How to Cultivate Motivation and Crush Your Goals
Updated: Jul 15
It’s easy to make new year’s resolutions- we do it every year without fail. Staying motivated to achieve those goals, well that’s a different story.
People think motivation is a trait you’re were born with- you either have it or you don’t. But, that’s simply not true. Self-motivation is learnable skill and there are proven methods to foster motivation. If you want to learn how, read on.
What is Self-motivation?
Self-motivation is the force that drives you to do things without influence from other people or situations. It encourages yourself to seize opportunities, embrace commitment and push through the fears. It’s turning your shoulds into musts.
People with self-motivation find the reason to complete a task on their own terms; they choose when, where and how it happens. They assume the blame instead of blaming others. They don’t make excuses. By making excuses for your current circumstances, you’re making the case for staying where you are, remember that!
Find Your WHY
The most important source of intrinsic motivation is knowing your WHY. Continue asking yourself ‘why’? – why are you trying to accomplish this goal? Then ask yourself about why you want that thing. If your goal is to lose weight, ask yourself why this is important to you. For example, maybe it’s important to you to be a great father, and the excess weight keeps you on the sidelines.
Whys are personal. Your why should resonate with YOU, not someone else. Your why must inspire you. It needs to give you that push to get started, as well as drive you to the finish line. It’s the whys that give you a reason to wake up at 5am to fit in a workout. It’s the whys that motivates you to order the healthier option.
Now that you found your why, keep it in the back of your mind, always. The more you think about it, the more you’ll be motivated to reach your goal. Set aside some time each day or every few days to review your why. Visualize yourself achieving your dreams- how will it feel once you’ve made it happen?
Set High but Realistic Goals
Being realistic with what you can achieve within your timeline is critical to your success. One of the biggest mistakes people make is setting short-term goals that are unattainable even for superman or woman. It’s important to make your goals challenging, but it’s equally as important to actually hit your goals because achieving the small goals is what raises self-confidence and provides the encouragement needed to move on to the next milestone.
Is your goal actually accomplishable? Losing 10 pounds in one month sounds great, but physiologically, it’s incredibly difficult. It would require a person to be in a 1,000-calorie deficit each day, which could qualify as a of a starvation diet. In this scenario, you would be setting yourself up for failure. What do you think will happen to your motivation when you fail to achieve that lofty goal?
Losing 10 pounds over 3 months is a more realistic goal. This goal requires losing about a pound per week, which is both doable and sustainable. In this scenario you're more likely to succeed, which helps foster motivation to continue your journey.
Patience is a Virtue
We all want instant gratification, but long-lasting change takes time. That’s why playing the long game is the best strategy. Pick a goal that can be achieved over several months or even a year. This will help you view your long-term health goals as a lifestyle change; rather than a quick fix. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Celebrate the Small Wins
Small wins are at the core of achieving the larger, long-term goals. This concept is pivotal. Celebrating small wins is scientifically proven to boost sense of competence, which will help you maintain focus on the journey ahead. Regardless of how small the win is, acknowledge it. There’s always a small win to celebrate, even when times are challenging and stressful.
The wins are not all about the numbers. Successfully cooking a new recipe is a win. Celebrate a win after a tough workout. Acknowledge your willpower when you choose to order a healthy meal during a night out with friends. Celebrate behavior changes- not just a number on a scale or a lab test.
How you choose to celebrate your wins is important too. Avoid celebrating with food. If the rewards you give yourself undermine the goal itself, it only serves to set you back. Rather than celebrating with a sugary treat or cheat meal, choose an activity that not only makes you happy, but that promotes self-care. Consider treating yourself to a massage, buying a new plant, sauna time, downloading a new e-book or a taking a bubble bath with candles and music- whatever floats your boat!
Build a Support Team
Establishing a team of positive, like-minded people can help you stay on track. Your team may include your family, close friends, a registered dietitian, a primary care doctor or a mentor. Mentors can be worth their weight in gold for both providing accountability and guidance when things don’t go as planned. Your team should raise your game by holding you accountable to your goals. Don’t be afraid to seek feedback from your team to figure out how to improve.
Tell your family and friends that you would appreciate their help and how they specifically can help you. For example, ask your close friend to attend an exercise class with you and ask your partner to eat a plant-based meal with you one day a week. Remember to express your appreciation for the support and be ready to return the favor.
It’s very difficult to maintain motivation when negative and self-deprecating thoughts creep into your head. One way to stay positive is to focus on gratitude. Research links gratitude practices to improved psychological and physical health. Gratitude appears to reduce aggression, enhance empathy, and increase self-esteem. Gratitude is one of the simplest ways to improve mindset and set yourself up for success.
We all have the ability to cultivate gratitude. The easiest way is to take a few moments to be thankful that you’re committed to a healthier you. That, in itself, is quite incredible. Stop comparing yourself to other people and focus on the amazing progress you’ve made thus far. Start a daily practice of writing a thank you note to the people who made your journey possible or thank someone mentally. The more you think about everything you’ve got going for you, the more motivation you’ll cultivate.
Eliminate Unnecessary Commitments
Take a good look at your calendar. How many things have you said yes to even though doing those things will cause unavoidable stress? If an event or commitment isn’t absolutely necessary a rain check may not be a bad idea. Additional commitments put a drag on your available time to take care of yourself. When you’re trying to commit to a big lifestyle change you need to prioritize yourself. So, start getting in the habit of saying no and committing more time to sleep, cooking, exercising and mindfulness.
The Challenges of Cultivating Motivation
Cultivating self-motivation is hard because it comes from within you. At the end of the day, you’re the one that puts in the work. Leave the excuses behind, ignore the external factors holding you back, and take control of how you perceive your situation. Conquering adversity reveals true character. Remember, you don’t grow when you’re inside your comfort zone. Lean into the challenges that you face and learn from the setbacks. Embrace a warrior mentality and go for it!