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10 Tips to Maintain Motivation
What is Motivation
Motivation is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary quite simply as the reason or reasons for doing something.
But as human beings we can probably all identify with the scenario of being massively enthusiastic about something at the beginning, then losing all our motivation. At that point we can find it tough to keep going. You may even have heard talk about personality in terms of whether or not people are the starters, full of ideas and initial enthusiasm or those who can stay the course when the initial enthusiasm has worn off. While there may be some personality differences it is important to everyone that they can motivate themselves to keep going to get to the end of a challenge, aim or goal and enjoy the satisfaction of achievement.
So what can we do to maintain our motivation so that we are finishers as well as starters.
A definite destination
Know Where You Are Going
One of the things that makes it very hard to maintain motivation is not having a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve. This happens at a personal level and also within teams. As humans it is much more rewarding to know the purpose of our activities rather than just plodding along with no real sense of purpose.
But when working with clients who may tell me they feel they aren't getting where they want to go I am often surprised then when ask them about their goals or aims they seem to have little or no sense of direction. They have a vague notion of some future plans but often can't really define a particular goal.
If you want, for example to further you career, you may need to work long hours, take additional qualifications etc but if you also want to spend quality time with family you may need to make some clear choices. Whatever you want, often it can be achieved but you have to know what it is you really want first.
Be Very Specific
It is also easier to stay motivated when you know EXACTLY what you want to achieve and when you want to reach that goal by.
So losing weight is a fairly common goal for many but it's often easier if you know you want to lose say 3Kg in 2 months. Or if you want to train to run a 5 KM race, then setting a date for the race will help you plan your training and it will be easier to maintain your motivation.
It doesn't matter what the goal is, being specific will help. If it is a long or complex goal or project then breaking it into chunks or segments and making them specific might also help.
Track your Progress
Obviously you can't spend all your time checking progress without actually getting on doing anything but actually tracking progress can help maintain your motivation.
That is why it is important to know where you are going and be very specific about your aims. If you are clear about that then do take the time on a regular basis to track how you are doing. Like when you climb a hill sometimes it is nice to stop for a brief rest and look back at the distance covered.
Give Yourself a Reward
We all seem to find it easy to be hard on our selves. The purpose of reviewing progress isn't to beat ourselves up but to actually give ourselves a bit of a pat on the back.
So chose a bit of a reward, you can set it for yourself in advance or just be spontaneous. But if you are losing weight - maybe treat yourself to a something new, not necessarily a whole outfit but something to act as a reward at least. Rewards don't have to be big, a long luxurious bath after a run might work, or a night out after a particular part of a project is completed.
I often have a few sweets when I have finished a particular writing or editing task, then it's on to the next.
Take a Break
Have a Break
Sometimes in order to keep your motivation you actually need to have a bit of time off.
This is even true when you are losing weight, sometimes you need an evening or weekend of not watching everything you eat or drink and you 'll find a new sense of drive and determination when you start back on you r regime once more. Of course you do need to be a bit careful that the break is only after quite a long time of working towards your goal, and making some progress or certainly with weight loss too many breaks will just slow the whole process down.
If your goals are of a less physical nature then breaks are sometimes important - working on creative goals or longer projects like writing or editing, many people find breaks rejuvenating.
If much of your work is indoors, then simply spending some time outdoors can be a great way to get yourself ready to get going again with renewed vigour. There is something very restorative about fresh air and sunshine and nature.
Remind Yourself of your Goal
It's often helpful to have a visual reminder of what it is you are trying to achieve. This will obviously vary depending on your goal - a photo of a size 10 dress may work for some women or if you are trying to get those 'fab abs' a photo of someone who has the body shape you want, may help. With other goals sometimes a visual scheme of your goals can help, something a bit more detailed than a list but where you can see what you are aiming at and perhaps chart your progress.
If you are saving for a holiday pin a picture of the beach where you see it regularly to remind yourself why you are not indulging in other spending.
The important thing is to put this visual reminder somewhere you see it regularly - after all it is meant to be an inspration for you so it is no use if it is just hidden away in a drawer.
To much day dreaming will certainly NOT help you achieve your goals but visualising what success in your goal will look like may well help. Not only will it motivate you but it is thought to play a key role in your inner thought life - it is used a lot by athletes as it counters a lot of the negative messages that may be kicking about in your brain.
The video below explains this bit more - often it is the messages of fear or self doubt that can stop us achieving our goals.
It is important to make sure that you surround yourself with people who support you. That is not to say that you won't achieve your goals without this BUT it is often a lot easier when you have positive, encouraging people around you rather than people who are negative or even impartial.
But people can only really be supportive when they know what you are trying to achieve and if you find you haven't told anyone then perhaps ask yourself why that is the case.
Back to the top
So if you find your motivation flagging, start again - define again for yourself what your aims are, and then follow these steps.
- Be specific about your goals
- Track your progress
- Give yourself a break
- Reward yourself
- Keep a reminder of your goal close at hand
- Visualise success
- Get support
- Believe in yourself
Believe in Yourself
Often the thing that robs us of our motivation is the lack of belief we actually have in ourselves. It can be an insidious enemy that whispers messages of disbelief - 'you'll never manage that' 'who do you think you are kidding', you'll end up failing again', we have probably all heard the messages, or something similar, but what they actually do is rob us of our motivation.
So deal with those negative scripts and start believing in yourself. After all if you don't believe yourself that you can achieve your goal then it is really going to be tough getting anyone else to believe that you can do it. It also going to be very tough to maintain your motivation.