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Motivation is the psychological feature that arouses an action toward a desired goal. For instance: An individual has not eaten, he or she feels hungry, and as a response he or she eats and diminishes feelings of hunger. There are many approaches to motivation: physiological, behavioural, cognitive, and social. It is the crucial element in setting and attaining goals—and research shows that subjects can influence their own levels of motivation and self-control.

Today we preset to you the motherload list of motivation hacks. These hacks will serve almost everybody, so grab your favorite snack and beverage and start creating a better you!

1. Chart Your Progress

I recently created a chart to track my progress with each of my goals. This chart is not just for information purposes, for me to look back and see how I’m doing. It’s to motivate me to keep up with my goals. If I’m diligent about checking my chart every day, and marking dots or “x”s, then I will want to make sure I fill it with dots. I will think to myself, “I better do this today if I want to mark a dot.” Well, that’s a small motivation, but it helps, trust me. Some people prefer to use gold stars. Others have a training log, which works just as well. Or try Joe’s Goals. However you do it, track your progress, and allow yourself a bit of pride each time you give yourself a good mark.

Now, you will have some bad marks on your chart. That’s OK. Don’t let a few bad marks stop you from continuing. Strive instead to get the good marks next time. Over time, if you stick with this motivational tool, you will start to get a lot of good marks. And that is one of the best feelings in the world.

2. Hold Yourself Back

When I start with a new exercise program, or any new goal really, I am rarin’ to go. I am full of excitement, and my enthusiasm knows no boundaries. Nor does my sense of self-limitation. I think I can do anything. It’s not long before I learn that I do have limitations, and my enthusiasm begins to wane.

Well, a great motivator that I’ve learned is that when you have so much energy at the beginning of a program, and want to go all out — HOLD BACK. Don’t let yourself do everything you want to do. Only let yourself do 50-75 percent of what you want to do. And plan out a course of action where you slowly increase over time. For example, if I want to go running, I might think I can run 3 miles at first. But instead of letting myself do that, I start by only running a mile. When I’m doing that mile, I’ll be telling myself that I can do more! But I don’t let myself. After that workout, I’ll be looking forward to the next workout, when I’ll let myself do 1.5 miles. I keep that energy reined in, harness it, so that I can ride it even further.

This has an added benefit of stopping myself from getting injured or burned out. But I promise you, if you hold yourself back, your desire to continue only increases.

3. Join an online (or off-line) group to help keep you focused and motivated.

When I started to run, more than a year ago, I joined a few different forums, at different times, on different sites, such as Men’s Health (the Belly-Off Runner’s Club), Runner’s World, Cool Running, and the running group at I did the same when I was quitting smoking.

Each time I joined a forum, it helped keep me on track. Not only did I meet a bunch of other people who were either going through what I was going through or who had already been through it, I would report my progress (and failures) as I went along. They were there for great advice, for moral support, to help keep me going when I wanted to stop.

Now, there are many such groups or forums out there, each of them good and with their own personalities. Don’t be afraid to just jump in (after reading the FAQ) and say hello, introduce yourself, and ask questions. Post your progress. If you are having problems, say so, and ask for help. Keep coming back, and you will stay motivated.

There are also real-world versions of these groups, for many different goals, from running to quitting smoking to quitting alcohol and more. Look for such a group in your area and give them a call. A combination of online and off-line groups could also work.

4. Post a picture of your goal someplace visible — near your desk or on your refrigerator, for example.

Visualizing your goal, exactly how you think it will be when you’ve achieved it, whether it’s financial goals like traveling to Rome or building a dream house, or physical goals like finishing a marathon or getting a flat stomach, is a great motivator and one of the best ways of actualizing your goals.

Find a magazine photo or a picture online and post it somewhere where you can see it not only daily, but hourly if possible. Put it as your desktop photo, or your home page. Use the power of your visual sense to keep you focused on your goal. Because that focus is what will keep you motivated over the long term — once you lose focus, you lose motivation, so having something to keep bringing your focus back to your goal will help keep that motivation.

Other similar ideas: Make your own motivational poster. Create a dream scrapbook, with clippings of photos or drawings of your own of each of your goals. Or use a bracelet, or other accessory, as a reminder of your goal.

5. Get a workout partner or goal buddy.

Staying motivated on your own is tough. But if you find someone with similar goals (running, dieting, finances, etc.), see if they’d like to partner with you. Or partner with your spouse, sibling or best friend on whatever goals they’re trying to achieve. You don’t have to be going after the same goals — as long as you are both pushing and encouraging each other to succeed.

For example, my wife and I became goal buddies. We each set our top goals for the year, and we have weekly meetings to set our monthly goals, to set weekly goals, and to review our progress for the past week (or for the past month, at the end of each month). We continually remind, encourage, push and reward each other. It can be a fun way to stay on track.

I also have a workout partner. While I run with my wife most of the time, I also swim and bike with a friend of mine named Patrick. We’re both beginner swimmers, so it’s good to have someone at my level. He’s a more experienced cyclist, which is cool because he can teach me the basics as we ride.

Having a workout partner or a goal buddy is a great idea because you don’t just have yourself to answer to — you have to answer to that other person as well. You’re more likely to stick to your workout or your goal for the week if you have someone to meet. No one likes to stand someone else up or look bad to other people.

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Posted by Leo Babauta

My name is Leo Babauta, I'm a writer and a runner and a vegan. I’m married with six kids, I live in San Francisco (previously on Guam).

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