In order to get anything done you first need to get motivated.
In my previous post I covered seven very powerful techniques you can use to get back on track whenever you feel demotivated.
Now I will continue with part two of my article.
Here are the next seven extremely effective techniques you can use to motivate yourself whenever you feel like quitting.
8. Reward Yourself
Implementing a regular reward system is a great way to keep you on track.
If you ever lose motivation you may be inspired to keep going by looking forward at the small prizes you’ll get.
Sometimes our goals can stretch over longer periods of time and we don’t experience many benefits too soon. Having a reward system is especially helpful in such cases, because it generates pleasure sooner and more frequently.
How do you successfully use rewards as incentives?
There are three ways of using this system.
The first is to break down your big goal into smaller sub-goals or milestones and to celebrate the completion of each one. During that celebration give yourself a pat on the back and indulge in something you really enjoy. This is reward based on results.
The second way is to set regular rewards, based on time. It’s useful if you have a goal which involves some sort of lifestyle change. Implementing such changes may be very difficult in the beginning and merely following through with them is a success.
You can use this approach when dieting, for example. Give yourself a small reward each week for having successfully managed to stay on track in the past week. Especially in tough times, that small reward will be the only thing that still motivates you.
The third approach can be used when you have to do something which you really hate. The secret is to reward yourself immediately after completing that task. This way your brain will learn to associate the task with the pleasure of the reward and it will become more enjoyable. Psychology and behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely gives a nice example of this technique in action.
9. Make a Public Commitment to Your Goal
A goal which has been announced publicly has a much bigger chance to be achieved.
Because of social pressure and shame.
If we commit to our goals in front of others, we feel compelled to follow through. The more people know about our goal, the greater the pressure to succeed will be. Quitting means letting everyone down and losing our credibility.
Reputation is very important for many people. Most of us want to be seen as respectable and dependable individuals. If we fail to honor our promises, we suddenly disappoint everyone and lose our carefully constructed image. For some this may lead to losing self-esteem.
This is the reason why there are so many successful weight-loss communities and forums on the internet. People publicly commit to losing a certain amount of weight and they stick to it because their image is at stake. Of course, the encouragement they get from others is highly motivating too.
I deliberately used this technique with my polyphasic sleeping experiment. I knew that if I committed to my one month trial publicly, I would have a greater chance of following through than if I did the experiment all by myself. Plus, it was a good way of getting traffic to my website :).
10. Get a Partner
Humans are social beings. That’s a fact.
Many people dread doing things alone. They simply feel the need to be pushed and encouraged by others. That’s not a bad thing at all. Everyone is different and has their own preference. The key is in learning to to use this preference to your advantage.
By getting a partner who commits to the same goal and goes through all the necessary steps with you.
What are the advantages of this approach?
First of all, the two of you can motivate each other. So if one feels down, the other can pull them back up and get them back on track.
Second, you’ll go through the same type of experiences together. That’s a great opportunity to share knowledge and opinions. You can talk about what works and what needs to be improved and you’ll have support and understanding in tough times.
This is the reason why all those “new mom” forums are so successful.
And third, you will take advantage of the motivation technique illustrated in the previous point: committing in front of someone creates pressure to achieve the goal.
But there are also some disadvantages you need to be aware of.
First of all, you’ll be fully dependent on your partner. If they can’t hit the gym with you today because they have a deadline at work, you’ll skip your workout too. Do your best to find a dependable person.
Second, you’ll have to compromise more and try to find a schedule or program that fits you both. This may be tough and it’s advisable to find someone with similar preferences. If you are a morning person, but your partner likes to take a run at night, then you may face a problem.
The best way to take advantage of this partnership approach is to join a club or circle or even take a class. You will meet several “partners” with similar goals and preferences. And the social interaction with them will compel you to keep going.
11. Take a Break
You probably think that you’re supposed to be chasing your goal all the time and should do something for it every day.
Well, that’s wrong.
The human body is meant to function in cycles and continuously pushing it in one direction disrupts that cycle. Rest is an essential part of motivation and goal achievement.
You are not a machine. And even machines need to stop and refuel from time to time. Taking a break from your exercise routine or diet once in a while is essential to keep you going on the long run.
I can hear a big *phew* right now :).
Sometimes that lack of motivation you feel, may just be a sign of burnout. You need to listen to your body. If you don’t, you’ll just crash eventually and lose a lot of progress.
I made this mistake a few years ago. I decided to go on a diet because I wanted to lose some weight. It was actually a very “healthy” diet. I refrained from eating any types of processed cereals, carbs with a high GI, junk food and sweets. I only ate meat, vegetables, fruits and dairy. All were as close to nature as possible. I did that for 6 months straight, with NO exceptions. I was really proud of my willpower and I did manage to reach my ideal weight.
After the fourth month my body started signaling that things were not going well and I ignored it. I had such a beautiful record behind me and I couldn’t quit. After 6 months I had to stop, because I started having health problems.
Ignoring the signs of burnout can really throw you off balance and does more damage on the long run. So do listen to your body.
Feeling demotivated may just be the way your body tells you it needs a break.
How can you use cycles to your advantage?
The best approach is to schedule your breaks. That’s how you can balance back with minimum damage to your progress. If the need for a break arises in between cycles, attend to it.
Also make sure you don’t turn the scale around. Taking breaks too often is not a good idea either.
12. Build Momentum
Motivation is like a snowball you throw down a snowy mountain. It’s small in the beginning, but as it rolls down, it gets bigger and bigger.
The more you manage to stay on track, the easier it is to motivate yourself.
There is also an explanation from a neuroscientific point of view. Repetition enforces the synaptic bonds between individual brain cells. That means the neuronal connections get stronger and the information is transmitted much faster between those cells with each repetition.
Whenever a new behavior is adopted, new such connections take place in the brain. If that behavior is repeated long enough, it will become automatic.
What does this mean for you?
It means that if you manage to get past the first two weeks of horror :P, things will suddenly seem easier. If you get past the first month, it will feel like second nature.
And if you already have a pretty record behind you, it will compel you to keep going. You’ve managed to get this far, wouldn’t it be a pity to quit now?
Each single day is a success which adds up. Do not underestimate the value of one day. You will end up looking back on them and congratulating yourself for every time you took action.
So keep a log of every day you follow through with your goal. This is also what the Alcoholics Anonymous do. They track every day in which they succeeded in staying away from their vice. It all adds up in the end.
13. Gloss Over Setbacks
Even those with the strongest willpower have setbacks once in a while.
Yes, even the most motivated individuals have moments in which they feel demotivated. It’s part of human nature and must be accepted as such.
So this means you will end up being demotivated too. How you respond to those setbacks is what makes the difference.
Do you feel like a failure and start beating yourself up? Do you give up trying altogether?
That’s the wrong attitude. It makes no sense in judging yourself for something which happens naturally.
In fact, the key is seeing setbacks as opportunities.
Because setbacks are a wonderful occasion to reassess your goal.
Maybe the goal stopped resonating with who you have become. Or maybe you have reached a stage where you need to change something to keep making progress.
Setbacks are usually indicators that you have to do something different. It may be a different approach or a different behavior.
Think of setbacks as feedback.
They are an invitation to reassess and improve. Accept that invitation, change something and start anew. You will win much more on the long term if you take this approach.
The secret is really in glossing over setbacks. If you hold on to them, they will drag you down. But if you realize they occur naturally, you can have a much lighter attitude and use them to leverage your motivation.
14. Listen to Uplifting Music
Music can be a powerful motivator at times.
Each song has a distinct energy pattern which gets transmitted to its listeners. Getting attuned to this vibration occurs naturally.
The Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto has researched the influence of words and music on water. He found that the frequency of music alters the structure of water. Beautiful classical music creates wonderful water crystals, while very noisy music makes the crystals look like mud.
Since humans bodies are comprised of about 70% water, the energy of music influences our structure too.
This means that if you listen to inspiring music while feeling demotivated, the frequency of the songs will have an uplifting effect on you.
So make a playlist of the most powerful and motivating songs you know and keep it at hand for hard times.
If you need some suggestions, I’ll share with you the list of my top 10 motivational songs:
- Titanium - David Guetta ft. Sia
- Faster - Within Temptation
- Try - P!nk
- Up! - Shanaia Twain
- Firework - Katy Perry
- Keep Holding On – Avril Lavigne
- Born This Way - Lady Gaga
- Marchin On – One Republic
- Dance With The Wolves - Ruslana
- Steh Auf Wenn Du Am Boden Bist - Die Toten Hosen
Help Others Get Motivated
If you know someone in need of a push to get going, do them a favor and forward them this article.
I’d also love to know what other songs inspire you and make you feel unstoppable. You can share your top motivational songs with us in the comment section below.