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Self-motivation toolkit

At a Glance: Pursue your passion and reward your successes to boost your motivation.

“Desire is the key to motivation.” Those are some wise words from Mario Andretti, one of the most successful drivers in the history of car racing. If your self-motivation is running on empty, here are four ideas that might fill up your tank.

1. Question yourself

You think you can, you think you can? Take it easy, Mr. Confidence. Oftentimes we tell ourselves we can or will accomplish something. But research shows that what we really should be doing is asking ourselves if we will reach a certain goal. Those who ask themselves whether or not they’ll perform a task do better than those who tell themselves that they will. The idea is that by simply asking yourself a question about accomplishing a goal rather than telling yourself you will achieve it, you’re forcing yourself subconsciously to build your own motivation.

2. Love it or leave it

Choosing a major that you truly enjoy (rather than one you think you should do) is critical to stay motivated. In fact, pursuing a degree in a field that you feel enthusiastic about not only keeps you more motivated, but also makes you happier. If you enjoy the actual tasks (read: listening to class lectures) required to achieve a goal (read: obtain a degree), you’re more likely to stay motivated. Granted, no degree is free of hard work or the occasional stress points and headaches. But if you’re feeling zero enthusiasm for your major, it’s time to talk with your University of Phoenix academic representative.

3. Track your progress — and tell your friends

Keeping track of your goals and having the ability to look back at how far you’ve come can ignite the motivational spark within to keep going or to do more. Plus, it’s a positive cycle. Charting your progress leads to more progress.

4. Reward yourself

A carrot on the end of the stick does actually help, according to a recent study that found those who were rewarded for completing a task (completing a huge group project, for example) were more motivated than those who had no rewards at all.

The rewards don’t need to be over the top — you get to watch a favorite show on Netflix or indulge with a flavored grande latte next time you’re at the coffee counter.

App happy? Check out Tip Yourself, which allows you to transfer cash from your checking account to your secure online “tip jar.” You can see the dollar amount increase with each completed task, and when you’ve reached a certain life goal, you can cash out (without any fees) and reward yourself with the money that’s been piling up. Whether you save enough for a new shirt or a new tablet is entirely up to you.