How To Stay Motivated

Remaining Motivated Isn't Easy

Motivation is something which all of us can struggle with at times. Very few people find it easy to remain motivated regardless of whatever life throws at them. Negative emotions can sap our strength and we can be tempted to give up or at least stop putting in serious effort. Without motivation we will find it difficult to reach our goals and make progress towards our dreams. That is quite a sacrifice to make! So, instead of giving up, let’s consider some ideas about how to stay motivated, in spite of the circumstances we might be experiencing.

Laptop crashing with blue screen - operator feeling demotivated. How to stay motivated ?

Why We Might Become Demotivated

Why might we lose our motivation in the first place? Things go wrong and we encounter obstacles. Something might backfire or just not have the impact we had hoped and planned for. “Failure” is a big demotivator and it is something that can provoke fear and damage confidence before anything has even happened. We might also simply become exhausted. Working hard to achieve a goal can be very tiring. Sometimes we feel like we have nothing left to give and can’t go on.

As well as things outside of our control causing us to lose hope, we can also find it harder when we are actually chasing the wrong goals. If we don’t align our goals with our personality and motivators, missing out on something we are truly passionate about then it can be a real struggle to stay motivated. It is easier to bring ourselves back to tasks that take us somewhere we genuinely want to go or that align with our core values. If we are constantly feeling demotivated then it is worth asking whether we are pursuing goals that we really want, or if we may need to consider a change. (If you are unsure what your key motivators are then you might like to try our motivators quiz.)

Demotivation grows stronger the longer you allow it to take hold. If we aren’t in the habit of ploughing on when things get difficult, we can find ourselves routinely avoiding things and opting out. So, breaking the cycle is important. Let’s now consider how to recover our motivation and how to stay motivated in a variety of different ways by developing a toolbox of ideas.

Recovering Motivation

The first thing we need to do when we are demotivated is to find a way of recovering motivation. This means taking ownership of the situation and doing something about it. We might not have all the mental, emotional and other resources we need to pull ourselves out of the hole, so don’t forget to consider how others might be able to help you.

Find Reasons & Accept Mistakes

Are there any reasons why you are demotivated? Can you point to a moment, an experience, something that was said that caused you to lose motivation? Nobody is perfect and things do go wrong. In order to make progress you will need to forgive yourself if you've made a mistake and allow yourself to move on. You may need to forgive or at least turn away from resenting someone if you feel they were responsible.

Find Someone You Trust

Talking things through with another person can often help you to see more clearly. Find someone that you can trust to speak to openly. Going forward you may also benefit from allowing yourself to be accountable to someone. Having someone hold you to what you committed to do can be a powerful way of helping you to get things done and maintain motivation.

Make A List

Remind yourself of what it is that you want to achieve. Make a list of your goals and ambitions. Write down some of the steps you need to take to get there. Are you still excited by your goals? If not, do you need to find new targets?

Get Active & Embrace Change

If we wait for change to happen it rarely will. Become more active in bringing about change. Embrace the fact that things will need to be different if you are to get different results. Be bold and step out of your comfort zone.

Repeat To Form New Habits

Doing something regularly enables it to eventually become a habit. Bad habits can be replaced by good ones. Remind yourself that it is a choice - your choice. You don't have to stay demotivated. You can choose to start again and rebuild.

5 Tips to Keep You Motivated

Once you are up and running again it is important to consider how to stay motivated. Don’t wait for something to come along and take your motivation away again. Put plans in place to help keep you on the right track.

Think Long Term

Look ahead to the results you are aiming for. Imagine the feeling of achieving your goals. Think about the benefits you will get from doing so. Make plans to help you get there step by step. Don't allow short-term setbacks to obscure your long-term better future.

Start Simply

Start by doing some small tasks rather than jumping in at the deep end. Completing tasks and ticking things off your list is satisfying and it helps you to see progress. Form positive habits gradually through repetition and use times of positive momentum to tackle larger, more challenging tasks.

Reward Progress

Celebrate your progress! Reinforce all of the positive steps you take with positive self-talk. Keep a note of and remind yourself of the things you have already achieved. Reward yourself especially when you manage something difficult.

Avoid Negative Thought Patterns

When things go wrong - and they unfortunately will at some point - avoid allowing yourself to dwell on negative thoughts. We can easily spiral into depression or other unhelpful mental states if we focus on things that go wrong. Try to keep your eyes on the positives and find ways of making opportunities out of mistakes.

Focus On Your Target

Keep reminding yourself of what you are working towards and why. Don't lose sight of your bigger goals when you are working for smaller ones. Watch out that you don't let yourself get spread too thin. Progress is easier with a narrower focus.

Find Out What Motivates You

In order to figure out how to stay motivated you must discover what is an effective motivator for you. The suggestions above will give you a starting point and be of some help. But, at the end of the day, we are not all the same and may not be equally motivated by the same things or the same techniques. Get to know your motivators and be aware of what kind of things demotivate you. Planning and preparation can help equip you to keep going. People who are passionate and persevere are more likely to achieve great things. “Grit”, as Angela Duckworth calls it, can be a more important quality than innate talent.

© Joe Lenton, February 2024

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