As we kick off another week this Monday, I wanted to talk a little bit about motivation. So how is your day going so far? Are you well rested, in a good mood and fully motivated to conquer the world? Or maybe you’re tired and dreading yet another long week ahead? It’s never ideal to start off your week in a lousy mood, yet so many of us struggle with this issue more often then we would like to admit.
Let’s face it, we all struggle to find and sustain the motivation we need to go about our daily task from time to time, if not fairly often. If there is one thing that you can count on in life, it’s that you will face challenges. Life gets messy and at times our personal trials and tribulations can be downright brutal. It’s hard to keep fighting the good fight when you feel like you’re constantly getting your butt kicked. I know you feel like giving up at times. I know it’s exhausting. I sure as hell know it hurts.
If you were the giving up type, you probably wouldn’t be reading this now. You’re a fighter and I respect that. I am no stranger to the struggle myself. I’ve been through hell and back many times in my life. I live and love to inspire and motivate others because I know that everyone can benefit from some outside motivation. In my muddy and painful past, someone else’s words of inspiration literally saved my life on more than one occasion. In my darkest hours, I gathered the strength to go on because someone shared their story with me, letting me know that I am not alone.
Maybe you are struggling right now. I know what it feels like to be down and out. It’s hard to remain positive when difficulties persist. Sometimes we lose so often that we forget what it feels like to win. It almost feels like a personal attack when your troubles persist. It’s natural to fall into a victim mindset when things consistently go wrong. It’s frustrating when things that you can’t control dictate your life. It’s heartbreaking when you give it your all and you still fail. Even worse, doing the right thing isn’t always rewarded with favorable outcomes. As much as we try to fight it, sometimes outside influences cause us pain or suffering. It certainly doesn’t help when our own actions set us back. Struggles of any kind can weaken our resolve and stifle our motivation.
Sometimes we can gather strength from others when we are weak. I myself have leaned on my loved ones for support during hard times. I want to remind you that you are a capable human being. You have the power to change your life for the better. It may not be easy but it’s definitely doable. It may not feel like it right now but you are going to make it. You will leave your struggles wiser and stronger. You will succeed one way or another, and when you finally taste victory, it will be that much sweeter because the struggle was so damn hard. One day you will look back and smile because you finally made it. Trust me when I say all that hard work will eventually pay off in a favorable result!
So we’ve established that you aren’t giving up. You’re going to dig deep to find the motivation to keep fighting the good fight. In this process you are going to find out what you’re really made of. So now what? What’s the best way to go about this whole motivation thing? Ultimately, this is your journey to navigate. It’s up to you to find what works best for you. We may have different individual beliefs, philosophies and strategies but what we all need is motivation. So how do we strengthen our resolve to face our challenges?
Forget all the hand me down personal development, new age mumbo jumbo, throw shit on a wall and see what sticks motivational advice. I will get you started with 7 science-backed motivation tips that will make an instant impact if you utilize them correctly. It’s important that you take full responsibility for the outcomes of your life. Having a victim mentality will get you nowhere fast. Before you start, you need to clarify what you want, and then, you must be committed to making it happen. Using a few science backed techniques will give you a better go at it. Take this information and make it work for your own life.
Here are my 7 science-backed motivation tips to boost and sustain your motivation:
- Break big goals and huge task down to smaller, easily attainable goals! Although it is important to dream big, if you want sustained motivation it is important that you keep setting achievable goals to keep the dream alive. Huge tasks can feel overwhelming and can stifle your motivation. If you have a really big goal, break it down into smaller goals with clear, sequential tasks to make big dreams and intimidating goals seems realistic and attainable. The easiest way to think about it is setting and accomplishing micro goals will help you accomplish the bigger macro goals!
- Train your brain with motivating self talk! Your neurology responds differently when you say “I am” as opposed to “I feel.” I am statements are identity statements, deeply effective in declaring who you are to the world. Identifying emotions in your language by using I feel statements is known to shift blood flow away from the fight or flight area of your brain, and instead towards your prefrontal cortex, which is a part of the brain that cultivates witnessing, empathy, and problem-solving. To train your brain to become motivated, say “I am motivated” as opposed to “I feel motivated” to ingrain this motivation as part of your identity. To train your brain to quickly overcome emotional barriers, identify feelings as they arise by saying “I feel tired” rather than “I am tired.” Words are very powerful, especially when it comes to self-talk and motivation!
- Choose your environment wisely! Your environment may affect you more than you realize. It is important to find environments that inspire and motivate you. It’s also important that find environments where you feel comfortable, supported, and stress-free. You are far more likely to succeed when you work and dwell in environments that encourage and uplift you, rather than create stress and hold you back. A healthy and supportive environment will enhance and boost your motivation and a less than ideal environment will detract from it. So for example a clean, organized and well run gym with polite and supportive staff and friendly members is likely to increase your motivation, while a poorly run gym with an overall negative culture and vibe is likely to stifle your motivation. The idea is to gravitate towards environments that support you and increase your motivation whenever possible.
- Seek out and cultivate a solid social support system. Surrounding yourself with people that believe in you, support you, and hold you accountable to your goals will drastically improve your chances of success not to mention keep you motivated! As you probably already know, the people you surround yourself with have a very strong influence in your life. It has been said that a person is the sum of his or her 5 closest friends. Hang out with negative people and you’re likely to have a negative result. Hang out with positive people who encourage the best in you and you’re likely to be more motivated, not to mention more successful and happy!
- Engage and use your natural dopamine responses to get motivated and stay motivated! Until recently it was thought that dopamine was the “reward” hormone but recent research suggests that dopamine is a more complex chemical found to be at the root of all motivation. PubChem teaches us that dopamine is a neurotransmitter that serves as a chemical messenger between neurons, and sets pathways for motivation, motor control, and physiological responses associated directly with acting out our intentions. If you lack motivation in general, you can kick start your engine (your dopamine train) so to speak by setting and attaining really easy task. This is very similar to tip number one. However, tip number one has more to do with breaking huge task down to incremental steps so as to avoid becoming overwhelmed. The fundamental difference is in this case is that you’re using the accomplishment of a simple task to give you a dopamine boost to get you started when you aren’t feeling motivated in the first place. For example, if you’re feeling unmotivated you can start with something really easy like taking out the trash, walking your dog or responding to an email. That will give you an initial dopamine boost to get you going when you aren’t feeling motivated. Retraining our brains can be that easy. The more we accomplish our smaller goals, the more we train our brains to achieve the bigger goals we set!
- Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting strategy! S.M.A.R.T. stands for setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant or Realistic, and Timely goals. Using the S.M.A.R.T. method will increase your chances of achieving your goals which in and of itself will keep you more motivated. There are numerous interpretations and approaches to the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting method so find the one that suits you best. Using this strategy will also enable you to set even bigger goals as you become more proficient at using it.
- Live with purpose! You need to know why you do what you do. In other words you need to know the purpose for what you do. It’s important to periodically remind yourself what motivated you to start in the first place. You might even want to write down your goals and then list the specific reasons why you want to accomplish those goals in the first place. Living with purpose helps you get through the difficult times when you aren’t feeling as motivated. If you want to lose weight you need to first identify why you want to lose weight. So for example, maybe you want to lose weight so that you can improve your health and live longer, which will allow you to be there for your family. Your purpose would be to live as long as possible, giving you more time with the ones you love. Your “why” must be strong and specific, giving you a clear and memorable reason for attaining the goals you set.
Using these 7 tips may seem daunting when you are struggling or just starting to make goals for yourself. Don’t give up or shrug your shoulders in defeat… You read this far now let’s apply it to life! Grab a pen and some paper or your laptop and create a goal sheet for yourself. If you’re feeling creative, create a vision board with images and words that represent your “why”. Solidify your motivation in this way and put it somewhere you will see it every day. Share you goals with a positive and trusted friend or coach so that he or she can hold you accountable and lift you up when your personal motivation is lacking. This is going to be an awesome adventure!