How many times have you said, “I’d like to do that, but I just don’t have the motivation”? If you’re like me, the answer is too many times. But motivation isn’t something you just wake up and find.
When you learn to motivate yourself, you’re able to push past self-proclaimed limitations and build grit. And you start to realize that you can’t always rely on external sources to motivate your actions.
This article is going to teach you how to motivate yourself when you feel stuck or in a slump. By the end, you should feel ready to go out and crush your goals.
- Why is it hard to feel motivated?
- Does it really matter if you’re motivated?
- 5 ways to motivate yourself
- Wrapping up
Why is it hard to feel motivated?
Have you ever really stopped to ask yourself why you’re not motivated? Sometimes this can be a hard question to answer. Other times the answer is clear.
Research shows that sometimes we’re not motivated because our personal evaluation of the cons outweighs the potential benefits of a positive behavior change.
I come face to face with a lack of motivation for healthy behaviors almost every night after dinner. I have a sweet tooth and I love a good dessert.
Now I know that dessert is not good for my health. And I understand that the processed sugars may even increase inflammation related to my nagging injuries.
But the con of not being able to get that dopamine kick from dessert makes me feel unmotivated to change.
Your lack of motivation may be for something more serious than my dessert cravings. But the concept remains the same. We don’t want to change or get the process started because it may be painful.
But sometimes we need to remember that temporary pain or discomfort is a small price to pay for self-growth.
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Does it really matter if you’re motivated?
But why do we need to be motivated in the first place? Isn’t it okay if we just stay the same? I think the research answers these questions better than I can.
One study found that graduate students who were more motivated and self-determined were more successful in their graduate programs.
Another study found that individuals who had high levels of motivation and determination were more likely to sustain weight loss long-term.
The trend in these studies indicates that people who are motivated are more likely to succeed. And ultimately, we all desire some form of success in our lives to be happy.
So you’re more than welcome to just coast through life. But you might miss out on accomplishing your big goals. And you may never truly understand what you’re capable of if you don’t push yourself.
5 ways to motivate yourself
Now that I’ve got you riled up and ready to chase your goals, let’s talk about how to light your own motivation on fire.
1. Figure out what’s really blocking you first
In order to learn how to motivate yourself, you need to figure out why you don’t feel motivated.
I remember about a year ago I was really unmotivated to continue taking educational courses for my career. I was already overwhelmed with my patient care schedule and felt like I had no free time.
It wasn’t until one of my co-workers suggested that I needed to reduce my caseload that it hit me.
My lack of time management and stress from work resulted in a lack of motivation to be a better healthcare provider.
Once I cut back on my schedule and prioritized my well-being, I found my motivation again.
Maybe it’s your busy schedule that’s causing a lack of motivation. Or maybe it’s that you don’t have the desire to be pursuing that goal, so you need to pick a new one.
Dive deep and figure out why you’re not motivated before trying to light the motivation fire again.
2. Write out exactly why you’re doing it
After you’ve figured out what’s standing in the way of your motivation, define why you’re pursuing a certain goal.
You need to write this out clearly. It’s essential that you communicate to yourself why you’re doing it.
Because if you don’t know why you’re doing it, the motivation will quickly fade.
I am going to run an ultramarathon in a couple of months. There are many days when I do not feel like running all the extra miles.
But I come back to my statement about why I’m running this race.
I’m doing it to convince myself that I can do hard things. And I want to prove that I am capable of so much more than I think I am.
I am someone who is great at inventing self-limiting beliefs due to fear and doubt in myself. Running an ultramarathon is a big and scary goal that I normally would avoid out of fear.
But I have my “why” set as my phone background. It’s a statement I wrote that says, “You can do hard things. You are running an ultra to break through your limitations.”
Once you know your “why”, it will be easier for you to find motivation again when things are tough.
3. Put your goals in front of your face daily
Not only do you need to know why you’re doing something, but you also need to remind yourself daily.
My phone background is one way that I’m doing this with my ultramarathon. But you don’t have to use your phone background.
I’ve also set my desktop screen on my work computer to be a visual that reminds me of my goals.
Or I’ve even gone as far as taping a picture or goal to my mirror or nightstand. Because I know I’ll come in contact with these reminders daily.
As human beings, we are quick to forget. This is why you need to find a simple way to remind yourself of your “why”.
Because the more you remind yourself, the easier it is to get back after it again…and again.
4. Get involved in a group to keep you accountable
If you know you are likely to fall back into the trap of poor motivation, find a reliable group to keep you accountable.
There are so many groups out there when it comes to any goal or aspiration you may have.
There are walking groups or groups who get together to learn new languages. There are groups who study various religious texts together or who get together to play music in a band.
Plug into your community for accountability. And sometimes you just need to plug into your own friend group to keep your motivation high.
I am particularly fond of relying on those closest to me. This is in part why I’m selective with my friend group because I know their motivations will rub off on me.
This isn’t to say that you should always rely on others for motivation. Because ultimately, only you are accountable for your own actions.
But this is simply one trick that can come in handy when your motivation is particularly low.
5. Use the 2-minute rule
If all else fails when motivating yourself, use the 2-minute rule. The 2-minute rule says you only have to do something for 2 minutes.
For example, on days when I don’t want to run I tell myself I only have to do it for 2 minutes. By the end of those 2 minutes, I’ve overcome the activation energy of the task and feel motivated.
If you don’t feel motivated to clean your house or work on that project, try the 2-minute rule. I almost guarantee by the end of 2 minutes you will have found some motivation.
It’s usually the initiation energy that keeps us from starting a task. Once you’ve overcome that, it’s easier to stay motivated and get going.
So keep the 2-minute rule in your back pocket next time you’re feeling super unmotivated. It may only take 2 minutes to find your motivation again.
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Motivation is not genetic and it’s not always found at the bottom of a coffee cup. You have to actively work at keeping yourself motivated. Using the tips from this article, you can spark your motivation to achieve the goals that matter most to you. With a bit of persistence, it will become easier to motivate yourself to go out and smash that next big goal.
Do you find it hard to motivate yourself? What's your favorite tip to motivate yourself to keep working towards your goals? I'd love to know in the comments below!