6 Ways To Motivate Yourself

by Ron Haynes

DisciplineMotivation is a function of practice, a function of movement. The more you practice, the better you’ll be able to motivate yourself. The key to motivation is to get moving.

“Whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it; men come to be builders, for instance, by building, and harp players by playing the harp. In the same way, by doing just acts we come to be just: By doing self-controlled acts, we come to be self-controlled; and by doing brave acts, we become brave.” –Aristotle, Greek Philosopher (384 BC – 322 BC)

List the benefits

Why? Why do you want to accomplish [fill in the blank]? How would you benefit personally? To really get your motivation train going, take a few minutes and list all the potential benefits of reaching your goal.

If you want to motivate yourself to save 20 percent for a down payment on a home, your list of benefits might include:

  • Personal pride in ownership. That deep sigh of accomplishment and enjoyment.
  • The ability to have Thanksgiving at YOUR house.
  • A place to have your own garden, or for the kids to build a tree-house, or a place for your dog to run around.
  • Building your own equity rather than a landlord’s.

Maybe you want to be motivated to start your own blog, or start a business to make extra money or to use more self discipline. No matter what you’re looking to achieve, listing the benefits will help you start getting motivated.

The benefits should be very personal and the more of them you can list, the better. Make copies of your list and review it on a regular basis — at least daily. Add to your list as ideas pop into your now motivated head!

Push your own buttons

Some people’s buttons are songs, some are movies, some are pictures, some are headlines. Learn what “cranks your tractor” and use it to to your advantage. When you’re feeling a lack of motivation, crank up the tunes or glance at the picture that motivates you.

I remember being 15 years old and watching Rocky 2 on HBO with a friend of mine at a beach home our parents had rented. He and I were so pumped up after watching the “Italian Stallion” beat Apollo Creed that we jumped on our bicycles and rode for miles on end. Our energy was boundless. Even now, the music and just the thought of that movie stirs me and makes me want to DO something.

Get in a new groove

You don’t always need inner strength or willpower to motivate you, sometimes you just need a routine. Try this: set your alarm clock one hour earlier than normal and less than a month later, it’s a piece of cake to get up early. It’s all in the routine you set for yourself. Start a routine that’s easy to keep and slowly crank things up a few notches each week. Do you consistently neglect a certain area of your personal or work life? Change your routine to include just one activity that reverses that neglect. Once it becomes a normal part of your life, add another activity, then another.

I have a writing routine for my blog and it’s what helps keep me motivated to write a daily post. You may have a daily exercise routine that keeps you on track. You might have a breakfast routine or a homework routine or a cleaning routine. When others see you doing those things, they think you’re incredibly motivated, but are you? Not necessarily, you’ve just intentionally incorporated these activities into your normal way of life. They’re no big deal to you, just like a daily insulin shot is no big deal to someone with diabetes or going for kidney dialysis is no big deal for a kidney transplant candidate.

If something is important enough and you want to mysteriously find the motivation to get it done, make it into a routine, and stick with it like it was a matter of life or death.

Admit that you ARE the problem

No one can motivate you. You, and only you, can motivate yourself. If the problem is outside of you, you are just a victim, and victims have no power to solve problems. But that’s good news because the problems we all have with motivation don’t come from without, they come from within. And we’re in charge of the things within us.

When we take responsibility for our problems, we unleash the creativity within ourselves to solve them.

Grow your goals exponentially

Take any reasonable goal of yours and make it UN-reasonable … double it, or triple it. If you have a goal to save $10,000 this year … double it to $20,000. Now before you say, “Impossible,” ask yourself one question: What would you HAVE to do to hit that goal? You would certainly have to do things differently, right? After all, wasn’t it Albert Einstein that said insanity was doing the same things over and over yet expecting different results? What would you have to do to hit your unreasonable goal? List everything you can possibly think of and keep brainstorming until you have 50 or even 100 things you would have to do to hit that goal. Chances are, you’ll discover that you can hit it, it’s just a matter of doing things differently.

To get some new motivational ideas, blow your goal up until it’s scary!

Have a bias for action

Commit yourself to taking the next step, the next action needed to propel you toward your goals. Sometimes, that action is to take no action. Sometimes it’s only necessary to wait, but even waiting is an action!

Humans were made to move, we were made to get going. Ever noticed how depressed people are rarely on the go? Movement keeps us healthy, keeps us in balance, and keeps us motivated to achieve higher and higher goals.

Get on with it!

“I will act now. I will act now. I will act now. Henceforth, I will repeat these words again and again, each hour, each day, every day, until the words become a habit as my breathing and the actions which follow become as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids. With these words I can condition my mind to perform every act necessary for my success. With these words, I can condition my mind to meet every challenge.” –Og Mandino, author and motivational speaker (1923 – 1996)

photo credit: WTL photos
[tags]motivation, goals, success, money, life, self discipline, how do I get motivated, how do I motivate, how do I motivate myself, employee motivation, motivation theory, motivation techniques, self motivation, intrinsic motivation, motivation quotes, define motivation[/tags]

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1000 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.

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Andy Wood

Great stuff, my friend! But admit I MAY be the problem! What about my victimhood?

I told the DIGGers, this is stuff that’s doable for anybody. I love it.

Frugal Dad

I really enjoyed this post–just what I needed on this sluggish Monday morning! And I especially enjoyed the Rocky II mention. When Adrianne says, “win Rocky, win” and the training montage starts I just about come out of the chair and start doing push-ups! Funny what things still “cranks our tractor.”

Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet

Routines are key for me. Get stuff done without even thinking about it. I like to group jobs together so one just automatically flows into the other. For example, doing the dishes while I’m waiting for water to boil.


Good article! And yes! most times WE ARE the problem!
I heard a message once that talked about motivation. A lady was so depressed she didn’t do her responsibilities. She was on medications but still couldn’t get going. The Counselor told her she had to do 1-2-3 before her next appt. and of course she did. The next time he doubled her duties and she had to have them done by her next appt. The more he required her to do and the more she acquiesced, the better she felt about her life. Before too many weeks she was off medications and so involved with her family and her job, she was a completely different person. I guess some folks need helpers for this motivation thing. Maybe it’s a different process for some folks too.


This article was, well.. motivating! :)

It’s true. If you can’t change a habit all at once, build your ‘habit’ muscle up one step at a time. The important thing, like Aristotle said, is to just go out and do it!

Dan Massicotte

Benefits and ‘reasons’ kind of fall in the same category. I find that if I have enough reasons to do something, then getting it done is not longer a matter of laziness or procrastination or anything else for that matter.

It gets done though.

Goal Hunter

Nice article. I find that another really good way is to hang around with people who are already doing what you want to do. A lot easier to excercise a few times a week if you hang out with squash players than at the local toastmasters club. Lot easier to improve public speaking vice versa.


Thanks to FrugalDad for tweeting this. I really needed this today as I have been wrestling with making a major, life changing decision. This was a very helpful article.


I like to think about the benefits when trying to find motivation. I’m strongly thinking about writing some ebooks in the near future and the benefits would be increased income, helping others and potentially making enough money to become financially independent, now that keeps me motivated.

I have also found it helpful to list your goals in a public forum, whether it’s a blog or emailing your list to a friend. If others know about your goals it keeps you motivated and accountable.

Jules @ The Francophile Files

Great ways to motivate. I also agree with “Goal Hunter” regarding hanging out with people who are doing what you want to do. Having peers with the same goals or who have accomplished what you want to do, really reinforces your motivation as well as helps you get through the rough patches.

Merci for a great article.


Knowing your “why” is imporant! Writing down why you want to do something is great stuff! I loved this post. Admitting I am the problem is important as well. What am I doing/nor doing to keep me from the goal…that is good thinking.

Andrew Brown

What keeps me going is knowing that I’m working on it every day. I like to use Seinfeld Calendars to mark my progress. Basically you just put a red X on your calendar daily. I built a web app called Markadee (http://markadee.com) so I could do this online.

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