Our mental attitude is definitely key to achieving our aims. High motivation isn’t the issue - most of us start out very motived - but staying motivated can be difficult.
Setting out to establish the right kind of motivation really makes a difference - so, for example, creating a list of motivational videos, speeches or stories is a great way to create a good mental attitude.
We all need a pep talk from time to time, but that isn’t the reason for creating the best kind of motivation. The process of hearing how people achieve their goals, understanding how they overcame the difficulties they experienced along the way and - above all - listening to the mindset of successful achievers can create the ‘mental conditioning’ that is called motivation.
If you’re a very visual person, creating a Pinterest board full of motivational pictures and quotes relating to your goal can be a great asset too.
Set some achievable goals. If you want to learn a foreign language you don’t expect to be a UN level translator within a year, or probably, ever! Similarly, it probably isn’t realistic to have a ‘beach body’ in six weeks, but the goal of losing 1 to 2 pounds a week until you have lost 10% of your body weight is entirely realistic and will bring you the health gains of improving your blood pressure and cholesterol, helping you sleep better, reducing anxiety and giving you a more positive body image.
Ensuring your goals are measurable means you’ll probably keep better track of them. A daily chart that you can simply tick is a great idea as it stops you procrastinating over filling in a huge log of activities.
Setting mini-goals along the way is essential for two reasons:
- Rewarding yourself for success is a way of maintaining motivation by reinforcing the mental conditioning that leads to continuing progress
- ‘Process goals’, such as eating five servings of fruit and vegetables every day or taking exercise three times a week, are much more productive than ‘outcome goals’ like getting down to our wedding day weight because they change our behaviour, hopefully permanently.
Coping with setbacks
We all experience bad days and difficult moments, but good motivation is what helps us overcome those negative times. There are three great ways to deal with setbacks:
- Remind yourself of your goals - the big long-term ones, the process goals and the mini-goals in between and look at the progress you’ve made. Check back and count all the days you did great work towards your goal and you’ll find your motivation starts to rise again.
- Cut yourself some slack - life doesn’t always cooperate with our dreams: illness, family problems, work or study issues or even the weather can get in the way of our plan. This is the time to take a break and have some fun, rather than dwelling in our ‘failure’ or ‘inadequacy’ which, if focused on too much, will drain our motivation and kill our enthusiasm for change.
- Focus on your grit - overcoming adversity is a sign that you’re achieving something beyond even the greatest goal, you’re becoming somebody with a stronger, more flexible mindset and a deeper and richer character. Seeing setbacks as tools to hone your great new personality traits turns them from problems to lessons, and allows you to recognize your growth.