5 Ways to Stay Motivated for Long-Term Change

stay motivated

Many changes take a lot of time. Perhaps you’re trying to lose 50lbs, or get out of debt. You might be working on a major project — like writing a book, or renovating a house.

Whatever your goal, you know it’s going to make a big difference to your life. You have plenty of reasons to achieve it … but that’s not always enough.

On a day to day level, it can be really tough to consistently take actions that lead towards your goal. For instance…

How Common Self-Motivation Tactics Invite Self-Sabotage (& What to Do About it)


We all know that making personal changes can be tough. Even when we know that those changes will lead to greater success with our health, relationships and career, we still resist. It’s not hard to believe that the failure rate of self-improvement efforts in general is 65% to 90% (Sellman, D, 2009).

One reason for this astonishingly high failure rate may have to do with typical methods of self-motivation. Common tactics intended to get you in gear often backfire and foster self-sabotage. When you get into the minds of people with motivation issues, it all begins to make sense. Here are typical things people say to themselves with the intention of inspiring a state of inner go-get-‘em.

What’s Motivating You: the Carrot or the Stick?


When it comes to making change, motivation matters.

You’ve seen this in your own life … maybe time and time again. You’ve started on big plans and goals which fizzle out, because you couldn’t stay motivated.

I know it’s happened to me. I’ve often wanted to change, only to find that I lacked the ability to really follow through. Something that’s helped me, though, is to understand the power of two different types of motivation:

Staying Motivated: The Watercourse Way

staying motivated

‘Giving up smoking is easy. I’ve done it hundreds of times’ ~ Mark Twain

So your goal is to get up at 4am every morning, go for a 5km run and take a cold shower before meditating and writing a chapter of your new novel? I can’t say I’ve ever tried to do anything like this, but I imagine it must be hard to stay motivated.

For me, sticking to a routine like this would involve brute force – a never-ending battle of willpower over the desire to stay in bed. But this would go against my fundamental belief that life is not a battle. To me, life is not like climbing a mountain – it’s more of a downhill thing. Alan Watts, a great proponent of a Taoist view of life, called it ‘the watercourse way.’ Water will always flow downhill, of course, and yet its power is undeniable. So how can we apply the watercourse way to getting things done?

The Strongest Desire Always Wins

strongest desire

Yesterday was a day like any other. I met with clients and helped them resolve their issues, did some invoicing and then went for my evening jog. I was a little tired, but made myself change my clothes, grab my iPod and head out the door.

About halfway through the jog I started thinking about my recent dedication to some key areas of my life. I’ve completely dropped desserts, started getting up at 4:30am to work on my blog and almost never miss a day of exercise. Why is this? What changed? It wasn’t too long ago that I drudged through my work day and only attempted to squeeze in a jog or bike ride once or twice a week. The thought of getting up before 7am was something I never even considered.

By now my jog is almost over and I almost let the thought go unfinished. But as I started heading up the last big hill and was really feeling the burn, it hit me. What changed was the strength of my resolve. My desire to be successful, live healthy and make the most out of every day had suddenly become stronger than the rest. When a temptation to give in came my way, it was suddenly weaker than my drive to hold true to my current heading. At this point it all become very clear.

Motivation Looks Like This


Today I feel great. I feel inspired. The words are flowing out freely as I write. It’s a nice change. Recently I have been in a bit of a rut in my life and I feel I lost my “blogging groove” temporarily. I don’t think the quality of my articles suffered at all, but they felt so much harder to write.

Given the change between how I have felt the past few days and how I felt last week I have identified 4 signs that I am in a motivated state:

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