Your motivation level is a determining factor for achieving your goals. Starting something is a lot easier than seeing it through to completion. Once the initial excitement of starting a new task has worn off the biggest challenge is to finish or continue. It can be a long process and many people lose their motivation and give up completely.
Fortunately, there are many strategies to keep your motivation flying high:
Own the Goal:
Make sure the goal you are trying to achieve is your own. Going after goals that others have chosen for you can be very draining and feel like an uphill battle. When the goal is yours and you feel inspired, the steps necessary to achieve it feel like less work.
Pursue Your Passions:
As Charles M. Schwab once said: a person “can succeed at almost anything for which [they have] unlimited enthusiasm.” Set goals that you are enthusiastic about.
Encourage yourself with affirmations and watch out for negative self-talk. If you find yourself thinking things such as “I am bad at maths” or “I’m just not a morning person” etc. try adopting a growth mindset and get yourself unstuck.
Break it Down:
One of the main reasons people get discouraged is because their goals seem unachievable, which is often because their goals are so big. This can leave you feeling helpless in the face of your goal, no matter how much you want to achieve it. One way to remedy this is to break it down into simple, manageable steps between each milestone. If you find the steps easy and are motivated to do them then the path to achieving them will be much smoother.
Surround Yourself with Supportive People:
Other people can either dampen your motivation or help you keep it high. When our motivation is low it is often those around us who help us bring it back up. Family members, friends, team members and mentors are great sources of support.
One of the best ways to motivate yourself is to get inspiration from the goal itself. Changing your scenery and seeking creative input are other great ways to stay inspired. Do this by visiting museums or galleries; spending time in nature; reading books; watching TED talks; or seeking other inspirational material.
Celebrate Your Progress:
When you’re focused on how far you have to go you can lose sight of how far you have come. Remind yourself of the progress you have made. Looking back on what you have achieved so far can give you the confidence and motivation to keep going. This is particularly important for long-term goals that take multiple, incremental steps to attain.
Make a Public Commitment:
When we tell the world – or perhaps just our family, friends or coworkers – what we are doing, we feel positive pressure to follow through. This can also act as an invitation for others to help you by respecting your needs such as space to practice or study; providing you with helpful tips; or introducing you to potential mentors or business partners.
One of the best ways to boost your enthusiasm is to ask yourself questions that explore your next steps; your reasons behind these; and your thoughts regarding future possibilities.
When a goal seems far off into the future it can be easy to delay getting started or taking the next step because you have ‘lots of time’. This delay can easily turn into procrastination and result in not achieving your goals, feeling rushed or not getting the results you want. Try to increase your sense of urgency by setting deadlines for different components to keep you on track.
If you are pursuing a long term goal the more of your project that you can turn into habits, the easier it will be to keep going. We can see this every day in people going to the gym after work, practising piano etc. Habits and routines eliminate a lot of the mental work that leads up to performing a task.
When first starting a new project we often have a lot of enthusiasm and invest large amounts of energy. This level of enthusiasm can be unsustainable. A prolonged large investment of energy can lead to burnout. In order to keep going, it is important to maintain energy. Investing less time in work doesn’t have to mean being less productive. A lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, exercise and sufficient sleep enhances performance and enables us to reach our goals.
Know Your ‘Why’:
In addition to being clear on your goal, it’s important to know your ‘why’. Having an overarching purpose behind your actions can help you stay the course. Your purpose is connected to your beliefs and what matters to you most. Reconnect with the reasons you started on this path to reinforce your commitment to continue.
Like everything in life, it is good to keep an open mind and stay flexible. Goals aren’t set in stone and can change over time. Sometimes goals need to be changed, ‘parked’ for a while, or abandoned entirely.
If you are having issues with staying motivated, do take them seriously as a lack of motivation can impact all areas of your life. Neither skill nor knowledge are substitutes for motivation. Maintaining motivation is crucial to achieving your goals and making your dreams come true.