9 steps to find self-motivation and stick to your goals

How can you get motivated every single day to create the momentum you need to achieve your goals?

Whether you need the drive to study, work, exercise, or complete any other goal, self-motivation will allow you to perform sustained and intentional positive actions. If you get motivated enough, you will get high levels of success in any area of your life.

Motivation is the result of biological, emotional, social, and mental forces that stimulate behavior. It is the fundamental reason for each person’s intentions, efforts, and achievements.

Most successful people have developed the momentum they need to get moving in their journey of personal growth. But even the most persistent persons can reach a point where their motivation levels go down.

What can you do to stay motivated?

Research has found that as we grow as human beings, external rewards and punishments are no longer enough to motivate us to achieve more and better results. The key is that you can find mostly internal rewards when you set your goals so that you enjoy the process that will lead you to achieve them.

The nine principles that I’m about to share with you will help you find intrinsic motivation. After you take them into practice, you will be in the position to achieve excellent results in any area of your life.

1. Take care of your health.

Taking care of your health and physical shape is important so that you can have enough strength, focus, and energy to take crucial action.

To improve your health, it’s a good idea that you set up a routine to go to bed and wake up at the same hour every day. Also, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking enough water. Eat a variety of nutritious foods that makes you feel light and healthy. And practice physical exercise frequently.

Taking care of your general health will increase your energy and motivation levels, that are necessary for you to continue growing and getting positive results.

2. Aim for a meaningful purpose.

One of the most inspiring things that will fuel your motivation is to fulfill a purpose that gives meaning to your life, beyond just surviving. Knowing that the work you are doing makes a positive difference in the world can be very motivating.

For this reason, every day, you must focus all your effort on the three main tasks that will bring you substantial results in one particular project.

It is common for many people to overload themselves with tasks and commitments that scatter their attention in too many different things, without reaching any remarkable success. Avoid trying to accomplish too much. Don’t overfill your calendar with non-priority tasks that steal your energy and motivation. It is better to commit most of your time and attention, doing the three most important tasks that will lead you to reach the main goal you have set for yourself. And, once you achieve a remarkable result, you will be in the position to define new priorities to keep on fulfilling with confidence and persistence, one goal at a time.

3. Think about your goal every single day.

Everything you can do to keep in mind the main goal that you want to achieve will boost your self-motivation. Think about your goal every single day. Put it on the wall of your room or keep track of your progress in a journey. Above all, commit to dedicate at least 20 minutes every day to work focused on one significant project that brings you a little bit closer to your goal. If you manage to accumulate a little bit of progress every day, you will succeed over time, because you will get surprising and inspiring results.

4. Develop a passion for learning.

When you cultivate curiosity and passion for learning, you will get 100% intrinsic motivation. Have you noticed how rewarding it is to spend time developing a new skill that does not have to do with a school or work responsibility? Since there is no obligation or financial reward, you are looking for knowledge just for the desire to learn.

You can apply this principle to almost any activity that you need to complete. So, the next time you face a new challenge, or you need to learn something new, ask yourself: What skill or practical knowledge can I acquire from this situation? Doing this will bring you in a more open state of mind, and more aware of the learning you are obtaining with every single task you perform.

5. Strengthen your willpower.

Willpower is delaying instant gratification to get something more significant that brings you satisfaction and reward in the long term. This choice requires a firm decision and impulse control to avoid temptations. But the good news is that you can improve your self-control with practice.

Some experiments have shown that you can strengthen your willpower by exercising it like a muscle. Australian scientists Megan Oaten (-outen-), and Ken Cheng, from Macquarie University in Sydney, assigned a physical exercise routine that required willpower to a group of participants for two months. Then, they indicated different exercises, more comfortable to perform, to another group. At the end of the two months, the first group, the one that had been exercising their willpower,  did better in the self-control test, compared to the second group.

But even more, the group that trained their willpower also reported changes in other areas of their lives. They smoked less and drank less alcohol, consumed more healthy foods, controlled their financial spendings more carefully, and improved their study habits.

This study means that regular exercise of your willpower along with physical activity can lead to better self-control in almost every area of your life.

6. Design a daily routine to boost your motivation.

You can boost your motivation to almost the same level every day, with a simple routine that is easy to perform.

The idea is to set up a routine with steps so easy to follow that you cannot say no. With this approach, you won’t need any motivation to start your basic routine. But once you take these first actions, you will have enough momentum to keep moving towards the next important task that you need to complete.

The most crucial part of any task is to get started. And most of the times, motivation comes after you begin to perform one specific action. That’s why your basic routine should be especially easy to start.

For example, you can create a fitness routine that starts with filling your bottle of water. So, when you don’t feel like exercising, you can say to yourself, “I’m just going to put water in my bottle.” Your only goal is to start this routine and then go on from there.

Although your routine should be as easy as possible at the beginning, it should gradually increase to more movement. Your mental state and your motivation depend a lot on physical activity. Just remember that you need to follow the same routine every time, doing each step always in the same order.

Eventually, this habit will become so attached to your performance, that just after starting your routine, you will be in an optimal state of mind with high motivation.

7. Find your intrinsic motivation.

It’s common that people who perceive their job as an obligation that they have to do to get some money, lack intrinsic motivation. And the absence of this internal sense of motivation often leads to apathy and procrastination to accomplish essential tasks. On the other hand, people who work on a project they chose to do, like a hobby, for instance, usually don’t have motivation problems.

The best source of motivation is intrinsic, that is, the one that comes from within.

It’s clear that while external rewards and punishments may have worked before to motivate workers in factories, those kinds of incentives are not so helpful anymore. We need to promote intrinsic motivation for the creative and intellectual activities that support most of our economy today. Some companies have been experimenting with ways to help employees discover the inherent rewards of their work, and have succeeded. For example, some time ago, Google started allowing its engineers to work on whatever project they choose, one day a week, that is 20% of their workload. This strategy has resulted in products as vital for the company as Gmail, AdSense, and Google News.

You can find and develop intrinsic motivation by adding the following four elements to the most important tasks you perform:

  • a) The sense of meaning. Connect the job with a meaningful goal in the long term.
  • b) The feeling of choice. Establish a certain level of decision, autonomy, and freedom to choose the path and the strategy that you want to follow, with no imposition.
  • c) The sense of competence. Realize that you are good at what you do and you are improving your skills with every new task you complete.
  • d) The sense of progress. Recognize the accomplishment that you are making in the fulfillment of your goal, and the results you are getting.

8. Master your fear.

Don’t let fear to be your primary motivator. Fear may push you to take some actions, like working harder to preserve your job.

However, if you let fear be your primary drive, you can lose the opportunity to raise intrinsic motivation. When you are worried, there is no room for creativity, curiosity, or learning. And without these elements, you won’t be able to make the most out of your skills. Being motivated by fear can lead to poor quality, even if you get your job done in time.

So if you ever realize that fear is pushing you to take any action, make a pause and take a deep breath. You can go for a 15-minute walk, relax your body and mind, focus your attention on the present moment, and visualize the situation more clearly. When you see things more clearly, you can put fear aside, find your inner motivation, and feel more fulfilled as you move towards your goals.

9. Enter the flow state.

Has it ever happened to you that sometimes you are so focused on a task, that you forget about the world around you?

The Zone, also known as Flow in Psychology, is a mental state of concentration so deep that the sense of control and awareness of the action itself disappears. You flow into the experience and become one with the activity you are doing.

These are some of the necessary conditions needed for you to enter this state of mind of absolute concentration:

  • a) You must have a clear objective.
  • b) The task should provide you with immediate feedback about the results you are getting.
  • c) The activity must have a level of difficulty that pushes your skills to the limit. It should be challenging enough, so your brain doesn’t get bored, but not too much, so you don’t feel overwhelmed or anxious. The key is to find a balanced point where you feel engaged, enthusiastic, and confident for the progress you are making.

You can break a large project into smaller tasks so that you can focus your attention intensely in one specific single-action step. This way, you will feel more competent, and you will achieve a higher level of motivation.

We all continuously face obstacles that test our motivation to go on. But the way you overcome those obstacles will define the results you will accomplish in your life. That’s why you must generate the daily motivation that you need to get yourself out of bed and continue taking positive steps to keep growing.

Start by taking intentional action on these nine principles. If you do so, you will experience an outstanding level of motivation that will allow you to turn your goals into reality.