Most of us want to change or improve at least one aspect of our lives. But it can feel challenging—even impossible—to find the motivation to get started and, even more, to keep going.

To support you in making powerful, healthy changes in your life, join us this month for the 2023 Resilience Retreat! The theme for our second annual January event is 30-Day Reset. With weekly expert-led Calm-Cast webinars and more, we’ll guide you and your fellow meQ’ers on the path to making this your most resilient year yet. Check out the details by clicking on the below activity.

This first week we’re tackling motivation. With a little understanding of how your motivation muscle works and a few key tricks and techniques to strengthen it, you can enhance your motivation and set yourself up for success in this retreat, in the coming year—and in anything you resolve to do.

Motivation pushes you to achieve a goal, and it’s influenced by a number of factors. How much do you want this goal, and how important is it to you? How confident do you feel that you can achieve the goal, and what will you gain from it? Think of motivation as the gas in the car that drives you forward, helping you persist through the challenges of making new habits and change.

Here’s the truth: When we rely solely on our sheer force of will, we will fail. Willpower is a muscle that tires easily, and, when it does, we weaken and lose our ability to persist. Take this from a board-certified health coach: If you want to make this the year that you “do it,” use these seven proven, powerful motivation techniques to keep driving you forward.

1. Define your deeper why.

When you connect to the deeper reason “why” you want to make this change in your life, you tap a wellspring of motivation. What will this change enable? Write a statement that includes your goal, plus why you want it. For example: “I want to lose weight so that I have the energy to play with my kids.” Repeat it, remember it, and go back to it when you feel the spark of motivation flickering.

2. Boost your change confidence.

Fear is a motivation zapper. And let’s be honest: Change is scary. Get around the fear by boosting your change confidence.

First, gauge yours by asking yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 how confident you feel in your ability to make this change.⁠ Reflect on your number—and why you chose it. Often, our confidence is low because we’ve tried in the past and failed. The goal is to move yourself up the confidence scale. To boost your number, reflect on past successes, even if they were in a totally different arena. What strengths do you have to draw on—and how can you apply those to this new goal?

3. Make it small.

Now, take that big, awesome, excellent goal you’ve defined, and break it down to one small step you can take to move forward. The key: Start really small, because starting too big, while commendable, overwhelms our brains and becomes a setup for failure. I often ask clients to choose something that can be done in two minutes or less. It’s achievable and bite-sized enough so that your brain will have a harder time coming up with an excuse not to do it.

4. Find your cheerleaders.

Identify one or two people who will support you in moving toward your goal. Add people who motivate you, lift you up, hold you accountable, and even those who cultivate the life you want. Conversely, subtract or avoid those people who draw you off track and tend to be negative.

5. Reward yourself.

When you reward yourself, you teach your brain that this new habit is worthwhile. Rewards come in two flavors: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic rewards are internal and consist of statements about how much better we feel when we accomplish what we set out to do. For example: ”I feel so much more relaxed when I meditate, and I have a better day.” Extrinsic rewards are material items we give ourselves when we accomplish what we set out to do, such as buying a new pair of sneakers after successfully exercising for a month.

Keep in mind that intrinsic rewards are more powerful than extrinsic, so aim to focus on those to keep moving forward.

6. Manage slip-ups by “re-committing.”

What do you do when the motivation spark flickers? Don’t beat yourself up as so many of us do. Instead, recommit. While an excited initial commitment gets you through the early stages of change, recommitment ignites your reserves when you feel like giving up. Moments of low energy are inevitable on the quest for any worthy goal. We all encounter a boulder (or two) along the way.

On a daily basis, recommit to the deeper why that you’ve defined. Consider creating a mantra that resonates for you, such as “I’m committed to well-being and can make space for it in my life.” Meditate on it, repeat it silently to yourself, journal on it, say it out loud, or simply hold it in your awareness.

7. Give yourself time. 

I’ve got three words for you: Patience, patience, patience. We all get impatient with change and tend to give up when progress seems slow. But doing anything worthwhile takes time. On top of that, change isn’t linear. You’re not alone if you have good and bad weeks. We all do.

However, the people who achieve their goals recover from bad weeks, jump back on the train, and keep moving forward. That’s the difference. When you inevitably slip up or have a bad day, week, or even month, give yourself the gift of patience. Go back to one of the six techniques above and refill your motivation tank.