10 Ways to Find Your Motivation

Updated on February 27, 2020
Susan Caplan McCarthy profile image

As a professional organizer, Susan also helps clients develop the habits and mindsets that allow them to be purposeful and productive.

Look Ahead to Where You Want to Go

If you’re struggling to start, or persist with, a new habit, goal, or project, focus on where you want to be a year from now. Don’t worry about trying to understand your lack of motivation. Understanding why you’re struggling takes time and doesn’t involve working toward your goal.

When thinking about past attempts, focus on what worked and what didn’t. Keep the habits and actions that worked and think about how to change what didn’t. Staying motivated isn’t about keeping a cheerful attitude, it’s about noticing that you did something that successfully moved you closer to your goal.

Pay Attention to What Works

Motivation is action-based, not just feeling-based. Your feelings can change.
Motivation is action-based, not just feeling-based. Your feelings can change. | Source

10. Focus on What You Want

Too often, you probably focus your attention and energy on what you don’t want. Not only does this negativity squash your motivation, it also creates confusion. Sure, you don’t want to spend your evenings sitting on the couch, eating chips and binge-watching television series, but what do you want to do instead?

Focusing on what you want creates action and moves you away from ruminating on what you’re unhappy about.

9. Believe You Can Do It

If you think you’re bound to fail, even before you take a single step toward your goal, then you’re killing your motivation. Honestly, why would you try if you think you know the result?

But, here’s the thing – you don’t. If you don’t try, then there’s no way you have a chance of succeeding. Believing that you can succeed isn’t about creating unrealistic expectations, because then you will fail.

Set yourself up for success by setting a laughably simple goal. When you succeed at that, create another laughably simple goal and another. Success is very motivating.

When making plans, think big. When making progress, think small.

— James Clear

8. Stop Planning and Act

Good intentions aren’t enough. Don’t get stuck on the planning stage. At some point you need to act. Action motivates you to more action. Don’t discount the laughably simple goals I mentioned in technique #9. Eating a healthy breakfast isn’t the same as transforming your entire diet, but it’s a step in the right direction

7. Ignore Naysayers

Maybe you mentioned to your spouse that you’d like to take some evening classes and instead of supporting this idea, they discouraged it. They pointed out that you’d be tired from the extra work or that they wanted to spend the time with you.

Sometimes the people closest to you may discourage change because it isn’t just a change for you but one for them as well. This obstacle can hinder your motivation. You have to decide if what you want to do is important to you and then talk to your naysayers about why you want to take that class, join a gym, look for a new job.

6. Break Away from What Is

If you’re struggling with motivation, it may be because you are trying to move away from your comfort zone. If you’re used to the way things are, then change can be a bit scary because you’ll be moving into unknown territory.

Maybe you’re used to a messy house. Decluttering and creating order will be a good change, but you’ll still be asking yourself to do things and make decisions that you’ve never had to do in the past.

Acknowledging that you’re asking yourself to make a change can help you act.

Act, Don't Just Dream about Change

It's time to move from dreaming to acting.
It's time to move from dreaming to acting. | Source

5. Get Support

Support doesn’t necessarily mean professional help. If you’re trying to motivate yourself to stick to a diet, talk to friends, family, and coworkers who’ve lost weight. Find a Facebook group with people who are trying to declutter their homes, exercise more, read more, etc. Read books and blogs that inspire you.

4. Look at Your Situation from a Different Perspective

Maybe you don’t see a problem with a situation that others have complained about. You smoke, you’re late picking up your kids, you buy things you don’t need and rack up the credit card bill you share with your spouse.

When you’re honest with yourself, do you truly feel the situation isn’t an issue or is it that you don’t feel motivated to change? Imagine the situation from the perspective of those who care about you.

While trying to change for others never results in a lasting transformation, if you decide that you want to change in a way that will benefit both you and a loved one, it could help your resolve.

Start Now

There's no perfect time to start.
There's no perfect time to start. | Source

3. Know It Isn’t Easy

You might read someone’s inspiring story of change and think that you too should just be able to change. When there’s no magical shift in your behavior, you become disheartened and lose motivation. However, change isn’t easy. If it was, by now you probably would have given up all your bad habits and started every good habit you could think of.

Knowing that you’ll be on a challenging path and will face setbacks might not sound particularly motivating, but a dose of realism can prevent you from giving up because you think things should be easier.

2. Just Do Something

You may feel nervous getting started. You might think that you must find the perfect way to start or your efforts will be wasted. Yes, starting is hard … but, it’s not the hardest part. Starting is a single moment, putting in the work every day, even when it’s difficult or boring, is challenging moment after challenging moment.

Want to start exercising but you’re waiting until you can find an hour a day to go to the gym? March in place for a minute, do a single pushup or do walking lunges across a room in your home. This low amount of physical effort won’t change you physically, but it can break the mental block affecting your motivation.

Get Ready and Go

Remember, starting isn't the only step you need to take.
Remember, starting isn't the only step you need to take. | Source

1. Know Your Why

If you don’t know why you want to do something that requires hours and days of effort, your motivation will struggle. Grab a pen and a sheet of paper and write, “I want to (fill in change you want to make) because (fill in your reason).” Write this sentence over and over down the page, each time listing a different reason. Push yourself for ten reasons, twenty, thirty, even if they seem silly or insignificant.

While writing this list you may find one reason that resonates most strongly. It might not be your first thought, and that’s why you want to come up with more than one intention.

Get Started

Remember, you can start working toward the largest goal by taking a single, small step. Focus on what you want and find a support system that works for you. Without action, you’ll stay right where you are, so think of what ridiculously tiny step you can take right now.

Now do it.

What Obstacles Make You Struggle to Stay Motivated?

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    • raymondphilippe profile image

      Raymond Philippe 

      4 months ago from The Netherlands

      I enjoyed reading this. The points you mention are certainly important to achieve goals. Relying on motivation alone may not be the best foundation for success.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Good job. One of the most critical factors in a life.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image


      4 months ago

      Awesome! I like this phrase a lot:

      Set yourself up for success by setting a laughably simple goal. When you succeed at that, create another laughably simple goal and another. Success is very motivating.

      I can see now how for example exercising is DOABLE for me. Even if I don't lose weight, it will help me stay alive longer, lower my blood pressure, and keep me mobile and able to walk and move which are so important!!!!!

      I had stopped for over 4 months almost completely, because I left my physical job, and thought I couldn't do it. Then I started feeling kinda ILL and realized I have to do it.

      Motivation is something I've always struggled with. So great article!!!!


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