
- Is your to-do list so long you don’t know where to start? Just pick one task then tick it off the list. Start with just ONE thing.
- Do you have overdue homework for school, or assignments due for uni, or maybe a big project you want to get started on, but you’ve left it until the last minute and now you’re overwhelmed? Ask yourself, “What is the first thing I need to do to just get started?”
5. Practice Visualisation and Affirmation exercises
By visualising your goal, you bring the future into the present. As you visualise your goal and the benefits or happiness it will bring, you will feel your present motivation shoot up. As you think about what it will be like to achieve the thing you set out to do, the obstacles you’re facing will fade into the background. Affirmations help you believe that you’re going to achieve your goal. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or low on motivation, saying things like, “I AM on my way to being healthy,” or “I WILL complete these tasks!” can help you keep going. Visualise it, then say an affirmation with intent and confidence.
6. Chunk it! Break your main goal or task into smaller chunks or segments
Depending on your ability to stay focused, it might be necessary to break up the goal into smaller chunks of time. For example, if you struggle to stay focused on study, you may need to break down the study block for 20-30 minutes then have a 10-minute break. Longer goals may need to be broken down into one week to 12-week blocks of time. This way your brain can experience success and logically see a positive long-term outcome. You’ll procrastinate if the path looks too challenging.
7. Watch yourself talk!
Catch any negative self-talk that will crush your motivation and hold you back. Our brains are hardwired to go to the negative over the positive, so when you hear any negative self-talk (eg. that internal chatter where you tell yourself you’re not good enough, or can’t do it, or that you’re not deserving of the desired outcome), nip it in the bud immediately!
8. Surround yourself with people who motivate you
One of the most effective ways to boost your motivation is to surround yourself with other people who are motivated. If you’re building a business, spend time with other passionate entrepreneurs. If you’re working toward a goal weight, hire a personal trainer or find a weight loss support group. Find a friend who will be a study partner or body double to get homework or bookwork done. You need encouragement and support as you pursue your goals.
Starting with something small can release Dopamine… our brain’s chemical for motivation!
Along with food, water and sex, our successes, both small and large, are a natural reward for our brain. When we experience these achievements, our brain releases the neurotransmitter Dopamine. Dopamine is one of the “feel good” chemicals in our brain. Interacting with the pleasure and reward center of our brain plays a vital role in how happy we feel. In addition to our mood, dopamine also affects movement, memory, and focus. Healthy levels of dopamine drive us to seek and repeat pleasurable activities, while low levels can have an adverse physical and psychological impact (ie. those with ADHD). Fortunately, we can do things to increase our dopamine levels naturally and help give our motivation a boost.
Motivation follows action, feelings follow behaviour.
It is more effective to start by doing something and let your feelings follow, instead of waiting for motivation to appear…because there’s a solid chance that it may never come.
These ideas may be simple, but they’re profound. Put these to work in your own life and watch the success appear before you.
(PS. Keep an eye out for my blog on increasing dopamine naturally!)