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This time last year I wrote a blogpost on 7 of the best ways to reflect on yourself! This is my most popular, most visited and most commented on blogpost with 1038 page visits to date! This blows my mind because I never envisaged that this many people would be interested in what I have to say! This post was born in place of New Year resolutions, during a time of personal reflection. Therefore continuing with the same theme, this year I am exploring the topic of self-motivation.
Am I qualified to write about self-motivation? Well, I’m not a life coach or a motivational speaker and I have no qualifications in the motivational or psychological field. However, day in and day out I have a role in helping to motivate people to get better. I motivate people to comply with their exercises and rehab and I motivate people to make lifestyle changes to keep them injury free. Therefore this blogpost stems from years of observing what drives different people with different personality traits and different restraints.
When writing about self-motivation I don’t want to regurgitate what many know about setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) goals, although don’t overlook the importance of this. Instead, as well as helping you to think about setting goals, I want to explore what excites people and what limits people from staying motivated and achieving their full potential.
‘Self-motivation takes many forms’
Setting yourself a goal or a challenge is a great way to enhance self-discovery and to boost self-esteem. If you wish to make a New Years resolution for the year ahead you need to have the self-motivation to succeed. The majority of people that make New Years resolutions do not follow through. Why is this? Why do people so often set themselves up to fall? Is a fear of failure stopping full potential from being reached? Does self-doubt creep in and throw us off the motivational track?
Let’s explore this further. Do you, like me have a head full of clutter and sprawling thoughts? Do you ever wonder if you’re good enough? And if so, good enough for who or what? Let me ask you a question; have you ever met someone and thought ‘you are not good enough’. I very much doubt it. You may have met people that you have not gelled with or even disliked but to have actually thought ‘you’re not good enough’ is highly unlikely. So why do we think it about ourselves?
In a world that tells you to ‘above all, be yourself’, do you think ‘who am I’? When we are told that the pathway to self-love and self-esteem comes through knowing yourself, does this leave you feeling confused? I know that I am fiercely loyal, I know I am honest and I know my own values. I also know that I am influenced by other people (sometimes I think too easily) and I am a people pleaser. But maybe this doesn’t mean that I am not being myself – this is just who I am! I also know that I continue to evolve as a person, which means my thoughts and feelings change over time!
Am I thinking too deeply now? Does too much thought actually do us any good? Who knows, but self-motivation and setting goals is a unique and personal journey that should not be undermined by self-doubt. Some may say ‘be happy with yourself, you are enough’. And whilst I believe this, I also think that regularly challenging yourself enhances self-development. Motivate yourself to dream, explore and discover.
In todays climate where way too many people are plagued by mental health issues, it may take every ounce of self-motivation just to get out of bed in the morning. And that’s ok. Self-motivation is not about putting undue pressure on yourself. It’s about taking steps, whether small or large in the direction that you wish to go. Having a plan, a goal or a vision of where you want to be and what you wish to achieve can be really empowering.
There is a fine line between self-motivation and putting too much pressure on yourself. This line must be trodden especially carefully if you suffer from mental health challenges. This is where there is a need to identify goals that allow for some flexibility from time to time.
If you have no idea of where to begin, you could consider goals such as seeking help and support to start on the path to managing your situation and recovery? Are there any diet and lifestyle changes that you would benefit from? Can you motivate yourself to reduce your screen time and have earlier nights? Are there any ‘crutches’ that you could give up such as nicotine and alcohol. If so, have you tried before? What can you change this time? Can you seek medical support?
This is also the time to imagine yourself achieving what you want. A vision of where you would like to be and how you would like to see yourself can be extremely powerful. Whilst I am no expert on mental health and nor do I profess to having any answers, my work has taught me that whatever your situation, imagining where you want to be and planning towards that can help to set your direction.
And what of the people that are successful, driven and self-motivated? What do they have in common? In my opinion it is not linked to money or intelligence. In fact, does privilege limit self-motivation? Yes, no, maybe? I think that resilience and perseverance are key qualities. I think that clear vision will definitely aid a journey of challenge and self-reliance.
Believe you are worthy and this is the first step on the road to self-motivation. Then consider the following steps to help you fulfil your dreams:
1. Clearly define your goal / goals
You may have a never-ending list of of goals or plans, or you may be staring at a blank page, struggling to think about what you would like to achieve both in the short and long-term. To help set a goal think about how you feel and what your vulnerabilities are? Is there anything you can do to strengthen your perspective? Do you feel lonely, overweight, unfit, in debt? These are common traits that people struggle with and we can easily get lost in a perpetual of cycle of negative thoughts, time restraints and lack of self-belief.
However, you can use your vulnerabilities to empower you. How can you really live your life to the full, rather than just existing day-to-day? Are there any steps you can take towards becoming fitter, healthier, financially accountable or greener and more climate aware? Write these steps down and start to construct a realistic goal.
If you are still unsure, consider whether you are you thankful to someone or something? Do you want to raise awareness or funds for a charity or a good cause? Motivating yourself has no boundaries and no limits.
When you have a vague idea of what you would like to achieve, try to refine your goal. Try not to make it too general and be realistic with what you can achieve in a given period of time. Make the steps simple. Consider drafting a schedule or using a journal to help plan the steps that you will need to take for success. If you’re looking for a great tool to help with planning take a look at this one. Emma, a fellow mountain mummy has developed both a fantastic downloadable planner and a paperback book to help with goal setting and focus. And if you are struggling with goal setting and self belief, check out her website.
Personally I need to set goals to motivate myself. I need a target to aim for and a measurable one. For example, years ago when my French wasn’t progressing very quickly, I realized that I needed to challenge myself. So I signed up for a French A-level and did a home study course for the AS exam.
Studying at home required a lot of self-motivation to find the time and energy to learn. However I had regular assignments to complete that helped me to stay on track. I was completely taken outside of my comfort zone when it was exam time. I sat in an exam hall full of teenagers who were staring in wonder at me, a fully grown adult choosing to sit an exam that they would rather not have do! But it helped me to accelerate my learning and as I said in 7 of the best ways to reflect on yourself, big things start from small places.
2. Recognise your motive
Think of the reason you want to succeed. What is the driving force behind your goal? For example, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the passing of my mother in-law, my husband ran a marathon. Knowing he was running in his mothers memory and to raise money for the Motor Neurones Association meant that he was never going to fail. He also had the goal of increasing his fitness and stamina, which he achieved with his week to week training.
However, if your motive does not come from within and you do not have self-drive, achieving your goals is going to be a lot harder. For example, if your goal is driven by someone else or you are doing it to impress someone else, what is going to keep you going when times are tough? By all means, look for inspiration from others, but don’t compare yourself to other people. You are you and you are unique.
On the flip side, if you are driven by a huge desire, are your aspirations realistic? Would you be better to break your goal down into stages with realistic time measures. Climbing a mountain takes time and careful planning.
3. Have an action plan
Whilst there is no way to fast track motivation, having a plan can give you a sense of taking control. Break your goals down so you have a clear journey mapped out ahead of you. Cleary identify what you will need to do to reach your goal. For example, if your goal is fitness related, do you have a realistic weekly programme of the steps you will need to take? Is it easy to factor this into your daily and weekly routine? What difficulties may you encounter and how can you overcome these?
Within your action plan consider whether you have the right conditions to thrive? Have you got a good balance of family, work and lifestyle factors? Is your environment optimal to help you to nourish your self-motivation? Take time to invest in the process. Stop procrastinating and start planning.
Try to use your own thoughts and behaviors to get organised. Evaluate what you want to accomplish and educate yourself. Knowledge is power and can set you in the right direction. If my motivation wanes at work, I book myself on a professional development course and this usually reignites my passion for my job. Don’t underestimate the value of networking and learning from others.
4. Identify what’s holding you back.
What’s stopping you from motivating yourself to dream, plan and succeed? Is it a question of time or money? Are your goals realistic? If fatigue or medical issues are stopping you fulfilling your goals, is there anything you can do about this? Perhaps you don’t have the correct skills for what you wish to achieve? Perhaps it is a question of lacking in confidence or the self-worth to go for something? Or importantly do you have self-limiting beliefs? Do you really believe that you can motivate yourself to achieve your goal?
This is where you need to be resourceful and look for inspiration. Dig deep. Find the self-motivation to jump the hurdles. Make a plan and stick to it. As I mentioned previously, it is very important to have or to create the right environment to flourish. Be proactive and make the changes that you need to succeed.
Don’t try and be perfect
There is no such thing! You can strive for perfection but allow for mistakes, errors and deviation. Don’t give up just because things aren’t perfectly on track. And don’t avoid getting started because you can’t see a way to meet or exceed your own expectations. You can be good enough without being perfect. Life pressures mean that our journeys are never straight forward, but this allows us to evolve and adapt.
Errors are made so that we can learn and grow. Encourage yourself to continue to make progress and don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a deadline or a training session. Don’t overwhelm yourself and allow for deviations at times. Sometimes goals are achieved by taking a longer route to the summit. Use your mistakes to make a positive difference. If you lose momentum towards your goal, reevaluate why it is your are striving for it.
Create Empowering Beliefs
Do you think you are not good enough to achieve what you desire? If so, the chance of success is low. Our beliefs are generally created through our experiences and our influences. If you have not succeeded in something that you have desired before, then do you need to change something to make it work and make it happen for you. How can you turn your negative self-beliefs into positive ones?
When my husband was training to be a ski instructor, he struggled to complete his final exams. Unfortunately, a cycle of training, testing and failure meant he had (often subconsciously) entered a negative cycle which impounded his lack of success. When he did pass his exams he’d changed a lot. He gave up drinking, he lost 10kg and he changed the way he prepared physically. This had an empowering effect and led to highly positive mental gains. He knew what his goal was but he had to rethink and replan the route to get there.
Think how good you feel when you do achieve something and use that positive energy to drive yourself forwards. Focus on the rewarding aspects of attaining your goals, rather than on the struggles it will take to get there or the fear of failure. Challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone to help make things happen. Think of the benefits of achieving that goal and know that you are capable of success.
Accountability can help to increase your sense of responsibility. For example, coming to regular physiotherapy sessions helps my clients to stay accountable with their rehab. Knowing that they will be seeing me helps them stay on track. I know full well who has complied with their rehab and who hasn’t!
There are various different methods you can use for accountability. One way is to share your goals with friends, colleagues, family or coaches. Some people take to social media and whilst this may work for some, for others it creates too much pressure which makes the journey unenjoyable. You don’t need to publicise your goals if it will make you feel vulnerable. You could strive for a race, a target or an exam. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and allow your motivation to come from within.
For me, the clock is now ticking until I hit the big ’40’ and I have a burning desire to achieve something this year. I have the motivation, I have the drive and the time-frame……I just need the goal. My sister and I are putting our heads together to try and come up with a physical challenge that we can do together. We’d like to raise some money for Pregnancy sickness support who helped us both through our awful pregnancies with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. So watch this space.
Set your goals, empower yourself and go for it. Invest in yourself, believe in yourself and ignite that fire within. You are capable of more than you know.
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