10 Ways to Motivate Your Motivation

Motivation is critical to success, one of the driving forces behind human behaviour, but why is it there in abundance at the start of a new goal or creating a new habit, but frustratingly drops very quickly and often disappears altogether leaving us feeling further away from goal achievement and even more demoralised than before we begun.

Author: Nicky Forster

Motivation is a fascinating subject where 2 people who have a given goal, and both have a desire to achieve that goal to the same degree, and yet one person could be super motivated and take action, finding it much easier to actually achieve the goal where is another can struggle with motivation and as a result find it very difficult, take fewer actions and struggle to achieve it.

So why does one person find motivation easy whereas another finds it incredibly difficult?

Part of this can be explained in by the training and strengthening of neural circuits which connect different areas of our brain and are responsible for our actions.

 

One thing is for sure is that motivation affects us all, at different times in different ways, just like we all have mental health, we all have physical health, motivation affects us in a similar pattern.

 

They will often be times when following a schedule or process means that we’re actually not liking or enjoying what we are doing, it’s important at these times to remind yourself why we’re doing this and accepting that we might not enjoy going for a run, but we want to be fitter or lose weight and that this is the process by which we are going to achieve around in the shortest period of time. When we change your mindset into understanding that we don’t necessarily need to like what we’re doing to get what we want, but it is something that we have to do then it’s easier to continue. If we can align these actions towards things we enjoy, or character traits like creativity, or keeping your actions novel, then that obviously helps towards consistency and motivation.

So, what is motivation, exactly?

The author Steven Pressfield has a great line in his book, The War of Art, which gets at the core of motivation. He wrote “At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.”

In other words, at some point, it is easier to change than to stay the same. It is easier to take action and feel insecure at the gym doing an exercise that many hate like running or burpees, than to sit still and experience self-loathing on the sofa. It is easier to feel awkward while making the sales call than to feel disappointed about your dwindling bank account.

Every decision has a price, if we do nothing, we get nothing, if we make positive changes, we see positive results. When we are motivated, it is easier to bear the inconvenience of actions than the pain of remaining the same. We cross a mental threshold, usually after weeks of procrastination and in the face of an impending deadline, and it becomes more painful to not do the work than to actually do it.

 

Motivation is not a character trait, it’s a state of mind, it’s a mind-set and we can change that, motivation is like a muscle, and like all muscles we need to practice strengthening it through regular routine

 

There are plenty of tips and theories designed to help people stay motivated, many of which contradict each other, but the science of motivation points towards several proven methods to help us stay on track with our goals, and they may very well surprise you.

 

1. Simplify life by introducing a routine

 

I would advise anyone to create a routine, putting it simply, planning your life, simplifies your life.

A routine helps to prevent asking yourself questions like,

“Do I want to do this today?”

“Shall I have a day off?”

“I haven’t really got time today now, have I?”

 

Removing that mental debate prior to taking action on a given task, helps to accept these as things we need or must do as part of the schedule.

 

Book end your day by having a routine to start off and end your day. These routines can be short and simple, or more detailed and lengthier if that suits you but they shouldn’t be just a whim of the day they should contain your non-negotiables, whatever they are you are going to practice these every day and stay committed to them over the course of at least three months until they become longer lasting habits.

 

There are often days where it isn’t easy for me to jump out of bed at 5:15 am, take a walk outside and then step into my outdoor cold shower, to say there isn’t huge friction some days against this would be a complete lie, because there are many days where I wrestle with the decision inside my mind for several minutes, before I realise the inevitable, that I am going to do it because I’m committed to it, rather than a case of, will I or won’t I, I focus on the fact that I am going to do it no matter what, when we change your mindset this way the decision is often made quickly to get it done sooner rather than later, especially if it is a task that we don’t associate is being pleasurable, like a cold shower or exercise.

To make the decision every morning to follow the plan, follow the routine and take that decision making process out of the equation.

 

2. Develop a mantra. 

 

Mantras are not just for Buddhists and yoga bunnies

A mantra is a verbal statement that reinforces a positive mindset. They can be extremely helpful when it comes to keeping your motivation up and your spirits high.

Come up with a statement that really resonates with you. It can be something simple like “I am strong enough, and I can get through this,”

 

Start off every morning by repeating your mantra aloud yourself. The more repetitions, the more you’ll begin to believe it!

 

Use it at times when you are faced with the greatest friction against taking action on a given task

 

My Mantras

 

Personal I can, and I will

 

Goal SettingTomorrow’s rewards rely on today’s actions

 

Client MantraIt will be tougher than you imagine, but you a stronger than you think.

 

 

3. Set Positive Goals – Introduce challenges

 

When setting goals try and set them towards things that we are interested in and align closely with our morals, ethics, and values. It helps with motivation enormously when goals are linked to things we like or are interested in, for example, if you have an exercise related goal, try to find an exercise type you enjoy rather than slogging against things you hate doing. If you hate running, don’t force yourself to run, if you hate burpees, and most people do, find something else today instead, there are always alternatives.

 

Make sure that our goals are positive and directed towards a positive outcome rather than avoidance goals or restriction goals, so in the example of trying to give up smoking, try to set a goal of living a healthier lifestyle rather than not smoking cigarettes.

Avoidance goals can be unhelpful because they regularly focus on the negative action that we are trying to avoid or eliminate, by repeatedly focusing on these makes it harder to do so.

If we can link our goals and the actions we need to take to reach these goals, to things that we are interested in, or align them with our character traits, like creativity or social connections, then we are more inclined to continue the actions.

 

4. Don’t visualise success

 

One of the most common tips for getting motivated is to simply visualize success, yet research suggests that this might actually be counterproductive. The problem is that people often visualize themselves achieving their goals but skip over visualizing all the effort that goes into making those goals a reality.

By imagining that you have achieved the desired goal, you’re depleting the amount of energy you need in order to accomplish the task, previous research has shown that idealising about the future results in poor goal achievement, it also has found that this can sap energy we have available.

A far better motivator is to visualise failure, visualise yourself in 1, 2 or 3 years’ time and exactly the same position as we are currently, and when we visualise this remember to consider the emotions that we would feel if we hadn’t improved within this time

Focusing on achieving the endpoint is an extrinsic motivator, examples of these would be to think about our retirement or amount of money we want to set aside, if we want to increase motivation to do something a long way ahead of time, then focusing on our intrinsic actions, such as setting aside money each month and is a far better way of remaining motivated.

In the same way if we are trying to lose weight or become fitter, rather than focusing on how it’s going to be when we reach our goal weight or a certain level of fitness, focus on the action we are currently doing (perhaps exercise), enjoying it, no matter how hard it is, because we know that this action is going to take us to our end point.

  • Instead of imagining yourself suddenly successful, imagine all the steps it will take to achieve that success.
  • What challenges will you face? Knowing what you might encounter can make it easier to deal with when the time comes.
  • Visualise yourself in the same position as you are now at some point in the future and how that would make you feel.

 

5. Ask yourself WHY? Consistently, like a child.

 

In the same way a child asks questions, they ask a question, you give them an answer, invariably they will return with why? Until it almost comes down to a base level of reasoning.

 

Why are we going to the shops?  Because we need some food

Why do we need food?  Because we have none at home

Why don’t we have any food at home?  Because we’ve eaten it all

Why have we eaten it all?  Because we were hungry

Why were we hungry?  Because we need food to exist

When we challenge ourselves with these questions, we soon get down to a base level of why we are doing something, and this is our emotional attachment to our given task. Not all our goals need to be steeped in heart wrenching or tearjerking story, but the closer they are to us and the more meaning they have to us, the more they become our mission, and when this happens, they are almost impossible to give up on.

 

6. Take Action – Take Control

 

One of the most surprising things about motivation is that it often comes after starting a new behaviour, not before. It sounds counter intuitive, but we have this common misconception that motivation arrives as a result of passively watching a motivational video or reading an inspirational book. However, active inspiration can be a far more powerful motivator. People often feel more motivated when they feel like they have control over what is going to happen

Motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Getting started, even in very small ways, is a form of active inspiration that naturally produces momentum, momentum helps to create consistency and consistency over time will always equal results.

Taking positive action creates momentum, and this works if you are trying to avoid a craving for food, usually sugar, or alcohol, to get up and go and do something else will within a very short space of time distract you from the craving and prevent you from giving into it.

Example of this when craving sugar, is to eat another food item, a healthy food item choice like a Brazil nut, very slowly, deliberating over eating it and focusing on all the sensations you’re experiencing whilst you’re eating it. Try it, it really does work.

Alternatively, if you have friction against exercise, then follow the advice of the greatest slogan of all time which is Nikes, Just Do It. Put your training kit on and your trainers and go and do an exercise, any exercise for three minutes, after that time, if you want, you can go home. Finished. You’re done. Or you can carry on with the session, 99% of people will continue because the initial action has been taken and motivation improved as a result.

 

7. Increase your gratitude

 

When we express gratitude to what we have, rather than being fixated on what other people have, and when we express gratitude to important people in our life we increase our appreciation, our energy levels and as a result our motivation.

How to increase gratitude 

5 Minute exercise:

Think about the people that are most important to you.

Next, write down 3-5 things you are grateful for, or appreciate, about each person.

You could tell them the 3-5 things or just keep it to yourself and sense how you are with that person the next time you meet.

Another important focus for gratitude is yourself. What are you grateful for today?

Taking the time to look inwardly and appreciate what you have built momentum and motivation and makes you a lot happier.

 

8. Cultivate a Growth Mindset (or Success Mindset)

 

 A simple Google search describes growth mind-set as

‘People who believe their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset, those who believe their talents are innate gifts’

 

Over 30 years ago, Stanford University Professor, Carol Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When people believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. As a result, they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement.

 

Advances in neuroscience have shown us that the brain is far more malleable than we ever knew. Research on brain plasticity has shown how connectivity between neurons in different parts of the brain can change with experience. With practice, neural networks grow new connections, strengthen existing ones, and build insulation that speeds transmission of impulses. These neuroscientific discoveries have shown that we can increase our neural growth by the actions we take, such as using good strategies, asking questions, practicing, and following good nutrition and sleep habits.

 

One of the biggest things with a growth or success mindset is curiosity, because having that consistent curiosity to keep developing, to keep learning is a fundamental and in fact the more we learn the more we realise how little we actually know.

 

 

9. Don’t ‘Double Down

 

If you miss a day on your schedule, don’t try and catch up the following day by giving yourself double the amount to do, a proven way to increase pressure and anxiety and lead to a sense of failure when you don’t complete it.

Marathon training consists of approximately four months of training 4 to 5 times a week, that is somewhere in the region of 60-80 sessions leading up to the race itself or ‘lap of honour’ as I like to call it. There will undoubtably be missed sessions within that training schedule, doubling up on these miss sessions creates a physical and mental overload but actually won’t make a significant difference, obviously if you miss lots of sessions then of course there is a price to pay, but the odd session here in there won’t, so like riding a bike, if you fall off on any given day, get back on the following day and you’ll be fine.

 

10. Focus on the journey, not the outcome

 

It’s almost become a buzzword about the journey being better than the destination and importance of the process, but if we think about the process as a set of defined inputs of action commitments that when combined together build controls, create consistency, confidence and guarantee defined outputs.

 

There is more to success than just looking at results, when you start focusing less attention and energy on the results and more on the processes or the actions involved, you discover that you learn faster, are more successful and often happier at the outcome. The journey becomes more enjoyable than the end result.

 

“The process is about doing the right things, right now. Not worrying about what might happen later, or the results, or the whole picture.” – Ryan Holiday

 

So, whether you are trying to lose weight, run a marathon, earn a degree, or complete some other type of goal, motivation plays a critical role in your overall success or failure. Some of these research findings might contradict your existing ideas about what works and what doesn’t in terms of motivation. Try incorporating a few of these strategies into your daily habits to improve your enthusiasm and drive to succeed.

Tomorrow’s rewards rely on today’s actions!

JUST DO IT

Good luck !

 

For help in implementing these into your daily life to improve motivation,

contact me for information  – nicky@nickyforster.com

 

 

 

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