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Motivation: Top 10 tips to get you going!

A woman of medium skin tone does barbell lunges using motivation to help her keep going.
Content Editor & Certified Trainer
Lisa studied journalism and is a certified fitness and health trainer, as well as a meditation coach! She spent many years working for different lifestyle and fitness magazines, and she writes articles for us on the topics of working out, fitness, lifestyle and mind.

Finally decided to get started with a fitness plan, but still looking for that spark to get up and go? In this article we’ll build up your formula for success: Create the right incentives, formulate goals, and achieve them through motivation.

What is Motivation?

On Monday morning, when your alarm clock goes off extra early, it’s never there. And even on Sundays, when you have plenty of time to make the choice between the gym and the couch, it’s usually nowhere to be found: yep, we’re talking about motivation.

Motivation is the sum of all conscious and unconscious reasons for you to take a particular action, also called motives. At its core, motivation is about our drive to do something. Other synonyms for the term include incentive, impulse, or simply desire.

There’s a motivator behind every decision and action: going to the gym to build up muscles; following a nutrition plan to lose weight; or changing your diet to improve your health. We all have personal goals like these and you need a solid boost of motivation to reach them.

Need some extra motivation? Our community can help! No matter what goal you’re pursuing, we’re here to help you learn how to integrate healthy habits into your everyday life. #mynewnormal provides a steady supply of tips and inspiration to help motivate you to keep going with your healthy lifestyle. There’s no time like the present!

Before we get into action plans and tips on how to reach your concrete goals, we’ll learn about some concepts, starting with the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

What is intrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation means that your impulses for a decision or a certain project come from within yourself. You’re not chasing likes on Instagram or focusing on what others think, you’re doing the things you like.

To feel this intrinsic motivation, you have to ask yourself what you personally enjoy and what drives you. For example, if you’re only going to the gym because your friends have memberships, even though you’d rather be jogging, that motivation isn’t really coming from you. If you start following your inner impulse towards cardio, then you’ll find it’s intrinsic motivation that’s moving you.

What is extrinsic motivation?

The opposite of intrinsic motivation is extrinsic motivation, meaning that you get incentives for your decisions and actions from the outside: for example, the recognition of others, comparisons on social media, financial reasons or a doctor’s advice.

If you start exercising or eating a vegan diet because that’s what one of the people you follow on Instagram does (or because that’s what you want your Instagram to look like!), your motivator is extrinsic.  

Why Is Motivation Important?

Your gym bag is packed and ready to go, but suddenly your bed seems just so incredibly comfortable. And besides, it’s raining and you’ll get wet. Without the necessary motivation, you’ll definitely stay in bed in the morning. You’ve given in to your inner slacker.

This inner slacker lives in your brain between the “willing” brain area in the front left and the right rear region that controls your behavior. The signals from your will that say get up and go can’t get through the slacker – and you find the snooze button instead of going to the gym.

Your inner slacker means well, because your brain wants to protect you. Since forever, humans have been convinced that all changes mean danger at first. Well-worn patterns, i.e. the habits you usually follow, are safe.

Replacing meat with tofu is still unusual for many of us and is usually also associated with a taste that’s not so great. A change in diet could be “dangerous,” so your brain tries to put a stop to it. In order to create a positive attitude towards change, you’re going to need a strong, persuasive motivator.

Exercise and Weight Loss: Formulate your goals the right way

If you want to change something in your life, you’ll need some motivation. But you won’t get very far with just a resolution that lacks focus like “I want to lose weight” or “I want to exercise more.”

How do you make goals that boost your motivation? It’s simple! Just use the “SMART formula,” a method that originated in project management.

The SMART Formula as your foundation for motivations 

SMART stands for specific, measurable, accepted, realistic, and time-bound.

It means that your goal must be clear, verifiable, and measurable. Otherwise you may be doomed to failure before you even begin to improve.

Two examples:

  1. “I want to be able to do a chin-up in three months. I will go to the gym three times a week and follow a training plan.”
  2. “In six months I’d like to lose five kilos. I’m going to have a nutrition plan drawn up and follow it.”

In both cases your goal is specific with clear steps. At the same time, it’s realistic to follow these steps and thereby reach your goal. Furthermore, the goal is measurable and time-bound: After three or six months, you can check how many chin-ups you can do or how many kilos you have lost. Finally, your goal is accepted as long as you’re fully behind it.

Tip: It can help to find smaller things to commit yourself to and not focus on your final results right away. Losing one kilo in a month doesn’t sound as crazy as losing five kilos in half a year.

Once you’ve formulated your SMART goal or several smaller ones, the foundation for your motivation is established. Now it can grow and push you along your personal path.

10 ingenious motivation tips 

Want to learn some tricks to keep you motivated? Here are ten tried and tested ways to achieve your personal goals, deal with setbacks, and establish a healthy lifestyle.

1. Identify Your Motivators

Be honest with yourself about what drives you and what really makes you happy. Your goal is to lose weight through exercise, but jogging just isn’t your thing? You probably won’t learn to love it after your hundredth run. Try out some different things and find a form of exercise you like.

Make a list of your biggest motivators: for example, if they include socializing and time in nature, outdoor exercise in a group, like a boot camp, could be the right thing for you.

Your motivators can change over time – stay flexible and call your routine into question regularly! Variety may be one of your motivators.

2.  Recognize What Demotivates You

Identifying your drivers is just as important as finding out what’s demotivating you. Find your potential stumbling blocks – then you have the chance to get them out of the way in time.

Your goal is to eat vegan, but you already know that shopping and cooking is going to get annoying? Learn about some alternatives: meal-kit delivery, vegetable box subscriptions, meal prep – be inventive! Make a list of all possible obstacles and find appropriate solutions.

3. Create Routines

Having the freedom to reinvent yourself every day and experiment with recipes and workouts is nice, but it can also get tiring. Routines, on the other hand, make life easier. If you have a goal in mind, it helps to plan out and focus on the steps along the way.

One simple solution, for example, is a nutrition and fitness plan. You can find plenty of inspiration for that on our free workout page.

Find fixed times to cook or work out and stick to them. They say that it takes 30 days for a new routine to become a habit. So don’t give up too soon if you have a couple of setbacks.

4. Reward Yourself

The thought of treating yourself to something you like after your work is done can be extremely motivating. Give yourself a present for completing intermediate steps – for example with your favorite protein bar after a high-intensity workout or a new pair of running shoes after a marathon.

A photo from above of foodspring's selection of energy, protein and paleo bars. A delicious snack can be a great motivation to hit your goals!
©foodspring

Sometimes you just have to trick your brain into getting to the lifestyle you want.

5. Visualize Your Goal

Make yourself aware, again and again, of why you have chosen this path, why you want to establish this one healthy habit in your daily life or get rid of a bad one.

Imagine how you’ll feel once you’ve reached your goal. Focus on the many positive aspects in each step as well – feeling better in your body for example, less back pain, more self-confidence, a clear conscience or reducing the suffering of animals.

Improve your positive attitude by giving yourself pep talks: If you’re feeling low-energy on a training day, don’t say “Today will be a disaster,” but focus on “Let’s see how many squats I can manage anyway” instead.

Tip: Find a motivational quote to save as your phone wallpaper for an extra boost when you’re down.

6. Stay Committed

Plan all appointments around your personal goal, including workouts, shopping, and meal prep, just as precisely as you would doctor’s visits or meetings. Find the time to prep in advance as well: Pack your gym bag the evening before or write out a shopping list.

Another helpful trick: Tell the people around you about your plans: If you want to go to the gym before work, talk to your co-workers about it. That’ll make giving excuses even more difficult.

7. Find a Community

Get into a group where you can learn new ideas, share successes, and get recognition for meeting your goals. Finding a community of like-minded people who also want to improve, and, in the best case scenario, have already managed to get to the goal that you want to reach can really motivate you.

8. Relax

There will always be moments when you feel anything but motivated. That’s when listlessness, stress, and sulking will take over. This is completely normal and shouldn’t keep you from heading toward your goal. The occasional cheat day or skipped workout won’t ruin your progress. Forgive yourself for little mistakes!

If you’re experiencing acute listlessness, you may be able to improve your state of being by tightening both your hands into fists or even tensing up your whole body for 30 seconds and then letting go. These negative feelings can actually be dispelled this way – and then you’re back on track.

9. Stay Realistic

Just like your overall goal, your intermediate steps should be ambitious, but feasible and therefore realistic. It doesn’t help you much if you think you’ll get to work out five times a week, even though you don’t have the time. You’ll just get frustrated because you failed.

If your tasks are too big or complex, it’s hard to focus and you may be tempted to procrastinate. Divide up your goals a little smaller and you can still adjust your resolutions later.

10. Record Your Progress

Just like visualizing your goal regularly, it also helps to visualize your “old” self. Record your progress with before-and-after photos, for example.

Take a photo of yourself at the start of your personal journey and take it again every six weeks. This helps make your successes visible.

You might also be interested in this: Expert shares top 9 tips for more motivation

The Best Motivational Quotes

Quotes from Celebrities and Athletes

  • Always work hard and have fun in what you do, because I think that’s when you’re more successful. You have to choose to do it. (Simone Biles)
  • When I feel tired, I just think about how great I will feel once I finally reach my goal (Michael Phelps)
  • Just believe in yourself. Even if you don’t, pretend that you do and at some point you will. (Serena Williams)
  • Easy is not an option… No days off… Never quit… Be fearless… Talent you have naturally… Skill is only developed by hours and hours of work. (Usain Bolt)
  • Be humble. Be hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room. (Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson)
  • Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen. (Michael Jordan)
  • I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion!” (Muhammad Ali)
  • If you give your all, you can’t blame yourself! (Dirk Nowitzki)
  • You can have results or excuses. Not both. (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
  • If you only ever give 90% in training then you will only ever give 90% when it matters. (Michael Owen)
  • If you always put a limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. (Bruce Lee)
  • If our motivation is strong and healing, we can do anything. (Dalai Lama)
  • When you take risks, you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important. (Ellen DeGeneres)
  • The goal is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self. (Dalai Lama)
  • What I need is someone who will make me do what I can. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Exercise: Quotes to Get You Going

  • Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities.
  • Don’t stop when you’re tired. Stop when you’re done!
  • To win, you have to believe in yourself. No one else can do that for you.
  • It won’t get easier, but you’ll get stronger.
  • If it was easy, everyone would do it.
  • It’s not your body that lets you down, it’s your mind.
  • Always remember why you started.
  • Be stronger than your strongest excuse.
  • Hang in there, success doesn’t happen overnight.
  • Stop dreaming, start doing!
  • The right time to get started is always now.

Conclusion

  • Motivation is made up of our reasons (motivators) for making a decision or taking action.
  • Intrinsic motivation is a drive that you only get from within and is independent of external influences.
  • Extrinsic motivation is when your drive to do something comes from the outside.
  • Motivation is a basic prerequisite for any form of change in life.
  • The foundation of motivation is a realistic goal that is time-bound, measurable, as specific as possible, and accepted.
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