A guest post by Kayla Matthews
It seems like the only habits that stick are the ones we wish we could break: smoking, checking phones every 27 seconds, or using the words “awesome” or “literally” in every sentence.
Good habits are hard to build and bad habits are hard to break. Make a resolution to eat a good breakfast every morning before you leave for work, and by the end of the week you’re back at your favorite coffee shop grabbing a latte and a donut for the commute. You have no motivation to stick to your goals or follow through on the promises you make to yourself.
Setting good goals doesn’t absolutely require motivation. You can begin a goal without it, and often motivation will follow. But if you can harness motivation before you begin, you will supercharge your efforts, making it much easier for you to achieve your goal.
What happens when motivation itself isn’t a habit? There isn’t a medication that can be prescribed to help you get motivated. So what do you do?
If you have no motivation, here are seven ways to overcome your lack of motivation:
1. Visualize Every Detail of Your Goals
Besides the obvious necessity of having a goal to visualize, you need to sit down and think through every minute detail of your goal. If your goal is to write a novel, visualize every scene and every character until you are drawn into that world, making it that much easier to sit down at the keyboard and start writing. Seeing the detailed end product in your mind helps you stay motivated, but only having a vague hope of what you want to achieve can be discouraging.
2. Write Down the Reasons for Your Goals
When you set a new goal or begin a habit, engage with it by writing down why you want to complete that particular goal or habit. If you want to pursue a promotion at work, for example, writing down the benefits and reasons why you want it helps your brain process the goal and keeps you on track. When you create something tangible like a written list, it provides another mental cue reinforcing your actions toward making the goal real.
3. Set Targets and Rewards
It’s bribery, but it works. Setting short-term goals within your longer-term goals helps you feel like you are accomplishing something, while rewards give you something to look forward to even before you reach your final goal. Breaking large tasks into smaller ones helps keep you from getting overwhelmed. Allowing yourself the pleasure of a bowl of ice cream after you’ve finished each chapter in your report, or a special outing with friends after completing a fitness milestone, helps you stay motivated for the long haul.
4. Strategize, but Remain Flexible
When embarking on a new goal, plan how you will attack it. Thinking through your plan not only gives you the opportunity to set up the best conditions for success, but also allows you to look at alternate strategies if you encounter difficulties. Don’t stress if your first try fails. If you don’t succeed on the first shot, change your plan to work around the problems that stopped you the first time.
5. Decide If This Is a Solo Mission
You’re a smart person. You are good at your job and don’t need other people around to wreck your perfect plan, right? Maybe. Sometimes there are ideas and input you need in order to accomplish your goals that only another person with a specific skill set or personality can provide. When you are starting out, determine who (if anyone) could best complement your efforts to help you keep your goals on track, even if it is just by listening and holding you accountable to your decisions.
6. Exhaustion’s Setting In, Now What?
Very few people never get discouraged, and it will likely happen to you. Plan in advance what you will do when obstacles arise and your motivation starts to flag. You could reread your list of reasons why you are chasing this dream. You might brainstorm a new, more interesting way to proceed with your goal to reenergize you. You could call your accountability partner and hash it out. Depending on the type of goal, create a plan of action for reengaging with enthusiasm and enjoyment as you work toward your goal.
7. Keep Looking at the Big Picture
Writing down the reasons for your goals once is good, but it may not be enough. You need to continually remind yourself why you are pushing on. Is it to get a raise so that you can buy a bigger house and start a family? Then hold on to that picture. Is it to finally have the satisfaction of seeing your work in print? Visualize what that achievement will look like in the end, not just throughout the process.
Don’t give up. Motivation is a hard habit to sustain, but it is well worth strengthening your motivation muscle to empower you for success with all of your goals and habits.
Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger with a passion for motivating others and setting lifelong goals. You can find her over at Productivity Theory.
photo credit: iulia.pironea