Self motivation is encouraging yourself to make progress towards a goal even when things are difficult. Some people are great at self motivation and other people are not. Whether you are starting a new exercise routine, trying to lose weight, looking for a new job, committing to write that novel you have always wanted to complete, trying to start a side hustle, or are just trying to get up every day and survive when the world feels like it is on fire, it can be hard to stay motivated.
The good news is that anyone can learn how to be better at self motivation. The trick is to find the right combination of things that trigger your brain to say “I can do this.”
Maybe She’s Born With It…
What is it that lets some people be great at self motivation while other people struggle with it? Sometimes it is that those self motivated people are the ones who see things in a glass half full sort of way so when they decide to run a half marathon or they sit down to write that novel, they just think to themselves “Alright, I can do this.” Then they do it.
Other people are those super Type A people who just have to get things done in a certain way by a certain time. Maybe they are control freaks or maybe they have so many things going on that the real motivator is that they have to get moving or else it will never get done.
Other people just seem wired in a way that keeps them motivated. For them, self motivation could be how their brain works. But truth be told, even people who seem wired for self motivation use certain tricks to keep themselves going. Somewhere along the way, they learned what works for them. That is really the key here. Self motivation is not a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. What motivates you may not be what will help motivate your sister or your neighbor.
…But Maybe Not
If you are not naturally good at self motivation, you just need to find the right combination of things that help you get moving on the things you want to achieve, whether those things are the small everyday things or some great big achievement. Once you find the things that work for you and get in the habit of using those techniques regularly, you will find that self motivation may be easier than you thought.
If you are struggling to stay motivated, these six techniques can help you get back on track. Each of these ways to self motivate will not work for everyone, so try out and few and see if they improve your motivation. If not, try out a few others. The key is finding the perfect combination that works for your self motivation.
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6 Techniques for Self Motivation
1. Use Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations are phrases or statements that you repeat to yourself for self motivation. You might even call them mantras. They are used to manifest positivity and provide motivation for achieving your goals. Either choose a quote that means something to you or come up with a phrase or statement of your own that helps you keep focused on your goal and feel like you can do it.
Start repeating this quote or phrase to yourself when you get up in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Write it on a sticky note and stick it next to your desk, on the bathroom mirror, or wherever you will see it and it will help motivate you.
Over time, positive affirmations have been known to help change your mindset and make it more positive. So instead of thinking you cannot get through another day stuck at home or you will never finish your novel or be able to run 13 miles, you will start to wake up and think, “I am going to crush my 10 mile run today!”
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2. Keep Your End Goal in Mind
It can be easy to lose motivation when things get tough. That is because we get stuck in the difficulty of the moment and forget the end goal. So next time things get difficult (and maybe that is every day some weeks, but that is ok), ask yourself why am I doing this? What do I want to get from this experience? What is going to be waiting for me at the end of this?
Keeping the reason you started working towards something front and center helps with your self motivation because it shifts your mind from a difficult moment or rough part of the process to the success at the end.
3. Break Things Down into Small Goals.
Feeling overwhelmed is another way to kill your motivation. When you look at the 47 different tasks that need to be achieved in order to get to your end goal, it can make you quit before you reach task number three. Instead, create an action plan and work on one thing at a time.
Start by writing down what it is you want to achieve, whether that is running a 5k, creating the habit of going to three exercise classes a week, or starting your own business. Then write down the steps that you need to complete in order to reach that goal. This is your action plan. Now, start with number one. Once that is complete, cross or check it off the list and start on number two and so on.
Breaking something into manageable tasks helps you deal with one thing at a time, but being able to see the things you check off the list can also help you feel a sense of accomplishment and show you that you really can do this.
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4. Celebrate Milestones…Big and Small
We often get stuck on how far we have left to go rather than on how far we have come and how much we have accomplished. So it is time to switch your mindset! If your goal is to lose 15 pounds and you have lost three pounds it is easy to say things like “I’ve only lost three pounds” or “I still need to lose 12 pounds.” Instead, think about those three pounds you have already lost! You are nearly a quarter of the way to meeting your goal! Celebrate that achievement!
If you have started running with the goal of running a half marathon and you finally ran a mile without stopping to walk for the first time, treat yourself! Learn to break out the champagne, get a pedicure, buy a new fun pair of running tights (or whatever makes you feel celebratory).
Stopping and celebrating the successes you have towards meeting your goals will help keep your self motivation going. We tend to feel like we can only celebrate the “big” successes, but the little ones count too. Sometimes for some people when things get really rough, it can be a win just to take a shower and put on clean clothes that day. And that day, that is a huge freaking success! So remember to look in the mirror and tell yourself that.
5. Visualize, Visualize, Visualize
You know what your goal is and why you want to get there. Now stop and think about what reaching that goal looks like. See yourself 15 pounds lighter and in that new dress you have been eyeing. Picture yourself running across that finish line. Visualize that first sale once you have opened your own little boutique. See what it is you want and imagine yourself in that moment.
Use this technique when you get up in the morning. While you are sudsing up your hair in the shower, take a moment to close your eyes and see yourself fulfilling your dream. This works really well if you are feeling especially hesitant to act or to move forward. It makes that abstract idea come to life and can help remind you what it is you want out of this experience or goal. Pair that with say a positive affirmation about how you are an absolute boss at whatever you do and you are on your way to being a boss at self motivation too.
6. Pay Attention to When You Feel Motivated
As you are working toward improving your self motivation, pay attention to when you feel the most motivated and then when you feel like you are ready to walk away and abandon it all. Write them down. After a while, you will start to see a pattern.
Maybe you feel unmotivated to run on crummy days when you have to get on the treadmill instead of going for a run outside. You might realize that on the mornings when you look at yourself in the mirror and say “I am going to make good choices because I am going to kill it today” that you do just that. Once you find that pattern, you can work around and with it to maximize your motivation.
Alone these things may not do the trick, but the right combination can be a game-changer for your self motivation. Plus, it is important to be kind to yourself and realize that every day will not be your best day. A bad run does not mean you should never run again. A rejection from a potential employer or a publisher does not mean you should give up. Find the good in the challenges. A tough run just means you worked extra hard today. On both the good days and the bad days, do not forget that you are a boss.
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