Motivation can be an elusive creature. How often have you started exercising, reading a book, or quitting smoking only to stop eventually? But for some people, staying motivated is as easy as breathing.
Inspiration to stay on track may be formulaic if you know the factors that affect motivation. Hitting your goals can be as easy as eating certain foods, creating an award system, and keeping your attention on the task.
Therapy and The Psychology Behind Inspiration
Finding the source of motivation has been the focus of several studies. Psychologists and researchers conduct experiences to discover what drives people. In one study, researchers interested in the relationship between effort and reward used financial incentives for solving mathematical equations.
Psychological tips for staying motivated:
- Consider the amount of effort between options, so you are mentally prepared for the level of exertion.
- Focus on the end reward instead of the effort when the process becomes complicated. Imagining hitting your goal can encourage you to persevere.
- Distract yourself from the effort, such as listening to music while exercising.
- Remind yourself of your goal daily or more often, like having weight loss quotes on your fridge.
Forming a habit is a four-step process that starts with a cue or something the initiates the behavior. Motivation or a desire to change is the second step that leads to the third, a response – the habit. The fourth and final step is the reward, which circles back to the cue.
The focus of motivational interviewing is to change a patient’s desire to behave a certain way. Typically, therapists use this therapy type to create negative responses to substance use, like drugs and alcohol.
The therapist acts as an interviewer and asks questions about the changes you would like to make. You slowly dig deeper into the reason for making the change and identify personal factors of why it matters, which helps you follow through. Depending on your goal, a therapist may recommend certain strategies to stay motivated.
10 Strategies to Stay Motivated
Talking about motivation can be helpful, but taking action to stay focused is more beneficial. Many therapists, life coaches, and other motivators give homework or tasks to do in between sessions.
These assignments help keep you inspired and concentrated on your goal. Here are 10 strategists that could work for you:
1. Get a calendar or planner to schedule the behavior, like going to the gym or working on your novel.
2. Set small goals that are realistic for your lifestyle and abilities. Reaching your mini-goals reinforces your drive to keep going.
3. Keep motivating reasons around as reminders, such as a vision board with images of your end goal.
4. Use external pressure to keep you accountable. Telling your friends and families about your goal and plan can keep you intrinsically driven, especially when they ask about your progress.
5. Measure your progress to show how much you have accomplished. For example, you can keep a journal of your weight loss or a running count of the days since your last alcoholic drink
6. Transfer or link old habits to new ones. Substitute time spent doing one thing for another, like replacing going to a bar with working out at the gym. Or associate a new behavior with a routine, such as reading a chapter before going to bed.
7. Find the optimal environment to stay motivated. You may find that you need absolute silence, being outside, or being around other people to stay focused on your tasks.
8. Create a reward system to give yourself a treat for meeting small goals.
9. Allow for flexibility, like doing more on one day to do less on another. While routine is valuable, you should also permit yourself to make modifications.
10. Use a timer to motivate yourself to work for a short period without being distracted by the clock. Even setting a timer for 10 to 15 minutes can jumpstart your efforts.
Like working in your ideal environment, you can give yourself the best chance for success by making sure to prime your body and mind. You can increase your risk of triumph if you are physically and mentally ready.
Motivated Mind and Body
In real-life inspirational stories of success, you often hear about how someone struggled on their journey. For example, successful people might say they struggled to make ends meet and sacrificed sleep to work multiple jobs or made hard choices between food and utilities.
However, problems in your life make it difficult to stay inspired. For instance, you may not feel like working on a house project after losing your job or writing the next great American novel when a loved one is sick. Despite what some inspirational TED talks say, losing sleep and not eating enough can decrease your inspiration.
Sleep deprivation can mess up how much dopamine your brain releases. A reduction in dopamine levels makes rewards seem less alluring or valuable. Getting a better night’s sleep could start your day more motivated.
Have a good sleep routine by waking up and going to bed around the same time every day. Your body will get used to the pattern and naturally get tired and wake to the schedule. Another tip is to remove televisions from your bedrooms and avoid looking at your screen 30 to 60 minutes before bed.
Likewise, inflammation influences motivation for women and men by altering dopamine amounts. Foods that increase dopamine levels include:
Exercise, meditation, and listening to music can also increase your dopamine levels. Combined with a nutritious and anti-inflammatory diet, you can create a lifestyle that keeps your head in the right mindset. A healthy lifestyle bolsters your motivation to do more.
Similarly, hitting your small goals inspire you to keep working towards your ultimate objective. Your brain gives you a reward of dopamine every time you reach a milestone. It creates a cycle of getting a jolt of joy and inspiration.