How To Get Motivated
in 8 easy steps
I’ve written this article in conjunction with the new Zen Habits e-book
The Essential Motivation Handbook,
which I highly recommend. It gives you 100+ pages packed full of the best motivation advice and discussion for just $15.
Anyway, how to get motivated is one of the biggest questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis. If we can crack it – for a good majority of the time – life just gets so much better.
We all go through periods of high motivation, where we are happy, positive, enthused and absolutely marvellous to be around. Life flows for us, we get loads done, we’re cheery and friendly and we always remember to say “please” and “thank you” and open doors for strangers. Life is good and we are rather pleased to be alive.
Unfortunately, we all suffer with periods of low motivation too, where we are lethargic, procrastinate, and convince ourselves that life is just so tough. We get miserable and feed our brains with debilitating, limiting nonsense... and, low and behold, we feel crappy for it.
The good news is there are some simple steps you can take to get your motivation back. All you need is a plan, a bit of imagination, a touch of action, and a delightful little self-reward system. This article will talk you through these ideas, and show you how to get motivated – and stick with it.
How to Get Motivated 1 – Work out What You Want
The simple truth is that no matter how hard you try at being motivated, you’ll never quite crack it if you’re applying your energies to endeavours you don’t really care about. Until you take out the time to figure out what really
drives you in life,
you’ll continue fighting the same high-energy / low-energy cycle you’ve been fighting forever.
The major key to controlling your levels of motivation is simply finding something that motivates you naturally. When you’re swimming with the tide, motivation flows through you so fast that you can’t bloody keep up.
If you already know what you want to do with your life / career / hobbies, you’re about twelve steps ahead of everybody else. Simply move on to the next step – you’re on the right path.
If you don’t know what you want to do, get yourself some bloody goals. It amazes me, but the people who most often complain about having low motivation are the very same folks who can’t be arsed to take an hour to work out what they want to do and achieve with their lives.
Sod it – goal setting is a remarkably rewarding experience when you
set goals properly.
Take the time to sit down and work out exactly what you want to do – it’s an utterly essential investment of your time.
Ask yourself – What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail? What would have me jumping out of bed in the morning?
You have to be honest with yourself here. If you’re not, you are really not going to be motivated for any period of time. Screw it – dream big, and have a laugh. It’s better to try and fail than to do something “safe” and be miserable forever.
Motivation is a naturally occurring physiological response to pursuing your dreams. Work out your dreams, and you’re one step closer to knowing how to get motivated.
How to Get Motivated 2 – Imagine It
Mr Blake had it right – everything that has ever been realised, made, produced or created has first been cooked up in somebody’s over-active imagination.
One of the key ways how to get motivated is to imagine what you want and visualise it in great detail. Know every aspect of what you want and where you’re going, and generate the feelings you would have if you had already got what you wanted.
Do this most nights before bed, and you’ll be astonished at the impact on your motivation. If you find visualising hard – or have never really tried – buy yourself some inexpensive
binaural beats technology.
They will lower your brain activity to the point where visualising is a doddle, and they chill you out amazingly too. If you want to know more, then learn
how to visualise
today – and start tonight.
Imagining your goals as already being achieved is the single most powerful way to get a proverbial spring in your step. If you’re not doing this already... why not?
How to Get Motivated 3 - Plan Your Attack!
By working out what you want, and then imagining getting it in great detail, you’ll stumble across your biggest motivational ally – a plan.
Unusually, it’s nigh-on impossible to make a good plan when you don’t really know what you’re aiming for. You’ve probably tried to make plans in the past, only to leave them by the way-side when things didn’t work out as you hoped.
If you spend a good amount of time visualising your goals, however, your marvellous brain will start to feed you the makings of a wonder-plan. You see, when you’re imagining your success over and over, your brain can’t help but be clever and give you pointers as to how you actually got there.
Flashes of inspiration and insight will pop in your head, and you’ll discover exactly what it is you need to do to get from A to B.
You’ll discover how you need to act and feel inside, and you’ll realise what action you need to take to get to where you want to go. You’ll get clues, advice and gut feelings – which you should absolutely try and follow.
This doesn’t mean that your plan has to be watertight. In fact, in my experience, plans are never much more than pointers of the general direction in which you want to go.
Plans are admittedly useful, in that they allow you to know your next moves and plan accordingly, but don’t get hung up on them being foolproof or totally comprehensive. Simply get a rough idea of the qualities, skills, beliefs and actions you will need to have or take to achieve your goals, and then...
How to Get Motivated 4 – Take a Little Step
The good news is, you can start small. Baby steps are the name of the game here.
Just take a little step. Today. Do something – no matter how small – that takes you closer to your goal.
This simple step of action will motivate you more than you can imagine.
Then, if you do the same tomorrow, and the day after.... your motivation levels will soar.
Take a little step to your goals every day. Or every other day. Or once a week. All you need to remember is to have fun, keep moving forward and...
How to Get Motivated 5 – Relax
This one took me a long time to work out. I always equated “effort” and “stress” with being motivated. I thought as long as I worked hard and fought for every inch – as per Pacino in Any Given Sunday – I would remain motivated.
This couldn’t be further than the truth.
In fact, the best way to remain motivated is to chill out... relax... and enjoy yourself.
Have faith in yourself. Enjoy the journey. Don’t beat yourself up.
Get your goals, visualise them, get a plan, take small steps... and enjoy the process. Motivation will flow through you naturally.
There’s no need to beat yourself up here. Take the opposite approach – go slow, savour every moment, and enjoy the exhilarating feelings of motivation.
How to Get Motivated 6 – Fail
Failure is to be expected along the journey. You’re most unlikely to succeed totally on the first attempt – and the idea of this horrifies a lot of perfectionist sods (I know, because I very much used to fall in this category).
you’re taught that there is no failure, only feedback. This may sound a little hippy-like at a first glance, but living this mantra is actually incredibly liberating.
Think about it – if you could learn to take every “failure” and interpret it as a “pointer” to show you how to improve, not only do you free yourself from the negative impact of failing, but you also begin to constructively analyse your mistakes - and in turn become much more likely to achieve your goals.
Additionally, even if you can’t change your view of failure, you can still use it to your advantage. “Away motivation” is when you are motivated to achieve something so you can get away from your current situation.
If you don’t want to see failure as feedback, simply use failure to propel you into action. If you really hate failing, then you’ll refocus your efforts and be doubly sure to succeed next time.
Whichever camp you fall in to, failure is a disguised asset for motivation. Use it to your advantage.
How to Get Motivated 7 – Reward Yourself
No matter what I achieved, the “old me” was never happy and would never acknowledge – or dare I say it – celebrate – my successes.This, to be frank, was utterly foolish.
The key to remaining motivated is to reward yourself for the successful steps you take on your journey.
I do this in various ways – for small achievements I’ll treat myself to a swim, dinner out, cinema trip, a night in with some hip hop and soul music, or anything else I fancy. For a larger win, I’ll go for a weekend away, maybe some new clothes, and certainly a fat cut of steak for dinner.
All that matters is when you are taking part in your desired celebration, you continuously remind yourself that this is a reward for being motivated!
feelings of well-being to motivation, and as such make it much more likely you’ll stay motivated in the future.
Enjoy your successes – life isn’t a race to reach your goals – so enjoy the damn flowers by the wayside!
How to Get Motivated 8 – Invest in Yourself
My final tip on how to get motivated is a simple one – invest in yourself. You are the vehicle for obtaining your desires and reaching your goals. Remember to take this vehicle to see a mechanic once in a while, otherwise it might just fall apart and break down on you!
I’d highly recommend taking some NLP training if you can afford it. If not, invest in some quality personal development books (
to help you meditate, relax and visualise, and any other personal development training or tools you can get your hands on.
The more strategies you can learn and experiment with, the better your chances of success. All of these investments will help you learn to control your emotions better, and as such remain motivated and on the path to reach your goals. The more you invest in yourself, the more you will achieve. And the more you achieve, the more motivated you will be.
If you really struggle with motivation, then I’d recommend you treat yourself to
The Essential Motivation Handbook.
This is 100+ pages of pure motivation gold co-written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, a phenomenal website with over 100,000 subscribers. It’s only $15 and has a full money back guarantee... making it well worth a look.