“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organised their energies around a goal.”

Elbert Hubbard

January is a time when many of us decide to make changes to our lives and set goals for the year.

When a goal comes from our own motivations rather than being set by someone else for us — we’re more likely to achieve it.

Staying motivated and preventing procrastination is hard.

So, how can you stay motivated?

Here are some ideas that you can implement to help you sustain motivation and meet your goals in 2019.

1. Apply The Goldilocks Principle

Everyone should be familiar with the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears from their childhood.

But what has it got to do with motivation?

The Goldilocks Principle states that “humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities”.

Tasks shouldn’t be too hard or too easy but just right to improve motivation and happiness.

This blend of happiness and peak performance is sometimes referred to as flow. Flow is what athletes and performers experience when they are “in the zone.”

It is the mental state you experience when you are so focused on the task at hand that the rest of the world fades away. In many ways, we could describe flow as your state of peak motivation.

Social psychologist and author, Gilbert Brim, says,

“One of the important sources of human happiness is working on tasks at a suitable level of difficulty, neither too hard nor too easy.”

James Clear uses playing tennis as an example of The Goldilocks Principle.

If you play against a 4-year old, you soon become bored. Play against Roger Federer and you’ll also lose interest just as quickly.

You need an opponent that is around the same level as you.


2. List the Reasons You Want to Accomplish the Goal

Goal setting

You might decide you want to finally give up smoking to be healthier and save money.

List all the reasons why you want to achieve your specific goal, whatever it may be.

When setting goals, it’s better to physically write it down as it helps your brain process the information better.

Studies have shown you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down as it forces you to be clear on what it is you want to accomplish.

Then use Tameday or a similar app to create a to-do list of tasks. This will improve your focus and reduce stress. At the end of a week, month, quarter or year you can look back on your done list and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Setting specific goals helps to increase our focus and sense of purpose in pursuing that goal.

The more time you take to plan out your goals, the better the results are likely to be.

SMART goals

  • S – specific, significant, stretching
  • M – measurable, meaningful, motivational
  • A – attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
  • R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
  • T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable


3. Break it Into Smaller Pieces

Are you familiar with chunking? It involves breaking large strings of information into units or chunks.

If you feel overwhelmed by a goal, task or a project, it can cause stress.

The most effective way to achieve important goals is to break big goals up into smaller, more manageable ones (long, medium and short-term goals).

Breaking down your goals in this way will allow you to track your progress and improve your motivation towards achieving the life you desire.

Rome wasn’t built in a day so aim to take one small step each day and you will soon achieve your goals.


4.  Visualise Your Success

Visualise success

Studies show that it takes on average 66 days for a new habit to form.

To maintain motivation, our brains need some way to visualise our progress.

This is common practice amongst athletes who will visualise each part of the race over and over again in their minds including crossing the finish line in first place.


5. Reward Yourself

When you complete a task or part of a project, your brain will release dopamine. It helps to focus your concentration and keep going on to the next step or task.

When you reach a milestone, it’s important to reward yourself for a job well done and the progress you’ve made.

A small reward will help to keep you motivated and reduce stress levels.

Choose one of your favourite things – an episode of your fav Netflix show, pizza or a coffee with a friend. But, don’t overdo it and let your rewards reduce your overall productivity.


6. Involve Others

Getting other people on-board with you can help boost your staying power. If you decide you want to get in shape then it’s easier to do it with a friend or by joining a running group.

If you come up with a new idea or need advice, it’s always good to run it past someone whose opinion you trust.

They may be able to see it from a fresh perspective and bring something new to the table that you hadn’t previously considered.


7. Measure Your Progress

The human brain needs some way to visualise our progress if we are to maintain motivation.

Measuring your progress is important as we need to be able to see our wins.


8. Check in With Your Reasons

Remember the list you made stating why you wanted to accomplish this goal?

Keep it at hand so whenever your motivation starts to flag (and it will), you can examine your reasons and drive yourself on.


Final Thoughts

Deciding to make a change an aspect of your life is easy — it’s sticking to it that is the difficult part.

The road to success can sometimes be a long one.

To stay motivated, you need to do two key things:

  1. Choose a goal or task that isn’t too easy or too difficult (The Goldilocks Principle).
  2. Measure your progress and seek immediate feedback when available.

What keeps you motivated? Let us know in the comments below.

Our project management tool, Tameday, has been designed to keep you motivated and help to keep your projects on track. Tameday keeps every project, team, client and conversation all in one place… And it’s free to use!

Try Tameday

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