Even the extremely motivated have days when we slack. It can be hard to stay focused and take action.
Maybe lying on the couch sounds more appealing than going for a run. Maybe the overwhelming thought of a large project prevents you from taking that first step. Maybe you’re too distracted to stay focused on what you truly want.
So what makes some people able to stay focused, organized, and goal-oriented? Is it superior self-control? Do they have more motivation muscles? Are they inherently more inspired?
The answer is no.
Motivation is an emotion. And just like any emotion, it fluctuates. Since growth and change can be uncomfortable, most of us tend to lose our drive, determination, and focus. The good news is that you can jump-start your motivation muscle by tapping into your motivation on command.
1. Get clear on your goal.
It sounds obvious, but unless you have a tangible and measurable idea of what you want to achieve, you’ll find it hard to take consistent action. Make sure to set a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-Limited) goal to guide you.
2. Get clear on what motivates you.
Some people are motivated by attaining pleasure:
Example: Training will give me a feeling of accomplishment. It feels so good to cross the finish line!
Some people are motivated by avoiding pain:
Example: Not finishing my work makes me feel anxious. I can’t stand missing deadlines!
Most people are motivated by a combination of both. The key is to tap into these feelings when your motivation is low. To do that, imagine how good it will feel or what life will look like when you achieve your goal. Similarly, consider how not achieving your goal has held you back.
3. Create compelling reasons to meet your goal.
Your chances of achieving your goal are only as strong as your reasons to achieve it. If your goal is to “eat healthy,” you’re not going to do it. Why? Because that’s a boring, vague goal.
But, if your goal is “Eat healthy so that you feel great, have more energy for fun things, stop wasting money on takeout, and save money for your upcoming vacation,” then you’re much more likely to achieve it.
Use this worksheet to create 20 compelling reasons why you need to achieve this goal now.
If you’re motivated by attaining pleasure, be sure to list how achieving this goal will get you closer to what you want. If you’re motivated by avoiding pain, list reasons that express how not achieving this goal is preventing you from creating a life you love. Make your reasons specific, attractive, and dramatic. Feel free to exaggerate; the key is to list reasons that will incite an emotion when you don’t feel like taking action.
Twenty reasons may seem like a lot to list, but the key to maintaining motivation and jump-starting action lies in your ability to tap into your reserves when you feel yourself wavering.
4. Look at your list often.
The next time the sofa calls your name, you’re scared of failure, or your old fears pop back up, review your list of why your best self wants you to take action.
Amita Patel is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.