Motivation is something that so many of us struggle with. If you struggle with how to get motivated and stay motivated, then you’re in the right place. Trust me… we’ve all been there! Feeling tired, unmotivated and wanting to give up before you’ve even started!
But what is motivation? There are two camps for this definition according to the dictionary:
“the reason why somebody does something or behaves in a particular way” – so essentially a person that is already motivated – they have clear drive and determination. These are the people we look to when we’re struggling, it’s like they have the secret motivation ingredient that we’re missing.
“the feeling of wanting to do something, especially something that involves hard work and effort” – The person reading this post – you want motivation, you want to do that “thing” but struggle to achieve it. You turn to others with the secret ingredient to help you achieve that whatever it is you’re trying to achieve.
Although this post is about motivation, we all seek it in different areas. When I started my weight loss journey, I wanted to know how to get motivated to work out. When you’re heavy and exercise is taxing on your joints, sometimes you need a push through to do it.
I looked to the fitness model Greg Plitt – he was hard working, woke up earlier than everyone else and had a physique that I wanted. Watching his videos on YouTube were a motivation to me at first, but eventually, I found I was still lacking something. I couldn’t get his secret ingredient from his videos.
I felt like I was working out for the wrong reason, to impress someone I didn’t know and didn’t know me. This made it really easy to quit, I quickly lost my motivation and any weight I lost came straight back with a vengeance.
How to get motivated
So, when answering the question ‘how to get motivated?’ there are a number of things to consider…
Step 1: what's your goal?
You really need to know what it is you want to achieve. Not a vague idea of what you want. You need to paint a vivid picture in your mind, it has to be clear, then settle on it and commit to it.
Being realistic is really important. If your goal is to start saving £1,000 a month right now, but you have a low income, a single job and a large amount of debt, it’s unlikely to happen and probably isn’t your best option right now. When your goal is unattainable and you feel like you’re giving it your all, your motivation starts to fail and people tend to give up.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t aim high, just make sure you’re in the right position to aim high, or you might hit some bumps in the road which may stifle your progress.
Goal setting should be SMART!
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-based
This is very important to help you stay motivated. If you set goals that are vague, have no way of measuring them and can’t achieve them within a given time frame, then this is where your motivation will start to wain. This SMART formula can be applied to goals in different areas, I even teach it when completing projects at school.
Let’s set a goal together to make it is easier to understand. We’ll create one for weight loss as it’s something close to home for me and I know that it resonates with many of you.
NB: I would normally suggest to create a page of goals and to separate them into short, medium and long-term. This way you can break them down to be more specific and see yourself achieving the small goals on the way to your big one. This is a brilliant way to stay motivated as you’re constantly seeing results. For the sake of this example I’ll write a single detailed goal.
Goal – lose 24 pounds and start to see real muscle definition in arms, legs and chest (I know that for men, the abs are the last things to show) in 3 months (90 days).
I have specified how much weight I want to lose, that I want to see muscle gains (bearing in mind that I might not have done this before, I might not know how much muscle I can gain). Losing 2lb a week is a healthy amount, so 24lb in 12 weeks is also healthy and manageable.
How will I go about achieving it? Perhaps a 30 day weight loss challenge to get me started, track and consume fewer calories, increase my activity to burn more calories and make more sensible food choices.
It may be worth following a personalised exercise routine specific to my goals. Or start with videos on YouTube, there’s lots of great FREE videos to help you on your way. At this point, the goal is specific, attainable and time-based!
It can also be measured by weighing myself perhaps twice a week to check that I’m on track, as well as measuring my waist, arms, legs and chest to see if their circumference is decreasing. Looking in the mirror will also let me know if I’m becoming more muscular.
Relevancy leads onto the next area where we’ll discuss drive. So far though, we’ve been pretty successful with the goal.
Step 2: how hungry are you?
Once your goal is set, you need to think carefully about how much you want it. Take a moment to ask yourself ‘How hungry am I?’ you’ll need that hunger to succeed.
The hungrier you are, the more motivated you’ll be. This is the relevant part of the smart goal. You have to ask yourself if the goal seems worthwhile and is it the right time? The truth is, most people’s motivation starts to fail when things get hard, this happens because there isn’t a fire in their belly.
Sometimes you’re going to want chocolate more than you’ll want to train, or you’ll wake up to work but end up hitting snooze because you can’t be bothered or you’re tired.
When you’re hungry; when you want something so bad, nothing can stand in your way! You’ll tell yourself ‘my body doesn’t need that chocolate right now’ or ‘snoozing is for the unsuccessful!’
It’s great to know that when you’re up early working, everyone else is failing to get stuff done! You were the only one with enough grit to get up and chase your dreams – this in itself will help you stay motivated. Being the best version of yourself everyday!
It’s incredibly corny, but when I have something to achieve or I’m fighting for, I love to watch an 80s training montage! It could be Van Damme in Kick Boxer – training for vengeance against Tong Po or even Rocky, training to change his life and fortune!
Your hunger for something determines how hard you work for what you want, so get hungry and stay hungry!
Obsession – In Grant Cardone’s book The 10X Rule, he speaks about being obsessed. If you attack tasks with the ferocity of obsession, then there’s nothing you can’t achieve.
If your mind is fully devoted to a specific task, you give that task all of your time and attention and your constant thought. So much so that you can’t switch off at night and start to dream about it; your ability to achieve that task will grow exponentially. Obsession is a great form of motivation, motivated people have it in abundance, and they know how to channel it!
It’s like when you were a kid and you played video games, all that time spent attempting different combos so you could master them. Perhaps you picked up an instrument and played it all the time, you used to carry it around with you so if you got a moment you could play. Maybe it was a sport that you just couldn’t get enough of, or you were that kid that loved drawing and filled up hundreds of sketchbooks. Your motivation was limitless!
We’ve all had something we were obsessed with, I taught a kid who was so obsessed with the Korean boy band BTS that she taught her self Korean. We need to apply that level of obsession, that level of hunger/motivation to the things we want to achieve!
Being obsessed isn’t always a bad thing. Society might tell us it is, but then look at the most successful people in the world, do you think they got there by not being obsessed?
Elon Musk once said “Stop being patient and start asking yourself, how do I accomplish my 10 years plan in 6 months? You will probably fail but you will be a lot further ahead of the person who simply accepted it was going to take 10 years.” This can only be done through obsession and he is a beacon of it.
I’m sure that there have been things we’ve all wanted to achieve, yet haven’t been driven enough to succeed. This isn’t something that you should beat yourself up about, just know that the thing you haven’t achieved is likely to be something you’re not super passionate about.
I’ve wanted to play the guitar since I was a child, I’ve had a guitar for 18 years yet I’m still dreadful. I’ve sporadically taken lessons and then stopped. It sits in my living room looking pretty… unfortunately I can’t get good at the guitar by just looking at it.
You know what? I’m fine with this now, I’m happy to dabble and be mediocre; it’s just not something I’m hungry for, it’s not important to me.
Step 3: how to get motivated - help yourself
Knowing how to get motivated and stay motivated doesn’t need to be hard. There are in fact a number of ways we can help ourselves, unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all. These different methods will work differently for everyone. Some are usable regardless of your goal, and others may be quite specific to the task you want to achieve.
Music – Have you ever noticed that music can affect your mood? Perhaps you’ve been listening to something sad and an unconscious tear falls… (Mama hold my hand – Aloe Blacc) Hopefully, that’s not just me. Or even listening to a song that really gets you pumped up. This could be great for working out, it could change your state from unmotivated to motivated.
I know that when I have a load of work to complete, listening to white noise is insanely helpful! I head on over to Rainy Mood (I’m listening to it right now) and listen to the sound of British Summertime!
Videos – Watching Videos of tasks you want to achieve as mentioned above, but make sure you are using them to fire you up and not as a long term thing. Remember, you’re doing this for yourself, these videos just add to your hunger!
Plan – Make a plan of what you intend to achieve. Write it down and remind yourself what you are doing from day to day and try to get excited about it! Internally hype yourself up to get you ready for the tasks ahead.
Create positive affirmations – When I was a chubby teen growing up, I bought a workout program/book by Tom Venuto called “Burn the fat, feed the muscle“.
As a kid, I don’t think I was in the right place for this book – I wasn’t doing my own shopping, cooking my own meals, I had my studies to consider and any sports I played and dates I’d be going on. It’s a great book though and has doubtless changed thousands of lives.
The book did, however, introduce me to positive affirmations which I use to this day. It’s a way of writing your goals as though you’ve already accomplished them. For example “I’m so happy that I managed to achieve…”
The trick is if you do these daily, you’ll start to believe them. When you start to believe how awesome you are, it’ll help you get motivated and stay motivated. Try putting these up around your house! Every time you see your goals, stop and read them. Read them until you fully believe them.
This will help to change your mindset and make you more positive. Key locations for me – wardrobe, fridge and study wall. Remember, every time you see them, you stop and read.
Routine – Create a routine to follow that will help you to stay consistent. Motivation will be nothing without consistent application.
Consistency – Consistency helps you to stay motivated! If you look at professional athletes, their approach to their training is a consistent one. If you look at the military, they drill a routine into your head! Once we accept that things are going to happen a certain way, we jump on board.
Work starts at the same time each day. You set yourself up for work every day by getting up at a certain time, you get dressed, perhaps have a bite eat, travel in and arrive on time (hopefully). This consistent approach makes it so you no longer require motivation to do it, it becomes something that we’ve programmed ourselves to do. It is now something that is natural.
Our motivations to go in may still be there – motivation to earn money, motivation to not get in trouble, motivation to win some perfect attendance award, motivation to be chosen for that promotion. These are in place and help us stay consistent.
I have a friend I met when I was 16. At this stage of my life, I wasn’t in the worst shape I’d been in but wasn’t thin or muscular. He would go to the gym 5 days a week! He has continued to go to the gym 5 days a week 16 years later…
“How do you do it?” I asked. He told me “If I don’t go, I just feel horrible. It’s part of my day the same as brushing my teeth.” So, for him, it has nothing to do with motivation. It may have started there, but now through his consistent approach, it is no different to him brushing his teeth, it’s just part of his day. A day that feels bad if he hasn’t done it.
Change your mindset – It’s hard to get motivated when your head isn’t in the right space. You need to know the area you want to achieve in well. To do this, it’s a good idea to study that area and others in it.
For example, I like entrepreneurship, as a result of my interest I have read books about creating your own business. It is important to learn how to not be in the 60% of business that fails in the first three years. To find out how to not be in the 60%, people have explained many of their failings and what kept them motivated in books. Read autobiographies of other entrepreneurs to see if you can learn from them.
It’s a great idea to emulate others that have come before you, it’ll give you some idea of what’s required to succeed. This is great for motivation as you’ll be able to see that you’re on the right track. Or it’ll help you get motivated as you now have some idea of how to improve.
Surround yourself with motivated people – Fill your life with people that strive to better themselves in different areas, these people will keep you moving and learning. If you’re surrounded by people that enjoy being sedentary, it won’t be long before you stop moving.
While those sedentary people are at the pub drinking away their money and time or in front of the TV binge-watching the latest series, you’re making an effort to change your life! Don’t be afraid to tell them no, they need to get used to hearing it from you.
You’re not willing to jeopardise your gains because they want some company with their vices. They’re welcome to join you at the gym or work on a project with you. Perhaps play a sport that you can use as your downtime and stay healthy at the same time. Stationary should rarely be an option.
Ignore the neigh sayers – The world is full of them. These are the people that tell you, “you won’t succeed”, “you can’t do that”, “things don’t work that way”, “it’ll be too hard”, “you’ve given up before, you’ll just give up again”, “your goals are too unrealistic, you’ll never reach them”. The hard part is that a lot of these may even come from your family.
I have heard these in some shape or form my life, had I listened to them I’d have stayed very still. You’d never have found this blog, I’d have never have taught thousands of children, got a degree or even got married and had a child. If I’d have stopped once, I wouldn’t have ended up where I currently am. Don’t listen to them! You shape your own destiny!
“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” – William Ernest Henley
People like to put their own inadequacies onto others. They know that they don’t have what it takes to succeed, so they try to bring you down to their level. A level of self-doubt where motivation isn’t in sight. They spend their lives asking “Where are you motivation?”. They watch others succeed and tell themselves they aren’t capable.
If this was you, it isn’t any more! You are on the road to changing your mindset and getting ready to achieve your dreams! On your journey, you’ll look behind you and see all the people that didn’t believe in you, still in the same place. Give them a smile and a wave and be happy you didn’t listen, you’d have ended up back there with them.
Tell people your goals – Depending on the type of person you are, let others know about your goals. It doesn’t matter if they don’t believe in you, that can be a driving force for good.
Some of you will be so motivated by people telling you, “you can’t do that” that you’ll just go ahead and prove them wrong. For some of you, the motivation to not look bad around others will hold you accountable, you don’t want people to see you fail! This could be a big driving point to success.
Another aspect of this is showing the people around you that you’re willing to work hard to achieve your success. This will show others that you’re the one to turn to when they need something done. When a promotion becomes available, they want the hard worker that goes against the odds.
Your hard work will encourage others around you to try harder. You start as the person that struggles with motivation and end up as the person that people are motivated by!
Reward yourself – We all love rewards, but making it a reward you can only use when you’ve achieved your goal will help to keep you motivated. I know I am all about money and trying not to spend too much of it – remember though, your wellbeing is important, and treating yourself for your successes is an acceptable cause, even in my books.
For example, if you are doing driving lessons, perhaps buy a car (NOT brand new) this will spur you on to get your licence faster. If you’re losing weight, get yourself a nice relatively expensive outfit that you’ll fit into when you reach your goal size (be realistic here though, not everyone can fit into extra small). A good example some women use is their wedding dress! No pressure though.
For some, it could be something quite lavish, however, in the next example you buy the reward after you achieve it, but it’s something to look forward to. When your side hustle makes you your first 6 figure income in a year, perhaps you might want to buy yourself a nice watch to mark the occasion (don’t go crazy).
The thought of hitting that milestone is the motivational force that helps to keep you on track, and who doesn’t like receiving a gift? Even if it is from yourself…
How to get motivated and stay motivated
What other reasons are there?
The biggest secret when it comes to how to get motivated and stay motivated is to first know explicitly what you want to achieve, then determine how hungry you are to achieve it. When your hunger isn’t like a raging fire being constantly fueled, then unfortunately it starts to die out. Your goals should keep that fire burning.
The different steps above will help you to fuel that fire, but you have to be willing to follow/use them. Remember – “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
To achieve your goals you need to be fired up and stay consistent. How consistent you are will determine how likely you are to commit your tasks to your daily routine, making them just that, a routine, the same as brushing your teeth. Not doing them would feel unnatural!