Motivation is easy when you first start a goal. But it’s hard – almost impossible – to keep a high level of motivation over the long term.
The bigger your goal, the more you tend to struggle with staying motivated.
In this article, we’ll go over three big reasons for why you lose your motivation.
Then we’ll deep-dive into five effective strategies that will boost, refocus, and maintain your motivation so that you can finally see your goals through to the end.
Get ready to get (and stay) motivated!
Why We Lose Our Motivation
We lose motivation for a variety of reasons, but the top three are:
- Lack of reward,
- Lack of specificity (or our goals are too vague),
- We simply are not motivated to achieve a goal because it’s not OUR goal.
#1 – Lack Of Reward (or Excessively Delayed Reward)
We are motivated by reward, so the longer we have to wait for a reward, the lower our motivation gets.
For example, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, you may lose motivation to lose weight because that 50 pound weight loss goal will take some time.
If your goal is to create a successful blog that will enable you to quit your day job, that goal will take time and effort. You may lose motivation when you spend months writing content and doing a ton of work with little traffic or engagement.
The longer it takes to achieve a goal (reward), the more you have to fight to maintain your motivation.
This is one of the reasons why bad habits are so hard to break. We are highly motivated to keep them because they are rewarding.
Eating a chocolate chip cookie is instantly gratifying. It’s pleasurable. While not rewarding in the long run, it provides an instant reward.
Losing weight, while rewarding in the long run, does not provide instant gratification. We have to invest in a future goal, and that tends to derail motivation after a while – especially when pursuing a goal leads to discomfort.
#2 – Lack of Specificity (Goals Are Vague Or Poorly Defined)
Another thing that derails motivation is unspecific, or vague goals.
Wanting to lose weight, or start a business (someday) is not a goal. It’s a desire, but it’s not an actionable goal.
You will not maintain motivation over the long term unless you have a highly specific goal, and regular milestones to hit.
For example, instead of saying “I want to lose 50 pounds”, set your goal to lose 5 pounds each month.
Not only is this goal more specific, it’s less daunting, and you can then reward yourself at every five pound weight loss increment.
Building a blog with 1 million visitors per month is a HUGE goal that takes time to achieve. It feels daunting. But building your traffic to 100 visitors per day in the next 90 days is super specific, and will keep you motivated.
Instead of having a goal of building a six-figure income-generating business, which is a huge goal, aim to increase revenue 5% per month over the next year.
#3 – You Are Simply Not Motivated Enough To Achieve The Goal Because It’s Not YOUR Goal
Is your goal really YOUR goal?
Is it something that truly motivates you?
Or does it feel more like an obligation, like it’s something you SHOULD do, but deep down in your heart, you don’t?
Maybe you should re-frame your goal, or do some soul-searching and pursue a goal that truly resonates with you.
We often are pressured into achieving someone else’s goals, or to hit milestones that we feel societal pressure to hit (and at specific times in our lives).
If the goal doesn’t excite you, drop it. Aim your ambition elsewhere.
How To Stay Motivated
Now that we understand why we lose motivation, let’s dive into five strategies that help us regain our motivation, and maintain it over the long term.
Here are 5 key strategies that will help you stay motivated:
#1 – Know WHY You Are Pursuing Your Goal
If you want to stay motivated, then you need to understand the WHY of your goal.
Sure, you may want to lose 50 pounds, but it’s not just about losing 50 pounds, is it? It’s not ONLY about the number on the scale.
It’s about improving your health, boosting your confidence, preventing illness, premature death, and having the energy to live life to the fullest.
You may have a goal of quitting your day job and becoming a full time blogger, but it isn’t just about blogging.
You want lifestyle freedom, financial freedom, more time with family, and the joy of following your passion and doing what you love for a living.
Be honest with yourself about WHY you want to achieve this goal.
Get specific about how that goal will serve you, and allow yourself to feel the benefits of achieving that goal. Live it in your mind.
#2 – Create A Vision Board As A Motivational Reminder
A vision board is any sort of board on which you display images that represent what you want to be, do, or manifest in your life.
You can create a vision board using images and text cut from magazines or printed from the Internet.
It helps you SEE the what and why of what you want to achieve. Looking at it serves as a reminder, and triggers emotions that boost motivation.
You can tack images up at your cubicle at work, or on your computer/laptop monitor. Whatever you do, build your vision board where you will see it every day.
#3 – Set Milestones Instead Creating Of One Big Goal
As I mentioned in part one (Why We Lose Motivation), I talked about how big, epic goals can feel daunting, impossible, and the length of time it takes to get the reward causes our motivation to plummet.
An easy way to combat this is to set regular milestone goals so that you can reward yourself regularly through your journey toward achieving your big goal.
This helps do two things:
It makes pursuing your goals rewarding, which will motivate you to hit milestones along the way and eventually achieve the epic goal,
It makes your epic goal much less daunting, overwhelming, and distant. It makes your goal more doable so that you don’t feel like it’s impossible when the amount of work starts getting to you.
Write down some mini-milestones, and what your rewards will be for achieving them.
#4 – Set Up Accountability
It’s hard motivating ourselves. It’s really, really difficult. Nobody can talk us out of sacrificing and working toward a goal better than we can!
But if you have another person that you are accountable to, things change. Motivation ramps up.
We hate letting other people down. We hate looking like a failure, so when you can get social with your goals, motivation becomes less of a problem.
I like to use an “accountability buddy” to help motivate me.
I recommend finding an accountability buddy who is more motivated, or as motivated, as you are. Preferably, you will find someone who has the same end goal you have.
If you can’t find someone that you know to be your accountability buddy, you can find a partner online via Meetup.com, Facebook Groups, or a local support group.
If you are feeling really motivated, you can also create a progress blog/vlog.
You can do this with a free WordPress.com or Blogger.com account, or create a YouTube channel.
Even announcing your goal publicly on your Facebook account, and then posting your updates, will give you extra motivation knowing that people are following your progress.
And the added benefit is that you are more than likely inspiring and motivating others!
#5 – Burn The Ships!
One motivational strategy that has worked really, really well for us is to “burn our ships”, so to speak.
In Napoleon Hill’s classic book, Think and Grow Rich, he tells the story of a warrior who is facing a formidable foe. He sails to an island to do battle, and instructs his men to burn their ships, eliminating any possibility of retreat. They had to conquer their enemy or die.
Since the men were highly motivated to win, they did. Retreat was not an option, so the only possible path was forward, through hardship and adversity, toward victory.
In his book, Napoleon Hill writes:
“Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat.
Only by so doing can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a BURNING DESIRE TO WIN, essential to success.“
We’ve burned our ships on a couple occasions in our life, and it has rapidly accelerated our success.
When I quit my day job in January 2008, I didn’t have an income to replace my steady paycheck. Instead, I absolutely HAD to find freelance videography gigs – and quickly. Failure to do so would mean that we couldn’t make rent.
After a couple months, and running out of savings, Tracy and I moved to Chicago, Illinois (from Vermont), where I was able to quickly find gigs and replace my income.
In 2010, the economy tanked. Tracy was suddenly laid off from her job, and my videography income took a hit as companies scaled back their video production needs. We were heading off a financial cliff.
But we decided to double down on our blogging dream. We sold everything we owned, including my videography gear, and relocated to Mexico for six months while we worked with an online mentor to turn our fledgling blog into a business that we could make a living from.
When we boarded the plane to Mexico on November 1st, 2010, our website was only earning about $300 USD/month.
Failure meant that we’d run out of money in a foreign country. There was no going back to video production, since we couldn’t afford to buy back my videography gear.
We had one direction to go, and that was toward building a successful online business. And we did. Within three months of moving to Mexico, we were able to live off the income from our website.
Burning your ships removes your possibility for retreat, or slacking off when the work becomes truly arduous, or uncomfortable. You’re faced with the immediate choice of working toward your goal, or possibly not making rent or mortgage next month.
It’s hard to build a successful business when you have a steady paycheck coming in. Remove that source of steady income, and you’ll instantly stop binge-watching Netflix and instead, work toward rapidly accelerating your business growth.
Now, we’re NOT at all suggesting that it’s a good idea to quit your day job immediately and start a business from nothing, expecting it to take off in under three months.
When we “burned our ships” and moved to Mexico, we had a 15 month-old blog. We had an audience. We knew what problems our readers faced, and we had a good idea of what type of product that we should create, and that they would buy.
We also invested in a coaching program to ensure that we launched our new product successfully.
Only you can determine when the best time is to “burn your ships”, but in pretty much every case, it’s much sooner than you think it is.
Too often, we let fear and self doubt hold us back way too long. If you have the foundation, the essential tools, some prospects, and a mentor, you might be ready to burn your ships sooner than you think.
I hope this motivation article has given you some strategies that will help push you closer to your goals.
If you have any questions at all, feel free to leave a comment below.