How to motivate yourself to reach your goals

motivate yourself

How to motivate yourself.
Image: LuMaxArt/ Resource:

“Setting goals” is part of how to motivate yourself, but it isn’t enough. You must define action plans to ensure that your objectives are attained – and you must also execute these action plans.

I am sure that you are familiar with this: The implementation and stamina is the tough part – especially when changing your own habits.

Motivate yourself to become more efficient!

Let’s assume you need to be more efficient. For this reason, you have decided to limit yourself to checking your emails only twice a day. You want to focus on the important issues and not be constantly distracted by insignificant emails. You want to prevent email overload. That is a great intention. You know why you want to do it. You’re intrinsically motivated.

You are full of energy in the first few days and vigorously stick to your own rule: You read your emails only twice a day: once in the morning around 11:00 a.m., and then again in the afternoon around 5:00 p.m.

The email software is shut down for the rest of the day. Terrific. You are getting much more work done during the first week, and are focusing on the actually important issues.

And now it gets tough!

But you cannot stick with it. You cannot resist after the weekend: You have barely entered the office, and the email software is up and running: All you want is to take a quick look at what came in over the weekend. – That’s unfortunate. You did not stick by your own rule.

The next day, you open your email software at 11:00 a.m., but don’t close it after you have read your emails. You’re waiting for an important email from your employee. He promised to send you the presentation for tomorrow’s meeting. And once more, you fail to stick by your own rule.

You can probably guess the rest: After no more than three weeks, everything is back to usual. Your email software is constantly running, you immediately read every incoming email, and your efficiency is back to rock bottom. You are back to focusing on a myriad of details in the operational part of the business. This is unfortunate! Motivate yourself failed.

To motivate yourself is difficult?

Why is it so difficult to break one’s own habits? For example, why don’t New Year’s resolutions typically survive past the second week?

The reason can be found in one’s own willpower. Almost no one can withstand it for more than 1-2 weeks. But a minimum of 4-6 weeks are needed to form a new habit. Some even say it takes more than 60 days.

What can you do to motivate yourself?

Before I reveal the solution for this problem, I want you to think about the following situation: What would happen if you knew that every time you violated your resolution,

• $ 1,000 are automatically deducted from your account


• Someone would hand you a resounding slap in the face.

Would that be helpful? This might just work, right? Avoiding the pain would be a decent motivator to stick to one’s own rule. This would even work when your own willpower begins to fail you.

And now think about the following: What would happen, if every day that you stuck with your own rule, someone

• would give you $ 1,000 as a gift


• you would be surprised with your favorite meal, wine or dessert in the evening?

Would that be helpful? Here again: This would probably work for most people.

Change is driven by strong motivation!

People want to experience pleasure and avoid pain! What you need is something that triggers an emotion in you. If you have that, then you don’t need discipline. Declining willpower then no longer threatens your good intentions.

To implement your own intentions and motivate yourself over a period of several weeks, you can use this kind of extrinsic motivation: choose between the flight motivation or the goal motivation.

You can either penalize yourself if you didn’t stick with your intentions at the end of the day, or you can reward yourself. Neither the penalty, nor the reward has to be as drastic as the aforementioned examples. It is strictly up to you.

Pleasure or pain?

Psychologists will say that flight motivation is the better of the two to break a habit or doctrine. But to instill a new habit, the goal motivation is probably the better choice.

My recommendation: Simply experiment to find out what works for you and how to motivate yourself. I wish you lots of success and stamina with your good intentions. Here are 3 tips to help you:

3 Tips to stay motivated

1. Put it in writing!

You already know that objectives and action plans should always be recorded in writing. But also draw on your motivation yourself. Think about your motivations, and write these down in advance for each day.

An example for flight motivation:

If I leave my email software up and running, then I am not allowed to watch my favorite show tonight.

An example for goal motivation:

If I am successful in only reading my emails at 11:00 a.m. and at 4:00 p.m., then I can watch my favorite show tonight.

You may think this sounds trivial or immature. This may be so – but it works. Give it a try! You only need to rely on these motivations for the first 6 weeks. After that you will have become used to the new rule, and will use it automatically.

2. Have an accountability partner

It is very helpful to tell others, for instance your partner, about your intentions, motivators and also how you try to motivate yourself. This approach will help you to rigorously implement the reward or penalty.

Try to find someone who checks in on you time to time how you are doing with your goals. This can be a mentor, friend or even one of your employees. Just openly ask him or her if they would be willing to become your acountability partner.

3. Find a routine for yourself

Create a schedule that works for you, but consistency is key. It will become much easier, if you work at your best time. For instance: schedule your routine for the morning if you are a morning person.