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Motivation is what drives us to make the things happen – but staying motivated isn’t always easy. Get some tips on how to become (and stay!) motivated, and suggestions for what to do if you just can’t get into gear.

This can help if:

  • you want to figure out your goals and learn how to achieve them
  • you’re feeling unmotivated
  • you want to get stuff done.
Boy playing electric guitar

Positive and negative motivation

Motivation is what drives you towards a goal, gets you up in the morning, and keeps you working through a task, determined to succeed when things get tough. But motivation can be both positive and negative:

  • Positive motivations focus on the positive things that will happen when you take action. For example: ‘Finishing this assignment means I’m only a step away from being qualified.'
  • Negative motivations focus on the negative backlash that will occur if you don’t take action. For example: ‘If I don’t finish this assignment in the next few hours, I’ll fail my course.'

Negative and positive motivations can both be effective in different circumstances. However, it’s much easier to do something because you actually want to, rather than because you want to avoid a particular outcome if you don’t do it. If you don’t have a positive plan of action, using negative motivation can make you feel helpless and may even reduce your motivation.

How to become (and stay) motivated

  • Set goals. When you set a goal, you make a decision to act in a way that will help you achieve what you want. Goals give you a direction to focus on – one that’s measurable and has an endpoint. This can help you to stay motivated.
  • Choose goals that interest you. You’re much more likely to stay motivated if you’re working towards something that you genuinely want to do or achieve, rather than what other people want for you.
  • Find things that interest you within goals that don’t. Sometimes other people set goals or tasks for us that we don’t find interesting or want to do. So, try and find something within that task that does motivate you. For example: ‘I hate maths, but it’s going to help me become a builder, which I want more than anything.’
  • Make your goal public. If you tell someone – or write down – your goal, you’ve essentially made a promise to keep your word.
  • Plot your progress. When you’re working towards something, it can be really motivating if you can see evidence that you’re making progress. Draw or create a visual representation of how you’re coming closer to achieving the goal you’ve set yourself.
  • Break up your goal. Start with easier tasks and work your way up to bigger challenges. Breaking up a task in your mind into achievable chunks helps build confidence.
  • Use rewards. Promise yourself some sort of reward each time you complete a step/task.
  • Don’t do it alone. Join a class, or find a teacher or someone you can share the experience with. Other people’s encouragement to keep going can be a big boost to your motivation, particularly when you’re doing it tough.

If you’re really finding it hard

If you’ve tried but failed to get motivated, then it might help to talk it through with someone you trust. Sometimes it can be hard to achieve things on your own, so having a good support network may help when you’ve taken on a big challenge.

You could also try talking to a counsellor, who can help you to work out which motivating strategies will work best for you.

What can I do now?

  • Write down some goals for the coming year.
  • Plan some rewards or treats to keep your motivation up.
  • Tell someone about your goal, to keep yourself accountable.