"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." Vincent Van Gogh
"If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves." Thomas Alva Edison
"Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love." Brené Brown
What do all of these quotes have in common?
They're all about self-confidence and self-motivation, and today we’re going to talk about exactly that – how to motivate yourself.
One of the most difficult things we are challenged to do at various points in life, especially when navigating our way through periods of transition and transformation, is to motivate ourselves when we lack the support we need (or have become accustomed to having) from family, friends or other people we know and have relationship with.
Being your own cheerleader can be difficult if it's not something you're accustomed to doing, or if you're experiencing a particularly difficult set of circumstances.
But as with most things, it's not impossible. And sometimes in life, the only encouragement and motivation you'll receive is that which you provide yourself.
No matter how down, stressed, or alone you feel, you can achieve self-motivation. Sure, it’s always easier when you have a support system, but even without others to encourage you, you can go on, move forward, make progress.
You can learn how to self motivate yourself – all you need is you. And if you can learn to be your own cheerleader, you can change your entire life.
What is self motivation?
Before we talk about the different ways to motivate yourself, let's take a look at exactly what self-motivation is.
Simply put, self-motivation is the force that drives you to do things without the influence of other people, and regardless of the situation.
It is the force that will push you to succeed, even after failure.
It is the force that will drive you towards your goals, even when you feel like the entire world is against you.
And did you notice how we said “without the influence of other people?” This means that all you need is you!
But I want to be clear before we go further...
No man (or woman) is an island. Any successful person I've ever met or heard about has attained their success with the help of others!
Building relationships and partnerships, both personal and professional is an important key, no matter what you're involved in or attempting to achieve.
However, there can be points in life where, for whatever reason, you have little or no support from others for the direction in which you're going.
It's during these times that you have to know how to keep yourself motivated, so that you can continue to make progress. Got it?
Why is it important to find ways to motivate yourself?
• Self motivation drives us to succeed, to overcome, and to move forward in the face of adversity.
• Self motivation pushes you to constantly learn and grow, despite your current situation.
• Self motivation is an important key to success.
• It encourages you to heal and inspire yourself everyday.
• Self motivation teaches you that you are the leader of your own destiny.
In other words, self motivation is what drives you to succeed in life.
In circumstances where you lose hope, where you don’t have support, or where you just feel like giving up, it is self motivation that can keep pushing you forward.
And eventually, if you persist you will achieve success, and through success, you have the opportunity to achieve happiness.
What are the characteristics of a self motivated person?
When it comes to motivating yourself, there are some key characteristics that you should strive to achieve.
The difference between those who are self motivated and those who are not self motivated is that those who are self-motivated:
• See the bigger picture. They leave the past in the past, and they look forward to the future.
• Are extremely optimistic. They see the glass as half full, and when times are tough and challenging, they convince themselves that they can still fill that glass.
• Are confident and believe that they have the power to succeed.
• Are committed to life long learning, and accept that they are not a knower of all things. Those who are self-motivated can recognize and admit their failures, and use them to learn and grow.
• Are persistent and determined.
• Are able to rise above adversity.
• Engage in self reflection in an effort to recognize their strengths and weaknesses - and then use them to their advantage.
Can you learn how to motivate yourself?
Absolutely! Self motivation is a skill.
This means that we aren’t born as self-motivators.
We are either taught self-motivation, or we aren’t.
The good news about this is that because self-motivation is a skill, it can be learned - and it is never too late in life to teach yourself.
It will take time, it will take dedication, and it will take patience.
But with a little patience and practice, self motivation is a skill you can acquire.
So how do you motivate yourself?
Here Are 10 Ways to Motivate Yourself When You Don’t Have the Support You Need:
1) Recognize that the most important element to your success is you.
If you want to know how to motivate yourself, the first step is to recognize that you are the key.
As we said earlier, having a cheerleader by your side is helpful, but it’s not a necessity – you can succeed without one.
In the words of Mastin Kipp, “You have all you need within you to become the best version of yourself”.
2) Work on building your self-esteem
An important part of self-motivation is believing in yourself and your abilities.
But how are you ever going to believe this if you don’t have self esteem? You can say it, but you won’t ever achieve it if you don’t actually believe it. And in order to believe it, you need to work on your self confidence.
And once again, you’re in luck, because like self-motivation, self-esteem is something that you can learn. Here are some tips to help you do that:
• Be mindful. You can’t change things that you don’t recognize, so start becoming aware of your negative self talk.
As soon as you see yourself going down a path of negativity, act immediately to change your perspective.
Instead of thinking, “I can’t do it”, say “I can do it because of … (x, y and z)”.
Even if you don’t believe it at first, with practice over time your brain will eventually start to convince you that it’s true.
• Don’t believe everything you think.
Your thoughts are just thoughts. They’re not always true.
Just because your brain says you can’t, doesn’t mean you can’t.
Be conscious of your thought patterns, and start distinguishing between fact and fiction.
• Stop comparing yourself - you will always lose.
No matter who you are, there will always someone out there who is prettier, who is happier, who is wealthier, who has a better life.
Stop making comparisons and just focus on you.
• Focus on things that make you happy.
Surround yourself with people who make you happy, and remove people who bring negativity to your life.
• If necessary, speak to a professional.
We all have moments where we feel down on ourselves, but if this is a persistent factor in your life, it might be time to speak to a professional.
A counselor or psychologist can help you to pinpoint the reasons why you feel the way you feel, and can help you to look at yourself and your life objectively.
3) Recognize what your strongest motivators are
If you’re looking for ways to motivate yourself, you need to understand what your strongest motivators are.
There are two different types of motivation: Intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic motivators are those driven by passion.
When you are intrinsically motivated by something, you are doing it because you want to, because you enjoy it, or because you find it fulfilling.
Extrinsic motivators are those driven by reward.
When you are extrinsically motivated by something, you are doing it because you have to - not because you want to.
Imagine you work in a factory.
You hate your job, but you show up at work everyday anyways. Why?
Because you are extrinsically motivated to do so.
You don’t work because you want to, you work because you have to pay your bills. Now imagine you are a counselor.
You love going into work because you know that you are going to make a difference in someone’s life today.
Now you are intrinsically motivated.
You are going to work because you want to and because you are passionate about it.
Having said that, you might also have some extrinsic motivation as well.
Yes you love your job, but you also have bills to pay.
Now you are both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated.
Everyone is different, and everyone is motivated by different things.
When it comes to motivating yourself, different things may work at different times in your life.
The key is to tap into what motivates you and use it to your advantage.
If you’re not sure, make a list of the things that you do, and ask yourself, “how do you motivate yourself?”
What made you get out of bed this morning? Why did you go to work?
What motivated you to go to dinner with your friends?
The sooner you can learn what motivates you, the sooner you can start using it to your advantage.
4) Stay enthusiastic
When we set goals for ourselves, we’re often extremely enthusiastic about accomplishing that goal.
But shortly thereafter, the enthusiasm runs dry.
This is why, out of the majority of people that set New Years resolutions for themselves, only a small percentage actually follow through.
There are a million things that can make you lose enthusiasm - failures, road blocks, stress, fatigue, and so on and so forth.
But if you can regain your enthusiasm, you can convince yourself to continue moving forward.
You can do this by reminding yourself why you were enthusiastic in the first place. What were your initial motivations?
If you can remind yourself why you were motivated in the first place, you can re-ignite your desire again.
When motivating yourself and looking for ways to regain enthusiasm, it doesn’t hurt to make a vision board.
A vision board is a tool that many people use to help them focus on a specific life goal.
It often includes pictures, quotes, or other things related to your end goal.
For example, if your goal is to earn enough money to take a vacation, you might post pictures on your board of your ideal vacation destination.
Anytime you lose sight of your motivations for going to work, you can refer back to the board, regain excitement, and focus on new ways to motive yourself once again.
5) Set small, achievable goals
When it comes to motivating yourself, you want to set high expectations, with small achievable goals.
Yes, it’s okay to have big goals, in fact it's greatly beneficial, but you need to break those big goals down into smaller, more achievable goals.
Why? Because big goals can be overwhelming.
“I want to lose 60 pounds in 1 year” - that’s a huge goal.
Yes, it’s obtainable, but it sounds overwhelming.
And when we become overwhelmed, we run the risk of failing.
So how do you motivate yourself to accomplish such a massive goal? You break it down.
Instead of “I will lose 60 pounds in 1 year”, let’s try:
“I will lose 5 pounds a month for one year” or “I will lose 1.25 pounds a week for 1 year”.
As you can see, when we break the goal down it doesn’t sound quite as scary - it sounds more achievable.
In return, we’re more likely to conquer it.
6) Make your activities fun
This one is a no-brainer. If you want to be motivated, make your activities fun!
Extrinsic motivation is a great thing to have, but the best motivators are one’s that are intrinsic.
And fun is a very strong intrinsic motivator.
Want to lose weight but hate going to the gym?
Try a zumba or dance class instead.
Need to write a paper but have 100 other things you’d rather be doing?
Find a way to make a game out of your writing project.
Need to learn something new? Listen to a podcast, enroll in a video course or participate in a webinar or Facebook group where you can connect with others and be more engaged than if you simply read the information.
You can motivate yourself by finding ways to enjoy the things you have to do to reach your goals.
That way, even the tasks you least enjoy doing become more appealing and thus easier to do.
7) Work to build your optimism
When life gets tough, finding ways to motivate yourself can be difficult.
This is where developing optimism can prove beneficial.
By developing a more positive outlook, we can find a way to push ourselves and persevere when times are troublesome, or get back up and try again when we fail or falter.
But how can you stay optimistic during tough times?
• Learn from others - Inspiration for optimism is everywhere. You might not have it in your home or in your immediate surroundings, but you don’t have to go far to search for it. Athletes, concentration camp survivors, our favorite movie stars - they have all found hope in the face of adversity. And if you can listen to their stories, you can learn from them.
• Look for the positives of your situation.
• Exercise - Sitting around and overthinking never did anyone any good. Get out, move around, exercise, go for a walk - once our blood starts flowing, our happiness levels increase, and our negative self thoughts get replaced with more creative ones.
• Focus on your blessings.
• Stop exaggerating - In stressful times, it’s easy to over-exaggerate a problem. Stop doing this. It causes unnecessary stress. Remember to distinguish fact vs fiction.
8) Change your surroundings
If you’re feeling down, lonely, depressed, and unmotivated, try changing your surroundings.
When it comes to motivating yourself, a fresh outlook may be all that you need.
If laying in bed or sitting at your desk staring at a blank computer screen isn’t giving you the motivation you need (as if either of those would), try going for a walk, head to the local coffee shop, or spend some time at the lake or the beach.
Sometimes changing your surroundings helps to open up a new perspective, and that is all you need to change yours.
9) Join a group
If you ever feel alone, just remember that you’re not actually alone - unless you want to be.
If you don’t have a support system to help provide you a source of encouragement or motivation, go out and create your own.
Support groups are literally everywhere.
Just gone through a divorce?
There are support groups for that!
Recently lost your job?
There are resources for that.
Need to make a huge life decision?
There are coaches and counselors for that.
Need to get out and make new friends?
There are classes and events for that.
There are numerous ways to meet new people, and you’d be surprised at how many of them are going through the same thing as you.
Give new experiences a chance, and you could meet someone that needs your support for self-motivation too.
10) Forgive yourself and move on
We’ve been taking about how to motivate yourself, but one important key to self-motivation is knowing how to forgive yourself.
Learn to forgive yourself for your past mistakes, and for those you'll undoubtedly make in the future.
We're all human, and we all make mistakes.
What’s important isn’t the fact that you’ve made mistakes, but that you learn from those experiences, pick yourself up and move forward.
Self-motivation is a skill, and skills aren’t learned overnight.
They take time, practice and patience.
The point is that you should never feel that you can't accomplish what you envision.
You can; even when there's no one else to encourage you.
You can encourage yourself.
With the right motivation, belief in yourself and A LOT of hard work you can certainly succeed – whatever that vision of success is to you.
"Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. They just don't let these feelings stop them." T. Harv Eker
"It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." Sir Edmund Hillary
Best! I believe in you!
Kimberly Clay is the founder and creative force behind What She Say. She’s a business professional, writer and editor who’s been creating and managing digital content for nearly twenty years. Her work is now focused in the areas of self-improvement and personal development, and she is passionate about helping other individuals, especially women, to find a path for living their best life.