To achieve anything in life, we need a degree of motivation to get it done. So how to work towards a goal and stay motivated when even seemingly small, simple tasks, such as housework or addressing a pile of paperwork, can be pushed to the side for lack of motivation. For goals that require long-term commitment, repetition or radical lifestyle changes, a huge amount of motivation is needed.
When it comes to the most common goals people set, whether it’s working towards a career goal, weight loss, stopping smoking or training for a marathon, why is it many people fail to achieve them? Here’s five simple tips to stay motivated. Good luck, keep on track, and always be kind to yourself.
1. Set a goal.
Firstly, get clear on why you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing. If you want to run a marathon, or learn to play the guitar, what’s your why? Remember your why is something bigger than the act itself. Keep that with you whenever you start to veer away from it. Next set a clear goal. Use a SMART goal or something similar, we all know how they work. The important thing is to have a deadline. A goal without a deadline is just a wish.
2. Chunk down your goal, stay motivated.
Once you have a clear goal and a date, break your goal down into manageable chunks. So if your goal is to learn how to play a particular song on the guitar by the end of May, you might break that down into what chords you need to learn, the progressions you’d need to make, then start practising each bar and working through the song. If you’ve ever done any running training this is exactly how that works – each day and week is broken down into different goals. For a 5k it might be running 90s, then 3mins, then 5mins until you can do the whole thing. Make each chunk achievable, and make it a logical progression from the one before to stretch (but not break you). This means you can track your progress and see the wins that come, and it’ll help keep you focused.
3. Give yourself rewards.
There’s science behind motivation – dopamine is one of our happy brain chemicals and it’s connected to our desire to achieve. High levels of dopamine keep us focused, and dopamine spikes when your brain knows it’s going to get a reward. If you’re doing a task you love, the dopamine spikes because you get pleasure just from the task. If it’s something that isn’t so enjoyable, but you know is important, knowing that you will get a reward when you finish it can keep your dopamine spiked and therefore help your motivation stay higher.
4. Reframe setbacks.
See setbacks as a learning experience, not a failure, try to understand what happened and how you could change it next time it comes along. When a baby is learning to stand they keep falling down. A lot. Imagine if the baby just though – nah this is too hard, I’m staying on the ground for life. It doesn’t happen! They keep trying and learning and then, boom, they’re standing. Also make sure you don’t compare yourself to someone that’s further ahead than you. Remember that nobody who is good at anything was good the first time.
5. Get an accountability partner.
It can really help to have someone who knows what you’re doing. There’s a power that comes from speaking your goal out loud to someone and knowing that they know what you’ve committed to. This is where a coach can definitely help you, whether that’s a life coach, a business coach, a mindset coach, they can help you to work through all of these stages and keep on track. You can also turn to a friend or colleague and ask them to help you stay accountable.