Self-motivation is something we all struggle with at some point in our lives. It means being encouraged or driven by an internal desire to set value-based goals to commit to, move toward, and focus on. Self-motivation can be particularly difficult surrounding long-term goals i.e. improving mental health. Particularly in these cases, the question lies, how do I feel more motivated to engage in this and meet my goals?
Setting a Goal
- Remember the goal, not the means to the goal
- Set SMART Goals: as mentioned in a previous blog, it is important to make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For instance, instead of “I want to feel less anxious”, specify what that would look like for you, how you would measure that, over how many months this goal could take you, and how you plan to accomplish this goal. Also noteworthy, it is important that goals are self-set.
- Set incentives: Incentives are also known as “mini goals” to continue to help motivation. Uncertain incentives (if I study for 1 hour, I will play for 20 or 40 minutes of video games, randomly chosen) can be more motivation than certain or constant incentives (30 minutes)
- Build on intrinsic motivation: for instance, to motivate yourself to feel “less anxious” maybe you have broken down “self-care” as an important component in achieving this. Pursue beneficial and enjoyable activities (ie an exercise or hobby you enjoy) and not a means to another goal (i.e. to lose weight, you jog but you hate jogging or to feel less anxious, you go to a huge concert but hate concerts or huge crowds)
1: The middle issue: Motivation is typically high at the beginning and toward the end, but it is commonly more difficult to feel that in the middle. It can be helpful to try to keep the “middle” of the overall goal process short. For instance, instead of monthly goals, set weekly or even daily goals.
- Reflection: It can be easy to lose sight of the progress we have made along the journey to getting toward a goal. Reflect on your progress and achievements along the way!
- Emphasize realistic goal setting: setting too high of an expectation can decrease motivation.
Social Support: Can help increase motivation!
Social support can increase motivation. Others may also join in similar goals that you have, helping with motivation. Pursuing group goals can help cultivate accountability as well, for instance if “getting an A on the next test” is a goal, having set meeting times for a study group can cultivate that accountability and help reinforce internal motivation.