How To Motivate Yourself


How to Motivate Yourself

We all have a variety of goals, aspirations, dreams, objectives, wants, needs, desires, etc. Whatever that looks like for you, at the end of the day reaching the final destination for your dreams isn’t so much about establishing what they are, but maintaining the motivation in the pursuit of those goals.

Too many times to count, I’ve set out with the grandest expectations for a direction I was headed in life but as I traveled down a particular road, I found myself losing the motivation to continue on. 

Today I want to discuss how to motivate yourself whether you are pursuing weight loss, eating better, keeping a clean house, breaking bad habits, or building up new ones. 

You can fill in the blank with whatever it is that you are struggling to stay motivated towards as the means to keep up that motivation is often the same across the board for many different objectives. 

How many of us have made promises to ourselves each time a new year rolls around that we are going to achieve a specific target only to falter shortly there-after and relapse back to our old habits? 
I’ve made goals of reading more books, losing weight, cooking more at home and eating out less, drinking less alcohol, only to go back on my own promises to myself and step back into an unhealthy behavior. 
When considering the failed attempts we’ve all made at times to achieve a personal pursuit it probably feels a bit impossible to stick with a new habit or goal. But for those of us who have strived to be better and succeeded we know that it just isn’t the case. 

The means to accomplishing your aspirations and maintaining strong motivation in your pursuits is not managed through some one time feat of productivity or energy. Instead it looks much more like an ocean tide that slowly but surely wears away at a shoreline. 

Which brings me to the overarching manner to maintaining your motivation in whatever pursuit you have in life. 

I’ve broken into down into three primary areas to focus on in keeping those motivation levels strong of which there are a couple of overlapping mechanisms to ensure that you can stay highly motivated to pursue your goals far into the future. 
The three primary methods are:
·         Establish a long-term goal
·         Establish the foundation of ‘why’ for which you are pursuing that goal
·         Involve people or mechanisms in your goal that will help to keep you accountable in that pursuit
Sounds simple enough, right? In truth it is and it isn’t. Maintaining motivation isn’t a clear cut path as there will be hills and valleys throughout the duration of your journey. 
Now let’s dig a bit deeper into each method to better understand how they will help you to unlock your ability to motivate yourself and keep on trekking after the goals you’ve established in life. 

Establish a Long-Term Goal

When it comes to maintaining motivation for yourself in any pursuit, the starting point is with the original plan or establishing the long term goal for yourself. My current long term goal is to write 10 blog posts a month, for the next 9 months or 90 total posts. 

So far I’ve stayed with that goal in the short term but I know that maintaining strong conviction in my pursuit, and keeping myself motivated in that pursuit will be the tough part as the months pass. 

So with a long term goal established of 90 posts in 9 months, I have my over-arching template established for what I need to achieve. 
When you consider that many blog posts and then determine that I want to average at least 1800 words per post, it starts to feel a bit overwhelming does it not? 

I mean 90 posts multiplied by 1800 words is 162,000 words in a 9 month period of time. Now that I write that out, it starts to weigh on me as considering the totality of the task that I’ve assigned myself, it feels very improbable that I could reach that height. 

Can I keep up my motivation over 9 flipping months to write that much? Not if I am constantly focused on the bigger goal as a whole. That amount seems too much, too fast, and some might call it unsustainable. 

But wait a second it isn’t a bad thing to be setting some extreme long term goals to pursue, right? 

Of course not. 

We need to set some crazy goals in our life to push after otherwise we will always be achieving lesser than the potential that is inside of us all. What if I fail to reach that final objective in the time frame that I’ve established? 

That’s okay too, as the entire point of setting up an extreme objective is that even if you fall a bit short in the end, you will be far better off than where you originally started. If I end up only creating 65 or 75 posts in that period of time, then I’ll aim to finish the full 90 within 12 months. 

Pivoting your goal in order to maintain your ability to keep yourself motivated is perfectly acceptable and nothing to get down on yourself about.
The one thing we can’t do is to allow negativity, doubt, or fear to shadow our pursuit. Those type of thoughts are not productive when you take on such a challenge and we as a humans have to start taking power over those thoughts and redirecting them into something that is more productive. 

It isn’t easy to do but we need to adjust our thought process to disallow those negative thoughts from creeping into our mind throughout the process. This is huge and vital when you are working on the heavy handed task of motivating yourself in pursuit of that long term goal.

Create Smaller Goals Within The Long Term Goal

Do not forget that you can’t accomplish the entirety of that objective in a singular effort. You HAVE to divide it out into easier to digest portions to avoid burnout (see my post that deep dives this topic even further) and maintain the healthy motivational levels that you need to conquer any task. 
Just by looking forward in my own life and by stating the overall goal, I’ve already taken a great step in reaching it. 

By further dividing it into smaller goals and milestones to reach the in that pursuit, the goal begins to feel more attainable in the short term and thus easier to maintain my motivation towards. I’m reminded of the question: 
“How do you eat an elephant?” 
One bite at a time. 

If that elephant is your goal to drop 50 lbs. over the course of the next year, you’d never consider the idea of losing that 50 lbs. in the course of a few weeks. It would be impossible and there is nothing you could do to motivate yourself to try and pursue something to that extreme. 

But if you broke it down to 4 pounds a month over the course of a year, it starts to feel much more attainable. You have to mentally prepare yourself for the long journey by creating an environment to experience small, yet tangible successes throughout the pursuit. 

Those little victories will begin to snowball over time too as you begin to witness the fruits of your own labor. Sure you may not notice much change if you hit that first month milestone of having lost 4 pounds. 

But by month 2 or 3, when it is now creeping past 10 pounds or more that you’ve lost, you’ll start to feel the positive effects of your diligence and this opens the door for strengthened resolve and that oh so sweet realization that: 
“I really CAN do this.” 
Another important element of breaking the larger goal into smaller milestones to in chasing your particular achievement, is that you can establish these check points, if you will, as places within your path that you are able to celebrate the progress you’ve achieved. 

Whenever I have a particular savings goal for my family where we are aiming to save $X amount of money by a certain time of the year, we will often pair that goal with some kind of reward that is activated once we hit that financial milestone. 

Maybe it’s going out on a really nice dinner for a celebratory date or buying that sick ass Game of Thrones version of Catan that you’ve been eying for the last 8 months. (Yes this exists and yes I do own it). 

The reward can be anything that you consider a bit of a splurge as long as the reward itself isn’t derailing you from your overall established goal. 
Creating that incentive for yourself to reach the smaller goals within the larger achievement that you are after will only lend further power to your ability to motivate yourself in that pursuit

It takes the hard work and effort that you are applying and transforms it in your mind into something more akin to a game, hopefully with the intention of making that pursuit more fun. Because let’s be honest, isn’t it easier to strive for something if you feel like you’ve won in the end? 

Whether you are trying to motivate yourself to work-out more, to lose weight, to get a better handle on your homework, to keep a cleaner place, to save a specific amount of money in an emergency fund, or any other objective of the millions of potential ways to better yourself as a human, establishing smaller goals within the larger one, celebrating those milestones as you pass them, and trying to have fun with it all will help tremendously in that effort. 

That’s why this element is so key to your success in working on how to motivate yourself and keep that motivation over the long term. 

Keeping all of this information in mind, I’d now like to pivot to the next step in maintaining that motivation for whatever your particular long term goal is and that brings me to the next element.

Establish a Foundation of “WHY”

So many of us are quick to come up with a goal that we want to achieve but the problem with pursuing any goal is that if you don’t have a real conviction as far as why you are trying to accomplish something, it very rarely ever comes to pass in your life. 

This is the primary reason for it being so emphatically important to take a step back, consider your goals, and ensure that you have a strong foundation for the “why” that you are doing this. We all have our own means and underlining reasoning for our pursuit of any goal. 
It could be that it is your passion. It could be based in a promise that you made to someone else like telling your grandmother, “I promise I will graduate college” (which is something that I actually said to my grandmother as she was battling cancer, a battle she ultimately lost just before I turned 17). 

Perhaps it’s a promise you made to yourself. Or perhaps it’s something you are in pursuit of because you want to be better for your family, your kids, or your spouse. 

Whatever your reason is for establishing a long term goal and looking to achieve it, you have to be absolutely solid in your reasoning for the initial pursuit. 
As you get further and further into the journey of reaching a long term goal, you will find that your motivation will wane at times. I’m sure that’s why you are reading this post right at this moment. 

It is key that when those motivation levels start to falter, you remind yourself of the why. You think back to day 1 in your journey and the pivotal moment in your life that pushed you into making the decision to pursue this goal, and revisit your foundation. 

That foundation will be your rock in the trying times. As your will power weakens and your motivation beings to dry up, it will be the little patch of paradise in the dessert with a flowing fountain of revitalization for your spirit. 

As you get deeper into your pursuit I believe that the foundation of why will only grow as you take stock of just how far you’ve come and stronger conviction in your road to fulfillment materializes. 
When someone asks me why I’m doing Keto, I don’t respond with:
“Well I have a strong objection to bread, beer, pasta, and pretty much anything that is delicious and full of carbs, so I decided to cut it completely out.” 
I definitely don’t respond with the simple but equally awful answer of, 
“Good question, I don’t really know.”
My answer and the foundation of why for my goal of maintaining the Keto diet for a longer term period is that I am looking to be healthier and more active so that I can have the energy to play with my daughter and be a more involved, productive, and loving Dad. 

For me, that is the ultimate foundation to stand on. My 2 year old daughter laughing and playing with me and asking me to take her to the park, is my daily dose of encouragement in my pursuit of being healthy and fit, allowing me to maintain strong conviction and motivation in my pursuit of that longer term goal. 

Much like in the film Inception, where each character would carry a unique token to differentiate the real world from the dream world, you as an individual must have a strong foundation of why for the pursuit of your goal.
Without that foundation I can guarantee you that you will not find long term success in maintaining the motivation that you require to push through the short term obstacles and onto the realization of your bigger picture dream. 

Trust me from personal experience, if I didn’t have a firm why for the goal, then I promise you I would have quit in that first week when I first started feeling the ill effects of the appropriately coined, “Keto Flu.” 
So now you’ve taken some time to consider the reasons that you are trying to pursue this long term goal and hopefully are securing a solid foundation of “why”. What next? Done deal, shut down the internet tab and go on your merry way? 

Not quite. 

In line with your effort in establishing that foundation you also need to consider the obstacles that are bound to materialize in the future of your pursuit of a goal as you are working to keep your motivation levels up. 

Consider Future Obstacles

If you aren’t thinking ahead to the issues you will face in going after a long term goal then it will become much more challenging to keep that motivation intact when adversity rears its ugly head at you. 

One of my favorite NBA athletes of the modern era was Kobe Bryant. He has discussed many times in the past how he would mentally prepare for the championship games, imagining the game through and through and picturing himself hitting the game winner in a close match. 

He knew well that in order to reach the ultimate victory of an NBA championship (of which he got 5), he’d have to be fully prepared from a physical and mental standpoint. 
I think in the same way we have to utilize our own imaginations and consider the future and what it will look like as we travel down the road of a passion, dream, or goal in our life in an attempt to reach it. 

If you already know how you are going to respond in a negative situation, then it helps tremendously in effectively navigating through it and coming out on the other side with your motivation intact. 

Motivation levels are never going to stay at their highest point for the entire duration of your gradual climb to that final peak of the accomplishment you are seeking. 

However, working to mentally prepare for those hardships, those stop gaps, and those days where you just feel apathetic about everything is going to go a long way in allowing you to maintain healthy levels of energy when you find yourself asking: 
“How can I motivate myself anymore?”
In line with the mental aspect of keeping up your motivational levels I also think positive self-talk is absolutely key. 

Whether you do it in the bathroom when you are standing in front of a mirror getting ready, or in the car on your commute to work, speaking positive things over yourself and your goals does have real power to help you start to change your thoughts for the better. 
This is something that I often employ in a variety of ways. It doesn’t just have to be verbalized, you can even just think positively and contemplate on your trajectory and how you are working to reach it. 

You could write it down on a piece of paper or a sticky note and put it in obvious places that you see throughout your day. I do this with a little prayer that I like to silently speak over my wife. It’s taped to my cubicle wall and is something that I don’t say every single day, but that I do try to read and pray when I see it and am reminded of my awesome partner in life. 

We also employ this strategy at home as we always create a list of goals/accomplishments that we have for the current year. Having that taped on our fridge helps us to reach those goals and it always feels so good to be able to put a check next to a line item on that list as the end of the year approaches. 

We even save our list from years past and file it a way so that we can look back and see how our goals have changed over time and recall what all we’ve been able to do throughout the years to reach our aspirations. 
I’ve learned that so many of the ways that you can adopt when you are looking to figure out how to continue to motivate yourself, are simple in nature and are usually small and repetitive. Why is that?

 I imagine that it is because those small repetitions, small victories, and small actions over time start to turn into new habits which in turn develops you as a person over time and allows for you to unlock those empowering motivation levels that you have been seeking. 

We’ve all heard the quote, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” 

Nor was any successful person. Nor any person who set out with a goal with an inevitable attitude that led to the accomplishment of said goal. 

It takes time, passion, and effort compounded over time to produce the end result that you seek. But potentially most important of all in your journey of establishing a long term goal, developing a strong foundation of the “why”, and maintaining motivation throughout that journey, is my final point and tool for you to lean on in that process. 

Seeking Out Accountability to Maintain Motivation

We are all individuals and so each person’s individual journey will be shaped in a large variety of ways. 

But at the end of the day we all need someone or something to help keep us accountable in our pursuit. Which is why I consider it so vital to your individual success that you find some sort of mechanism to hold yourself accountable. 
It could be an accountability buddy who you speak to on a regular basis about your personal goals who can encourage you to stay on task and continue down the trek you’ve set off on. 

It could be a group of people who are pursuing similar objectives (like a weight loss class where you have “classmates” that are actively pushing towards losing weight as a collective and building one another up as individual efforts start to feel weakened). 

Personally, I stay involved in a basketball men’s league as the games we play help to encourage me to work out and practice basketball so that I can be a positive contributor to our team. 
In combination with your foundation of why, having a strong team behind you of individuals who are either pursuing a similar goal or simply want to see you succeed in your effort is such a beneficial force to have in your corner. 

Even better if at all possible, try to identify someone who has already reached the heights that you are trying to climb to, whether in your personal life or professional work place. 

Befriend those people and try to establish a mentor, mentee relationship. I can’t understate how important and helpful it can be to have someone on your side that hasn’t already navigated the difficult maze of pursuing a dream, goal, or passion and came out on the other side successfully.
If you can’t find someone within your circle then start looking to listen to podcasts created by people who have accomplished what you are trying to do. 

There are so many reliable resources available thanks to the internet that it is becoming more and more challenging to come up with a valid excuse for why you can’t accomplish something in your life. 

My wife made a valid point to me too in discussion on this topic that there are individuals out there who aren't social in nature or may not enjoy a traditional accountability buddy sort of setup. 

Something that she has done for herself in better understanding how to stay motivated was to take a personality test, specifically the Myers Briggs personality test. 

I've linked similar content below if you are interested in finding out more about your own personality type. 

As a working woman who handles a lot of personalities and individuals, her taking this test and developing a stronger insight into her own functionality and personality as a human allowed her to better access and understand how to properly motivate herself and others within her job function. 
 
As she discussed the results of her test with me it was almost scary how accurate it was to her traits and manner of thought as a human. 

That insight has been crucial to my wife's mannerisms in the work place and establishing routines that keep her motivated as she continues to excel in her career. 

Obtaining that level of insight for yourself may also help you in discovering your best path to motivating yourself in pursuit of your goals or dreams. 

 If you try to incorporate these three pillars of creating a long term goal, establishing a strong foundation of why, and then inviting mechanisms of accountability into your life then I know you will have the power and finesse to maintain strong motivation levels. 

You’ll be able to stop asking yourself “how can I motivate myself” and start serving as a beacon of motivation and encouragement to others who are still trying to figure it out. I wish you well in your pursuit and know that you can get out there and accomplish major things in this beautiful world that we find ourselves in. 

If you are hungry for more content to guide you in your pursuit of becoming a better you, check out my post about "5 New Healthy Hobbies" to add to your weekly routine in pursuit of becoming stronger from a mental and physical perspective. 


Do me a favor too if you like this content and subscribe and share! Appreciate the support as I walk this path towards self-improvement and bring you all along for the ride.


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