How to get and stay motivated

Why is it that sometimes we are excited and find it easy to get motivated, yet other times, we are constantly procrastinating, and it is nearly impossible to figure out how to get motivated? This blog contains some great ideas based on insightful research on how to get and stay motivated.

What is motivation?

The word motivation is derived from the word ‘motive’ meaning desires, wants, needs or drives within a person. It is the process of stimulating individuals to create actions to achieve goals.

What motivates Us?

We are often motivated by tasks that are fun and within our comfort zone, but there are ‘motives’ that require us to do tasks we are not comfortable with. For these tasks, there is often a point, a mental threshold, where the pain of not doing a task becomes greater than the pain of actually doing it. We would rather feel awkward making a sales call than feel disappointed that we didn’t make a sale and would therefore be unable to pay for our child’s university education.

So, what can we do to increase our chances of crossing this mental threshold? 

Make a start! This is fundamental to getting motivated, but the hardest step to take. A surprising fact I found about motivation is that it often comes after starting a new behaviour rather that before. The result of taking an action rather than the cause of it. Getting started even in small ways will form an inspiration that will create momentum making it easier to continue.

Have a strong reason WHY that will trigger your ‘motive’ to take action. This is key to getting motivated. Write down or gather photos of your reason WHY and keep them visible to you every day.

How do you get started?

Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound) goals. When you set goals, you make a decision to act in a way to achieve what you want. Goals, set correctly, give you direction to focus on an end point that is measurable. Ensure you break up your goals into manageable tasks. Don’t forget to tell someone about your goals to make you accountable. You will be more motivated if you would rather not explain why you didn’t take any action!

Automate your behaviour by setting a schedule for yourself. Decision-making on autopilot gives your goals a time and place making you more likely to follow through regardless of your motivation levels.

How to stay motivated

Track your progress towards your goal and focus on what you have achieved. Reward yourself for reaching milestones or completing tasks. Don’t worry if you need to adjust or change, this is all part of learning.

Adhere to The Goldilocks rule! We love challenges, but only those that are within the optimal zone of difficulty. If tasks fall below your currently level of ability, they can be boring and those beyond may be discouraging. However, those right on the border line are very motivating to us.

Don’t do it alone! Find other people doing the same thing or similar to connect with. Go to networking groups and support groups. This may be difficult at first, but having people to share challenges with and discuss ideas helps inspire you and keeps motivation levels up.

What if you are finding it difficult to get motivated or stay motivated?

If you’ve tried and failed to get motivated, then perhaps it may help to talk it through with someone you trust. It can be difficult to achieve things on your own, so having a good and well trusted support network can help when you’ve committed to take on a challenge. You could also try talking to a business coach, mentor or life coach who can help you to work out which motivating strategies will work best for you and hold you accountable.