Motivation is like our inner rocket fuel. It acts as a surge of energy that pulses through us and pushes us to get things done. When motivation comes, it can be pure magic. You feel powerful and focused. You feel confident that you can pretty much conquer anything that comes your way. Unfortunately, in my personal experience, motivation isn't always easy to summon.
Anxiety, self-doubt, fear, exhaustion, or just the chaos of everyday life can sometimes squash our motivation before we even realize what's happening. So what do you do when you have a goal but can't seem to find the motivation? Give up? Run far, far away from your goals? While bailing seems like the most viable option when you lack motivation, it's not the only option. It is possible to ignite that inner spark you need to help propel you closer to your goals. Below are eight methods I've successfully used to help fuel my motivation.
1. Dig Deep
The notion of identifying what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it may seem like common sense. But simply stating why you want to accomplish something isn't always enough. You have to understand the impact of what you're committing to. It has to go deeper than the surface, and it has to feel significant. It's easy for me to say, "I want to lose 30 pounds so my clothes fit better and I want to look good." While that's a start, I really need to think about what else I want to gain from accomplishing this goal. How will I feel? How will it change my life in a positive way? Delving into those core emotions can make getting started that much easier because you've identified how the outcome of the goal will impact you.
2. Seek Inspiration
Identifying the deeper "why" can help with motivation, but it doesn't always work. Sometimes a goal can seem so insurmountable, I end up losing the drive before I begin. Instead of becoming your own self-fulfilling prophecy and setting yourself up for failure, take a step back and search for inspiration. Find other people who set goals similar to yours and have achieved them. Watch TED Talks, devour articles, and scour YouTube — all in hopes of finding a little perspective. It's incredibly motivating to see yourself reflected in someone else, someone who you find inspiring. Learning about their personal struggles and successes provides that sense of validation we seek as human beings. We want to know we aren't alone — we want to have proof that reaching our goals is possible. There is nothing more motivating than experiencing that "aha" moment when you realize, "If they can do it, so can I!"
3. Celebrate Small Victories
The fastest way to lose motivation is failure to acknowledge your milestones. When you set out to accomplish something, the path to get there isn't always a fast and smooth ride. You're going to hit bumps. You're going to get frustrated. The tasks you need to complete to get to where you want to be may be difficult, and the journey may feel arduous. If you keep on trekking along, never celebrating how far you've already come or never taking time to observe your own personal growth, you're going to miss out on something beautiful. By giving yourself credit for those milestones along the way, you'll more likely want to keep going.
4. Embrace the Unpleasant
I'm sure most people have heard the phrase "no pain, no gain" in reference to achieving a goal. While I don't think all goals should necessarily be painful, I think there's certainly some validity in experiencing a level of discomfort. If reaching a goal was easy and didn't require motivation, would there really be a sense of true accomplishment upon completion? Isn't pushing yourself beyond your limits kind of exhilarating? Even if you don't revel in discomfort, try telling yourself otherwise. Convince yourself that the unease you feel is a good thing because it's pushing you one step closer to your goals. The more you begin to associate your difficulties with positive results, the more motivated you'll feel.
5. Have Some Fun
Embracing the unpleasant and having fun doing it may seem like conflicting principles, but really, it's all about balance. If you're toiling away without having any sense of joy, you are going to run out of steam pretty quickly. If you notice your energy and motivation begin to decrease and you start to slack on the tasks you set for yourself, you've got to loosen the reins a bit. Reward yourself each time you make strides in your endeavor. Buy yourself a new leather journal or a pair of shoes or a freakin' cupcake. Just do something, anything, to add some joy to this process so you don't end up resenting your goals and giving up altogether. All I know is that all work and no play make me a dull girl!
6. What You See Is What You Get
During one of my motivation droughts, I began to examine my pattern of behavior more closely. I wanted to determine what caused me to start something with earnest intentions and great enthusiasm, only to lose momentum before I reached my goal. I realized one of the main reasons is because life gets hectic and my goals took a backseat to other things. I wasn't seeing what my goals were every single day, I wasn't being reminded of what was important to me or what my "why" was, so I didn't make them a priority. I decided to make a vision board of what my goals were, how I planned to accomplish those goals, and what was driving me. Having powerful visuals present to consistently reiterate what you want to achieve is incredibly effective in bringing back your stale motivation.
7. Let It Go
Sometimes I feel like I am in an on-again, off-again relationship with my goals. With a goal like weight loss, for example, I've identified, started, given up on, started again, achieved, and unachieved this same goal more times than I'd like to admit. It's not because I don't want to accomplish this goal, but it's because in the back of my mind, there is that fear that I'll be stuck on this vicious cycle forever. This way of thinking undoubtedly sets you up for failure. If you want to focus on what will change your future, you can't let the past be an anchor that deters you from moving forward.
8. Write a Note to Your Future Self
When you put your past behind you, you can focus on the present but also on what you really want your future to look like. Who is the person you want to become? What will they look like? What will they feel like? Out of all of the methods I've used to revitalize my motivation, this one was by far the most effective, albeit a little peculiar. I wrote a letter to my future praising her for everything she's accomplished. I really took the time to conceptualize what this future self, my ideal self, would be like. I may have taken some liberties with it, but who cares? She can be whoever I want her to be. This exercise forced me to explore all of the benefits of working toward those goals and all of the possibilities in store for me if I just keep going.
While these tips may not work for everyone, I believe taking some time to look inward and reflect is always a good thing. If you feel like you're lacking drive or your motivation is gone, it's important to remember that nothing that can be found within us is lost. You may need to do a little digging and a little coaxing to bring that motivation to the surface, but once it's there, you have the power to hold onto it.