How to Boost Your Motivation in 5 Easy Tips

 

By Lauren Renee Archer

Motivation is not something you HAVE, it’s something you DO.

What do professional athletes and peak performers have in common? High levels of motivation to achieve their goals. But if you ask any of them, they’ll tell you that motivation is not something you have, it’s something you DO.

Mindfulness invites you to notice your experience of the present moment, including your current level of motivation. Being mindful gives you insight into your thoughts, your feelings, your desires, and your resistance. You can’t change what you’re not aware of. Once you become aware of your internal experience, you are empowered to make changes. 

Motivation doesn’t just “come.”

A lot of people assume that motivation will just “come” to them, like a Fed-Ex package they expect to be dropped on their doorstep. If it doesn’t arrive, they assume that they just “aren’t motivated.” This is a myth! If you’ve been sitting around waiting until motivation knocks on your front door, you've probably been waiting a VERY long time.

The good news is that you don’t have to wish and hope and dream that someday you’ll be motivated to change your habits. Hope is not a strategy, but here are 5 strategies that really work to increase motivation. 

Use these 5 easy tips to boost your motivation so you can achieve your goals faster.

 #1. Understand what motivation really is.

“All motivation is essentially a drive towards pleasure and away from pain.”

This is one of the most important secrets in human psychology. Knowing this, your mission is to consciously associate EXTREME PLEASURE with taking steps toward achieving your goal.

MOTIVATION TOWARD PLEASURE: From now on, you can make the CHOICE to love (or at least appreciate) the small steps along the way to your goal. For example, you can decide to really enjoy chopping vegetables, getting some exercise, and saying no to junk food.

The old saying “fake it until you make it” applies here. You can literally “pretend” you are loving your new way of life and that changes your brain chemistry and physiology so that over time, you really will love it!

MOTIVATION AWAY FROM PAIN: At the same time, your mission is to consciously associate EXTREME PAIN with any steps that take you away from achieving your goal. From now on, you can make a CHOICE to dislike or feel aversion for indulging in sugary snacks or junk food. You can choose to associate being a couch potato with discomfort. Sound impossible? It’s totally possible. Again, “fake it until you make it.” Try it, because this really works! 

 

#2. Use mental rehearsal to create a clear pathway for success.

The US Navy Seals use mental rehearsal as part of their 4-step success strategy because it primes the mind by creating neural pathways for successful results.

Changing habits is like carving a new path in the woods.

A habitual pattern is like an old pathway — well-trodden and familiar. That’s why people get stuck in “bad” habit patterns even if they aren’t getting to where they want to go. Their old pathway feels safe, comfortable and familiar, and the new pathway seems dangerous and fraught with obstacles.  

Visualization, mental imagery, and self-hypnosis can be as powerful as bulldozing a new pathway through the woods (without harming any actual trees!). Your mind can clear obstacles, reveal new vistas, and pave a new path to success.

How to do an effective mental rehearsal 

To make your mental rehearsal effective, simply imagine yourself going through the motions of doing what you desire to do (for example, preparing healthy meals, saying ‘no thank you’ to junk food, and exercising your body). What makes it effective (and a lot of fun) is to infuse your mental rehearsal with lots of positive emotions. See yourself smiling, feeling confident and at ease, really enjoying yourself along the way.

How to Reroute Your Brain’s Pathways

We've learned that the brain doesn't differentiate between real and imagined input, which is why hypnosis, guided imagery, and other mind-body techniques can create deep, lasting impressions which literally create new pathways in your brain. Then, you can maintain that new pathway by repeating your mental rehearsal on a daily basis so that your new pathway doesn’t get overgrown with weeds of neglect.

 

#3. Create a low-bar minimum step.

Setting a goal that is too big, too much, or too difficult can be anti-motivational. Even if you aspire to greatness and do set a big goal, remember to chunk it down into small steps.

You are human and it’s normal to have days when you are drained and depleted. For those times, having a low-bar back-up strategy gives you a fallback plan for the inevitable stressful days. This allows you to keep your promises to yourself and continue forward momentum by taking tiny steps. 

Examples of low-bar minimum steps:

  • I don’t have time for a full hour at the gym, so I will do 10 minutes of floor exercises at home.
  • I don’t have the energy to chop vegetables, so I will stop and pick up a pre-cut veggie tray.
  • I didn’t make my lunch, so I will pick up a pre-made chicken salad.
  • I didn’t do my mental rehearsal today so I will do it before I go to sleep tonight.

 

#4. Establish a motivational rule.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” 

We all have busy lives, and the best intentions can fall by the wayside without a clear and specific rule. The easiest way to create a rule is to link your desired action to another event, ideally something that you do every day. Examples are brushing your teeth, sitting down at your desk, driving home from work, having dinner, going to bed.

Examples of motivational rules:

  • Before I brush my teeth, I will do 5 minutes of mental rehearsal.
  • Before I sit down at my desk, I will do 10 minutes of exercise.
  • Before I get home from work, I will go to the gym.
  • Before I have dinner, I will chop up 2 cups of fresh vegetables.
  • Before I go to bed, I will make my lunch for the next day.

Linking your desired behavior with another event helps you hold yourself accountable and establish healthy habits.

 

#5 Make your rule non-negotiable.

Non-negotiable: not open to discussion or reconsideration

When things are optional, there’s a lack of commitment. You may have a weak intention to follow through, and at the slightest excuse you give yourself the option of saying “well...maybe tomorrow.”

However, when you set a rule and make it non-negotiable, you're more likely to follow through. You may still hear your inner voice trying to tempt and cajole you, saying something like “come on, you can do it later, it’s not that important.” However, when you’ve established a rule and made it non-negotiable, you can tell that inner voice, “no, that’s not an option. End of discussion.”

The beauty of this approach is that it cuts off the endless tug-of-war, back and forth inner arguments that sap your energy and drain your resolve.

When you set a rule and make it non-negotiable, you are building strength of character, strengthening your resolve, and building a solid core of inner trust and integrity.

 

Combine these tips for best results

Now you have 5 sound strategies that you can apply to boost your motivation. These are the same strategies that peak performance athletes use in their day-to-day lives. Being mindful and choosing to implement any ONE of them will enhance your motivation. Blending them all together will put you on the most enjoyable path to achieving whatever goal you set your mind to. You’ve got this!

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