Achieving our goals is seldom easy. It's why knowing how to stay motivated is so incredibly important when it comes to getting what we want in the long term. And in a world with more distractions than ever before — from non-stop web access to constant texting — it can be all the harder to stay focused and productive and not just give in to what's easier in the moment.
I've often struggled with motivation, whether it's been related to my career, my health, or just getting better at a hobby I enjoy. And while it's not always the biggest deal (it's not really all that vital that I learn to play my favorite song on the ukulele by my birthday), sometimes it really worries me. I don't want to be filled with regret at some point down the line because I didn't follow through on something I really wanted, and I also don't want to feel like I failed at achieving the things that are important to me, all because I couldn't figure out how to stay motivated.
Because this is a topic that matters to me, I delved into some pretty serious online research, as well as checked in with an expert, to find the absolute best ways to stay motivated in life. If you're looking for ways to help yourself achieve your goals, here are 11 tips that should help.
1. Don't Assume Money Will Motivate You
In an interview with Bustle over email, motivational trainer (plus business and life coach) Karen Strunks says, "Many people think money alone will be enough to motivate them, and whilst that may do so initially, it's very hard to sustain financial motivation if the work you are doing actually drags. If you do that type of work for long enough you will find that no amount of money is worth swapping parts of your life in activities that aren't aligned with who you are and what truly is your passion and mission in life." So first things first, be true to yourself when it comes to setting goals!
2. Make Sure They're Your Goals
And on that note, Strunks also says that, "One of the biggest challenges in staying motivated and sticking to our goals is in making sure that the goals we have set our ones we really want to attain." She went on to note, "Sometimes we set goals based on what we think we 'should' do. Or we base them on what other people say." Make sure you're going after something that you want and that makes you happy — it can make all the difference.
3. Visualize The Results
According to a piece featured on Forbes about staying motivated, it's important to visualize the end result and what it will feel like when you've achieved your end goal. This means visualizing the sweat on your back, the feeling of relief, the utter excitement — this is what will fuel you on days when you don't feel like working.
4. Break The Goal Down Into Smaller Pieces
The same Forbes compilation piece recommended breaking your goals down into smaller, more task-oriented goals — and set target deadline for those tasks. For example. if your goal is "re-organize my entire closet," start by saying, "First I'm going to tackle the shoes, then the belts, then the winter coats in the back," etc. This method can make even the biggest task feel more manageable.
5. Tap Into Other People's Energy
In a piece for Inc, small business advisor Marla Tabaka stressed the importance of surrounding yourself with positive thinkers who emanate positive energy. "Do you have people in your life who can engage in stimulating conversation about business or the other things that you're passionate about? As human beings we give and receive energy and inspiration. Make sure you are receiving as much, or more, than you are handing out," Tabaka wrote.
6. Get Organized
Tabaka also recommended taking time to sit down and organize your thoughts. "When I'm working on a big project, nothing zaps my energy more than an over-stimulated, cluttered mind," she wrote. So instead, sit down and move the process from your head to an actual organized list, or talk out what you're thinking with a trusted friend (or both). Then schedule specific times to complete each task. This is key to getting what you want.
7. Keep The Big Picture In Mind
One of my favorite YouTube personalities, Tessa Violet, stressed the importance of keeping your "top tier" goal in mind at all times, even when doing the less pleasant, more menial tasks related to it. That way, she said, "If you're having a week where you feel like [you're'] not motivated to do the work, you remember, 'My goal isn't about finishing the work. My goal is about something bigger.'"
8. Don't Worry About What You Can't Control
In a piece for The Huffington Post, life coach Stacia Pierce said to "take control of what you can, and don't worry about what you can't." So if you often find yourself paralyzed with the "what ifs" (as in, "What if I write this and no one reads it," "What if I don't get accepted into the program," etc, etc) let it go and just focus on turning out quality work.
9. Seek Out Positive Information
Pierce also recommended reading or listening to positive information every single day. "If you fill your mind with uplifting and inspiring information, it will keep you motivated. Go to the bookstore or library today and find at least one book on a positive topic that will give you a boost. You need constant reminders telling you that you are capable of achievement," she wrote.
10. Remind Yourself Why You Set The Goal
In a piece for Tiny Buddha, integrated channeler Maria Moraca said that when things feel overwhelming, just take a few moments to sit back and remind yourself why you chose your path in the first place. Was it to help people? Was it because you knew your end goal would lead to long term happiness, even if it was short term work? This can always help you find clarity in the worst moments.
11. Be Consistent
And finally, Strunks also stressed the importance of being consistent with your work, writing, "take consistent action every single day." This means that even if you're totally not in the mood, do one small proactive thing that will move you towards your ultimate goal — even if it's just a tweet.
Staying motivated is absolutely within your reach — it's often just about keeping your end goal in mind and breaking down the larger end result into manageable smaller steps. Remember — you can do it!
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