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How to stay motivated and gain momentum

You’ve got goals. They can be big or small. But often when we set a goal we start off rearing to go, but our motivation levels can dwindle over time, causing us to wonder why we started in the first place, and often leading us to giving up or putting our goals on the backburner for a while.  

How to stay motivated and gain momentum

In the pursuit of our goals, motivation serves as the fuel that propels us forward. Yet, it's not uncommon to experience fluctuations in our drive, leaving us feeling stuck or uninspired. 

But by understanding how to cultivate motivation and gain momentum can empower us to overcome obstacles and achieve our goals - big and small. 

As a former professional bikini bodybuilder with a world title under my belt, I know a thing or two about keeping motivated and on track for reaching goals.

If you’re struggling to stay motivated and gain momentum towards your goals, keep reading to learn why motivation is fleeting, the different types of motivation, and strategies you can use to stay motivated and build momentum. 

Why do we feel motivated and unmotivated?

Motivation is a force that explains why people start, continue, or end a certain behaviour at a particular time. Motivation is influenced by a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors.

While I'm not going to get into the details of neurotransmitters, hormones and brain structures (yawn), what I will focus on is the psychological factors at play. 

Motivation is not static and can fluctuate over time due to factors including: 

  • Short-term vs. long-term goals: Immediate rewards can sometimes be more motivating than long-term benefits.

  • Energy levels: Physical and mental energy levels, influenced by sleep, nutrition, and health, can affect motivation.

  • Feedback and progress: Regular feedback and a sense of progress can sustain motivation over time.

What are the different types of motivation?

When it comes to motivation, there are common key motivators that we can tap into—intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. 

  • Intrinsic motivation is what happens in your own head to keep you motivated. 

  • Extrinsic motivation is when you’re motivated by something external, like a reward. 

Key Motivators (internal/intrinsic) 

  • The Self—i.e., “I want to express my personal creativity.”

  • Acquisition of Knowledge—i.e., “It is fun to learn and apply new things.”

  • The Actual Work—i.e., “I enjoy learning and am growing every day.”

  • Progress—i.e., “I am creating the foundation that will lead to my ideal life.”

  • Contribution—i.e., “Because of what I do I improve the life of others.”

  • Future Dreams/Vision—i.e., “By doing this I will create the abundance and lifestyle I desire.”

  • Inspirational figures—i.e., “If this person can do it, I can do it.”

  • Uniqueness—i.e., “I want to create something no one has done before” or “I want to do things differently.”

  • Passion: “I love what I’m doing and get great enjoyment from it”. 

Key motivators: (External/extrinsic) 

  • Social status

  • Accountability partner/s 

  • Rewards/celebrations

Strategies to stay motivated and gain momentum 

Now that you know what can cause you to feel motivated and unmotivated, as well as the different types of motivation, let's cover some strategies you can use to keep motivated and gain momentum! 

Set SMART goals 

It’s hard to stay motivated when you don’t have clear goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relative and time-bound. Clarity breeds motivation, so to start it’s important to clearly define your goals, breaking them down into manageable tasks. 

This will provide you with a roadmap, guiding your actions and instilling a sense of purpose. Whether it's a career milestone, fitness target, or personal endeavour, turn these into SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relative to your life, and time-bound. 

Find your ‘why’

Why are you doing this in the first place? If you want to ensure you stay on track when things get tough (because they will…) it’s SO important that you have a clear ‘why’ behind you. 

Think about why you’re doing this. Why do you want it? How will it feel when you’ve achieved your goal, and how will your life be different? This is important to flesh out because when you have a clear why, you can get through any how. 

Whether it's a desire for personal fulfillment, a commitment to making a difference, or the pursuit of mastery, align your goals with your core values and passions. Connecting with your 'why' gives you a real sense of purpose, and this will help you to keep going even when things get tough and you want to quit. 

Create a vision for the future

It’s no secret that athletes have been using creative visualisation, or mental rehearsal, for many years to help them succeed. There are plenty of studies that have found that visualising yourself achieving a goal or doing an activity creates more favourable outcomes when combined with action, so visualise yourself achieving your goals with emotion and the senses and it will help you succeed. 

When I was a professional bikini bodybuilder I would visualise myself doing my stage walk and winning first place every night before I went to sleep. When I eventually got on stage on competition day, I had already been on it 100 times before in my mind. It put me in the right mindset to win first place. 

By keeping your vision front and centre, you cultivate a sense of urgency and drive to turn your dreams into reality. In both my 1-on-1 coaching programs, Mindset Mastery (6 weeks) and Reinvent Yourself (12 weeks), I teach my clients how to use creative visualisation to help achieve their goals. Learn more here: Coaching packages and pricing

Break down goals into bite-sized chunks

Often we try to bite off more than we can chew when it comes to our goals. Overwhelm can dampen motivation, making tasks seem impossible. That’s why it’s so important to break down your goals into smaller, achievable steps, key milestones and subtasks. 

Focus on the next action you can take, rather than fixating on the enormity of the end goal. Again, in my 12-week coaching program I help my clients create a Goal Achievement Plan with key milestones, subtasks, and an accountability and reward system in place to help them get accelerated progress towards their goals. Learn more here: Mindset Coaching

Celebrate the little wins 

It’s so important to get some wins on the board to build confidence and momentum. Celebrate each milestone along the way, acknowledging your progress and fueling motivation. We tend to focus on what’s the same rather than what’s changed and the progress we’re making, so in order to snap out of this way of thinking that can demotivate us, it’s important to celebrate your achievements, big and small. 

Dopamine, often referred to as the "reward" neurotransmitter, plays a crucial role in motivation and the pursuit of goals. High levels of dopamine are associated with increased motivation and pleasure, so celebrating little wins helps to release dopamine and make you feel good! 

Be accountable by finding your community

Find your tribe

Finding a community of like-minded peeps who want to achieve a similar goal is a great way to keep motivated and accountable. For example, this could include joining a group of some kind, or simply finding an accountability buddy. 

As humans, we need a sense of community. And pursuing our goals alone can feel lonely (and not so fun). Find a way to connect while working on your goals, and a support network who you can count on for encouragement, and also when you want to have a whinge. 

Find your tribe by seeking out mentors, peers, or communities that share your goals and values. They’ll help you keep accountable, inspired and connected. You can also learn a lot from other people who have walked the same path before you, so don’t be afraid to ask someone out for a coffee who has achieved a goal you have. That coffee has the power to change your life! 

Cultivate a growth mindset

This should really be number one, because your mindset determines your outcomes in life. Embrace the power of a growth mindset, viewing challenges as opportunities for learning and growth. Rather than succumbing to setbacks, perceive them as stepping stones toward improvement. 

If you have a growth mindset, you’re more likely to have the perseverance it takes to achieve your goals. That’s because you know you can develop skills, acquire knowledge and make changes with effort, and don’t necessarily need to have previous experience and results to be able to achieve something. 

If you have a fixed mindset, you’re likely not to feel as confident about things you have no prior experience or knowledge in. 

Developing a growth mindset takes time, tools and practice. If you’d like to learn how to develop a growth mindset, my Mindset Mastery 1-on-1 Coaching Program is designed to help you do just that in 6 weeks. Learn more about mindset coaching, and reach out to me to book a free consultation with me. 

Create your goal achievement action plan

Take massive action!

There are no results without action. You can think about what you want and plan all you want, but without actually taking action you won’t get anywhere close to the results you want. 

Massive action doesn’t mean doing everything at once. It simply means taking action, assessing and pivoting until you get the results you want. 

Confidence grows with action and decreases with inaction. If you want to change an area of your life, you need to actively work to change it. This will build momentum, confidence and belief. 

Ask yourself, “What can I do NOW?” What’s in MY power to do? What can you do now that enables you to take responsibility for your results and move forward? 

Treat your actions as experiments 

This is closely linked to the previous point about taking action and experimenting. When you try new things and take action, YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL MORE THAN YOU SUCCEED. That’s life. That’s how we learn. That’s how we grow. 

If you’re not failing, you’re not taking enough action and experimenting enough. So get comfortable with failure—become best friends with failure. Because failure leads to the fastest growth, and gets you to your goals so much faster. 

Learn from your failures and mistakes instead of beating yourself up over them. Look at them as golden lessons you need to go through in order to get you to where you need to go. Be kind to yourself, and celebrate failure! 

After all, what’s the worst that could happen if you make a mistake? You will survive!

Assess your results

One common mistake that many people make is that they rarely assess their results. They take 

massive action and make a solid plan, but then they continue to take the same actions and follow their plan even when it’s not working. 

At that point, their effort is pointless. They need to assess what aspects of their strategy are working and make changes to both their plans and actions. 

Every week, or each time you take a new action, do an evaluation by asking yourself:

  • What worked well? 

  • What didn’t work well? 

  • What will I do differently next time? 

This will ensure you’re not stagnating, and instead tailoring your approach to get different results in the future. 

The 15-minute rule 

You can’t always wait around for motivation to strike. You could be waiting forever. The 15-minute rule is a great strategy for getting sh*t done. Allocate 15 minutes a day to a project or task, and ensure you follow through by spending that time on that thing. 15 minutes is a short enough time that the brain thinks; “oh, it’s just 15 minutes. I can handle that.” Whereas an hour may seem too daunting, especially if it’s a task you’re not excited about. 

Spending 15 minutes a day will compile over time, getting you results through consistent effort, regardless of how small, and more often than not you’ll find yourself going longer than the allocated time because you may get into a state of ‘flow’, where you figure you’re already started, so might as well keep going! 

Leverage your energy peaks

We all have energy peaks and troughs throughout the day. I’m a morning person, and do my best thinking in the morning. When 3-4pm comes around, don’t expect me to do my best work. That’s when my brain goes ‘brrrrrr, does not compute.’ That’s the time when it’s best for me to go for a walk in nature or head to the gym to clear my head. 

We’re all different and it’s impossible to be energised all day every day. You’re not a machine. You’re a human and you need rest. 

Identify when you have the most energy during the day and schedule your most important or challenging tasks for those times. Not only will it make you more productive, but it’ll mean you’re able to rest when you need it, and work hard when you have the energy, preventing burnout. 

Question your self-doubting thoughts and insecurities 

Sooner or later, the little voice in your head is going to start saying things like; “you can’t do that”, or “who do you think you are? People will laugh at you.” 

It’s important to catch these negative, limiting thoughts and question them. Question where they came from, what evidence you have for them being fact, and what good they’re doing to help you reach your goals and stay on track. 

Your brain wants to keep you safe, and doing things outside your comfort zone indicates risk to your brain. So, when these thoughts arise, it’s important not to let them win. Remind yourself of why you’re doing this. Replace the negative thought with an empowering one, keep calm and carry on. You’ve got this! 

Use positive/empowering self-talk

Encourage yourself with positive affirmations and remind yourself that you’re capable. You’ve done hard things before, haven’t you? Changing your internal dialogue can improve your mindset and increase your willingness to act, and puts you in a more resourceful state. 

For example, I’m a photographer and when I first started doing newborn photoshoots I would always get really nervous. On the way to a shoot I was saying things to myself like; ‘I suck at newborn photography, this isn’t going to go well, what if they hate their photos?’ and all the rest. 

What happened? It was a DISASTER. Nothing went well. The baby cried uncontrollably. I had to leave after 20 minutes because my camera stopped working. The photos were crap. Disaster.  

I went back a week later. This time on the way I said positive, empowering things to myself, like; ‘this is going to go well, I’m going to take amazing photos, they’re going to be stoked with them, I am a good photographer’ and all the rest. 

What happened? It went super well! My mindset going into it definitely had an impact. And that’s the power of mindset and empowering self-talk, my friends. It’s the difference between something going terribly and something going well. 

Focus on the process, not just the outcome

Concentrate on the actions you need to take rather than the end result. Enjoying the process can make the task more engaging and less daunting. Plus, it’s important to remember that it’s actually more about the journey than the end result! 

The journey to achieving your goals is what’s going to take up most of the time, so it’s important that you find a way to enjoy and cherish it. Find ways to make the journey more enjoyable for you. Whether that’s doing it with friends, listening to your favourite music, or incorporating things you love. Get creative. 

Reward yourself

Set up a reward system to celebrate when you achieve tasks and milestones. Rewards can be small, like taking a break, spending time with friends, or doing something else you enjoy, and can provide extra motivation to get started. 

Again, this gives us a nice little dopamine hit, which helps us to associate positive vibes with progress and achievement. 

However, be very mindful of what rewards you’re setting up for yourself. They can’t directly go against your goal. For example, when I was a bodybuilder I’d reward myself for eating on plan and exercising with a CHEAT DAY where I ate crap food. How on earth does that make sense? My reward was literally undoing all the hard work I’d put in! Stupid. Don’t be like me. 

Your reward should complement your goal, not sabotage it. 

Be kind to yourself when you go off track

It happens. Sometimes you feel motivated, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you have a great week and make great progress, and sometimes you take two steps forward and five steps back. Be kind to yourself on the journey towards your goals. Acknowledge that setbacks and mistakes are inevitable, and it’s what you do next that matters most. 

Cultivate self-compassion by treating yourself with the same empathy and understanding you would offer a friend facing challenges. Reframe any self-criticism into constructive feedback, focusing instead on what you’ll do differently next time rather than beating yourself up for what you perceive to be ‘failures’. 

By having a more compassionate mindset, you can get through the hard times and come out better for it. 

Now get out there, take action and gain momentum! 

Staying motivated and gaining momentum is a journey. It’s about developing self-discipline, resilience and discovering more about yourself along the way.  

By setting clear goals, cultivating a growth mindset, and connecting with your intrinsic motivations, you can find the power to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. 

Be patient with yourself and aim for 1% better each day. You’ve got this! 

If you need help on your journey, book a free consult with me – I’m a certified life coach, hypnotherapist and accredited cognitive behavioural therapy practitioner who specialises in helping ambitious peeps like you to reinvent themselves from the inside-out and achieve their biggest goals. 

I know I can help you get the accelerated growth and progress you otherwise probably wouldn’t think is possible! 

Thanks for reading! If you want more, check out my other blogs, follow me on TikTok: @janelle.keesue and Instagram: @janellekeesue. You can also book a free session with me here

About the author, Janelle Kee-Sue

Janelle Kee-Sue is a Certified Life and Mindset Coach, accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Practitioner, Self-Hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner, and is completing a Diploma in Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapy and NLP with the New Zealand School of Professional Hypnotherapy. Based in Wellington, New Zealand, she specialises in helping people to change their thinking so they can change their lives; to reprogram their negative thought patterns, banish limiting beliefs for good, learn techniques for being less stressed and anxious, more emotionally regulated, positive and resilient, so they can achieve any goal, and lead happier, more fulfilling lives. In her spare time, you’ll find her at the gym, working on her novel, or hanging with her floofy Samoyed Zeus and her husband Ricky. Learn more about Janelle.


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