One of the top ten buzzwords of UK marketers. Every theorist has their own definition and method. However, motivating factors differ from one person to the next. They are personal. For that reason, motivation is up for speculation.

Of course, every theorist from Maslow (1943), to Herzberg (1959), to McClelland (1961), thinks they have the answer. Yet none of these scholars are the same as me. Nor are they the same as you. I am not the same as you. I cannot say that my methods will suit you perfectly, but they help me, and we all know that sharing is caring.

Immediate Motivation

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Every student knows that no matter how much work they put into their studies throughout the year, the time to get motivated, and push yourself so you make it through, is the final round. You can work hard from just out the gate, but if you slack off before the last hurdle, you can expect to be sitting those very same examinations again next year!

In my last blogpost (‘Treat Yourself’), I talked about the benefit of breaking up the day with mini-incentives. That is one way in which I motivate myself to get through the day.

Short-Term Motivation

Some goals, I find, demand more of a push to work towards than a few chocolate buttons. When I feel myself slipping into a rut, I fuel my short-term goals, e.g. studying for my fast-approaching exams next month (wish me luck!), by adjusting my focus and looking towards what comes next. What is your first step after your upcoming hurdle going to look like? Going with my previous example, my first activity will be a much-needed holiday!

The particular benefit of a holiday, party, spa trip, etc. is that these events are generally booked into your calendar in advance. Your focus is determined and setting a countdown is as easy as it is exciting. By way of example, thanks to the Virgin Atlantic App, I recently received this happy little reminder…

The key is to let these events, whatever they may be, give you a positive focus without becoming a distraction in and of themselves. Of course that calls for discipline. But consider this: if you have made it to where you are today, you aren’t new to the concept of self-discipline! I’m not implying that achieving self-discipline is easy, but it is definitely obtainable.

By purposefully looking for the light at the end of the tunnel (this particular light not leading to death…), you are mentally propelling yourself forward in a positive manner.

Long-Term Motivation

Why are you doing what you are doing? What are you hoping to achieve? If you haven’t asked yourself these questions before, take a moment to ask yourself now!

The best way to get yourself through the long haul is to become motivated by your end goal. To use a personal example, when staring down the barrel of a three-year degree course and feeling demoralised, I reflect on why I am at university. I am studying Business and Management at Brunel University. My goal is to achieve a high grade (1st or 2:1) in order that I may then apply for a Masters degree course. Every time I have come across a hiccup; a less-favourable module, a work-life balance issue, or whatever else may come up, I remember my end goal. It gets me through!

Have you got your goal in mind? By setting objectives, a person becomes more invested in the task and therefore driven to work towards that end point.

Sound familiar? You have probably come across SMART objectives…

By ensuring your every aim follows this pattern, you’re more likely to create objectives you actually can and want to achieve. A classic example is weight loss: someone trying to lose weight, with no real aim regarding how much to lose, by when to lose it, a plan for how they intend to lose it, etc. is likely to start an endless diet, become demoralised, and never achieve a status of ‘weight lost’. Comparatively, someone who decides they need to lose 8 pounds in 2 months (i.e. 1 pound per week), using a specific diet regime is far more likely to stick by their guns. If I were to offer each person a chocolate bar, person 1 may take it but person 2 will likely turn it down because no matter how tempting, achieving their end goal will be far more delicious!

Intrinsic Motivation

There is a multitude of literature that advises against comparing oneself with others. The act of constantly appraising one’s own successes and failures against others’ is unequivocally detrimental to our mental health and often demotivates us – predominantly because there is always someone out there who will have done better or more than us.

The key thing to consider is that we all experience different circumstances. Rather than saying ‘we’re all in the same boat’, we ought to be saying ‘we are all in our own boats, in the same sea’. For example, I achieved excellent GCSE results. Yet, I still feel I could have done better. I moved schools in the middle of my GCSE year, and adjusting to a new course took its toll on my grades. My younger sister had a steadier time throughout her GCSEs and unsurprisingly, achieved higher grades. Of course there are a million other possible explanations; she may be smarter than me, may have had better teachers, we were in different schools, and the list goes on. I elect not to dwell on this though.

Instead I compare myself to – get this – me! I look at what ‘ideal Rachel’ is getting up to in that moment. I don’t feel guilty if ‘ideal Rachel’ and ‘Rachel now’ are not doing the same thing. There may be a reason for that. I must always be realistic. Sometimes ‘ideal Rachel’ is studying when ‘Rachel now’ is scoffing pancakes!

‘Self-idolisation’ enables me to ‘be my own cheerleader’ (Martinez, 2018). I motivate myself without putting myself down – my idol has the same flaws as me, has had the same experiences, and accomplished the same achievements.

All in All…

You may find these techniques work for you, or you may have other methods that get you through a tough spot – if so, please feel free to share in the comments section!

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