It can be hard to keep your motivation up.
Whether you’re facing difficult times, overwhelming distractions, or that initial passion is beginning to wane, it’s easy to get demotivated.
And even easier to stay there.
A lack of consistent motivation can cause a lot of problems in our lives. And to be frank, GREAT things can’t be accomplished with a fleeting sense of motivation.
- Lose that weight
- Get back in the gym
- Learn that language
- Pick up that new skill
- Earn that promotion
Anything worth having requires consistent effort. Without the motivation to keep you focused and pushing towards your goals in good times and bad, you’ll continue to find it extremely difficult to accomplish anything.
And that’s not a fun life.
Thankfully, we’ve been there and can assure you that the struggle of long-term motivation is entirely fixable.
Here are a few pointers to get you going…
1. Create Smart Goals
It’s easy to set a goal: define what you want.
However, unbeknownst to most people, it’s only about 10% of the work. The thing is, stating what you want means absolutely nothing in the grand-scheme of effective goal-setting.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you want to lose 20 pounds.
Great! You’ve got your goal set, but now what? How do you actually go about losing the weight?
This is the point where a little more planning comes in. Are you going to diet or are you going to exercise? Do you know how? What’s your timeline? Be specific (more on this in a second). Is your goal to lose 1lb a week?
If so, your timeline is twenty weeks and you’ll need to figure out a proper diet and exercise plan to accommodate that schedule.
And most importantly, why do you want to lose the weight?
This last part is key because failing to understand and internalize your exact motivation will make it a LOT easier to quit when things get difficult—especially when your initial inspiration wears off.
In this example, we’ve given you the broad strokes of Smart Goals.
Smart goals are effectively goals with a more complex plan around them. This level of planning can dramatically increase the success rate of your goal.
These steps include…
Clearly define your goals and to determine exactly what you want (ex. To lose 20lbs).
Make the Goals Measurable
Is the success quantifiable? This means avoid picking a goal like “I want to get better at Spanish.” It means nothing. How can you quantify it? A more appropriate goal might be, “I want to complete a 9-week Spanish language course at the local community college.”
Make the Goals Time-Sensitive
This one is key. If you don’t set a time limit to complete your goal, good luck on ever finishing it. More than likely, “tomorrow” will turn into “tomorrow” then “next week,” “next month” etc. until you eventually give up. Trust us, we’ve been there, too. Give yourself a strict deadline that’s reasonable, and hold yourself to it. Even if it means building in consequences.
They Need to Be Yours
It all goes back to meaning and greater purpose. Your family, friends, or significant other can’t do the work for you. If they want you to get back into the gym and you don’t, it will be next to impossible to keep that motivation going for the long-term. So, know what you want and why you want it if you want the motivation to stick around.
Put it in Writing
Lastly, put everything in writing. Not on your laptop or phone notes either. Write it down on physical paper and put it up somewhere you can see it. A goal that’s constantly reinforced is a goal that you’ll remember. This little trick will make maintaining your motivation a whole lot easier.
Once you’ve got your smart goals set, there’s one other thing to consider…
2. Make Your Wins Easy and Consistent
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Unfortunately, for many people seeking quick progress, they fail to realize that the success they often see comes from HOURS AND HOURS of consistent effort.
This means that if you go after a goal assuming things will be a piece of cake, you’re more likely to get severely demotivated as you begin to hit your first obstacles.
Instead, progress must be incremental in nature. For some, starting a difficult task is often the hardest part, but if you can build up a sense of gradual momentum, making progress will get easier by the day.
So, how do you build up momentum?
You give yourself the task of doing the BARE MINIMUM effort to give yourself a checkmark of progress for the day.
Let’s use a real-world example and say you’re trying to meditate more.
Meditating can be challenging for anxious individuals. It’s particularly hard to sit down as there can be a lot of mental resistance. One way to build a habit like this is to make an agreement with yourself that all you need to do is sit down and be silent for ONE minute.
The goal here isn’t initially to have the most beneficial meditation session.
The goal is to build up the habit to have longer meditation sessions in the future.
When one minute is easy, scale up to two. When two becomes easy, go to three, four, five, etc. The habit itself is more important than the results so start slow.
By building up a progressive routine like this, with an eye for patience, you’ll create beneficial routines that can dramatically improve your life over time.
3. Accept There Will Be Setbacks
This a common one when it comes to ambitious people. You create a grand plan, you map out the steps, and you know that all you need to do is follow the plan WITHOUT A HITCH and you’ll get where you need to go.
Then—inevitably—something you didn’t predict happens and your entire schedule is thrown off. Now, it feels harder to get back on the horse again, the initial motivation you had isn’t the same. You’re losing interest, and before you know it, you’ve given up and fallen back into old habits.
Trust us, we’ve made all these mistakes before, too, so you aren’t alone.
The key to avoiding this trap is simple…
Build setbacks into the equation.
Once you accept that you will eventually fail in maintaining consistent progress, the most important thing is to not beat yourself up about it.
It KILLS your internal motivation to keep pushing.
Instead, shrug your shoulders, resolve yourself to do the best that you can for that day and try again tomorrow.
Here’s an example from the initial goal of losing weight:
Let’s say you’ve got a clean diet where you only allow yourself to eat unhealthy foods on the weekend. Those are your cheat days. However, your best friend is throwing a BBQ for her birthday this Thursday. You come, you get hungry, and you get a plate of ribs.
Game over, right?
Not at all.
Rather than lamenting over your “failure” to maintain your diet, saying “Eff it” and eating junk food for the next week, enjoy yourself for the day, and commit to getting back on your diet first thing tomorrow.
The key is to understand that tomorrow is another day.
Motivation is a lot easier to maintain when there’s a sense of momentum. Just because you slow down doesn’t mean you have to stop.
If you want to maintain your motivation, keep pushing towards progress. Even when your bored, even when it’s hard, even when you’re questioning why you’re doing it.
Just keep swimming.
Eventually, you’ll get where you need to go.