How To Stay Motivated (Even When You Really Don't Want To)
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If you want to achieve your goals, you need motivation. You need the desire to achieve, and the passion to work hard to get what you want.
There's a lot of information around on motivation these days. You can hear about it all the time from motivational speakers, motivational books, and motivational videos.
But what is motivation, really? And what do you do when it goes away before you've achieved your goal?
This is the question on everyone's mind. How do you stay motivated over the long term? Well, I'm going to give you some help with that.
The definition of motivation, as described by the Oxford Dictionary is “a reason or reasons for acting, or behaving in a particular way.” Simply put, it’s why you do the things that you do. It’s why you get up and brush your teeth in the morning, why you take a jog instead of sitting around on the couch all day.
And it’s the reason why you’re reading an article written by a motivational speaker, instead of watching television or playing on the internet. But being motivated to do something in the short-term will not help you to stay motivated over the time it takes to achieve some of your more ambitious goals.
Motivation in and of itself isn’t actually a good thing, it’s actually neutral. You might be motivated by your sweet tooth to get that one-million-calorie candy bar. And what’s one of the first things police look for after a homicide? That’s right, it’s the motivation of the killer.
So, what is it that turns motivation into something either good or bad, constructive or destructive? It’s what you choose to do with the motivation, what you achieve. And what’s more, there are a number of ways you can increase your own motivation. This can include dietary changes and mindset changes. This means that you have lots of options to help you stay motivated.
The two types of motivation
According to psychologists, there are two main types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation refers to an outside factor that influences an individual's desire to perform a task. This can be the need for money, family pressure, societal pressure, and so on. Anything outside yourself that pushes you towards doing something is considered to be extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation can be a good way to motivate yourself to perform short-term, boring tasks. But if you use it in the long term, it can actually decrease your motivation levels.
Intrinsic motivation is much more personal. This desire comes from a deep-rooted part of an individual, and is less changeable than an external factor. Your intrinsic motivation can come from your belief system, the values you grew up with, or an event from your past. They are not easily altered by external stimuli. For these reasons, internal motivation is considered the most powerful when it comes to getting things done. It is also one of the most useful tools you have in your fight to stay motivated.
When you start something new, you're usually enthusiastic and hopeful about it. This gives you the motivation to do well, and the push to move forward even when it's difficult. However, after a few weeks, this can start to fade. The work starts to drag, things aren't moving as fast as you want them to, and you may start to resent the work. Basically, you want to quit because you aren’t seeing the results you imagined.
But here’s the thing: beyond that brick wall is what you’re fighting for. Often, when things seem the hardest, you’re almost there! So, don’t stop, or you'll end up regretting it.
You won’t always feel motivated- so get disciplined
Unless you’ve got an amazingly fiery inner drive, you won’t always be able to stay motivated. It’s just the way things are. Motivation is a short-term emotion that will naturally fade with time. And it doesn't really matter if you get the results you want, or if you actually enjoy the activity you're adding to your life. If you rely on your emotions to make you do it every day, your emotions will also get in the way.
In contrast, self-discipline is "the ability to control one's feelings, and overcome one's weaknesses." When you're disciplined, you do things even when you don't really want to. It's a part of your brain that you can train to do what's best for you and your goals. When you have discipline, you control yourself enough that your emotions and whims don't always negatively affect your behavior. This sounds like a boring way to live, but studies actually show that people with self-discipline are generally happier than those without. The subjects were usually happier because they had a set of clear guidelines for decision making, which reduced general stress levels.
To increase your self-discipline, you can begin with the following simple steps.
1. Make a schedule Making a schedule will help you organize your thoughts about what you need to do, and will also help you see when your free time is.
2. Find someone to hold you accountable Accountability can mean a friend, a family member, another student, or a teacher. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s someone who’ll keep you on the path you've chosen. It’s your way of giving yourself some external motivation to keep you motivated while you build up your discipline.
3. Follow your schedule The third step should be self-explanatory. You have to follow your schedule, that's why you wrote it.
As I said before, discipline is more important in the long run than motivation. However, motivation will help you get started, and make the process easier. So, let’s also talk about some ways you can increase your motivation when it's nowhere to be found.
1. Get some exercise While a lot of people need motivation to make them exercise, it can actually increase your motivation as well. If you get regular exercise, you’ll find that your mood and mental clarity will skyrocket. You'll also feel more willing and able to do just about anything!
2. Meditate Meditation is great for getting in touch with your intrinsic motivation, because it helps silence all of the mental chatter and external stimuli for a little while. It also gives your brain a break, reduces symptoms of stress, and makes you more aware of your body and its needs.
3. Listen to music Music is scientifically proven to improve workouts and motivate athletes. But it's not just for the weightlifters and marathon runners, it’s for everyone. When you need to sit down and focus, put on music that helps you think. For most people, this could be instrumental with few to no lyrics, but the type of music is different for everyone. Find your playlist, turn it on, and go!
4. Eat well Ever eat a heavy, junky meal, then feel like the only thing you want in life is to lay down on the sofa, and never get up? That's because eating heavy, nasty foods saps your strength, and upsets your body. It's not the sort of thing you want to eat on days when you need to be productive. Try eating light, healthy snacks and meals throughout the day to keep your body nourished. You’ll feel better, clearer, and more motivated.
5. Get enough rest You're not going to want to do anything if you're exhausted. Exhaustion is a growing problem in these modern times, and it's disastrous for your determination to stay motivated. Try to get to bed at a decent time, and get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night. If you have trouble getting over six hours, consider taking 20-minute power naps when you feel your energy dip during the day.
The number one thing you can take away from this
Motivation can be a slippery and difficult beast to tame. But you’re not helpless against its whims. If you're really determined to stay motivated, you need to incorporate discipline and motivation-fostering practices into your life. Think of one area of your life in which you need more motivation, and implement one of the ideas above to make some real changes. This is the best way to help you achieve your goals, and it will improve the quality of your life as well. And even more importantly, don't give up on yourself. You can do it, and you're worth it.