Motivation - the secret ingredient?

I was talking to a group of friends the other day and asked one of them how his degree was coming along. His shoulders sagged, he let out a sigh and said, “It’s such hard going. I really want to get it finished, but I’m struggling to stay motivated. There’s always something else to do that is more important, more fun, more exciting, and now I am falling way behind.” 

Most of us have goals we want to reach, whether it’s losing weight, getting a new job or climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.  However, after the initial excitement and passion subsides and the hard work, time commitment and business of daily life kicks in, it’s often easy to become demotivated. So what things can help? Here are some suggestions:

1. Write down your goals - When you are creating your goal in the first place, write down specifically what you want to achieve, and why you want to achieve it – that is, why it is important to you. One of my friends refers to this as an “anchor statement”. Think about how you will set yourself up for achieving your goal – do you need to create more time to do it, do you need new skills, extra money? Is the goal realistic in terms of the rest of your life? In NLP, we use the Well-Formed Outcome technique to help ensure the goal is compelling and achievable.

2. Imagine your future vision - When creating a goal, take time to vividly imagine your vision for the future – how will things look once you achieve your goal? You can even create a visual representation to hang up in your office or home to help inspire you on the days when things are hard going.
 
3. Break your goal into bite-sized chunks - Big goals can seem overwhelming at times, and when we are overwhelmed it is easy to give up. By creating mini-goals, or milestones, within the big goal, success can be accomplished one step at a time. And remember to reward yourself along the way. 
 
4. Tell someone else about your goal - If you tell friends you are planning to run 10k for charity in a few months, chances are you will stick to your training schedule. If you keep it to yourself, it is much easier to let yourself off the hook. 
 
5. Don’t delay, get going! - One of the most motivating things in reaching a goal is to take the first step. I talked about my goal of going to the gym for five years (everyone, including me, was sick of hearing about it) but I finally took the first step and have been going ever since. Like the Nike slogan says, “Just do it!”
 
6. Don’t forget to look after yourself - Take care of yourself while you are working towards your goal. For example, if you are studying hard for an exam, remember to stay hydrated, take breaks, use a chair that doesn’t give you backache. Pay attention to your energy levels; notice what energises or de-energises you. Some people work best in the early morning, others late at night. Someone who is trying to reach business goals may be energised by participating in networking groups through the sharing of experiences and mutual support. 
 
7. Keep things in perspective - When the going gets tough, take a minute to stand back and reflect. Go back to your “anchor statement”. Do you still really want to achieve your goal? Is it still relevant in your life (because, as we all know, things change). Has your goal become so all-consuming that other things in your life are suffering… like you are working so hard to get that promotion that you no longer have any time to see your friends? 
 
8. Get back on the horse - Sometimes we have bad days where things don’t go according to plan; we break our diet by having a huge piece of chocolate cake, we skip our run because it looks like rain or we get fed up with paperwork and technology issues.  When this happens, don’t give up. Dust yourself down, take a few deep breaths, and get back on the horse. Your dreams are still out there!

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