4 ways to get motivated
Like many people, you’ve probably got a long list of things you’d like to accomplish. But how can you actually achieve at least some of your goals?
“There are lots of different practical tools people can use to help them get motivated,” says Erika Chomina Carter, MA, who teaches an online course about motivation in the psychology program for University of Phoenix, and has a counseling background.
“Everyone’s different,” she notes, “and what works for one person may not be a fit for you, so you’ll need to experiment.” Here are four things to do that can help you succeed:
Commit your objectives to paper.
“If you take the time to write down your goals, it can help keep you focused on them,” says Randy Foster, an online instructor in the psychology program who holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree and also works for the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. “Making a list of things that can be checked off as you accomplish them can be very motivating as well, because it helps remind you that you’re making forward progress.”
Practice positive self-talk.
If you pay attention to your thoughts, Carter says, “you can begin to change your internal dialogue from a negative conversation to a positive one.”
For example, you may have a recurring thought that you aren’t smart enough to accomplish a challenging task. If you acknowledge that the negative thought is not reality, you can help control your negative thinking, she explains. This practice, known as mindfulness, has been shown to help motivation.
Carter also suggests replacing negative thoughts by saying a daily affirmation or adage. Use an inspiring quote or something positive someone told you. “Finding a daily affirmation that you say to yourself repeatedly can bring about empowerment that you didn’t even know you had,” she says. "Positive self-talk can be very effective in terms of motivation, but it’s something that no one else can do for you.”
Share your progress.
Telling others about your goals can help keep you motivated, according to Foster. For instance, he notes that when he started running for exercise, he routinely posted his times on social media, which made him accountable.
“Gradually, over months, my times have gotten quicker and quicker,” he says. “It’s been really motivating for me to know that if I didn’t hit my time, everybody would see that I slowed down. “By sharing, I had an extra incentive to work harder.”
Focus on the end result.
Carter suggests that for several minutes a day, you visualize the final result of what you’re trying to achieve. For example, if you’re working toward a degree, visualize your graduation day.
Those who have trouble with visualization, she notes, can use all five senses for this exercise. She says she tells people to imagine what graduation day looks, feels and smells like, and what they hear and see, adding that they can even “envision hugs, walking across the stage, the cheering, folks posting it on [the] Facebook® [site].”