Today, I’d want to share with you ten unique psychological tactics that can help you remain motivated and follow through on your most difficult objectives.
This is more than a collection of online self-help tips. Based on well-known psychological and behavioral concepts, these methods are serious.
So let’s do this!
10 Psychological Techniques for Staying Motivated
- The Pact of Ulysses
The Ulysses Pact is a way to keep oneself responsible for achieving a goal even when it’s difficult, like the smart Trojan battle hero.
Ulysses’s Pact requires that we make a decision now (while things are still simple) that commits us to a future action (when things are hard).
Let’s say you want to go for a run with a buddy twice a week in the morning to stay on track with your fitness goals. It is possible to mail your pal $20 cheques and ask them to cash one each time you skip a workout with them so that they may spend the money on anything they like.
By committing to a future behavior up front, the Ulysses Pact keeps your motivation strong even when times are bad.
2. Chunking is the second step.
Chunking is a cognitive psychology strategy that was initially intended to enhance memory.
A lengthy series of random numbers, such as the following, may be difficult to recall for the majority of people: 5052950167
If you divide things down into manageable bits, it’s likely to be simpler to recall: Two hundred fifty five to one hundred sixty-seven
Fortunately, the technique of chunking can be used to much more than only memorizing numbers strings. Indeed, chunking—or the practice of breaking down large tasks into smaller ones—is a powerful method in just about every effort.
Let’s say you’ve got a large report due at the end of the week and you’re putting it off until the last minute. You dread at the notion of having to write 25+ pages of dreary business fluff by Sunday night, so you decide to clean your bathroom instead.
The way you view your tasks:
A large chunk of your procrastination here stems from the way you see the task. Right now, you’re viewing it as a massive, debilitating undertaking. Let’s break it down into manageable parts instead.
Suppose you have five days to prepare the report, and you want to break it down into manageable chunks.
- Writing the Intro on Day 1 (1-2 pages).
- Day 2: Compose the First Section (3 pages before breakfast and 3 pages in the evening after putting kids to bed).
- Write Section 2 on Day 3 (at coffee shop before work).
- Day 4: Compose a Summary (1 page at home office before work, 1 page at 11:00, final page after team meeting at 3:00)
- Day 5: Send in the final version.
Our feeling of self-efficacy (the confidence that we can successfully execute a goal) is boosted when we break down a task into smaller parts.
3. Man-Made Positive Reinforcement
With positive reinforcement, it’s assumed that if you do something you love or are rewarded for doing something, you’re more likely to do it again.
Children are more likely to learn to use the toilet when their parents applaud and sing songs when they successfully go in the potty instead of anywhere else.
- Managers who listen intently, take input seriously, and express genuine gratitude and appreciation to employees are more likely to get good recommendations and comments from those employees.
You get the picture. Positive reinforcement in our life is well-known to us all.
The problem, though, is that we aren’t very good at incorporating positive reinforcement when it doesn’t happen spontaneously or by default. However, we can all learn how to implement fake positive reinforcement—a process I call building in positive reinforcement mechanisms to our own problems and objectives.
As an example, consider the following:
Let’s say you’ve resolved to read Moby Dick this year. For as many times as you’ve promised yourself in college that you’d read The Great American Novel, you’ve opened it and gotten a few pages or chapters beyond Call me Ishmael before losing interest and failing to complete your objective once again. In order to motivate oneself, how about creating a system of incentives?
There is nothing wrong with rewarding oneself for reading a book—I’m an adult, not an elementary school student—but this is a great method for keeping oneself motivated.
A possible approach is as follows:
- Decide how much reading you want to undertake at night. Let’s pretend there are 15 pages in all.
- Pick a reward that is both little and pleasurable. These little Dove dark chocolates are among of my favorites.
- The coach’s shelf is a good place to keep your copy of Moby Dick and a bag of Dove dark chocolates.
- Put the book aside and treat yourself with a chocolate every time you complete your 15 pages.
If you think positive reinforcement is just for children, think again. It’s just as effective a strategy for adults as for children.
Take a chance on it.
4. The use of visualization
It took me a long time to come around to the concept that visualization might be used to boost productivity and motivation. My first impression was that it sounded like something out of a cheap self-help book or something you could hear from a dubious motivational speaker.
Visualization, on the other hand, is a simple technique that has the potential to significantly improve one’s mood and drive. Forget channeling cosmic forces, expressing your inner purpose, or any other rubbish like that; it has nothing to do with it at all!
When it comes to motivating ourselves, it relies on a basic principle: the more detailed our mental picture of a goal and its advantages are, the more likely we are to attain it.
If you’re trying to lose weight, there are two ways to keep motivated:
- Scenario A: My doctor advised me to reduce weight since it would be excellent for my health. I suppose I should make an effort to improve my diet…
- Scenario B: My doctor advised me to reduce weight since it would be excellent for my health. Then I thought of how much fun it would be if I didn’t get exhausted playing with my grandchildren in the park because I could run, jump, swing, and not feel winded or tired.
In which situation is it most likely that you’ll succeed in losing weight?
Scenario B, for sure. In order to motivate ourselves, we must have a clear picture of the result and its rewards.
Achieving a goal is far more likely to succeed if we take the time to imagine and “paint the image” in our thoughts of what it will look like to accomplish it, no matter the details of our desire.
You may include visualization into your daily routine or prepare for change by keeping a diary. Spend 5 minutes a few times a week writing about what it would be like to attain your goal and all the potential perks that may accompany it.
5. Compassionate Self-Talk
You may be more motivated than you think if your objectives are worthwhile. The problem is that you might be squandering a lot of it. And our own self-talk is one of the most common causes of squandered motivation.
As a kind of self-expression, self-talk encompasses both what we say to ourselves and how we say it to ourselves.
A negative, harsh, and critical self-talk habit is likely to cause a lot of tough emotions such as guilt and worry and drain your natural drive to accomplish your objectives.
If you want to remain motivated, one of the finest things you can do is to quit sabotaging yourself with negative self-talk. Create a new habit of self-talk that is kind.
Here are a few illustrations:
- What if you decided to take a 5-minute break on the treadmill because you were too exhausted to continue? Adversary’s Self-Talk: “You’re so weak, you couldn’t even complete the final five minutes” I guarantee you won’t be able to train for that 5K. Although I’m a bit bummed that I didn’t finish, I’m sure my muscles are getting a nice exercise since I’m so exhausted.
- If you’ve been working on being less sarcastic in your relationship, imagine how you’d feel if you made a snarky joke to your spouse after dinner… The Harsh Self-Talk: I’d make another mistake. Simply put, I’m a sarcastic person. Doing nothing is a waste of time. Be kind to yourself. I think I did it again. The old behaviors are hard to break, but I’ll keep working at it.
One of the most significant roadblocks to achieving our objectives and remaining motivated is our own negative self-talk.
The more positive and encouraging self-talk you can cultivate just by being aware of it and reshaping it will give you an enormous boost in your drive.
6. The Seinfeld Plan of Attack.
You may use the Seinfeld Strategy to keep yourself motivated, particularly when you’re just starting off with a new habit.
Jerry Seinfeld once delivered a piece of advise on how to remain motivated and consistent in one’s career.
As a result of his advice, I purchased a large wall calendar that displays the whole year on a single page and placed it prominently in view. In order to proceed, I needed to get a large red magic marker.
He told me that for every day that I completed my writing assignment, I could mark it off my calendar with a large red X. “You’ll have a chain in a few days.” The chain will continue to expand as long as you stay at it. As soon as you’ve worked for a few weeks, you’ll enjoy seeing your name on that chain. Next, your sole task will be to keep the chain intact.”
Repeatedly, he urged, “Don’t break the chain.”
As a result, the approach is straightforward:
- If you want to maintain a habit, task, or routine, plan to perform a small amount of it each day.
- Make a huge red (or another color) X on a calendar for each day you accomplish the assignment successfully.
- Try to extend your winning run as long as you can. Make a note of how long your streak lasted next to the box where you missed a day. You’ve got a new challenge ahead of you.
Because it’s a Double Motivator, the Seinfeld Strategy is a great approach to remain motivated. One that motivates in two directions at once is known as a “double motivator.”
In this situation, checking off each successful day offers you a feeling of achievement and satisfaction—positive reinforcement.
But avoiding the pain that follows from losing your streak is what pushes you to keep going—negative reinforcement.
Finally, the fact that you’ve got a giant calendar full of red Xs on your desk or where you work is a concrete reminder that you need to perform your assignment. Maintaining motivation is usually easier when you have better recall of things you’ve done in the past.
7. Family and Friendship (the Right Way)
The notion of social support is quite widespread when it comes to the development of new habits and the maintenance of motivation to complete new goals or commitments. You’ll frequently hear the advise to obtain a “accountability buddy” or something similar.
There are two main blunders that most individuals make when they try to acquire positive social support in order to stay motivated.
- They believe that the primary responsibility of their social support person is to check in on their progress toward their desired result or objective. This is an issue as the greatest approach to remain motivated and truly accomplish our objectives is to mainly disregard the final goal itself and maintain your attention on the daily routines or chores that will progress you toward your goal.
- As a result, they look to their social support person to keep them on track. An accountability partner is there to keep you on track, but this is an issue since it defines the task in negative terms. Positive reinforcement, on the other hand, is significantly more effective in motivating us over the long term.
All that being said, if you want to recruit a buddy or partner to help you remain motivated and make progress toward your objective, use these two approaches:
- Don’t reveal your ultimate aim to them. So if your ultimate aim is to lose 30 pounds, tell your social support person that their duty is to encourage you to attend the gym five days a week. It is more probable that you will succeed if you and your social support person keep focused on the daily routines you need to maintain in order for your success. Inform the individual who is providing you with social support that their only responsibility is to cheer you on when you achieve your goals. They are there to support and encourage you, not to function as a type of societal pressure to prevent you from straying. They’re there to congratulate you on a job well done, not to scare you into going to the gym.
- Having a buddy or a partner who is willing to help you achieve your goal may be a great source of inspiration and motivation. Just make certain that everything is set up correctly from the start.
8. Procrastination that leads to results.
Our capacity to remain motivated to attain our objectives is severely harmed by procrastination.
For example, procrastinating can cause us to miss a task or routine and/or make it more inefficient than necessary in the here and now. When The Office is over, I’m going to the gym.
Procrastination undermines our self-esteem in the long term because it causes us to doubt our own abilities. It’s as though we convince ourselves that we’re unable to handle significant tasks. Self-efficacy, the notion that I am capable and capable of doing what I set out to achieve, diminishes with time due to this.
Procrastination can be overcome and our self-esteem and self-efficacy boosted if we can discover a better approach to cope with it and build our self-confidence and self-efficacy.
For me, the greatest approach to cope with procrastination is via a set of strategies I call Productive Procrastination.
The main premise is that trying to overcome our proclivity for procrastination is futile. Instead, understand that procrastination is a natural propensity and devise a strategy for dealing with it.
Procrastination, for example, might be seen as the outcome of our brain’s inherent craving for novelty and novelty. What if, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we celebrated our insatiable need for novelty?
Let’s say you’re trying to maintain a nightly journaling practice but finding it difficult to remain motivated. However, you find yourself often putting it off. Instead of resisting, choose a fun activity to do just before you begin writing.
Small, purposeful procrastination is likely to help you avoid significant, unstructured procrastination if it is allowed on a regular basis and in a planned manner.
9. The List of Distractions
When we’re attempting to do anything, distractions may be a huge problem: a text from our spouse while we’re working out, an old buddy we bump into at the coffee shop while we’re working, etc.
Moreover, it’s not simply external distractions that may derail our drive and divert us from our objectives… Internal distractions may be as potent as external ones: worrying about how the important meeting will go tomorrow, thinking about how wonderful it would feel to look fit, or rehashing a difficult discussion from the day before all keep us from focusing on the current now.
You may use the Distractions List to keep track of these kinds of internal distractions and maintain a high level of motivation.
As an example, consider what happens if:
- Always have a small notepad or pad of paper and a pencil with you when you begin a chore, routine, habit, etc.
- Quickly write down any thoughts, feelings or memories you may be having and then return your attention to the work at hand.
- Once you’ve completed your assignment, go back and check your list of distractions. Identify any issues that need immediate attention and devise a concise strategy to resolve them.
When faced with internal distractions, most of us fall back on sheer force ignoring as a tactic. While this may work for a short period of time, it is more likely to result in an even greater rush of internal distractions if used often.
It is because the list of distractions allows you to lean into your diversions that it is so effective. You may teach yourself to become less reactive to them and better able to concentrate on your task if you acknowledge them quickly and have a strategy for dealing with them later.
10. The Bumpy Wagon Strategy
The statement “Failing to plan is intending to fail” has a lot of weight for me. In addition, failing to prepare for failure is just as risky.
Assuming you’ll never falter or fail in the pursuit of your objectives is both foolish and unhelpful.
So, instead of being surprised and irritated by mistakes, we might save ourselves a lot of trouble and remain more successfully motivated if we had a solid strategy for what to do if we fall or stumble on the way to our objectives.
Some examples of action items you may include in your strategy are:
- Negative self-talk should be avoided at all costs. Over time, self-critical self-talk simply makes you feel guilty, ashamed, and frustrated, which makes it more difficult to bounce back and continue working.
- As soon as you make a mistake, call or text a friend for moral support. Plan ahead of time what kind of support and encouragement you’d want to get from them if you falter.
- Failure should not be overly interpreted. Recognize that you will mess up and fall off the wagon at some time. That doesn’t necessarily signify anything. It’s human nature to make mistakes. It’s doubtful that simmering on it will be beneficial.
- Make a list of the things you’ve done wrong in the past and see if you can improve. Try to figure out why it’s so hard for you to stick to your schedule in a non-judgmental manner. Think mechanically rather than ethically at this stage. As an alternative to: What the hell am I doing wrong here? Try: Is there a section of the system that isn’t working properly? Can I find it and fix it?
The contents of your strategy aren’t as crucial as the fact that you have one at all, in my opinion. In addition, having a strategy in place may actually boost your self-confidence and drive as you work toward your objectives, making you more likely to succeed.
Which method will you use to keep motivated?
So, what are your thoughts? Which of these methods proved to be the most beneficial to you?
Send me an email on Instagram if you’d want to share your thoughts or experiences with what you’ve tried so far.