Motivation is the driving force behind all of our actions. It is the feeling of wanting to do something and the force that keeps us going even when that initial desire goes away. Sometimes we all need a boost of motivation in our lives.
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When you begin a challenge, whether sailing single-handed around the world, revising hard for important exams, or simply getting out of bed in the morning, you will need motivation to reach your goal. You might know exactly what it is you want and what you need to do to achieve it, but as soon as the challenge peaks and you begin to struggle, that sense of determination can start to to waver. Unfortunately, without the motivation to get started and keep going, you are unlikely to ever achieve your goals.
Life coaches deal with motivation in three different ways:
- By motivating you.
- By teaching you ways to motivate yourself (self-motivation techniques).
- By coaching you to motivate others with motivational speaking techniques.
If you ever wish that there was someone behind you, supporting you, guiding you and encouraging you to keep going, then hiring a life coach may be the answer.
Do you feel unmotivated?
Feeling unmotivated in day-to-day life can have a profound effect on your happiness, the quality of your relationships, the likelihood of you succeeding and most importantly - your enjoyment of life.
To gage your level of motivation, take a moment to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you find it hard to get out of bed?
We all love a lie-in but it's important to feel positive about the day ahead. If you can't find an incentive to get out of bed in the morning, then you may need to consider making changes in your life.
- Do you feel stuck in a rut at work?
Sometimes a lack of motivation means we put up with mediocrity at work for years just because it's easy. Sometimes we need another person to remind us what we are worth and what we are capable of.
- Do you give up easily when you feel challenged?
It's easy to give up when times get tough. Sometimes we get so close to achieving something but give up when we feel ourselves weakening slightly. It's important to find the motivation to push through that wall and keep going.
- Do you often feel bored?
Boredom is a sign that you are lacking motivation. There's plenty to do in life but often it can be hard to muster the will or the courage to go out and do it. A life coach could help you to explore your options and encourage you to do things you maybe wouldn't have had the motivation to do before.
It is easy to become unmotivated when we don't enjoy every day life, or when our hard work goes unnoticed and we feel unappreciated. Sometimes it's important to be reminded that we can succeed, that we can get what we want and that we do have the strength to push through obstacles and overcome the challenges on the way.
A life coach could motivate you to:
- excel at work
- enjoy work
- build happy, fulfilling relationships
- get through stress and sadness
- get fit and stay healthy
- become more organised
- become more confident
- achieve life-long dreams
- achieve more than you ever expected
- feel energised
- feel happy
- motivate others
- do something good for the world.
1. Motivating you
So how will a life coach try to motivate you?
Don't worry, your life coach isn't going to dress up in Lycra and pump Eye of the Tiger from a boom box while shouting at you to drop and do 20.
Life coaches aren't there to give you advice or tell you what to do, they're there to help you develop, structure and fulfil your own thoughts and goals. You'll soon find that the ingredients for a highly motivated outlook were inside you all along- you just needed someone to probe them out, reveal them to you and help you to piece them together.
Your life coach will probably begin the first session by finding out what kind of person you are and what kind of things are most likely to spark your attention and get you feeling motivated.
Transforming from sluggish, bored, unhappy and unsatisfied to enlivened, enthusiastic, happy and highly motivated is not something that can happen overnight. It takes time, exploration and practise.
Experts believe there are three different elements to motivation. You may find that some elements come naturally to you and others take a little longer to develop.
The three elements are:
- Activation - motivation starts with an impulse to change or do something.
- Intensity - motivation requires desire - how much do you really want to achieve that goal?
- Persistence - you might really want something - but will that be enough to stop you giving up when times get seriously tough?
How naturally each stage comes to you will depend heavily on the kind of person you are. What makes you tick? What grabs your interest? What drives you to do the things you do?
Most motivation experts believe that motivation comes from two different places:
- From inside the self - this kind of motivation is known as intrinsic motivation and stems from a genuine enjoyment of an activity. You might have heard the phrase - 'life is a journey, not a destination'. This phrase perfectly encapsulates the mind-set of an intrinsically motivated person. This person gets their kicks from experience, not reward.
- From outside the self - this kind of motivation is known as extrinsic motivation and stems from the desire for external reward, such as money, fame or success. An extrinsically motivated person will work hard whether they enjoy something or not - as long as they receive recognition at the end.
What do you think drives you? Enjoyment of experience or enjoyment of reward? Where your motivation comes from will effect the direction and focus of your life coaching sessions.
Here we guide you through all three stages of motivation so you can identify where your own strengths and weaknesses lie.
This is the 'want' element of motivation and is the part of you that thinks 'I want to be thinner' when you see a picture of Jenifer Aniston, or 'I want to climb Mt Everest' when you watch a documentary about it.
Low activation levels
People with low 'activation' levels rarely feel the impulse to do or achieve anything. These people tend to live lives avoiding challenge and generally 'playing it safe'. There could be any number of reasons why a person has low activation levels. Some reasons include:
- fearing failure
- being unaware of their true potential
- having low self-confidence or low self-esteem
- suffering from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety
- feeling happy living a quiet, unchallenging existence.
Having a low activation level is fine if you feel happy and fulfilled. It only becomes a problem when you wish you could feel more motivation to do things but you simply can't. A life coach could help you to muster the 'activation' stage of motivation by encouraging you to incorporate certain incentives into your life. Intrinsically motivated people will be motivated by incentives that promise enjoyment or personal satisfaction, and extrinsically motivated people will be motivated by incentives that promise recognition or reward.
High activation levels
Both intrinsically motivated and extrinsically motivated people can achieve high activation levels if the right incentives are put in place.
Having the incentive to start something is fantastic but unfortunately, activation is only the beginning.
People with high activation often find themselves constantly setting goals and writing lists of things they want to do, for example - 'diving with sharks', 'swimming with dolphins', 'running a marathon' and so on. But more often than not, these goals are discarded before a list of new, completely different ones are made. Goal setting is only the first stage of motivation and people with high activation levels can set millions of goals but never reach any. Failing to achieve our goals can make us feel inadequate and frustrated. Many people get to middle-age and despair that their lives aren't going the way they always imagined.
If you feel like this, try not to feel overwhelmed. Simply seek support from a life coach and get your life back on track slowly.
A life coach could help you to view these big, (perhaps unrealistic) goals as dreams that you work towards, with smaller goals in-between. For example, instead of setting your goal as 'diving with sharks', why not set your goal as- 'set up an ISA savings account and put aside a certain amount of 'shark' money every month', or - 'book a trial diving lesson at the local swimming pool'? Achieving these smaller, albeit less exciting goals, will ultimately increase the likelihood of you achieving your bigger dream in the end.
Motivation is not just a desire to do something. Just because you want to do something doesn't mean you actually will do it. For example, thousands of women today want to change their bodies to look more like the thin, toned celebrities they see in magazines and on the TV, but how many of them actually achieve this and how many just carry on feeling inadequate? Wanting something is only the beginning. What happens when you want to lose weight, but you also want a big slice of chocolate cake?
After activation, you need intensity. It's all very well and good writing a list of goals to complete, but just how much do you really want to achieve them? If your goal is to lose weight, you have to want to lose weight more than you want a big slice of chocolate cake. Do you want to achieve your goal enough to make other sacrifices in your life? People lose weight by sacrificing their favourite foods, other people get to the top of Mt Everest because they train extensively for months and risk their lives to get there.
It doesn't matter whether your motivation comes from inside you or from the outside world- to achieve something, you really have to want it.
Low intensity levels
People with low intensity may think they want to reach their goal initially but in truth these 'wants' are probably just fads. Take our earlier example of diving with sharks, for instance. People with high activation levels but low intensity levels may enjoy the idea of diving with sharks (an intrinsically motivated person might imagine they'll enjoy the adrenaline rush and an extrinsically motivated person might imagine they'll appear brave and adventurous to others)- but when it comes down to it, would they really be willing to make the sacrifices to actually do it, like saving money, learning to scuba dive, taking the time off work and putting their lives at risk in the water? People with low intensity often go through phases of wanting something but they usually get bored and give up before they get there because they realise they never really wanted it.
A life coach could help you to think about how much you really want something before you start working towards it. He or she might encourage you to think about the consequences, the things you might have to sacrifice, the new responsibilities you might have to take, the risks you might face. This might seem more like demotivation than motivation, but a big part of success is setting the right goals. Sometimes we all need a voice of reason in our lives.
People with high 'intensity' levels really want to achieve their goals. Although they may be extremely enthusiastic, they can also be reckless, spasmodic and unorganised. People with these traits often fail to achieve their dreams simply because they lack the persistence to stay on track.
If you think you have high intensity levels but you need help focussing your ambitions, a life coach could help you organise your goals and encourage you to approach them in a structured and productive way which will, in the end, increase your likelihood of actually achieving them.
Persistence is about determination, structure, will-power and most importantly, patience. It is persistence you'll need when you hit 'the wall', the point at which your whole being screams out for you to stop and give up.
For people who's motivation stems from within them, persisting when times get very tough can be difficult - what is the point in continuing if the process offers no enjoyment? Persistence tends to come a little easier to extrinsically motivated people because they're more able to focus on what happens after the goal has been achieved.
Imagine you are just 1,000 feet below the summit of Mt Everest, in what is known as the 'death zone'. You have already climbed 28,000 feet. You are wearing an oxygen mask and struggling to breathe, the extremely low temperature has given you frostbite, you are emotionally and physically exhausted and your mind is on the family and friends you left behind at home. You could call for help now and be airlifted off the mountain and home in the warmth with your loved-ones by tomorrow evening. Or, you could keep going and make it to the top within a few hours.
Without persistence, you will never make it to the top of that mountain, no matter how close you get. Those thoughts of a warm, comfy bed will override the desire to reach the top and you will turn back. Persistence is about pushing on even when you desperately want to turn back, even when that initial 'activation' stage is but a distant dream and the intensity of your desire to succeed begins to waver.
Of course, sometimes persistence comes at a cost, especially when risks are involved - but if you never try, how will you ever know? Sometimes it can take a whole lifetime to fulfil an ambition, but many of us give up along the way out of fear, impatience and frustration.
Activation, intensity and persistence are all vital components of motivation. Without all three, you stand little chance of ever reaching your goal. Without activation, you will never feel the impulse to start something. Without intensity, you will eventually lack the desire to keep going. Without persistence, you will never have the drive to overcome the obstacles separating you from your goal.
Whichever component you feel you lack, a session with a life coach could help you to discover and develop that weakness into a strength.
2. Self-motivation techniques
As well as using the session to motivate you, your life coach will try to provide you with the tools to motivate yourself so you can keep going long after your life coaching sessions have ended. There are many different self-motivation techniques to try and some will work for you and some won't. The most obvious benefit of hiring a life coach is that you get a personalised route to success - one that's fully adapted to your character and your unique needs, and one that self-help books simply can't offer. Your life coach will teach you how to:
1. Recognise your comfort zone
What does your comfort zone look like? How do you know when you're in it and more importantly- how do you get out of it?
Your comfort zone might involve life being 'ok', your routine feeling 'bearable', work being 'easy' and your love-life settled and 'familiar'. Most of us exist within our comfort zones. Of course we do, they're comfortable. But are they good for us? Just because nothing bad has happened, doesn't mean we should sit back and let life wash over us. Sometimes we settle for mediocrity because it feels safe - but is it really?
Sitting in the comfort zone for too long can in fact lead to a number of problems, including:
- unfulfilling love lives
- mediocre jobs
- missing out on fantastic opportunities
- failing to fulfil your life's dreams
- feeling inadequate
- getting into unhealthy routines, such as binge-eating, drinking and smoking
- risking the physical and psychological problems that come with the above.
So how do you break free from the comfort zone?
Take small steps to break routine- breaking deep routine is no easy task, especially if you're scared of what will happen if you do. The smaller the step you take, the smaller the risk you face. Start with the tiniest steps and soon they will mount up to something noticeable. For instance, once a day do something slightly unexpected. This could include something as small as taking a slightly different route to work, or smiling at people you walk past. Breaking routine offers a chance for unexpected things to happen, and when unexpected things happen, opportunities arise. When things start happening in life, you start to feel more energised and more motivated to do well.
2. Change your outlook
Are you a negative person? Do you always expect the worst? If so, your outlook on life could be the only thing holding you back. Of course, it's no easy task to completely change how you view life. However, there are certain techniques you can try to become more positive, including:
- Learn to feel lucky - write down a list of things you are fortunate to have in life. Even the smallest things that you would normally take for granted- like having running water. You can read this list to yourself during those times when you feel like you have nothing. Often our unhappiness and lack of motivation stems from feeling sorry for ourselves.
- Don't compare yourself to others - seeing richer, thinner, happier people can, whether we admit it or not, make us feel worse. It can make us feel inadequate and prevent us from having the confidence to do things we want. Stop measuring your own worth against other people's - you don't know what's really going on in their lives and if you did, you might realise you prefer your own.
- Act - your thoughts and your actions are deeply interrelated. Feeling blue? This doesn't mean you have to sulk in the corner of the office all day. Force yourself to smile and make small talk even if you don't want to- the social stimulation will trigger serotonin, the 'feel good' hormone, and make you feel better. Acting grumpy will only reinforce the emotions you feel on the inside and also effect the people around you.
3. Set your own rules
Most people don't realise how important structure is for self-motivation. When there's no one around to tell us to get out of bed, to go to the gym and to do better at work, it's up to us to do it ourselves, even when we don't want to. This is about self-discipline, an important part of the 'persistence' stage of motivation.
For instance, it's all very well buying a year's membership at your local gym, but what's going to make you go after the novelty has worn off? What if you work hard for eight hours a day and then want to go home and collapse on the sofa? If your goal is to get fit, you will need to develop a technique for making yourself go even when you don't really want to.
A life coach will help you to set rules for yourself. Write them up and stick them on your wall to keep reminding yourself of what you need to do. Tell other people about your rules, this way you will feel more embarrassed if you break them, because other people will know.
You could try:
- writing a blog - even if you don't manage to get any followers, writing a daily journal will help keep your target in mind and allow you to record times when you meet goals or break your rules.
- publishing your rules on a social networking site - e.g. if your goal is to lose weight, state it on your profile. This way your friends can show support and you can regularly update your progress.
We all need to find our own incentives to do things in life. Self-discipline is difficult and takes a lot of control and practise - and we all give in to our temptations sometimes!
4. Find inspiration
Find a role-model: There is a big difference between comparing yourself to others and recognising other people's achievements. Having a role model requires humility. Some people might read an article about a woman who climbed to the top of Mt Everest and feel worse because they know they never have and never will achieve anything so extraordinary. A different person might read the article and feel awe-struck by the idea that somebody could have the emotional and physical stamina to do such a thing. Reading the article might kick-start a new mountaineering hobby and open up a whole new lease of life, with new friends, new challenges and new aspirations.
Never feel bitter about others people's successes - instead, be in awe and see these people as role models. There is no reason why you can't achieve something just as brilliant.
Find inspirational phrases: The power of language is immeasurable. Sometimes, all it takes to inspire a person to do something great is a single sentence. Take the time to watch motivational speeches on the Internet. Copy out some of your favourite quotes into a notebook and read them to yourself when you need a boost.
Here are a few motivational quotes from public figures to get you started:
- "Your daily life is your temple and your religion. When you enter into it take with you your all." -Kahlil Gibran
- "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe" -Anatole France
- "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" -Eleanor Roosevelt
- "The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will." -Vincent T. Lombardi
- "Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try" -Anon
- "Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful." -Mark Victor Hansen
- "Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great" -Mark Twain
- "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -Winston Churchill
3. Motivational Speaking
Life coaches can help their clients to become better at motivational speaking. Motivational speaking is a great tool in business and is a particularly desired attribute in leadership. To stand up in front of a group of people and talk is one thing. To capture their attention, provoke their interest and then leave them feeling even more enlivened, inspired and motivated than they did when they first arrived - that is quite another.
Motivating people in the work place has countless benefits, including:
- helping people to enjoy their work
- helping people to establish goals
- making people feel valued
- increasing office moral
- creating an energised environment
- increasing overall productivity
- increasing revenues
- reducing staff turnover
- reducing risk of stress, depression and other mental health problems in the workplace.
Get help from a life coach
If you think you could do with a boost of motivation in your life, life coaching really is worth a try. Life coaching is very different from alternative therapies such as counselling and hypnotherapy. It's not about delving into a patient's psyche or finding reasons for a person's lack of motivation. Life coaching is about introducing structure and purpose to a person's life. Like sports coaching, it aims to maximise strengths and build upon weaknesses. Life coaching offers a fresh start for those who think they need it, and although life coaches can't be with you in the gym when you hit 'the wall' and want to press the stop button - they will provide you with the tools to keep yourself going.
To explore more about the routes and aims of life coaching, please visit our History of Life Coaching page.
By developing your motivation skills, you could learn to lead a happier, more enriched life - as well as achieving your goals.
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