When you start out on a new direction in life, you probably feel fired up and enthused, ready to do anything. For a few days, that motivation lasts.

But change is often a long, slow and – let’s face it – rather tedious process.If you’ve ever been on a diet, you’ve probably noticed this! And even goals that you might be excited about, like writing a book, require a surprising amount of slogging through on days when you’re unenthused.

So, how can you keep up your motivation over the long-term?

  1. Tell Other People About Your Goal. Accountability is a surprisingly strong force: if you tell everyone that you’re writing a novel, then you’ll be more likely to stick with it past the first few chapters. Plus, telling friends/family about your goal may bring practical help: if your grandma knows you’re trying to lose weight, she’s less likely to insist on baking cakes for you…
  2. Write Down Your Reasons. Whatever you’re trying to change in your life, you’ve got good reasons to want to. Those might be things you’re trying to avoid (“I don’t want to be in debt any more”) or things that you want to reach or accomplish (“I want to run a marathon”). Whenever your motivation flags, you can re-read your list for a guaranteed boost.
  3. Set Mini-Goals and Milestones. Some changes take years (perhaps even a lifetime). If you’re struggling to make headway on a huge change, set yourself smaller goals along the way – milestones on your journey. That way, you’ll be able to see the progress that you’re making much more easily. If you’re still struggling, break your small goal into individual steps.
  4. Join a Club or Group. Perhaps you’re trying to make a huge change in your life, but no-one in your family or friendship circle seems to care. Look for a local (or online) club where you can find like-minded people – they’ll be able to support you both emotionally and practically. For instance, if you’re trying to improve your presentation skills, look for a branch of Toastmasters in your area.
  5. Don’t Rely on Willpower Alone. Once your initial surge of enthusiasm for a new goal fades, you’ll be relying on willpower to get you through. That takes a lot of mental energy, so look for ways to make things easier – for instance, head to the gym on your way home from work rather than trying to get up the enthusiasm to go back out later.
  6. Make Time For It. Almost every change requires consistent effort on a regular basis. That means devoting sufficient time to your goal. For instance, if you want to eat more healthily, you need to allow time for buying and preparing food. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up eating junk again. If you’re struggling to find sufficient time, read Creating More Time for some great tips.
  7. Track Your Progress. Keeping track of your progress doesn’t just help with motivation – it also lets you see what’s working and what isn’t. If you’re studying for a new qualification, keep track of the different things that you’ve learned, and of the techniques you used to learn them. If you’re trying to get fitter and shape up, record details of your workouts and keep a record of your weekly measurements.
  8. Ask for Help. When you’re implementing major change in your life, it’s a mistake to think you need to go it alone. There are scores of people who can help you – from family and friends to trained professionals. Don’t be afraid to ask for some support, advice or assistance. Even if you spend some money hiring a professional to help you, this may well work out cheaper than struggling alone and making mistakes.

What works for you when you’re making big changes? Have you got any more tips to add?

Photo by Aubry Aragon

Ali Luke

Ali writes about personal growth and development on her blog, Aliventures. As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.

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