By Suzanne Leyden, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Coach and owner of The WellNow Co.
Establishing your goals is key to success, but how do we stay motivated and succeed to achieve these goals? This is such a common pain area for people trying to make changes in their life, regardless of the area they are working on – health, nutrition, lifestyle, career, fitness. Any gym can attest to that with the sign-up levels in January being through the roof, and by June the attendance rates dropping out. So, assuming the goals are set, let’s explore motivation in a little more detail. These 5 ways to stay motivated and succeed with your goals will help you to stay on track and achieve whatever you want to.
1. Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation
There are two key types of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic is the external factors that feed into motivation – for instance, pay for your job, a promotion, the gold medal at the end of the race, the meal at the end of cooking…. you get the idea! These are all good for motivation and really help with achieving goals, but can often fall short of setting you up for 100% success. Intrinsic motivation on the other hand are all the internal factors that motivate us. We need to look inward to establish what these are. You must really love and get joy from your job to be successful at carrying it out, you must want to run to get up at 6am and hit the road – new trainers and a 10k run in three weeks may not be enough. And what happens after the 10k run, do you need to find another race? Are you enjoying running? Why are you running? Is it for long term health benefits? Is it for increased energy? Is it for the aesthetic benefits it brings? Is it a combination of all of these? Is it a part of a bigger picture? Only you can answer these questions and everyone will answer them differently.
2. Establishing what works for you
What we are attempting to do is set our goals and stick to them. To begin with we can examine a few elements, which you may already know the answer to. What motivates you now? Is there something that you previously thought was a difficult thing to achieve but you now do it without thinking and with success? What has worked for you in the past? Have you achieved something that you had to commit to for a long period of time? What common elements are there with these things? What are your strengths that stand out when it comes to completing difficult challenges? Look at your positive attributes that you can use to achieve things and recognise them, and congratulate yourself on them.
3. Your Vision
Setting a vision is a really effective tool for motivation and goal setting. This can be part of your self-exploration at the goal setting stage and is such a powerful tool when looking to stay motivated. We want to know what we are working towards, so spending time outdoors with your friends and family might be a vision you come up with for yourself. When you are struggling to peel yourself off the couch to go for a walk or run you can use this vision to help motivate you to that vision of living your best life.
4. Your Goals
Your goals in themselves will act as motivators. And if set out correctly and broken down into SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound) action steps will help you stay motivated. Using your vision and other coaching tools can help you to establish what these goals might be. For instance, a lot of people feel they want to lose weight. This very often is not their actual goal when they do some self-exploration. They may find that they need more balance in their life, they need more fun and leisure and connection. So, by arranging active, fun things to do with friends may make them happier in themselves and take the focus off weight being an issue. They may inadvertently get in better shape by setting these positive goals for themselves too.
5. Support & Accountability
We are all ultimately the only person that we are accountable to. However, introducing change in our lives can be challenging when we are already busy working and living. This is when getting the support of those people close to us can really make the difference – partner, family, friends or colleagues are ideal candidates. You can share elements or all of what you are setting out to achieve and explain how they can help you, “if I say I’m going for a run every Tuesday and Thursday evening, don’t let me sit watching TV eating biscuits, encourage me to go out if I’m struggling”. Once they have an idea of how they can be useful and why, they will generally really buy into your plan and help and encourage you to succeed and stay on track.
Success breeds success
Once you start succeeding in the smaller goals then this will motivate you in itself. So, go for the low hanging fruit in terms of what you can achieve. This is all about feeling positive and staying positive. Keep the goals realistic and watch yourself flourish.
As health coaches, these are things we work on with individuals and groups to really help them succeed with the goals that they want to achieve for themselves. There are many tools and techniques that work well to pull this together for the individual to live their best life.