Finding motivation doesn’t have to be difficult. Our five tips on how to be motivated will help you stay focused and reach your goals in no time.
Motivation is crucial to success, but most people experience a lack of motivation at some point in their lives. There’s no need to despair, though. The five following tips will help get you back on track.
1. Set Yourself SMART Goals
Your goals are what motivates you. However, from a psychological point of view, it does not only matter what your goals are but how you formulate them. If you want to give your motivation a boost, you should set yourself SMART goals. SMART is an acronym and stands for:
- S – Specific
- M – Measurable
- A – Attainable
- R – Relevant
- T – Time-bound
How to Be Motivated With SMART Goals
All five criteria play a crucial role in motivation:
- Specific: You’re more likely to work hard to reach a clear, specific goal than a vague or general one. For example, instead of saying “I want to study biology”, you might say “I want to read three books about biology, and each book should have a different focus”.
- Measurable: If your goal is measurable, you will know when you’ve reached it. For example, if you say “I want to do more sports”, it’s hard to say exactly when you’ve reached that goal. Instead, you might say, “This month, I want to go running twice a week”. At the end of the month, you will easily be able to tell if you have reached this goal or not.
- Attainable: If your goal is too difficult to attain, you are more likely to lose motivation and give up. For example, instead of having the big goal of fighting climate change, you could say “I want to save energy by unplugging unused devices” or “I want to bike to work instead of taking the car”. These smaller goals still make a difference. At the same time, they are more attainable and will keep you motivated to continue the fight.
- Relevant: Relevance is important because only a relevant goal feels worth fighting for in the long run. For example, if your goal is to become vegan for six months, you might think about how being vegan reduces animal suffering and positively impacts the fight against climate change. However, if a goal is relevant depends on your situation and can change. For example, learning to play the guitar could be generally relevant for you. However, if there’s an important exam coming up, it might be more important for you to study for the exam. This example shows that relevancy is not only about the goal itself but also about prioritizing the most relevant goal.
- Time-bound: If you don’t set a deadline, you will tend to postpone working on your goal. Instead of saying “I want to write a book on solutions to deforestation” you might say “I want to have written the introductory chapter to my book by the end of this month.”
Tip: When you formulate a goal, always check if it is a SMART goal. If it lacks one of the criteria mentioned above, try to adapt your goal to meet the criteria.
2. Break Up Big Tasks Into Smaller Tasks
The fear of not being able to achieve a goal is a motivation killer. Sometimes the road to success is hard to visualize and achievement therefore seems unattainable. This is where breaking up big tasks into smaller tasks will help you:
Make a list of all the necessary steps to complete the task. For example, if you’re planning a vegan Thanksgiving party, your list might look something like this:
- Make a list of friends to invite
- Send out the invitations
- Do the shopping
- Decorate the room
- Prepare the food
- If tasks in your list require several steps to complete, break them up even further. For example, you could break up the task “Prepare the food” into:
- Prepare the salad
- Prepare the vegan turkey
- Make the stuffing
- Fill the loaf pan
- Put a deadline on each individual task. Ask yourself when each task has to be finished in order to be able to reach the overall goal. It is always good to allow some time for unforeseen events.
- Once your list of individual tasks is completed, work through your list step by step.
Breaking up tasks turns a seemingly unreachable mountain into several easily accessible little hills. Therefore, this method will help you to increase your motivation. Additionally, it also helps you to structure your work and makes sure that you don’t overlook an important part of it.
3. Reward Yourself When You Reach a Goal
When there’s an unpleasant task ahead, you might tend to focus on the work that comes with it and overlook the benefits of achieving the task. This can lead to frustration and make you less motivated. However, there are two things that you can do about it:
- Imagine how happy/proud/relieved you will be once you have finished the task. When you picture the completion of a task, you can almost sense the positive feelings that come with the achievement. This might help you to feel more positive about the task in general and therefore lift your motivation.
- Actively decide on a reward for completing the task. It helps to specify the reward as much as possible. For example, you can decide: “When I’m finished, I will get a vegan ice cream from my favorite café.” You can also give yourself smaller rewards as you reach certain milestones on the way towards your goal. The positive mindset that comes with thinking about a specific reward will increase your motivation to complete the task.
4. Eliminate Distractions
Distractions play a crucial role in motivation. For example, it would probably be difficult to study if your friends were having a party in your apartment. While the distraction is obvious in this example, it’s also easy to get distracted without even realizing it. Some distractions that you might encounter are:
- Message alerts on your cell phone
- Noise of cars passing by
- Unread mail on your desk
- Open tasks on your browser you don’t need
- Distracting thoughts about what to do on the weekend
- Hunger or thirst
- Neighbors talking loudly
- A hairband you could play around with
We recommend you take some time to think about the distractions that you face regularly and what you can do about them in advance. Feel free to be creative with your solutions. For example:
- If you find yourself constantly checking the time because you don’t want to miss an appointment, you can set an alarm clock.
- If you’re distracted by your phone but you can’t turn it off because you need to be reachable, try taking it out of your pocket and putting it on the other side of the room. This way the phone will be out of reach but you will still be able to take calls.
If you find ways to limit your distractions, it will be easier to stay on task and be motivated.
5. Make It Social
Working on a task together or even just knowing that you’re not the only one struggling, can lift your motivation. There are many ways to motivate yourself with the help of others:
- Tell a friend about your project. You might feel more motivated just by talking about it, and knowing someone will hold you accountable.
- Plan a study/co-working session together with your friends. Working together with friends is always more fun, and it’s harder to get distracted when you have people around to keep you on track.
- Join a club or an internet community. This will help you to find like-minded people that will motivate and inspire you.
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