How to Motivate Yourself

In a world of near constant electronic distraction, economic uncertainty and ever accessible, increasingly decadent junk food, it can be difficult to maintain the level of motivation needed to make major life changes. But with some measured thinking and persistence, even the loftiest goal is attainable.

Set Achievable Goals

If you haven’t set foot in gym in years and have acquired some unhealthy eating habits, it’s not realistic to think that you can lose a large amount of body fat in the space of the month. However, if make a point to always take the stairs, get in a decent workout every other day and add salads to your diet, you’ll start seeing and feeling the results of a more active lifestyle. As the Mayo Clinic wrote, there’s nothing to gain by setting yourself up to fail with a bunch of unrealistic expectations. 

Get Some Help

If you simply can’t manage to balance your household budget, make an appointment with a financial planner. If you have a hard time sticking to your work routine, consult with a fitness trainer. If find your cravings for cigarettes or alcohol are unbearable, join a support group. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. Sometimes, a fresh perspective on a problem or the support of others going through the same ordeal is exactly what you need to achieve your goals.

Forgive Yourself

If you make a promise to yourself that you won’t eat any sweets for 30 days and then, on Day 15, you slip because your boss brought some of your favorite pastries to the office to celebrate the competition of a project, you may feel like giving up. The fact of the matter is that everybody makes mistakes, and punishing yourself for being human doesn’t do any good. The day after you succumb to the temptations of the cronut, just start again and you’ll surpass your previous record in no time.

Reward Yourself

If you eat right and get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, it’s okay that one donut on the weekend. If you budget properly and have a robust savings account, you can allow yourself one indulgent purchase. As the Mayo Clinic has explained, outlined delaying gratification as opposed to denying it outright, helps us maintain self-control. For example, if you know that your cheat day is Saturday, that knowledge will help you resist the impulse to visit that fantastic-smelling new bakery on Tuesday.

Go Digital

If you’re finding it tedious to keep track of how many days you’ve gone without drinking a soda, or how many times you’ve gone to the gym this month, download an app to do the busy work for you. Applications like 21Habit and Beeminder not only keep track of achievement milestones, but they also provide financial incentives to keep you on the straight and narrow. Balanced helps users stay focused by giving them regular reminders about what tasks they need to complete and celebrating each victory with bursts of positive reinforcement. And these are only some of the many programs that have given millions of people the structure and clarity needed to make their aspirations into realities.