Staying motivated while habit tracking isn’t easy. On some days, we can have tons of motivation (and be rocking our habits) but by the next day, we feel drained and de-energized. Leaving us scratching our heads as to whether or not we ever had it in the first place.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Millions of people have this same problem and are trying to figure out ways to fix it. And even though there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are many tips and techniques you can try to help you find and keep your motivation, the best of which you can find below.
1) Use Visual Cues
Using visual cues is one of people’s favorite ways to stay motivated while habit tracking. Unlike thoughts, which can be easily forgotten and pushed to the side, visual cues are permanent reminders of why you’re working so hard. And the best thing is that they can be almost anything including photos, notes, posters, test results, and objects.
In fact, a simple but effective way to do this is to write your goal down on a piece of paper along with all of the reasons you are working on it. Then attach the paper to the wall where you will see it each day. This will help your brain register it as important and remind you of the reasons you want to achieve your goal in the first place.
2) Track Goals And Habits You Actually Care About
It’s hard to stay motivated if you are just tracking habits because they are trendy. Tracking how much water you’re consuming, for example, is a popular habit to work on. But honestly, most people aren’t passionate about their water consumption. So in other words, your goals and habits should be meaningful to you if you want to stay motivated to stick with them.
But this isn’t to say you’ll always be happy with your goals, like when a doctor tells you that you have to cut out sugar (which nobody wants to hear). You may not be thrilled about doing this, but you know the immense benefits it will bring you and the huge effect it will have on your life and those who love you. All good reasons you can use as motivation.
3) Remember You’re Not Doing This Overnight
In the majority of cases, you’re not trying to achieve your goals overnight or even in a few short weeks. Thinking you will do so, just stresses you out and gives you anxiety that will make it 10 times harder to even get started. Forming habits that stick usually takes time, especially with all the physical and mental factors your body needs to adjust to.
In fact, many people overlook the physiologic changes that take place when you try to change certain behaviors. Decreasing caffeine, for example, can have a huge effect on your body and lead to many unpleasant side effects (which are more likely to occur if you go too quickly). And even changing behaviors we consider simple requires patience, especially when you take into account all of the neural changes that take place in the brain while doing so.
4) Celebrate Successes
You should always celebrate the successes you make while habit tracking no matter how big or small. Just attempting to work on yourself should make you feel proud. Most people never even make that first step and many others quit after just one try. So if you find yourself sticking with your habits, feel free to pat yourself on the back or reward yourself with something fun.
And keep in mind, even if you haven’t reached your goal yet, it doesn’t mean you’re not successful. For example, say you are trying to lose weight by decreasing your calories. After a few weeks, you may not have lost weight, but you have shown you have the willpower and discipline to stick with a habit which many people can’t do. Plus, you may have noticed you feel better physically and that you’ve ended up saving money on groceries. All things that should be celebrated.
5) Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
It’s easy to look online and see people who say they lost 10 pounds in two weeks or they quit smoking in a month. Or maybe, their habit tracker looks much better than yours. Or you can’t stop thinking that you’ll never achieve the same success that someone else has. These types of thoughts can quickly derail your motivation and overshadow any gains you’ve made.
The thing to remember is that many people exaggerate their successes and avoid discussing their failures. And even the people who actually achieved what they claim may have had outside help or may not have experienced the same life struggles as you. So don’t compare yourself to these people, instead focus on improving yourself at a pace you are comfortable with.
6) Be Flexible With Your Goals And Habits
One of the things I always recommend is that you be flexible with your habits. Because if you hate doing them, it will be harder to continue. So if you’ve made your habit too difficult, you may need to find ways to make it easier or more enjoyable so it’s something you actually look forward to doing.
You also need to remember that many different habits can help you achieve the same goal. So if one isn’t working for you, try another. For example, if you’re trying to work out more, there are hundreds of different exercises that work the same exact body part. So if you don’t enjoy one exercise, find another.
7) Surround Yourself With Positive People
Having someone who supports and encourages you can be one of the strongest motivators there is. So if you have someone like this, cherish them and make sure they know how much their support means to you. But if you’re forced to interact with someone who is the opposite of this, try to avoid them as much as possible. The last thing you need is someone who puts you down or discourages you from making positive changes in your life.
If you don’t have anyone who can support you, consider visiting an online forum or support group where you can find like-minded people trying to make the same changes you are. There you should be able to find support, exchange ideas or tips, or just chat.
8) Try To Avoid Things That Make You Upset
The things going on in your life can have a profound effect on your motivation levels. So try to stay away from anything that makes you upset or depressed whenever possible. This can include people, places, or situations that have a negative effect on you.
For example, many people have stopped reading or watching the news because it makes them extremely depressed. And when they feel this way, they don’t feel like working on their habits. Since avoiding all of the negative things in your life isn’t possible, try to find ways to help yourself relax or decompress even if it’s just taking a long hot bath or taking a short walk outside.
9) Take breaks when needed
Don’t feel guilty about taking a break once in a while when it’s needed. For example, going through the grieving process or being depressed can be extremely mentally and physically draining. In cases like these, you may need to stop your habits just to focus on just getting through the day. And during the recovery process, you may need to change your habits to reflect your current state (like working on getting a decent night’s sleep).
Another thing you need to consider is whether or not the habit tracking itself is making you want to take a break. Perhaps, your habits have grown too numerous or you find completing them difficult. If this is the case, take a very short break to help you figure out what the problem is. It’s better to fix this issue now than wait until it gets so bad you quit for good.
10) Reward Yourself
Rewards can be a very important component of forming good habits. In some cases, rewards occur naturally just from completing the behavior itself. But if this isn’t working, it helps to give yourself rewards that will help keep you motivated.
For example, perhaps if you stick with your healthy eating habits for a week, you’ll reward yourself with a cheat meal. Or if you get an A in your psychology class you will treat yourself to a day at the spa. The key is to make sure your reward is something you truly enjoy. And that you make sure it’s dependent on your achieving your goal or habits. You don’t want to give the reward to yourself for no reason since it won’t be as meaningful.
If you’re someone who has trouble finding the motivation to do everyday things (like getting out of bed or going to school or work), you may be suffering from anxiety or depression which can be hard to overcome on your own. In cases like these, you may want to consider talking with a doctor or mental health professional who can help you take steps in the right direction.
What are your own favorite ways to stay motivated? Please share in the comments!