How to Stay Motivated

Everyone struggles with finding motivation, but there are a few things you can do that can help! Learn about how to find motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and more here.

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Having and maintaining motivation is something that everyone struggles with. One day, you’re inspired to do something and excited to get started, then the next day, not so much. Motivating yourself is hard. There is no simple pill or supplement you can take to increase your motivation, nor is there a simple “one-size fits all’’ method you can use when it comes to finding it. However, there are steps you can take to get you in the right mindset and make a plan to work toward what motivates you and what you want to achieve.

So, what is motivation?

Motivation is defined as “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way,” or “the desire or willingness of someone to do something.” A great way to think about motivation is the feeling to take action to get something done or achieve a certain goal.

The definition of motivation comes down to wanting and relates to wanting a change in behavior, feelings, thoughts, relationships, and more (Baumesiter, 2016). Motivation is related to many things, like our environment, self-esteem, and expectations of ourselves or others.

Motivation is influenced by what you want, how badly you want your goal(s), outcomes of achieving those goals, and your own expectations. There are many external influences for motivation, such as our environment, relationships, or expectations of others.

Having motivation is important because it’s what drives you to solve problems, change or improve habits, overcome challenges, and creates new opportunities.

How do we find motivation?

Finding the motivation to do or accomplish certain things ebbs and flows. Many struggle to find the motivation they need by procrastinating or spending too much time focusing on other aspects of achieving those goals.

Struggling with motivation is common, and becomes even more challenging when you’re experiencing physical or mental health issues.

Here are some tips to help find motivation:

  • Set specific and realistic goals
  • Make a plan for achieving your goals. Think about how long it will take you to achieve that goal, what steps you need to take, how to incorporate that goal into your life.
  • Break your goal into smaller steps or tasks.
  • Stay accountable. Use family or friends for support! You could also set up rewards for each step you accomplish.

How to stay motivated

Motivation to accomplish goals may come and go. Here are some tips to help you stay motivated:

  • Schedule check-ins with yourself. Use this time you set aside to review your goals and update your progress. Taking note of the progress you’ve made can motivate you further!
  • Once you’ve achieved your goals, set new ones! It’s important to space our your goals so that you don’t become overwhelmed. Think about what else you’d like to achieve within the next week, month, or year!
  • Create a routine. Creating a routine that gets you into the right mindset helps with motivation and consistency.
  • Remember that good things take time. Achieving goals all require effort, dedication, and time! Remind yourself that it can take up to three months to develop a new habit. Consider developing a routine to help keep yourself going.
  • Check your environment and relationships. Is something in your environment stopping you from making progress? Are you surrounding yourself with the right people who help you stay positive and focused?

When making goals, it’s important to ask yourself what is really motivating you to achieve these goals. Are the reasons strong enough? Is your motivation arising from outside (extrinsic) or inside (intrinsic) factors?

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Researchers have discovered that the type of motivation you have can have different effects on your behavior or pursuit of certain goals (Tranquillo J, Stecker M., 2016). There are two main types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic.

What is Extrinsic motivation?

Extrinsic motivation relies on external incentives or rewards that push us to perform a certain behavior or engage in an activity. The motivation to behave this way comes from the expectation of receiving a reward or punishment.

Examples of extrinsic motivation

  • Doing chores for money
  • Completing extra credit for an assignment
  • Competing in sports for medals or trophies

What is Intrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation relies on internal feelings and incentives that make us behave a certain way because we find it rewarding. In other words, the motivation to complete an activity comes from the pleasure of doing the activity.

Examples of Intrinsic motivation

  • Painting because you enjoy it
  • Reading about topics you find interesting
  • Learning a new language because you’re interested in the culture

The difference between Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

It’s important to know the difference between these two types of motivation because they make us behave in different ways. Although extrinsic motivation can be a good thing, it’s critical to know when to use external rewards (such as money or rewards) to motivate yourself as too many external rewards for an internally rewarding behavior can lead to a decrease in intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation can come in handy when you’re completing a task you don’t necessarily like or enjoy and the use of external rewards can help motivate you to acquire new skills or knowledge.

What can I do if I lose motivation?

It’s common to lose motivation over time. Setbacks are normal and to be expected. However, it’s important to be resilient and remind yourself why you set goals in the first place. Here are some tips that can help you find motivation again:

  • Review and assess your goals: are they still relevant? Have you given yourself enough time to complete them or have you dedicated enough time to them? Are they realistic?
  • Remember why you wanted to achieve that goal or be motivated in the first place.
  • Find inspiration from other people. Read an inspiring book or watch a movie that can reignite that fire to keep going!

Above all, remember to be kind to yourself and know that it is okay to take a break or change your mind if you don’t feel the same way about something.

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