Have you ever thought about yourself as either “motivated” or “not motivated” at different points in your life, or just overall as a person? You may have felt like you’ve had things you’ve wanted to do and achieve in your life but you haven’t had the motivation to actually follow through with them.
I can relate to this so much, which surprises most people, because I also accomplish a lot. The truth is that I’m not inherently different than anyone else, and neither is anyone who is having success achieving goals. I’m wired just like everyone else. I just do things to make sure I get (and stay) motivated on a regular basis.
The year before I quit my job, I would get up at 4 or 4:30 AM to blog before work, then work all day, blog during lunch, then blog at night. I didn’t love getting up that early, but I did it, and I did it without complaining or feeling sorry for myself. Most people tell me they could never do that. But I definitely believe that’s not true. I think anyone can do it. The way I did this was that I reprogrammed my thinking and made sure I set myself up for success with my habits so that I chose motivation on a daily basis instead of incorrectly thinking it would somehow just happen to me.
So, here are my top 11 secret ways to get motivated to achieve your goals, that I’ve used in my own life.
1. Improve your attitude and mindset
The most important part of getting motivated to achieve your goals is mastering your mind. Your mind is not designed to want to do things that are uncomfortable or scary. It is wired for survival, to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and be efficient. This was great for keeping humans alive and evolving — it is not so great for achieving goals. Any time you want to do something new and different, your brain goes into fight or flight mode, and it thinks you’re going to die. But you don’t need to be physically protected from building a business. It can’t kill you. Your brain just hasn’t evolved to know that.
You’re wired to stay inside, hide from your goals, and not take action. Everyone is wired like this. The difference between people who are motivated and people who are not motivated is that motivated people find a way to reprogram their brain for abundant, positive thinking. Even then, they still feel negative emotions, it’s just that they act anyway.
Quite often, achieving your goals involves trying something new and different and scary. You might feel discomfort, pain, stress, doubt, fear, and all the other negative emotions to achieve your goals. I talk about the negative emotions I felt when I decided to quit my job. It was really tough. But I knew nothing had gone wrong. I knew I was doing the right thing. I didn’t let my negative emotions control the situation. I acted anyways, in spite of feeling terrified.
To get motivated to achieve your goals, you have to intentionally shift your perspective to one where you are positive and believe that you can (and will) have the success you want in your future. Living in “I don’t know” and negativity will lead you to spiral into a funk, and you won’t stand a chance.
2. Have ambition
You need to know what your goal is to be motivated. What is your dream? What do you desire? My favorite question to ask in just about 99.99% of situations is what is your end goal? Then, I just say work backward from there.
When you have the desire, the dream, the end goal, you can work backward and create an actionable plan to get the results you want. If you don’t know what you want, then you don’t have a chance at being motivated. You have to choose something. Don’t let yourself sit in “I don’t know.” If you don’t know, then figure it out.
3. Know your why
Once you know what you want and what your end goal is, you need to know why you want it. Your reason for why you want to accomplish your goal is super important because it will keep you moving forward despite feeling negative emotions like discomfort, doubt, and fear. The deeper your why and the stronger your connection is to it, the better. For example, you might think you want to blog full time for the freedom and flexibility it allows in your career, but the truth (if you dig a little deeper) may be that really you need to work for yourself. You feel like you’d do a better job at being in control of your career and money than anyone you could ever work for.
Along with your internal (and perhaps selfish?) motivation is an external motivation of contribution. If you have a mission or purpose you really care deeply about and you set a goal around that, you will be really inspired. I cannot even tell you how motivated I get when readers email me sharing their stories about how I helped them. I always feel driven to give back and serve them, and when I get emails saying it’s working in their lives, I feel like I’m contributing to the world and making a difference.
4. Believe in yourself
When you believe you can achieve your goals, you’re highly likely to be motivated to act. If you want to accomplish something new, you have to believe in the possibility of something that hasn’t happened yet. If you’re not used to doing this, your brain will freak out and try to stop you from this. Your brain is wired to repeat your past.
Therefore, you have to believe that you can accomplish whatever it is you want to accomplish, even if you don’t have results yet. I did this in my life with my blog. I knew nothing about making money online or business, yet I had a deep belief in my ability to succeed and figure it out. It worked, and now I’m a six-figure, full-time blogger.
You have to focus to get motivated. When you focus on something, minimize distractions, and get organized, you can create a specific plan where you can create the new results you want in your life. Whatever you focus on grows. If you focus on your goal without being distracted, you will get results. Whatever you focus on grows. This is just the law of all.the.things.
6. Do the work
Yes, you have to get your mindset right, have a good attitude, know your why, believe in yourself, and focus. But you also have to actually do the damn thing. Most people just won’t do the work. Don’t be most people. Be part of the small percentage of people who actually does the work. It’s okay to not want to do the work. In fact, most people who do the work don’t want to do it. They just do it anyway, and eventually, it’s so habitual that they like it. I suggest you start with at least three tasks to complete that will help you work towards your goal every day.
7. Measure what you produce
Measure what you produce instead of the time you spend doing something. This is the best productivity hack ever, but it’s also a way to get motivated because when you start measuring based on productivity instead of time, it’s so motivating because you start to see results. You focus on your contribution to the world instead of on how much time you have to put in. I remember when I started doing this — I was so pumped because I couldn’t stop producing and the time was flying by. It’s a much more motivating space to be in while you work.
8. Change your environment
Changing your environment is a ninja way to get motivated because you set yourself up to win. By environment, I mean everything outside of you. What does your desk look like? What podcasts do you listen to every morning? Who are you hanging out with? Your health, drive, success, relationships, and money are all affected by the people you’re around the most. If you’re not around great people to support your success, get into personal development, take a course, go to a conference, get around people who want to grow and give. Motivated people are contagious.
9. Practice honoring commitments to yourself
Have you noticed that keeping commitments to yourself is harder than keeping them with anyone else? If you scheduled an appointment with me for tomorrow at noon, you would be there. But if you scheduled the same appointment with yourself to work on your goals, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t show up. This is a horrible habit to be in — the habit of not honoring commitments to yourself. When you actually follow through with the commitments you make to yourself, you’ll get results. Seeing small wins will give you momentum and help increase your motivation. It’s an amazing feeling when you can count on yourself.
10. Make a list of potential problems or obstacles
Life is full of problems. This is true whether or not you set goals. There is no place where you arrive without problems. (I love remembering this!) It means you can pursue your goals with massive action and have problems without thinking something has gone wrong. You would’ve had problems doing nothing, too. To make sure the problems don’t stop or stall you from achieving your goals, think of what obstacles could come up and get in your way. Then, plan out how you’ll solve each problem.
11. Don’t self-sabotage
Part of getting motivated means you don’t self-sabotage your success. Self-sabotage is interfering with your own progress to complete your goals. Usually, we self-sabotage by:
- Procrastinating (because of fear of failure)
- Escaping (overeating, overdrinking, overworking, over Netflix-ing, overspending, etc.);
- Not showing up (actually and figuratively)
- Quitting (it’s not going fast enough so you quit)
Self-sabotage can become a habit that can interfere with your goals big time. Eventually, you stop setting goals because you know you’ll self-sabotage them, anyway. If you do this, notice the pattern. Ask yourself, “Why am I sabotaging my success?” The future is yours to create. You don’t have to repeat your past.
Motivation isn’t something that usually comes naturally to everyone. But with intentionality, you can make it a habit. If you really do these actions, that’s what will happen, and they’ll change your life.
Natalie Bacon is an online entrepreneur. Prior to this, Natalie practiced as a certified financial planner, at a firm that managed over $1B in assets under management. Before her financial planning career, Natalie practiced as a business attorney. Natalie has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, and other publications. Natalie is most passionate about helping young, professional women design their dream lives. Read Natalie‘s full story at NatalieBacon.com/about.
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