How To Get Motivated When You Don't Want To
If you’re like me, you struggle to stay motivated.
To be honest, I don’t love to work out. In fact, I hate its guts. The hardest part of working out, for me, is getting ready to work out. The whole time I’m changing into my workout clothes, I’m telling myself how badly I do not want to do this.
But you know what? I always, always, always feel amazing AFTER the workout. This goes for pretty much anything I know is good for me that I just don’t want to do (reading, budgeting, eating healthily, flossing my teeth), and I bet the same goes for you too.
We all have goals. Some of them can be pretty challenging, like losing weight or paying off debt.
Have you ever noticed how we can start out so motivated to reach the goal, and as time goes on, we lose that motivation and give up? It’s happened to me more times than I care to admit, especially when it comes to doing the things I KNOW are good for me.
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If only there was a way to stay motivated to do the things that we know we should be doing to reach our goals.
Well, there is, but it’s not what you think.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Motivation alone is not going to get you to your goals. If you’re relying on motivation to reach your goals, you might as well give up now. I know that sounds harsh, but It’s not going to last without putting forth some conscious effort.
Most of us have it all backwards. We think we need to first have motivation to get our butts in gear and do the things we need to do to reach our goals.
Am I right? Well, I’m going to challenge you to think about it in a new way. What if we completely reversed that way of thinking?
Let me explain.
Let’s say you’re obese, and you decide you want to change your life and get healthy. So you do what I do when I’m looking for a little motivation. You head on over to Instagram and search #fitnessmotivation. What do you think is going to pop up?
That’s right. Hundreds of pictures of tiny, super toned women with no cellulite, no stretch marks, no flabby skin. Just perfect bodies. So then you think to yourself, “That’s impossible. There’s no way I can do that.” And so you give up before you even start.
The same can go for getting out of debt. Something I do when I’m looking for money motivations is go to Instagram and search #debtfree. This can backfire just like the fitness motivation search too. (Why do I do this to myself?)
Sometimes I’ll see a post that says, “We’re debt free! We paid off $500,000 of debt in 4 months! Thank you, Dave Ramsey!”
For most people, that’s impossible, and so we can let that keep us from even trying. Do you see what I mean?
In order to get and stay motivated, you need to follow the Discipline -> Motivation -> Repeat cycle I talked about earlier, and I’m going to lay out some ground rules to help you do it.
Write Down Your Goals
The first thing you need to do is write down your goals. A goal that hasn’t been written down is just a dream, but when you write it down, it becomes a plan. Harvey MacKay said, “A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.”
Write that goal down. Post it up on your vision board, write it on your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker or tube of lipstick, write it on a sticky note and stick it to your computer monitor, the fridge door, the front door so you see it on the way out, etc.
I doesn’t matter where you put it, as long as you see it every day to remind yourself what you’re working for.
But then here’s the trick: Don’t focus too much on your goals. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but just hear me out here. Your main focus needs to be on the next step.
Once you are clear about your goals, the next step is to figure out which habits you need to form to reach your goals. Habits are key here!
This is where you need to put your focus. You need to focus on how these disciplines make you feel when you do them, not the end goal.
If your goal is to lose weight, your habits may include working out 30 minutes a day, drinking eight glasses of water, and eating more vegetables and less junk.
But when you’re doing these things, focus on the feeling you get when you do these things instead of focusing on the bikini body you’ll finally have a few months from now. Think about how you’re getting healthier and stronger TODAY.
Because what will happen is that maybe you notice it’s taking a bit longer than you thought it would take to get to that end goal, and so you get impatient or annoyed with yourself that it’s not happening fast enough. Then the negative self-talk starts and you begin to sabotage your efforts.
If your goal is to read four books a month, your habits may include reading so many pages or chapters a day. You know that in order to read four books in a month, you have to take it day by day.
If your goal is to get out of debt, your habits may include paying $50 extra on your credit cards every week, taking a packed lunch to work every day, and making your own coffee. In this example, of course you aren’t going to pay off all that debt at once; it’s going to take consistent effort.
Keep that end goal in mind, but don’t focus too much on that. You’re main focus needs to be on the daily habits. The small things that, over time, will for sure, without a doubt get you to your end goal.
This step is the hardest because, as I mentioned earlier, you can’t rely on motivation to get you to your goals. You have to make it happen. Once you determine what your habits are going to be, you just have to do them. Every day. It sounds so simple, but it’s not easy.
You just have to do the things. That’s it.
Even if you don’t want to. Because I can promise you there will be days when you just don’t want to do it. There will be days when you’d rather take a nap than do a workout. There will be days when you’d rather grab a lunch at the drive thru instead of packing one the night before.
Listen to me. If you can make yourself do the important things in the beginning, even when you don’t want to, it starts the cycle. And what comes next will feel like magic.
So what comes next?
This is when that motivation kicks in and you actually FEEL LIKE doing your habits because you’re actually seeing results from all your hard work! And you will continue the cycle of writing down your goals, doing your habits/seeing results, and the motivation to keep going will continue.
You know that feeling when you look down at the scale and notice you’ve lost two pounds? What happens then? It gives you the motivation to keep going, right?
Or when you look at your credit card balance and notice that you’re only $100 away from paying it off? It makes you want to keep going.
It makes you want to keep doing the daily habits, even the ones you don’t want to do.
Just Keep Going
Once that motivation hits, it’s much easier to do the things we once had to MAKE ourselves do, isn’t it? It’s getting there that’s difficult. But if you just keep on going, keep on focusing on those daily habits, you will wake up one morning and realize you’ve reached your goal.
You didn’t spend months obsessing over how you’d feel once you reached your goal; you spent that time focusing on how good those daily habits made you feel along the way. That’s the secret right there. It’s pretty simple when you think about it, right?
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What are some goals you have? Is there something on your mind that you’ve been procrastinating on getting started but you know it would make you feel so amazing if you did it? Go ahead and write it down.
What daily habits do you need to start to get there? Write those down too.
Now go. Do the things. Focus on the daily habits (not the destination) and watch your life change.
I’d love to hear about your goals and habits in the comments!
I’m Kari, founder of Mom For More. Welcome to my blog where I share tips for budgeting, working from home, and raising a family. Motherhood is tough, and wanting more for your life outside of motherhood can seem like a distant dream. I’m here to tell you it can be done. Stop dreaming and start doing. I’ll show you how!