What does motivation mean? How can you get and stay motivated? What does motivation have to do with happiness?
Let’s start with defining motivation. Motivation has been defined as a reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. Here are a couple of examples: a high school student wants to earn a scholarship to get into a very good and reputable university. Getting into a good and reputable university is the motivation. Here is another example, your sibling or best friend is getting married and you want to be in the best shape of your life for that wedding. Wedding in this case is the motivation.
Now how can you get and stay motivated? As you can see from the examples stated here, it is not too hard to get motivated, you get invited to a wedding and that gets you motivated to set a goal to get into the best shape of your life. You are a high school student and you really want to get into a good school, so you set a goal to work hard and get a scholarship. Not too hard! When we get to staying motivated is when we most likely will face some difficulties. You are all motivated to get the best shape of your life by the wedding time, so you wake up early the next morning and hit the gym, you eat a super healthy breakfast, you make a salad and take it to work for lunch, and you will even have a healthy dinner. This will go on for a week and then you start feeling fatigued and craving junk foods. You walk on the scale (the part that destroys everything), and you are not seeing the result that you were looking for. You are already tired, you have been working your butt off, and not seeing the results that you wanted is enough to kill your motivation. So what to do, what to do??? Same applies to the student.
Here are four things that you need to stay motivated:
- Set a meaningful and attainable goal. Define what the best shape of your life means to you. Does it mean that you need to fit into a certain dress size? Does it mean that you have to gain or lose some weight? After you have defined your goal, write it down. Now it is time to be realistic. If the wedding is in 3 months is it realistic to lose 10 dress sizes???? Or lose 100 lbs???? Most likely, no. So change your goal to something more realistic and attainable. Set your goal to get to two smaller dress sizes by the wedding or set your goal to lose 20 lbs by the wedding.
- Keep track of your progress. Now that you have a defined and reasonable goal, it is time to keep track of how well you are doing. Seeing progress and positive results are important factors for staying motivated. For the example above, keep track of your activities, what you eat and how you feel each day, especially after your exercise., take pictures of yourself and look back at them the days that you feel tired and you want to give up. These all will help you to keep motivated.
- Need self discipline. Motivation alone can make you start, to keep going you need self discipline. You need to push yourself to go beyond your potential. Motivation will help you to set a goal to wake up early in the morning and hit the gym, but you need discipline to actually wake up at 5am on a cold, dark and rainy morning to hit the gym.
- Take care of yourself. In anything that you do, whether you are trying to lose weight or get to a certain college or land your dream job, you need to take care of yourself. It is your body that fuels your mind. If your body is weak and tired, you won’t be able to push towards your goals. If you don’t fuel your body with enough and the right kinds of foods, you won’t have the energy to hit the gym or study. Get enough sleep. Study after study is showing how important quality sleep is for our body and mind and it is the last thing we think about, when we are planning our busy days.
What does motivation have to do with happiness? Motivation will help you set goals, that otherwise you wouldn’t. As I wrote in my previous blog post “setting goals and happiness”, goal setting, if done right, can help with happiness. In the example that we have been following in this post. You got motivated by the wedding, you set your goal to lose 2 dress sizes in 3 months, you have been tracking your process and every time you see positive progress you become happy. And just imagine the day that you actually put on the dress that you had your eyes on and it actually fits. Or the student who has been studying hard day and night and finally gets the scholarship and receives the acceptance letter from the college of her or his choice. These moments are priceless.
It is not too hard to get motivated, what is hard, is staying motivated. In order to stay motivated you need to set reasonable goals and keep track of your progress. You also need self discipline to keep you moving in the right direction. You better not forget to take care of yourself. You are the main reason for your goals, so don’t forget to take care of you.
Stay happy and healthy