How to Gain and Maintain Motivation

To start this article on a slightly existential crisis note: you are the collected curation of past decisions and habits. Okay, that does not sound very light-hearted for my blogs – don’t worry it’ll be more relaxed from now.


There is a point to that. What you have done in the past has impacted your decisions and way of life now. Of course, as mentioned in a recent Instagram (shameless plug: @empowering.movement) you are not defined by anyone or anything – but of course, choices and people may have impacted your way of approaching life.

Motivation is one of those things that some people seem to be amazing at and some seem to be shit at – which in itself is incredibly demotivating. I know that self-motivation is something that I do have a lot of but if I am being honest; it’s something that I have had to teach myself.

There is no doubt that, generally, I am a do-er: so, when I get bored, I won’t really “lie-in-wait”. However, I think I have developed a really efficient and effective way of keeping up my motivation that I would love to share with you guys.

  • How to source out this motivation

Motivation is not rooted in you…

It IS true that at the end of the day, you will either be motivated or not (or maybe partially). But you don’t have to find that motivation in yourself.

Right, I’m not saying go off onto YouTube and watch those cringey 15-60 minutes motivational videos (I mean if they work for you: you do you) but you don’t have to use that as your source. In fact, I would discourage it because they are usually so vague and impersonal. So that motivation may have an end-life of about 15 minutes.

I suggest:

  • Talking to anyone who inspires you- for me that’s my parents. Gaining advice makes me want to go out there and make changes to projects, plans or work.
  • Write down plans/a vision board/a mood board/timeline/goals/affirmations
  • How do we use this motivation to create habits: S.L.A.G (am I proud of myself? Yes)

Stimuli – Longing – Action – Gratification

Stimuli – in posh words: this is the entity that requires action to complete. In Lizzie terms: this is the object, or the goal that could be done if you could be arsed

Longing – in posh words: this is the want to do the needed action. In Lizzie terms: this is the point where you get excited about the idea of doing the action. That ‘motivated’ feeling. Another word could be, need, you need to do it – however: SLAG>SNAG

Action – in posh words: doing it. In Lizzie terms: doing it.

Gratification – in posh words: Seeing the rewards of the process paying off. In Lizzie terms: this was a good idea now let me do it again (after celebratory nap).

The first two are problem focused. Here’s a problem which I need to solve. Let’s plan a way around this.

The last two are solution focused. This plan seems robust enough to put into play. Let’s give this a go.

In real terms:

Getting fitNot liking my bodyI want to get fitI go to the gymI get abs and the bum of a lifetime
An EssayThe titleI need to get this doneI write the essayEssay completed

You may notice a significant but small difference between the two. The ‘longing’ is not the same type in each scenario. In my humble opinion, these are two different needs. The want vs the need. But can we change that?

I think by now you’ll have realised I never raise a problem without a proposed solution. So yes. I think if we can change the way we view the stimulus, we change the need to a want.

Here we have the same box but three developments in how we can change a forced motivation to a wanted motivation:

An EssayThe titleI need to get this doneI write the essayThe essay is completed
An EssayThe Title from a subject I love and chose to doI want to do my past self-proudI write the essayThe essay is completed
An EssayThe Title, research and my positive vision board that includes where I want to be in a few yearsI want to write this essay so that I can move on from this moduleI write this essayThe essay is completed
An EssayThe Title with research that I should be proud of because it will be different to othersI want to write this unique essayI write the unique essayThe essay is completed and will get higher marks

I know it’s easy for me to just say ‘change your perspective’ but I think trying to hold onto the things that made you excited then motivation will last longer.

Here is a list of reasons why you should be excited to learn what could be the driest content ever:

  1. The fact that you’re learning this specialised degree means you’re getting knowledge that the general public does not have
  2. You’re at university (*insert your institution*) which is a place you’ve always wanted to be – make the most out of all of it
  3. This essay has the potential to be really interesting, but I just don’t like institutions and being forced to learn so, I’m going to be interested in the content in its own right.
  • How can I sustain this motivation?

So, we all know that 30 day-challenges can create a habit and then doing a habit for 70 days makes it a lifestyle. However, being told this is no good.

So clearly, we can’t make a habit of writing essays (although getting into the routine of writing an essay over a few days rather than only the night before is beneficial).

But there are so many other times that we get motivated which lasts longer than a week or a month.

This could be

Fitness – regular studying – reading – painting – walking – gratitude

So, here’s my tips for maintaining this:

  1. Create a set time every day to do whatever thing that you want to do. This does mean a little bit of planning about when the best time for you is. Equally, you may not want to wake up at 5am to exercise – but knowing when the best time for you is then who cares what anyone else thinks
  2. After two weeks you may see improvement or just surpass a milestone, so you want to slack: create reminders. This will remind you why you started and will act as a prompt.
  3. The process seems like the middleman of all people’s success stories. It always goes ‘I grew up in some sort of shit background and then I discovered success’. Or if the middle bit is mentioned it’s always: ‘I hustled hard to be where I am’. What I am suggesting is that we enjoy the process. This way you watch yourself grow, you aren’t being determined by success or how much you get from it. You simply enjoy.
  4. Find someone to join in. This makes you accountable for continuing the journey. If you don’t feel loyal to yourself, feel loyal to someone else. Okay that is a joke, don’t become reliant or think that people will be disappointed if you’ve missed one session – but it does make you responsible. Equally, making you more aware of the reasons you aren’t going to do it if you decide not to.

Overall, there are a lot of steps that don’t get said about gaining and maintaining motivation. It doesn’t come easily to everyone, but I hope within here there are a few ways that you could overcome this. Obviously if nothing works then I’ll pack my bags and head to bed. But if this has helped any of you, please let me know!! It is about getting yourself excited to do something – so find the thing within the goal that excites you and keep focusing on that. Celebrate the milestones but celebrate the process equally.


Published by lizziemurrayxo

I am a BA linguistics undergraduate at Newcastle University. I am a tutor and absolutely love talking. Education is power

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