Staying motivated is a highly difficult task but one that is very regularly the difference between success and failure. Simply being the guy (or girl) who never gives up is a highly powerful quality and the one that will make you go that extra mile and come out on top. You can not fail until you give up as you haven’t stopped, but how do you keep going when you just do not have the energy? Or when it seems like all your hard work is in vain?
There’re a few things you can do that will apply to any situation – whatever your ambitions or targets these can help you maintain motivation. The first is to keep track of your progress. This way you will be able to see the fruits of your labour and that can be highly motivating. For example then, if you are going to the gym to get strong then you should regularly measure your muscles and weigh yourself. This way when you see that you have gained an inch around your arms you will know that you are doing well and that can be very empowering and reassuring. This has other benefits too and can also be used as a kind of feedback to help you know what’s working and what isn’t. If you are working towards earning a car for example and you find that you suddenly start earning less, then you can identify problems and neutralise them to get yourself back on track. Similarly it can be used to set realistic targets – if you notice you are losing a pound a week on a weight loss programme then you could realistically aim to loose 20 pounds in 20 weeks.
The second trick on this list is to remember the reason you are doing whatever it is you are doing in the first place. If you are training for a marathon then why are you? What’s the goal? What are you hoping to achieve? By keeping your eye on the prize you can be motivated in the same way that you were when you first set out to win. For some this is more literal than others and you might even want to attach a picture of yourself when you were your ideal weight to the treadmill etc. Equally visualisation can work wonders and is also good for your motivation in other ways helping you to feel good.
BUT – do not only focus on the end goal but on the journey as well. Try to actually enjoy the work itself. If you are in the gym then try to learn to love the actual act of pumping iron. This way you will actually look forward to working out and will not have to ‘convince’ yourself. This might mean changing the way you think, or it might mean making the work more fun – working out with a great playlist for example.
One way to make work or training more fun is to think of your life as a challenge and revel in that challenge. See the difficulty as a chance to grow and see the challenge as a personal affront. This way you are proving to yourself that you will not give up and that you can take any challenge. By focussing on a form of steady improvement and success you can find comfort in your own ability to rise to any challenge and as such any activity – be it writing a novel or running on a treadmill can become satisfying as a form of control. We’ve all got our comfort blankets, why not make yours a form of training or creation rather than smoking and drinking?
Set targets too. By breaking your ambitions down into smaller, more easily to handle chunks you can feel as though you are constantly on the cusp of a breakthrough. You know how at the end of a race you always put in that extra 10%? Well this way you will constantly feel as though you are near some kind of end and should put in another 10% all the way through. To motivate yourself further you can give yourself little rewards along the way.
Another is to tell people about your aims. This way In fact, whatever you are working towards, if possible do it with a friend. This really works as you can help pick each other up when you are down and because of the natural competitive element. It can also make a lot of activities more fun, and there’s the simple fact that you will not want to let a friend down.
If it is come down to the day you need to do a bit of training or writing or whatever it is and you have lost motivation in the moment, then often making yourself do just a little bit can be enough motivation to make you do the whole thing. For example, imagining that you need to do a workout but do not have the energy. Instead of doing a whole workout, simply set yourself the task of doing three sets of dumbbell curls. On the one hand it is often enough to get your energy levels up so that you complete a full workout, and on the other it is still better than nothing if you do not manage a whole one.
A final method to motivate yourself is to get inspiration from a book, a story, a film, role models, music or whatever else it is that gets you fired up. Put on some loud music, or a film starring a hero you admire in a similar situation. Eye of the Tiger works well for most of us…