Life is so much easier just accepting what it hands you rather than doing the work to change it. And this is where most choose to live.
But you’re not like most people. You sense a lack of motivation but you don’t want to just throw in the towel. This is because you know that if you do, you’ll continue to be stuck in the same cycles and patterns that got you where you are in the first place. And that’s not acceptable.
The good news is, accomplishing your goals does not completely rely on will power, motivation, inspiration, or whatever other feel-good feelings that make it easier to keep pushing forward.
You don’t need to rely on your *feelings* to achieve your goals. In fact, you shouldn’t. Feelings are wishy-washy and change with circumstances. This is why you need to set up systems and develop habits that will carry you through those times when you’re just not feelin’ it.
#1 Know Your Why
I made this the #1 tip, because it’s the most important in the whole list.
With any goal you have, you need to know your reason behind it. And it can’t be any old flimsy reason; it needs to be strong enough to bear the weight of adversity.
For your “why” to hold up against challenges, you must have a strong, emotional connection to it. It’s the inspiration for making the goal in the first place.
Maybe you want to get out of debt (your “what”) so you can save more money for family vacations (your “why”). Or you want to increase your income so you can support your aging parents.
If you set a goal for a reason that doesn’t have a deep and purposeful meaning behind it, you will likely give up when faced with failure.
It’s likely you’re not fully in touch with your why. For example, on a surface level, you might think you want to be a millionaire so you never have to worry about money again. But if you dig a little deeper, you may discover a reason that has an even deeper emotional meaning to you. You can do this by continuing to ask why until you find the source:
I want to be a millionaire so I never have to worry about money again.
Why is it important to never worry about money again?
I want to never worry about money again so I can feel confident in supporting my family.
Why is it important that you feel confident in supporting your family?
I want to feel confident in supporting my family because I grew up poor and afraid of being homeless.
By continuing to ask why, you may realize your original reason is only a part of something much deeper. Get in touch with that deeper reason, and you’ll have the motivation to keep working toward your goals.
#2 Visualize your progress
Creative visualization, also known as “mental rehearsal”, is a practice often used by professional athletes and other high achievers. The technique activates the subconscious mind through visualizing a successful outcome before it actually occurs.
Before you write this off as a little too far-fetched, there is some solid research that supports its effectiveness. Brain studies have shown that our thoughts can create the same mental instructions as actions. Through the process of visualization, our brains actually get trained for the performance we visualize, and ultimately start “believing” we’ve already achieved the goal.
However, this creates a conflict in the subconscious mind between what we envision and our present reality. And because our minds naturally want to resolve problems, the subconscious will begin to identify solutions. In other words, our minds will start focusing on what needs to be done – the “solutions” – to line up our current reality with what we envision.
So, how does all this help you with motivation?
The tension between your current reality and what you visualize will generate the intrinsic motivation to make decisions that will get you closer to your goals. You will begin to consciously and subconsciously seek out solutions that will start making your visualization your current reality.
Anybody can learn this skill, but there are some guidelines to follow if you want to be effective:
- You must immerse yourself in your visualization as deeply as you can. As you “see” yourself having already achieved your goal, identify the sights, smells, tastes, and sounds around you. Think about what your surroundings look like, what you’re feeling, who you’re with. Watch it like a movie in your mind, and conjure up a deep, emotional connection to it.
- Do it daily! Think of your visualization practice like a workout for your mind. Just going to the mental gym every now and then is not going to make a difference. If you want to strengthen your mentality and beliefs, you need to exercise them every day.
- Use affirmations to support your visualization. Affirmations are sentences that evoke related mental images that inspire, energize, and motivate. They also become programmed into the subconscious mind and consequently affect our behavior, habits and actions.
#3 Read your goals daily
Putting your goals in writing is much more effective than just keeping them as thoughts. Besides increasing your odds of achieving them by as much as 42%, having them written down engages a greater portion of your brain. Just by writing down your goals, you activate an additional dimension of consciousness that contributes to greater productivity.
But once they’re written down, it’s also important to review them often – even every day! This will help you maintain your motivation in several ways.
First, by reading your goals every day, you remain focused on those things you want to accomplish. You won’t be easily distracted by circumstances that come up because you’re keeping your goals front and center.
Second, you strengthen your commitment to your goals the more often you read them. This is important, because when motivation begins to fade, you need to have a strong commitment to keep you going.
Third, when you read your goals every day, your actions will start to line up with achieving them. Your goals will become a part of your “automatic thinking”, and your mind will then look for opportunities to get you closer to them.
And fourth, daily reading your goals is a good way to overcome procrastination. Looking at them every day will be a constant reminder of what you value and what you want to achieve, and you will be more motivated to take action.
#4 Be led by your values
Highly productive people will say you must make sacrifices to achieve your goals. I agree with this, but only to a point.
When you make too many sacrifices, you can get burned out and give up. For example, those who struggle with a scarcity mentality and try to be very strict with their spending can often end up going on impulsive shopping sprees because their will power just ran out.
Make sure you allow yourself to enjoy the things you value. Make the time and budget the money to still include small indulgences that are important to you. That could mean an occasional Starbucks coffee or your favorite hobby.
When you continue to include those things in your life that are truly important to you, it will be easier to make sacrifices in other areas. This way, when your will power and motivation gets low, you won’t make poor decisions.
#5 Start automating
A great way to protect your motivation is by removing temptation. You can do this by automating certain actions that will get you closer to your goals.
If you automate a deposit into your savings before if hits your checking, you’ve removed the opportunity to spend that money. If you set up extra automated payments to your credit cards, you eliminate the decision to do it every month.
The more you can automate your finances and minimize options, the easier it will be for you to adjust to the income that is available to you and reach your goals faster.
As you ease the burden of making money management decisions while also seeing your savings go up and debt go down, your motivation to stay on the right track will increase.
#6 Stay in the present
I am a worrier. I get it from my dad, I’m sure. That man worried about everything.
But I also tend to reflect on past mistakes, confirming in my own mind all my shortcomings.
When we worry about the future, or focus on the past, we can really screw up our perspective. This can lead to bad decisions and the wrong motivations.
But when you focus on just doing your best today, and taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions in each moment, you stop giving the future and the past so much power.
When you accept the things you can control, and let everything else go, you have less stress and anxiety – which are motivation killers.
Find motivation in knowing that when you have control over your own thoughts and feelings and actions, that’s all you need to achieve your biggest goals.
#7 Fill up your motivation bucket
Too often, especially as a mom, I give until I have nothing left. And then, well, things can get a little ugly.
You’re not expected to be the ever overflowing fountain of encouragement, support, knowledge, confidence and guidance. You need your own sources to fill up from.
Thankfully, help is all around you. Books, blogs, podcasts, videos, conferences – there is so much out there to motivate, educate, and inspire you to push through the challenges we face in our lives.
If you have big goals for your life – and I hope you do! – you will come up against adversity. The journey to success is not an easy one. You must decide if you will let it overpower you, or if you will rise up and overcome it.
But don’t feel like you must do it on your own, because you’re not meant to. Reach out for support and seek out those resources that fill up your motivation bucket.
#8 Hang around like-minded people
Admittedly, I am very guarded with my goals. I don’t go around sharing them with just anybody, mostly because I want to protect the belief I have in myself to reach them.
Unfortunately, most people have settled for the average life. They’ve accepted what life has given them and given up on achieving whatever big dreams they used to have. They’ve allowed failure or apathy to determine their current reality.
Hanging out with someone who doesn’t believe in you or your dreams can be a huge motivation-suck. It’s hard enough to stay focused on making decisions that further your progress, you don’t need someone constantly telling you how hard it is.
Find those people that support and encourage you. Make friends with people who have a similar perspective, or share common beliefs and goals. You need community that will celebrate your wins and help you through the failures.
This way, when your motivation is running low, you have others who will keep cheering you on.
#9 Minimize distractions
When we turn to look at the distractions around us, we take our eyes off the finish line. That’s why it’s important that you identify those things that distract you and minimize them as much as possible.
You may be distracted by comparing yourself to others, or shopping sprees at Target, or even what’s known as “decision fatigue“. You may be easily distracted if you’re not getting enough sleep, or eating a healthy diet. Perhaps you’re in an unhealthy relationship or you’re really stressed in your job.
All of these things can pull you away from making progress. And if you find yourself consistently making decisions that keep you from getting closer to your goals, you will lose motivation quickly.
Figure out what you need to change in your life, so you can set yourself up for success. Identify those distractions that limit your progress and eliminate or minimize them as much as you can.
#10 Prepare for burnout & barriers
Working toward your financial goals can be a long journey, especially when you’re trying to prepare yourself for 10-20 years in the future. It’s inevitable that you’re going to come up against challenges and difficulties. You’ll get tired of the sacrifices you’re making and get distracted.
Just knowing and expecting that is helpful, because you can prepare for the burnout and the barriers.
Decide now, when you have the energy and the drive, how you’ll respond when things don’t go right. What will you do when you experience failure? How can you take care of yourself now to prevent burnout?
If you have a plan beforehand, then you relieve yourself of making decisions in those moments of weakness. You could even make this a part of your daily affirmations. Remind yourself often what you’re going to do when things go wonky, so it becomes a part of your automatic thinking.
Feeling discouraged, tired, and like a failure can leave you with little motivation to keep moving forward. Look at these inevitable points in your journey as a place to exercise your persistence, and then when you finally push through you’ll have even greater motivation to achieve your goals.
#11 Give yourself grace
It does you no good to get down on yourself. Everybody makes mistakes. You will experience failure, and not because of who you are but because it’s just part of the process.
Don’t waste your brain power on being critical. Remember, you have control over your thoughts. So, commit to only using your thoughts to get you closer to your goals.
Learn from the mistake, give yourself grace, and move on. You don’t have time to waste!
You got this!
I believe the dreams that are in our hearts are divinely given. I believe they’re sacred and precious, and each of us has an obligation to do what’s necessary to make them a reality.
Not just for our own happiness, but even more so to bless others. When we chase after our dreams and make them come true, we are making our own unique contribution to the world.
Dig deep inside yourself and find what you are meant to share. Be strongly connected to why your contribution is important. What is that internal motivation that’s going to drive you through it all?
Then guard that belief in yourself in every way necessary. Your dreams depend on it.