One of the most challenging parts of being productive and successful all comes down to finding ways to stay motivated. If you are someone who easily gets and stays motivated, this skill can be one of your greatest tools. If you are someone who struggles with motivation, it can be one of your biggest obstacles.
It may seem hard to stay motivated when you keep working but feel like you are not getting anywhere. In these situations, it is more important than ever to find the strength and focus needed to push past the challenging time and to really stay motivated.
Here are five ways you can stay motivated, even when it seems like your efforts aren’t getting you anywhere:
1. Start by knowing your motivating force
Everyone has their own different motivating force or factor and they can vary from person-to-person. In order to stay motivated even in the most challenging of times you need to know what your individual motivating force is. You need to have a reason to succeed.
What is your reason for wanting to keep going? What is your reason to keep working even if you aren’t seeing the results that you want?You need to know what motivates you. What is your big picture goal that put you on this path in the first place? If you can channel what this is, then you will have the strength and vision to stay motivated no matter what comes your way.
“The experience of pain or loss can be a formidably motivating force.” – John C. Maxwell
2. Know what you can lose
Sometimes just knowing what you want isn’t enough to really motivate you. There are many people who react better to knowing what they can lose. If you are struggling to stay motivated because you aren’t seeing the rewards or benefits that you want, start focusing on what you could lose by giving up. What will happen if you don’t keep going? This outcome may just be the boost you need to push forward.
3. Get yourself organized
When you are extremely busy and are dealing with a cluttered over-stimulated brain, it can easily not only ruin your focus but your energy as well. It can seem almost impossible to stay motivated and push past certain challenges when you are dealing with a cluttered and organized brain.
Take a moment to really write out all of your thoughts and ideas and get them organized. Many times, just taking a moment to organize your thoughts can give you the clarity that you need to make the right decisions and to find the motivation to keep going.
Taking some pressure off your brain by moving your thoughts to a more organized list is a great way to unload, unwind and regain the focus you need to find the motivation you desire.
4. Be ready with a backup plan
Many times people find they are not reaching their desired outcome, not because they don’t have the right skills or talents, but because they don’t have the right approach. Instead of getting down on yourself and losing steam when things don’t seem to be working out, try a new approach and come up with a new plan.
Be prepared to change courses. It doesn’t mean giving up, it means starting over with a different approach to the same problem. Sometimes a fresh perspective is all you need to find success and the renewed energy and motivation required to meet your goals.
Thomas Edison once said it best when he claimed he’s never failed he’s just “found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” You may not need to try out 10,000 approaches, but having a backup plan or two can only help you regain your feelings of motivation.
5. Let it go
In the words of the now famous Disney song, sometimes you just need to let it go. There are so many people that find a block in their motivation not because they don’t want to keep pushing on, but because something they are holding on to is getting in the way. If you find that you get easily upset or frustrated, or are worried about what other people are thinking about your shortcomings, let it go.
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” – Hermann Hesse
Feelings like this can only leave you feeling pre-occupied and unfocused. Don’t worry so much about what other people are saying or thinking about you and your situation and instead let it go. It can help you regain focus and help you get back to the motivated place you want to be.
How do you stay motivated? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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