Motivation can give you that extra push to get something done, but it doesn’t always come when you need it. If you’re struggling to start or complete a task, give yourself some encouragement to keep going. A little bit of pressure can help, so ask a friend, family member, or group to keep you accountable. If you’re trying to achieve long-term plans, make sure that you have clear and manageable goals so that you maintain your motivation throughout the process.
Write down why you want it
To keep that clear-eyed outlook, write down a few reasons you want to get fit (or whatever your goal is).
While that may sound obvious, naming concrete things you want to be able to do (like make it up to a third-floor walk-up without panting, sleep better at night, or stay full enough on healthy foods to turn down junk) will make it easier to track your progress and stay motivated, rather than aiming for an abstract goal like “get healthy.”
“We want people to anchor physical activity to something that’s actually going to motivate long-term behavior,” Segar says. “It’s important for people to figure out whether the reasons they’ve been trying to do it in the past actually set them up for failure or success.”
Keep a running list of what makes you smile
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to keep yourself motivated comes auto-installed on your smartphone. We’re not talking Apple Health, but the Notes app.
Say you don’t know exactly what you want. If you just know you want to start living better, keep a running list of the moments that make you smile. “For a while, I would just write down moments in my day that really brought me joy—what I was excited about—and that led me to where I am now.”
So if you’re not entirely sure what your endgame is, try tracking what makes you happy. Love seeing your silhouette in Warrior II or that feeling when you hit mile 2.9 of a 5K? Add it to your list, then take a peek and let it motivate you when it’s drizzling and working out sounds like the worst idea ever. Stoked to get home from work and cook dinner? Maybe think about enrolling in a cooking class.
Talk to a “you expert”
Who knows more about you than, well… you? One of the most painful truths that I had to realize about the world and myself is it’s up to me to change myself and shape the world around me. There’s just one problem: We are terrible at knowing ourselves and our motivations.
Hal Elrod, the creator of the hugely influential Miracle Morning program, lists positive self-talk as one of the pillars of his program. When you wake up and before you go to sleep, mentally repeat or say aloud your personal affirmations about the changes you’re making in your life.
Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t actually enjoy, because it’ll be nearly impossible to work it into your lifestyle long-term, Segar says. But if you’re ambivalent about an activity like running or going to the gym, she suggests linking it to something you genuinely like.
“Feeling good could come from who you’re walking with; it doesn’t have to be from the walk itself,” says Segar. The key is to connect it to something you really want to do, whether that means listening to your favorite podcast on your run or treating yourself to a homemade smoothie after a tough workout.
Block it into your calendar
If you’re aiming for a life change, Segar also recommends going old-school planner and taking a look at the little gaps in your day.
It makes sense—by the time 5 p.m. rolls around, we’re usually too tired to work out, and morning workouts… are good for morning people. But if you can fit in five minutes of “goal time” here and there throughout the day, it’ll add up.
If you’re exercise-oriented, we especially love Sworkit, a free app that lets you set how long you want a workout to last (one minute, please). And if you’re not, the concept still applies. Grad school on the back burner? Block out a Sunday morning to work on your application or even just five minutes to fill in all the name boxes.
Watch some acceptance speeches
Whenever we need a quick boost of inspiration, we head over to this golden essay on watching award acceptances.
When you’re at your lowest point, it helps just to witness someone else be happy, to be brimming with joy, to remind you that that’s still a feeling.
As the author, Jazmine Hughes puts it,
“When you’re at your lowest point, it helps just to witness someone else be happy, to be brimming with joy, to remind you that that’s still a feeling. When you’re at your worst, look up to someone at their best, and hopefully, they will bring you up with them. The immediate reaction, the uninhibited shock or excitement or joy, gets me every time. (God bless the close-up cam.)”
And it works. While all of the ones Hughes mentions are motivating, we’d also like to add Gina Rodriguez’s “Jane the Virgin” acceptance speech. We cry a little every time.
Snap a selfie at the gym
There’s nothing like the feeling of validation, so if Snapchatting selfies of yourself at the gym keeps you accountable, Duesenberg says to go for it. It’s basically the modern equivalent of little kids saying, “I did it! I did it!” and she says just taking that minute to appreciate your accomplishments will motivate you to keep moving forward.
“How you’ll feel after is always what gets me to it. Rather than focus on the now, focus on the future. You’re going to have so much more energy, you’re going to feel more productive. I stay focused on how good it’s going to make me feel.”
Just get outside
Segar says one of the most underrated motivational tricks is not discounting the power of just taking a walk. Although running can seem like the gold standard, walking is a respectable form of exercise in itself, and studies have found that getting outside can increase your sense of enthusiasm and energy. Put more meat on those goals.
Perhaps your goals are lacking the muscle you need to truly energize yourself. If you haven’t set more meaningful goals that give you something to be excited and have stuck to the tried and true generic goals to increase revenue or add more customers, there’s nothing there to sink your teeth into.
Set a personal mission
Every business should have a mission or vision statement. This is simply something that describes the broader goals, culture, and underlying core values of the business. While you may already have that, it is not going to necessarily motivate you to keep going. Although it is something that shows why you are in business, it does not really cover your own purpose.
Creating a personal mission statement is motivational because it states why you are doing the business and what you want to achieve from it in relation to your own professional and personal development. Paste it onto your calendar app so that it pops up each day and use it in your social media status updates to remind you and others about your philosophy, which goes well beyond just your business.
Take time for yourself
Running your own business can completely consume you. Once you are in it and handling daily operations, putting out those “fires,” and wearing all those hats, you lose track of time. Days melt into weeks and then months before you realize you have taken a day off. With all that work and no play, Jack or Jill become a dull boy or girl. No one can keep going at full steam all the time.
While we may not be able to have our own personal Necker Island like Richard Branson to escape to, there are ways to actively stop the work-work cycle and live a little. Schedule time off each day to decompress and do something you like. This could be a hobby or time with your family. Don’t compromise those special moments because you will find yourself becoming more resentful of your business and motivation will suffer.