Man looking out over a view of mountains and forests with the Caption "20 Simple Ways to Get and Stay Motivated." for a blog post on how to get motivated.

20 Simple Ways You Get Motivated

It is Time to Get Motivated

Do you ever struggle with starting a workout, maintaining a diet plan, or studying for an exam?  It would seem that you need to get motivated.  Even if you don’t want to exercise, diet, or do some other task, but you know that you should or need to, you have a goal to improve.  These feelings that you have are pointing you toward your goal.  Your goal is something you want to accomplish or something you don’t want to happen. It is time to tap into that motivation.  Once you understand some basic psychology, you will be able to leverage that knowledge to create the habits that will propel you to reach and maintain your goals.  You will be able to use these skills in every area of your life.

What Motivates: Pleasure and Pain

The two basic motivators are Pleasure, giving you the emotion of Happiness, and Pain, leading to the feeling of Fear.  Fear is the emotion that is hard-wired into our “fight or flight” response.  If you can tap into your fight or flight response, and direct your actions toward your goals, you have successfully motivated yourself.  You will not need to harm yourself or cause actual pain to get motivated physically.  It is true that most people never change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain it takes to improve.  The truth is that the amount of pain to change is always less than the pain of staying the same.  Many of us will never try to change until we can no longer handle our current level of pain.  This story illustrates that principle well.

There was a young man walking down the street and happened to see an old man sitting on his porch. Next to the old man was his dog, who was whining and whimpering. The young man asked the old man “What’s wrong with your dog” The old man said, “He’s laying on a nail.” The young man asked, “Laying on a nail? Well, why doesn’t he get up?” The old man then replied, “It’s not hurting bad enough.”  Live Your Dreams by Les Brown

Get off the Nail

All we need to do to get off our nails is to get motivated. To motivate ourselves to change is to open our eyes to how much pain we are actually in or how much pain we will be in if we don’t change.  It is always easier to change today than it is to change tomorrow, but it is still easier to say we will change tomorrow and let tomorrow never come.  It is time to make a change today.  Once we make the change, we want to use pleasure and happiness to reinforce that change, through a reward system.  We are going to use a mini exercise right now to help you complete this task of finding your motivation.  

The Carrot or the Stick

If you are a leader, you have probably heard the analogy of using either the carrot or the stick.  The analogy is pretty degrading toward your subordinates since it makes them donkeys.  It does get the point across that you can encourage with either fear(pain) or happiness(pleasure) though.

Use fear and happiness to get through this article

First, we are going to define what your reward will be.  If you take action and accomplish the tasks below, then it is worthy of a prize.  For this exercise, the award should be pleasurable.  I recommend that you do something nice for someone you love since making someone else happy will also make you happy.  You can also do something selfish, but if it is something that you could do for hours and shouldn’t then set a time limit of 5-10 minutes.  Your reward could be playing a game, updating your status on Facebook, checking your friend’s updates, reading a book, watching some entertainment, or listening to music.  When it comes to physical exercise music can help you get motivated and will help you form habits.  Once you have decided on how you will reward yourself you can read on, not until then.

Define Some Pain

Now that you have established your reward (carrot) we are going to define some pain.  You are reading this for a reason. There is something you want to get motivated to do. Something terrible may happen if you never get motivated.  What if after reading this you never find your motivation to take action?  Imagine a picture in your mind of how bad it will be if you are never motivated to accomplish any of your goals.  Can you see yourself in your mind next year doing the same things you are doing now only you are older and even less motivated?  How about five years from now, going down the same path you’ve taken over and over again?

Use your imagination

Picture yourself one year older, now five years older, and now ten years older. Do you want to experience all of the pain and sorrow that you felt over the last years, not being motivated?  What do you think your peers will think then? Maybe the decisions you are making are so bad you might not even be around in a year or two if you don’t change. Do you want to fail that badly? The answer should be no so get off the nail NOW. Read on and earn your reward.

Well Done, You Made It

Good, you kept reading, that got a little morbid so good on you for getting this far. Most people have probably given up at this point.  You must be afraid to fail and even more afraid to have never tried. That is good; you are right where you should be. Now it is time to take action, and you will find things to keep you motivated.  Here is a two-step process to find the things that will maintain your motivation.  We will use the example of eating healthy and exercising, but you can use this same process for anything, some other cases are following a budget, improving your reading, practicing a sport, doing housework, or starting a business.  Make a goal to pick at least two hacks from step 1 and two hacks from step 2 and then give yourself that reward.

Step 1: Define Your Rewards System.

Choose as many of the rewards as you can that will help you get motivated.  If you are serious about this, you should write these down.  If I want to make sure I reread something I email it to myself, with the intent to reread it.  I don’t mark the email as “read” until I read it. That is a free personal accountability hack.  Here is a list to choose from but don’t limit yourself to these, if you know what positive reinforcement will work for you use it. Make sure you are rewarding yourself daily, every time you complete a workout or task you want to finish or show self-control and stop yourself from backsliding.

1. Music – Music is a great motivator for exercising.  Make a playlist of your favorite songs that have a fast beat and make you happy. The songs need a fast beat you could dance or run to.  Pick enough songs that your playlist is at least as long as you want to work out, and repeat the playlist for every workout.  Name the playlist “Motivation” and don’t listen to it unless you are working out.  The first song should be the song that will help you get motivated the most.  Choose one last song that will not be on the workout playlist.  The last song should make you feel the best. Listen to this song when you finish your workout as a reward and change it whenever you find a new favorite song.  The motivation playlist is used as the bell for Pavlov’s Dog, so that eventually when you hear the music, you will want to work out.  

2. Changing Your Music – You can change this playlist, but you should keep it until you are no longer motivated because you are sick of the songs.  The time it takes to get tired of the songs should be long enough to form good habits, and you will no longer need to restrict your music selection.

3. Food – Make sure it is something you enjoy and is acceptable in the rules of your diet of eating healthy.  An example is a fruit smoothie with protein powder or a post-workout shake.

4. Hot Shower or Bath –  Getting clean can be a reward, especially after a good workout so do it somewhere you can relax and enjoy it, most likely not at the gym, but maybe the gym shower is your happy place.

5. Play a Game – If you enjoy playing video games on your phone or computer, use it as a reward.  It will only be a reward if you limit the time you spend playing though.

6. Partner Up – If you can get a workout partner, do. Having a workout partner is one of the best ways to stay motivated.  You will push each other and learn from each other.  You will reach your goals together.  If you want a workout partner, make sure you tell the people you know that you are looking for a workout partner.  If the people you tell don’t want a partner, then ask them if they know anyone else who is looking.  Make sure your schedules and goals are compatible.

7. Build and Use a Support Group – Physical trainers are great, one of the best things about physical trainers is they will help you get motivated and keep you accountable.  Good friends will also keep you motivated and hold you accountable if you don’t want to pay a trainer.  What if one of your friends came up to you and said,

“I need your help, would you be in my support group? Could you help me stay accountable for the exercise and diet plan I am starting? I know, with your help, I will be able to stick with it.  It would be nice for you to celebrate with me when I succeed, and I need you to be disappointed if I fail.”

If your friend came to you with this request, I am sure you would support your friend and your friends will too.  You should have a calendar with your workout schedule. Share the calendar with your friends, and ask them to text or message you about your workout every day you have a workout scheduled.  If you don’t let them know how it went, they should be the kind of friends that would pry.  

8. Post on Social Media – You can build a support group on Social Media.  Post your goals on social media and your workout plan and ask your friends and followers to keep you accountable.  People want to share in people’s success.  If you post it, they will LIKE it.

9. Give Praise and Get Praise – You want to have a lot of cheerleaders, and be the best cheerleader.  Be the person who is praising others for pushing toward their goals, be sincere.  If you want sincere praise, give heartfelt praise.

10. Relax – Reward yourself with relaxation; this could be having a cup of coffee or other hot beverage, reading a book, or posts from one of your favorite bloggers.

11. Laugh – Watch, read or listen to something that will make you laugh.  Or spend time with people who you laugh with.

12. Meditate/Pray – This goes along with relaxation, calm yourself, meditate or pray.  There are many apps available to help remind you to meditate, breathe and relax.

13. Praise Yourself – Make eye contact with yourself in the mirror and smile. Tell yourself out loud, “good job.” If you push yourself and can do it sincerely, it will be very powerful. Even if you think that it is uncomfortable and weird and think that you are lying to yourself, it will still work. Just keep praising yourself. These are fake until you make moments. Praise yourself, believe it, and get motivated.  

14. Give Yourself a Trophy– If there is a purchase that you want to make and you can afford it, but you don’t think you deserve it or need it, then earn it. Make it a reward for reaching one of your goals. It will also serve as a reminder later of how you can reach your goals and will help you set and reach new goals.

15. Post Pictures Everywhere – Find some pictures that will keep you motivated and post them where you will see them. They will trigger you to take action.  If there was a picture of you when you were in better shape, then use that to start. Even better is an image of the body you want to have.  Another option is to use a picture of someone you would like to impress. If you work out at home, put these pictures of where you exercise.  If you go to the gym, put them in your car or gym bag.  Put them on your fridge or the inside of your cupboard doors. It can help you get some extra self-control, so you don’t overeat.

Wait!

Do you remember how you are going to reward yourself at the end of this article?  Get Motivated and Stay Motivated.  No, remember what you are trying to prevent, it is time to think about your fear.

Step 2: Define and Confront Your Fears.

To be motivated by fear you need to be reminded of what you fear. Sometimes finding what you fear can be easy. Other times, it is hard since we naturally don’t like to be afraid.  Fortunately, we can use many of the same techniques from our reward system also to motivate us by fear.

1. Post More Pictures – Find some pictures of what you had become or would become if you don’t get motivated to take action.  Post these pictures where you will see them if you are failing to take action.   For example, put a bunch of images of obese people in your fridge. It might seem strange, but it will also remind you to make better eating choices.

2. Build and Use a Support Group – Fear of not wanting to let down your support group can also motivate you. So a support group will give you positive motivation and negative motivation.  

3. Partner Up – If you picked a workout partner, keep each other accountable and motivated.  Give each other a hard time if they fail to show up for a workout.  Make them tell you when they will make it up.  Ask them to do the same for you. The fear of making them disappointed is motivating. Also, remember to give them support and encouragement to restart and make it up.

4. For Your Health – If you have a known health condition and you know it will be improved through diet and exercise then create reminders of that and use it as triggers to get motivated and to work out.  Who told you this bad news, put their picture or business card up as a reminder.

5. Give Criticism and Get Criticism – Think boot camp drill instructor.  You want to have people that keep you accountable.  Keep them accountable and criticize them for not following through and they will criticize you.  You should do this sparingly, and follow it up with encouragement and praise that you know they can overcome.  Know your audience; some people can’t take criticism at all. If you are that kind of person or your friends take criticism hard, do not use criticism at ALL.  

Conclusion:

It is almost time for that reward, remember that fear is a more powerful motivator than love.  You will run faster to get away from something you are scared of than you will run towards something that will make you happy.  Your positive motivators will have a more powerful impact on how fast you create the habits. Creating good habits and removing bad habits are very important.  I will be writing hacks on how to do that in the future.  Follow Me or check back here later.  If you learned something, share this article, someone else might learn something as well. If you are looking for more knowledge on controlling your own mind and body look here.

GET YOUR REWARD!!!

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