Inside: If you’ve been struggling to find the personal motivation you need to accomplish your goals, or even smaller daily tasks, this article will provide tangible strategies to get you on a better track.
When I was younger, I seemed to have an endless drive to accomplish my goals and dreams.
I was like the energizer bunny. I would just keep going… and going… and going until I achieved what I set out to do.
When I got older, started a family, and joined the rat race, however, it became harder and harder to check things off my never-ending list of dreams.
Now, I yearn for that invisible drive that helped me accomplish so many great things so long ago.
Maybe you’ve experienced that as well?
When it comes to having success, there is one key component that is even more important than talent, intelligence, money, and connections…
That elusive piece of the puzzle is personal motivation.
After all, without motivation, nothing can be accomplished. You won’t reach your goals or your self-imposed deadlines without the motivation to take action toward them.
Unfortunately, personal motivation can often be what is lacking in the fulfillment of desires.
We all have lists of things we hope to accomplish, whether written or just in our heads. These lists contain big dreams, daily tasks and everything in between. Learning how to increase your personal motivation will boost the likelihood of checking more items off your list.
The Science of Personal Motivation
By understanding the science of motivation, you can harness it to your advantage because it becomes less elusive.
The 3 Elements of Personal Motivation
According to researchers, three elements drive people to be motivated: autonomy, value, and competence.
Autonomy = the amount of control or independence a person feels they have over a task or action. Studies have shown that when you feel easily in control regarding a project, you are more likely to follow it through to completion.
Value = the amount of personal significance or importance you place on a matter. If something matters to you on a personal level, you will feel more motivated to take it on than if you try to accomplish an assignment that doesn’t give you a feeling of connection.
Competence = when a person feels a level of mastery related to practice and hard work, not necessarily related to their natural abilities. By spending time developing competence toward a particular goal, you will be more motivated to complete it.
How to Get Motivated Fast
Sometimes we need to get started on a project immediately. Perhaps we’ve been procrastinating, and now we’re down to the wire. You’d think that the threat of not completing the job on time should be enough to motivate you but that isn’t always the case.
Often, even knowing that there will be negative consequences if we don’t complete a task isn’t even enough to get us moving.
Fortunately, there are several simple steps we can take to give ourselves a motivation boost when our usual routine isn’t working.
Visualize the End Result
One way to boost your motivation is to visualize what you will get from achieving the task. This strategy is much more powerful than thinking about what won’t happen if you don’t do it.
For example, you could envision the money you’ll make from a freelance gig and the freedom that money will provide you. You could visualize the feeling of satisfaction you’ll get when the improvements you want to make to the house are done and the reduction in stress you will get to enjoy when you check that task off your list.
No matter what the project is, visualizing the result of your efforts can improve your focus and personal motivation. You might also consider finding something visual such as a photo, magazine clipping or another image, to motivate you even further.
Move Your Body
It’s difficult to focus on a task if you’re tired, and exercise can provide you with the energy you need.
Physical activity has been shown to improve mental clarity and decrease stress, which is just what you need when working on a complex project with a looming deadline. You’ll be amazed how inspired to take action you will feel when you get your body in motion.
Taking a brisk walk during your lunch or heading to the gym for a quick step aerobics class after work can be just enough of an energy jolt to get you in prime thinking mode. Just make sure you don’t overdo it so that you’re not too exhausted to do what you need to to do.
Get Some Rest
In some cases, rest is needed in order to restore clear thinking instead of exercise. You’ll know this is true if you feel physically exhausted or if you’re brain feels like it needs a break.
If this happens at work try resting your head on your desk or taking a quick snooze in your car. A quick power nap will leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready to work. Don’t overdo this one either, however – a short nap will rejuvenate you while a longer nap can have the opposite effect.
Listen to Music
Music can be a great motivator because it can put us in a great mood, get our body moving, and make us feel ready to take action.
Depending on your ability to work with background noise, you might choose to play a couple of songs before working or simply play music while you are working.
Play around with different playlists to see what works best for you. You might get more motivation from faster beats, mellow songs, instrumental songs, or a combination of various types of music.
Get Going With a Baby Step
We can often trick the mind to get moving on a task by starting with a baby step. Often, when we start with a small portion of the whole, no matter how small, we feel inspired to keep going.
For example, if you are having trouble motivating yourself to workout, start by just putting on your workout clothes and shoes. This baby step can put you in the right mindset to begin your exercise routine because getting started truly is half the battle.
Add Purpose To It
By ensuring your task feels meaningful or personal, you’ll give yourself a huge incentive to follow through.
Find a way to add purpose to the task by changing your perspective about it. For example, while most of us don’t enjoy doing our taxes, we can add meaning to it by focusing on the work we’ve done and the contribution we’ve made to our job and community through our efforts. Having the attitude of, “paying taxes is a symbol of good citizenry,” instead of “doing taxes is annoying,” can make all the difference.
Set Out To Master It
When we master a skill, it is an immense feeling of accomplishment. Just think of all the people who inspire us because they have overcome adversity and didn’t stop until they mastered what they set out to do.
When we can tell ourselves that if we just don’t quit, we will succeed, we can use the power behind that statement to motivate us.
Make sure you tailor these suggestions to fit your personality, preferences, and lifestyle. Experiment with the tips that resonate the most with you, and throw out the rest. You’ll likely be surprised by the significant effect a simple action can have on your productivity and personal motivation.
Setting Goals for Motivation & Success
There is a strong connection between goal setting and maintaining the personal motivation necessary to attain them.
In the 1960’s, theories were developed based on behavioral research that led to an understanding of the relationship between goal setting and motivation, and the impact each has on the other. Let’s take a look at these principles and the reasons why goal setting is a key for motivational success.
Goal Setting & Motivation Theories
Dr. Edwin Locke was the first scientist to study the relationship between goal setting and motivation. Published in 1968, Locke’s Goal Setting Theory concluded the following:
- Specific goals provide more motivation than vague goals.
- Goals that provide a challenge are better motivators than easier ones.
- Positive feedback greatly influences the increase of motivation.
- Simply creating a goal leads to better performance.
In 1990, Locke paired up with Dr. Gary Latham to develop the Goal Setting and Motivation Theory, which can be summed up as the following:
- 5 fundamental principles influence the effectiveness of setting a goal.
- The ability to achieve a goal is better when higher numbers of these components are in place.
The 5 Fundamental Principles of the Goal Setting & Motivation Theory
- Clarity – your goals should be clear
- Challenge – your goals should provide you with enough of a challenge to entice you to reach them
- Complexity – your goals should not be so complicated that they cause frustration or overwhelm
- Commitment – you should formally commit to achieving your goal
- Feedback – your goals should have a check-in method in place to determine satisfactory progression
Goal Setting Offers a Reference Point
When we develop objectives by using the framework of goal setting theories, we have a tangible reference point from which to stay on track. Thus, your personal motivation is likely to endure. You’ll be able to look at the points you’ve written down, remind yourself of your purpose, and validate that you are moving in the right direction.
Goal Setting Adds Manageability
When you properly structure your goals, they can feel more attainable. By ensuring your goals are challenging, you’ll keep your brain stimulated. Breaking things down into short-term and long-term targets can help you avoid overwhelm. Personal motivation is better sustained when you feel some control over your goals.
Setting Goals Makes You Accountable
Setting goals properly ensures you will be held accountable to achieving your goals. Proper goals always include a check-in mechanism so that it’s not so easy to toss a goal aside. You can hold yourself accountable by adding assessment dates into your calendar, or you can find an accountability partner to share accomplishments with so that you can hold each other accountable.
Goal Setting Increases Confidence
When you achieve a challenging goal, you feel a sense of mastery which naturally increases your self-confidence. Seeing your goal getting closer to reality through hard work and skill is empowering. Hearing praise from those around you is also motivating. Our confidence increases through all of these things.
Goal Setting Improves Life Quality
Having well-developed goals can lead to a more fulfilling life. By taking the time to define what you want and working toward that desire proactively, you’ll be living with purpose. When we know what we want and feel like we are on track to achieve it, we have higher levels of motivation and fulfillment.
As you can see, there is a strong relationship between goals and motivation. To sustain personal motivation, it helps to have a structure in place that will allow you to follow guidelines like the ones above. You’ll then find that you can increase both your motivation and your chances of reaching your intentions.
How to Feel Motivated Even When Anxious or Depressed
Motivation is an elusive concept for many people. Despite having big dreams or desires to accomplish certain goals, taking the steps that are necessary to reach them can often feel impossible.
Sometimes, it can feel like all you can muster up the energy to accomplish is the bare minimum, let alone having the motivation to achieve anything greater. This is especially true if you suffer from anxiety or depression. These mental health conditions can zap your energy, happiness, and drive, and you might find it difficult to accomplish even the basic day to day tasks, let alone doing what is needed to go above and beyond.
If you suffer from depression or anxiety, seeking help is essential so that you can work on overcoming the negative effects associated with these conditions. Many people have experienced improvement through therapy and/or medication.
Fortunately, there are several methods you can take advantage of to increase your personal motivation even when anxious or depressed. Here are four tangible ways to help you move past survival mode:
Many life coaches or other experts will recommend that you tackle the tough or boring items on your list first to get them out of the way. The theory is that you’ll feel more accomplished, and finishing the rest of your project or goal will then be easier.
When you have depression or anxiety, however, this approach is unrealistic.
Depending on the severity of your condition, making any forward movement at all on a task can be asking a lot of you. If this is true for you, try starting with the part of the project that feels the most fun. Or, you could start with doing the absolute bare minimum or smallest part first. Once you’ve summoned the personal motivation to get started in some way, continuing will be a more likely prospect.
Do It for Someone Else
While personal goals need to come from within to be meaningful, anxiety and depression can make feeling anything but despair difficult, and you may not be able to muster up any motivation from inside of you.
When this happens, you can “trick” yourself into being motivated by thinking about the ways your accomplished goal could benefit others. If for example, you are having trouble even getting out of bed, it can help if you think about the people in your life who depend on you for their care. Whether it’s a child or even a pet, ensuring your loved ones are being treated properly may be enough motivation for now.
While this method shouldn’t be a long-term solution, it can sometimes suffice to get you moving and lead to further personal motivation.
Outsource The Tasks You Dread
While we don’t want to become the person who always pushes off what needs to be done to someone else, deferring the tasks that you dread the most onto someone else can be an effective strategy for those dealing with anxiety or depression. For example, if talking on the phone gives you anxiety, you might want to ask a loved one to make important phone calls on your behalf.
You don’t have to put yourself through unnecessary stress in every situation. Sometimes, you can outsource certain tasks so that the other things in your life become more manageable.
If finances allow, you can outsource tasks to paid professionals. Otherwise, you may need to use some creativity, such as trading tasks with a friend or finding resources that provide the service you need at a reduced cost. The relief you’ll experience is worth the initial expenditure of energy required to generate creative outsourcing solutions.
The key to this strategy is not to go overboard and keep yourself from ever stepping out of your comfort zone. Outsourcing tasks you fear can help you begin to move forward when you are suffering from depression or anxiety initially, but if you never allow yourself to go beyond what is comfortable, you will hold yourself back from growth and the confidence that comes from it.
Be Gentle on Yourself
It can often help to think about how you would handle the situation if you were helping a friend. You would likely have more compassion and patience for your friend than you do for yourself. You would probably encourage them and praise them for the small achievements they made, and you’d be there to help them when they are feeling unable to accomplish something.
To foster personal motivation, it is important that you treat yourself in a similar manner. Be sure to reward or praise yourself for accomplishments, no matter how small. For example, you could take a break to watch your favorite show or purchase a simple indulgence like a spa treatment.
In the same way, it is important that you don’t chastise yourself for your “faults” or “failures.” Focus instead on what you have been able to accomplish and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can in the midst of some tough obstacles. Negative self-talk is self-sabotage, and it kills personal motivation, so it should be avoided at all costs.
Again, don’t get carried away with this strategy. Constantly giving yourself breaks or buying yourself gifts can cause you to lose motivation and can cause other issues. As with everything, moderation is key. The point is to reward yourself for actually accomplishing what you set out to do, instead of simply distracting yourself from doing the task.
Incorporating these steps into your daily routine can significantly increase your personal motivation, despite anxiety and depression. Your mental health issues are a challenge, but they don’t need to be the end of your dreams.
The Benefits of Meditation for Personal Motivation
Having a lack of motivation is a problem for many of us. In this day and age, the stress and strain of our busy lives can easily overwhelm us, making even the most basic of tasks seem difficult, and the downward spiral of low personal motivation can seem like an impossible cycle to break.
Once you lose your passion for a project, productivity and accomplishment can seem like unattainable goals. There is one simple tool that can get you back on track, and that’s meditation.
This exercise of the mind goes well beyond providing relaxation. Science has proven that we can gain a host of benefits through the practice of meditation, including….
Improved Focus & Concentration
Concentration and focus are essential elements of motivation. Personal motivation will be hard to come by if you can’t force your mind to center on the things you need to do. The number one thing meditation does for us is to strengthen our focus and concentration in everyday life.
We all feel down now and again, and more and more individuals are being diagnosed with depression these days. Regardless of where you are starting from mentally, it’s no secret that people who are happy often have more energy and self-confidence. Thankfully, motivation increases happiness because it stimulates the release of “happiness hormones” (serotonin) in the brain. When you naturally feel happier, you are more likely to have a desire to get things done.
Consistent meditation brings about a more relaxed state of mind because it allows the brain to slow down as it receives sensory input. This relaxation and improved processing leads to a reduction in anxiety and overwhelm. With less stress comes a feeling of more control, which then fuels your motivation.
One of the biggest ways to kill personal motivation is to think negatively. While there are many reasons you could have a pessimistic view, such as depression, poor habits, or general life difficulties, it doesn’t serve you. One of the most beneficial aspects of meditation is that it “rewires” our brain patterns so that we naturally have more positive thought patterns. This provides you with the brain reset you need to be more motivated.
When we meditate each day, we gain a great deal of personal insight. It’s like self-reflection on steroids, and it can help up reassess what is truly important in our lives. By better understanding what is important to us, our goals and life purpose become clearer. Knowing the direction you want for your life can kick your personal motivation into high-gear, helping you feel a greater sense of urgency to take the steps necessary to achieve your dreams.
There is no shortage of benefits of meditation for increased motivation. The above list is merely the tip of the iceberg, and it demonstrates the main ways consistent meditation can help you kick your actions into gear.
There are many ways to meditate, so it pays to research what types will work best for you. You might also choose to work with a skilled teacher or mentor to develop a customized practice. The most important thing with meditation is to maintain consistency so that you can enjoy the long term benefits. Before you know it, you’ll be tackling your to-do list and pursuing your goals with renewed vigor.
We all need a motivation boost from time to time, and the strategies in this article have been proven to work. Not every method will work for everyone, however. The key is to try the methods that you feel most aligned with and then test them out to see which ones work the best for you.
Personal motivation is an important tool to have in your pocket because it is a fundamental component in accomplishing what you set out to do.
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