Motivation: How to Get It and Keep It

Posted on


I often find that by reviewing the actual definitions – and even the origins – of words, I gain a much better understanding of their meaning. Today, in writing about motivation, I went to the dictionary and found the following: Motivation – providing with a reason to act in a certain way; something that motivates, an inducement or incentive. These explanations can help us answer some critical questions either or not we want to set certain goals for our lives:

1. What would be my primary reason for setting a particular goal?

2. What is the incentive for doing that which would take to accomplish that goal or goals?

3. How will I stay on-track if I bump up against obstacles on my path?

Some goals are easy and do not require any motivation. They are more like "to-dos": going to the grocery store or calling a friend. Then we have the larger objectives: changing careers, losing weight, or perhaps going back to school. These steps require more thought and commitment. They also contain more possibilities for stopping or quitting. It is when we tackle the greater changes that motivation plays a huge role in whether we succeed or not.

4 Keys to Staying Motivated

If you are considering setting a big goal for yourself, these steps will help you stay motivated and on-track:

1. First and foremost, be very, very clear about your REASON for wanting this goal. I always believe in setting "authentic" goals; that is, you are doing it for a reason that resonates with you and not because someone tells you to do it. Ask yourself why this change is important to you and what will it mean for your future. If changing careers, why this direction and what will you gain in the end (more satisfaction, more money, more opportunities). If you want to lose a lot of weight, ask yourself why this is important to you (better health, look and feel better, role model for others).

Until you get very clear on your reason for doing something, it will be difficult to stay motivated when the going gets tough.

2. Set small, achievable goals as you move towards what you absolutely want. It’;s hard to stay motivated when we feel like we’;re failing. Building our confidence and seeing results help keep us excited and moving forward. If you want to lose 50 pounds, start by setting a goal of losing 5 pounds a month. If you do better, great! As you meet or exceed each smaller goal, you’;ll have the motivation to make it to the end.

3. Keep the end result in front of you. Few of us can set big goals and not hit "walls." In my workshops, participants create "vision boards" of what they want. I suggest they keep their boards where they can see them, reminding them of their goals. As you move towards that new career or weight loss, imagine the "new" you. Keep a picture (literally or figuratively) of how you will look and feel once you accomplish your goal.

4. Build a support network around you. Left to our own devices, motivation is not always easy. We get tired, "fall off the wagon," revert to old unsuccessful habits, became discouraged. When you surround yourself with trusted people who know you and your goal, they can be the life vest that keeps you afloat when you feel like you’;re drowning. Let them in. Tell them when you want to stop or need support. Be open to their encouragement. Having a team (of one or many) makes the journey easier and more enjoyable.


I’;ve seen so many people say that they want to change their lives, yet, when push comes to shove, they can not or will not do what it takes to make those changes. Perhaps they were not authentic, from-the-heart goals. Perhaps they were not ready to make the effort. Or, perhaps they had trouble staying motivated. Do yourself a favor: when considering a major life change, give it much thought, check-in with "gut" to ensure it’;s what you really want, and be as clear as possible as to WHY this is important to you. Only then will you have the tools necessary to stay on track towards success!