Have you ever had a hard time staying motivated about your goals?
Starting a goal is often easy. Keeping going when it gets tough is a lot harder.
That, however, is what separates the successful from the unsuccessful, the winners from the losers – being able to persist even when it gets tough.
If you’ve failed in the past, don’t worry. In this article, we will discuss 31 tips on how to stay motivated about your goals.
Table of Contents
1. Take action immediately
One reason people never get motivated is that they never start – and so their initial passion wanes and the whirlwind of life distracts. It becomes an “I’ll get to it – later”.
And that later never comes.
The law of diminishing intent says that the longer we take to start, the less likely we will start.
The best way to overcome this is once you set your goal, do something immediately toward the goal. Get the law of inertia on your side. Find something small and simple and start.
Then do something toward it every day.
If you have been delaying a goal you have – take action now. Stop reading this article and do something toward your goal right now.
2. Remember your “why”
Gail Hyatt said, “People lose their way when they lose their why.”
Why did you start pursuing this goal in the first place? What are the end results that you desired that would come from this goal?
What is your “why” for this goal?
If you haven’t written your “why” out yet, do so now. Get a piece of paper and list as many “why” as you can.
For example, if you are wanting to lose weight, your “why” may be:
- to look good at when you go on vacation
- to have more energy
- to feel better
- to be an example for your kids
- and so on.
For increasing your income, it might be:
- to be able to travel more
- to have more to give to charity
- to get the house or car you dream of
- and so on.
Know your “why”. When the going gets tough, look at your paper and remember your why.
3. Visualize the success (and the feeling of success)
Along with remembering your why, visualize it. Visualize the end result, the success.
See yourself how you will be when you succeed. What will it look like? How will it feel? How will those around you respond? See, hear, taste, smell, and feel it.
And most importantly, feel the emotions you will feel when you succeed. Feel the thrill now of what success will be like.
Doing this can help you reframe your situation and help keep you motivated to keep going.
4. Make sure it’s something you are passionate about in the first place
If the goal is not something you are really passionate about yourself, you are going to have a hard time motivating yourself to keep going and accomplish it.
Your parents or boss or spouse wanting you to do something is not going to work. You must be passionate about it yourself.
You either need to change goals or find your own passion in what you are doing, your own “why”.
5. Ask yourself the preference question
Keith Ellis in The Magic Lamp says to ask the preference question when we are about to go astray from our goals.
It’s easy to look at the immediate and give it more weight than a future possibility.
With the preference question, ask, right now, would I (for example) – be at my ideal weight or eat this dessert? What would I choose right now?
That can help make the future more real and help you overcome temptation.
6. Break your goals down and take small steps
One reason we get demotivated about goals is that they seem overwhelming. They seem huge and we aren’t sure where to start, or we feel like we have to do so much at once – so we procrastinate or get burned out.
To overcome this, break down your goals into tiny steps. Even if you aren’t sure of all the steps, write out the ones you know, and you can include researching and learning to know more steps.
Then, take small steps toward the goal, every day if possible. You don’t have to do big sweeping steps. You don’t have to do a whole lot every day.
Compounding interest is powerful. You can get a lot done by doing a little bit every day.
And, if you have a list of small steps, even when you are feeling down, it’s a lot easier to do just one small step.
7. Anticipate hurdles and obstacles
Obstacles and hurdles are going to come.
If you can anticipate possible obstacles and plan for them, it can help you overcome them instead of being stopped by them.
And just knowing they will come can help keep you in the right frame of mind that it’s just another step you have to take to make it to your goal.
8. Make it easy for yourself to act toward your goals
What do I mean by making it easy? Let me give you some examples.
- If you are trying to eat healthily, don’t buy junk food. Keep it out of your house. When you go to a restaurant, don’t even “take a quick look” at the dessert menu.
- Let people you eat with know you are trying to eat healthily. If you know someone will try to tempt you, avoid eating with that person if possible.
- If you want to start jogging in the morning, get your clothes and water bottle out and have it sitting, ready, right in front of you when you get up.
- If you are trying to make yourself get out of bed and stop hitting snooze, put your alarm across the room so you have to get up.
- Find apps to block distracting websites.
Think about and find ways that will help you overcome temptation and build momentum without having to rely on your own willpower.
There are times when your willpower will be weak. Try to make it easy for yourself so that you don’t have to rely on your willpower to accomplish your goals.
9. Make the actions you take toward your goal part of your everyday routine
Routines are made up of three parts – a cue, a behavior, and a reward.
For example, for some, when they get stressed (the cue), they eat chocolate or other sweets (the behavior), and the reward is the feeling that comes from eating the sweets.
One of the best ways to change a habit is to change the behavior that comes with the cue. Instead of eating sweets, for example, go take a walk. Or call a friend. Or eat fruit.
We can also add habits by tacking them onto other habits. To start flossing, make it part of your routine at night right after you brush, for example.
So, in your life and work, are there habits you can change by changing your behavior? Are there routines you can tack on to other habits and routines?
It will take time, but doing so can help make your goals part of your everyday life, so whether you are motivated or not, you do it out of habit.
10. See failures as they truly are
Many people feel that failure is bad. They may think it makes them a failure or they just are not good enough for their goal.
They are wrong.
Failures are not really failures – they are stepping stones to success.
You can’t expect to reach greatness without stumbling along the way. It’s just part of the process.
When you were a child learning to walk, you didn’t give up because you fell down. That was just part of learning! You kept getting up and trying until you could walk.
Failure isn’t bad. Failure is just a chance to learn and do better.
Don’t see failure as a failure of yourself. See it as proof that you are moving forward and as a chance to learn and do better.
In fact, generally, successful people have MORE failures than unsuccessful people – because they keep trying and never give up. What makes them a success is that they don’t have failure – it’s what they do with that failure.
11. See obstacles as opportunities and learning points
Problems are going to come. Issues we didn’t anticipate will arise.
We have a couple of choices to make. One: we can focus on the problem, or we can focus on solutions.
Two: we can see obstacles as giant pains that make us want to quit, or we can see them as opportunities in disguise and as chances to learn.
Depending on the choices you make will help determine how motivated you are when they hit.
12. Talk positively toward yourself
We can sometimes be our worst critics. “I shouldn’t have done that.” “What was I thinking?” “That was so stupid!”
We can easily hold ourselves to a standard we would never expect from anyone else. While that can be good in some ways, in many ways it could also be detrimental.
How you talk to yourself has a huge impact on you. If you always tear yourself down, then you are going to hurt confidence, self-esteem, and your motivation.
Instead, if you speak positively toward yourself, you will encourage yourself and help motivate yourself.
Instead of telling yourself you can’t tell yourself you can.
Instead of beating yourself up, tell yourself it’s okay and see what you can learn from it.
Instead of telling yourself you are stupid, tell yourself that you are smart and that everyone makes a mistake.
13. Forgive yourself
You are going to mess up and have failures – get used to it.
If you always beat yourself up about your mistakes, you are going to keep living with those failures. You can either look forward or backward, you can’t do both.
If you don’t forgive yourself, you aren’t going to have the motivation or belief that you can make it and fulfill your goal.
Learn from your mistakes and then let go. Forgive yourself. Tell yourself that you forgive yourself.
When mistakes pop up, think about the lesson learned, forgive yourself for those mistakes, and move on and forward.
14. Reanalyze your goals – recommit, revise, or remove and restart
Sometimes we will mess up or not reach our goals. Sometimes we may find we haven’t made much progress.
When that happens, take time to look at the situation. What happened? Why did you fail?
Was it a goal you really weren’t passionate about? Are you missing a skill you need? Do you need help?
Michael Hyatt in Your Best Year Now says we should recommit, revise, or remove and restart.
If you just messed up and got behind, recommit to the goal. Take action immediately on it.
If you need to hit it at a different angle, revise it. Change or update it as needed, then hit it again.
If you find it’s not a goal you really want to pursue, remove it and pick one that you are passionate about and that fits your values and priorities, and season of life.
15. Find support and help
Accountability can be huge in helping you stay motivated. Having people who are trying to move toward the same goal at the same time can be a boon to your goal success.
Being accountable to someone else about your progress, someone who will hold you accountable can also be helpful. We generally don’t want to look bad in front of others or let others down.
16. Look at your scorecard
Make a scorecard for your goal and your daily or weekly progress.
There are a variety of ways to make it, but the biggest principles that you must follow are that it has to be simple enough that you can easily tell if you are winning or not, and it has to be consistently updated.
What is your ultimate goal? Put that on the scorecard.
What step or steps are you taking to get there? Put that on the scorecard as well. Show where you expect to be that day or week and where you actually are.
For example, you may have a line graph for the weight you expect to lose. You put your expected weight and where you are at.
One quick glance can let you know if you are on track, ahead, or behind, and it can be motivation to keep going.
17. Gamify and chain your goal
Make doing your goal a game. Earn points by taking action every day – or lose them if you don’t. Reward yourself if you succeed.
You can also do a chain to help you stay motivated. Jerry Seinfeld did this when writing jokes. He would put a giant red X on the calendar every day he wrote. As the chain grew, he didn’t want to break it, so it would motivate him to keep going.
You can do something similar to your goals. Every day you make progress, mark it. As your chain of days grows, you won’t want to miss a day.
18. Realize consistent small steps are better than inconsistent “big” steps
Sometimes we feel like we must do a “lot” to get to our goals. And that may be true in ways.
But what also is true is that small steps taken every day lead to great results. Reading just 15 minutes a day equals 30 hours in 4 months of reading. That’s quite a few books.
Making small changes a little every day can make huge differences long-term.
Don’t feel like you must do major work or big changes. Focus on taking small, consistent steps every day. Doing so can bring great rewards over time.
19. Have a “no matter what” attitude
Persistence is key to success. It’s what separates winners from losers.
Know your “why”, and with your “why”, decide now that “no matter what” you will see this goal through. No matter what obstacles come up, what other “great ideas” pop up (that will sidetrack you – ok to revise if needed), what failures may happen, you ARE going to see it through.
Decide now that is what you are going to do and keep that attitude.
20. Regularly review your goals
Have regular reviews for your goals. You want quarterly reviews at a minimum. Every quarter, examine where you are, your success and failures, what worked, what didn’t work, and what steps you can take now.
However, quarterly is a long time without taking time to review. Doing it monthly or even weekly can help you keep track, spot issues, and obstacles, and help you stay focused and motivated.
Daily reviews can also be helpful, especially when starting and trying to get the momentum going or if setting daily goals toward your bigger goals.
21. Make your goals challenging
One reason we aren’t motivated about our goals is that they don’t challenge us. When we set weak goals, for ourselves or our employees, they don’t really motivate us.
But, when we set a challenge for ourselves, something that stretches us, something to aim for, we often rise to the challenge.
22. Remember past successes
Sometimes when the going gets tough and failure happens, we feel like failures. We wonder if we will ever succeed.
What can help is to remember your past successes. Think about all the times you have succeeded.
In fact, it may be helpful to even write them down. Go from childhood to your teenage yours to college to work and family – write down everything you’ve done that was a success, no matter how small.
Then, when you start feeling demotivated and like a failure, look back on the list to remind yourself that you are a success, and just like you’ve pulled through in the past, you can do so now.
23. Find inspiration in others
When obstacles start to demotivate us, finding people who’ve been in our situation and who have overcome similar situations can help give us the motivation to keep going.
When you start feeling down and alone, look for others who’ve gone through the same thing and succeeded. You may even learn how to overcome better by following in their footsteps.
24. Try a new approach
Getting stuck can be quite demotivating.
One way to overcome this is to step back and take a new approach.
You may need to take a break away from the problem, you may need to talk to others, or you may need to do some more learning and research (or all of the above).
It’s easy to get stuck on one solution – either or. But it’s usually not that. There are usually other options available.
Even if something seems impossible, you can ask, if it wasn’t impossible, how would I make it work – and go from there?
25. Reaffirm your belief that you can succeed
Sometimes when things get tough, we can start doubting ourselves.
Reaffirm your belief. Keep telling yourself, “I will succeed. I can do this. I am a success.”
Get around people who will help reaffirm this belief in you and encourage you.
Write encouraging notes for yourself on the wall. Look at your past successes.
Believe in yourself.
26. Realize it’s a bad mood, and moods come and go
Moods come and go. Sometimes our doubt and demotivation are just another mood.
Realize that it’s just a mood, it will pass, and keep working anyway.
27. Learn to love the process
What can make pursuing our goals hard sometimes is that we hate the process to get there. We don’t like doing the work it takes.
If you can change your feelings toward the process, you will be much more motivated toward your goal and probably arrive a lot faster.
Don’t tell yourself you hate the work, tell yourself you enjoy it. Visualize yourself doing it happily and joyfully.
Find ways to gamify it. Find things to enjoy about it. Change your attitude about it. Visualize and feel the feelings you will have when you succeed during the process.
However you do it, find a way to not just love the end result, but to enjoy the process to get there as well.
28. Be realistic about your goals
While it is important to stretch and challenge yourself, if you put too much on your plate or put a goal “way out there”, you are likely to demotivate yourself.
Challenge yourself, and set goals that you may not know how you will get to it yet, but don’t go too far out there either.
If you have no money and are $20,000 in debt, saying you will make $1,000,000 in a month may be too much of a stretch.
Thinking you can be ready for a marathon in a week when you haven’t run or exercised in 2 years is not a practical goal.
What often happens is when you set goals too far out there is that you don’t really believe you can do it, so you don’t try. And failing miserably on a way-out-there goal can be demotivating as well.
If however, you set challenging goals that you believe are in your reach, that you can do, even if you don’t know how yet, you will often put the effort in to make it happen.
29. Compare yourself to yourself, not others
When you are pursuing a goal, it can be easy to compare yourself to others who are doing the same thing.
However, that can be dangerous. We will see that someone has lost 10 pounds when we only lost 5. Someone is earning 20% more and we are only earning 10% more.
And that can demotivate us.
Each person is different. Each person’s life circumstances are different. Stop comparing yourself to others.
If you want to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to yourself. See how well you are doing compared to your goal. Look at your gains and celebrate them.
Don’t beat yourself up because it’s less than someone else’s.
The only reason you should look at others is to learn how to do it better. If someone is doing better than you in an area, don’t compare and be jealous, talk to them and find out what they are doing so you can do better as well.
30. Focus on the gain, not the gap
The gap is an easy focus – how much further we have to go.
It can also be demotivating.
Instead, focus on your gains. Focus on how far you’ve come along, not how far you have to go.
31. Celebrate and show gratitude for your victories (however small)
Let’s say you’ve lost two pounds, but your aim was five. Instead of beating yourself up over the three you missed, celebrate and be thankful you lost two.
Let’s say you didn’t save as much money as you wanted. Don’t beat yourself over it. Celebrate how much you did save, and give thanks.
You are working on staying calm when talking with your teenager, and you just did it. Awesome! Celebrate.
Celebrate and be thankful for your victories, no matter how small. This helps you keep the right perspective and can help keep you motivated toward your goal.
Tough times will come and will challenge our motivation. Thankfully there are steps we can take to push through the hard times and help keep us motivated toward our goals.
I hope you have found these tips useful and they will help keep you motivated to keep pushing forward in your goals.
Now to you: What tip stands out to you the most? Do you have any other tips that might help someone else?