When it comes to motivation, many struggle to consistently follow up with actions we deem important. However, we believe if we could only heighten motivation, we would accomplish our goals with ease.
The struggle lies in aligning our hearts with our heads. We know what we should do (eat well, exercise consistently, get enough sleep), but how do we cross the bridge to wanting to do so? Thus, while we are often clear on what logically needs to be done to move forward to improve our health and professional and personal lives, the steps to get there and the daily motivation required to stay on track elude us.
Whether your motivation levels have been lacking lately or you've experienced a lifetime of unrecognized potential, know that motivation isn't just something you're born with or without. No matter your goals or intentions, there are strategies to increase daily motivation to help you finally follow through with your good intentions.
1. Link your core values to your motivation.
The next time you have difficulty finding inspiration to follow through on an action you deem valuable, ask different questions: "What is the purpose behind my wanting to get this done?" "How will completing this benefit me?" "What is the downside if I choose not to follow through?" In answering those questions honestly, you reveal your core values.
Core values are traits or qualities that represent your highest priorities, deeply held beliefs and fundamental driving forces. Create motivation that aligns with your core values, and your behaviors will follow.
Unless you have worked with a certified coach or taken a targeted Values Assessment, you may not intrinsically understand your true core values—and that's okay. It takes time, introspection and self-examination to define them, so give yourself the opportunity to sit down and reflect on your inner energy. Clarity leads to behaviors that support living in congruence with your values; as a result, motivation skyrockets.
2. Don't wait for motivation to peak—let action peak your motivation.
Often the greatest motivation occurs after we get into action. If we wait for our motivation to peak, we may never get going. In fact, the sense of accomplishment and feel-good hormones that feed our brain when we have done the work is motivation to repeat it in the future. Good behavior begets more good behavior. In time, the benefits of consistency become valuable to us as part of our core values.
3. Set schedules and rituals for taking action.
Once you know your reasons "why," intentionally schedule time in your week to follow through on your goals. Plan for grocery shopping to buy nutritious foods, put on walking shoes first thing every morning, schedule your workouts, shut down all technology by 9 p.m. so you can get to bed on time—each time you schedule a task and complete it, you're rewiring your brain. Schedules and rituals put actions on autopilot. Rather than asking, "Am I feeling motivated?", you'll habitually follow through instead.
4. Keep going even when the motivation fades.
Discomfort is temporary. Getting through the workout, resisting the donut, finishing the project—within a short time, it is complete and discomfort fades.
Accomplishment is a powerful drug. That feeling is far superior to temporary disappointment. Each time you complete a positive step, you are laying the foundation for living life in congruence with your values.
There will be days when it is excruciatingly hard to start, but remember that it will always be worth finishing. The act of showing up and having the courage to do the work (especially when you are not feeling motivated) is a victory worth celebrating.