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4 Steps to Getting Motivated

Do you ever wake up in the morning and think to yourself, “It’s time to make a change?” Maybe you’d like to go back to school, land yourself that promotion, lose some weight, or just make time for a new hobby. If you’re like most of us, you may have put off doing something you’d really like to do. So how can you stop dreaming and start taking action? The key is getting–and staying–motivated. Follow these 4 steps and you could wake up to the life of your dreams.

What Is the Secret to Getting What You Want? Motivation.
Imagine that you’ve just bought a beautiful new car and are dying to get rolling down the road. You climb in, turn the key, and wait for your car’s powerful new engine to take off–but nothing happens. The car won’t budge. Then you realize: of course, it doesn’t have any gasoline.

In a way, your skills and talents are like a car. They can help you get from where you are to where you want to be. But even a Porsche won’t budge an inch if you don’t give it fuel. Similarly, you could have all the skills you need to achieve your dreams, but if you don’t fuel yourself regularly with the right motivation, you’ll find yourself stuck at a standstill.

Motivation is what arouses you to take action to reach your desired goal. So how can you get motivated each day? Follow these 5 steps to get your engine rolling and keep yourself cruising down the road towards your dreams.

Step 1: Visualize Your Goals
One of the best ways to get motivated is to visualize yourself achieving your goals. Not only does this remind you of what you really want, but it helps you see that you really could have it. According to Carol Dwek, a professor of psychology and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, people are more likely to reach their goals when they believe that they truly have the potential to succeed.

Try this technique: Each night before you go to bed, close your eyes and picture what you want your life to be like. Maybe you’re busy running your own business, or simply doing the work that you love each and every day. Then put more and more detail into the picture until you have reached your ultimate goal. See it like a movie in your mind with you as the lead actor or actress, heading for that happy ending.

Visualizing helps motivate you by building your confidence and getting you excited about what you can achieve. A new Stanford University study shows that excitement stimulates memory and learning. “Rather than simply reacting to the world, we preferentially remember what we care about or are excited by,” says researcher R. Alison Adcock.” Therefore, visualize your success and you’ll recall those positive thoughts as you work to reach your goals.

Step 2: Develop a Plan
Suppose you decided to build a new house, and you call in a contractor to help build it. You explain what you want the house to be like, and the contractor nods and says, “Ok, I have a general idea of how it should end up. I don’t need a plan.” You’d probably fire that contractor on the spot.

In life, though, most of us behave like that aimless contractor–we know how we want to end up, but we haven’t set out an ordered plan of how we’re going to get there. Set yourself up to succeed by working out a step-by-step plan to achieve your goals. You may need to do some research on how other people have achieved similar goals and then talk it through with family, friends, or a knowledgeable advisor.

It can help to include smaller goals or benchmarks in your plan, and give yourself a reward when you achieve these smaller milestones. For example, a recent study by Kaisen Consulting reports that a sense of accomplishment and recognition is a top motivator of workplace performance.

Step 3: Control Your Self-Talk
No matter how well you plan, you may get frustrated as you work to achieve your dreams. Unforeseen obstacles may pop up, or you may find some tasks more difficult than you expected. At these moments, you may tell yourself that what you want is impossible, and then put yourself down for even trying. If you spoke that way to someone else, he or she would probably head for the door and not talk to you again. So why talk to yourself that way?

Give yourself and your dreams the same courtesy and support you would give to your loved ones. Next time an obstacle turns up, talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend who needs to be motivated and inspired. A recent Yale study of people trying to lose weight found that 93% felt they had to “head off negative remarks,” and that 91% used positive self-talk. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, or achieve any other goal, you’re inside your own head 24 hours a day. It’s what you say to yourself that matters the most.

Step 4: Find a Goal Buddy
Even as we get close to achieving our dreams, some days our motivation may just seem to disappear. That’s why it’s great to have a “goal buddy” to help you, inspire you, and push you through those tough moments. A recent Marshfield Clinic and University of Wisconsin study has found that people are far more motivated to follow their exercise plan if they share their goals and with someone else who is monitoring their progress. �������Even though we feel confident that we can make complicated lifestyle changes, we need more support, says Dr. Jeff Shepich, Program Director at the Marshfield Clinic. “With monitoring and oversight, it’s better than if they did it on their own.”

Many people find it most useful to work with someone who’s trying to achieve a similar goal. For example, if you’re working to earn your degree, you can study with a classmate and encourage each other when classes are difficult. If you’d like to train for a marathon, find a running partner who will keep you going when those hills get steep. If you can’t find a goal buddy in person, it is often possible to find online forums or communities where people with similar goals can exchange advice and support.

Get Going Now!
Why sit there wondering why you just can’t seem to get started? Follow this 4-step plan for motivation and get cruising towards your dreams today!

Publish date: August 28, 2007