Motivation drives us to create change. Whether it’s changing our behavior, environment, or life circumstances, motivation is essential for achieving our goals.
Learn how to strengthen your motivation.
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“Keep going every day. Remember that progress is progress, no matter how small.” – Dr. Sebi.
Motivation is the driving force behind behavior. If we don’t care enough about what we’re doing, we won’t be motivated to finish it. Motivation involves persistent action towards a goal and consists of three components - which must be present:
- Activation is the decision to start working towards a goal.
- Persistence is the consistent effort needed to reach your goal.
- Intensity is the energy and focuses you put into reaching your goal.
External motivators usually revolve around avoiding physical or emotional pain. For example, the fear of not having enough food, safety, or shelter motivates us to make money and meet these needs.
External motivators are powerful because our brains are hard-wired to avoid suffering. If there are severe consequences for doing (or not doing) something, you’ll be driven to avoid these consequences. If you know you’re more motivated by fear, or avoiding negative outcomes, external motivators will probably work better for you. Here are some ways to enhance external motivation:
Accountability Partners: You and your partner keep each other on target and reprimand each other if you deviate from agreed intentions or start to slack off. You don’t want to let them down, and they don’t want to let you down. The result? Double the motivation!
Money Motivation: The fear of losing money is motivating. Have a financial penalty for failing to reach your goal, like donating $25 to charity if you don’t make it to the weekend without drinking alcohol. Alternatively, give money to a friend and have them keep it safe until you reach your goal.
Rewards: Treating yourself to a reward can help you stay on track, and for some, will be enough of an incentive by itself to reach their goals.
Internal motivation comes from your desire to do something simply because you find it enjoyable. An example is pursuing a career you’re passionate about, or studying a subject you find fascinating.
Internal motivation is usually more powerful than external motivation. Internally motivated people work towards goals because they want to, while externally motivated people work towards goals because they feel they have to.
External motivation is unsustainable as external factors lose their attraction. But, since internal motivation is doing something for the fun of it - like singing, dancing, painting, or making music - the enjoyment is its own reward. Here are some tips to develop more internal motivation.
Focus on Benefits: Spend time thinking about how your life and the lives of those around you will benefit from reaching your goal. For example, if your goal is to transition to an alkaline diet, you can expect a whole host of health benefits to look forward to. What benefits would you like?
Set Meaningful Goals: Material rewards often lack the emotional investment needed to stay motivated. Take the time to understand what goals are truly worthwhile to you, that align with your values, and that you’ll enjoy working towards. What emotional experience would you gain from your goals?
Big Picture Perspective: Intrinsic motivation is driven by seeing the benefits you contribute to a higher purpose, like mentoring students, planting a community garden, or volunteer work.
Credit Where Credit’s Due: Positive feedback from yourself is a powerful way to build motivation and self-reliance. Whenever you complete a goal or behave in a way you’re proud of (like not drinking soda when offered) congratulate yourself. This builds your confidence and increases your enjoyment of the task at hand, improving your overall motivation.
Never Give Up!
Motivation is a skill that can be improved. The more you work at it, the stronger your motivation will become. You only ever fail if you choose to give up, so keep going!
“Your speed doesn’t matter, forward is forward.” – Dr. Sebi.
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Reaching your goals will take energy (time, money, and effort). Reflect on the sacrifices (things you will give up) and rewards (things you will gain) to reframe your motivation. If the cost of sacrifice outweighs the rewards, you won’t have enough motivation to succeed.
Reduce your sacrifices and increase your rewards to create lifelong motivation.
Reward yourself with love and appreciation for every single step. Remind yourself you are doing awesomely!