Achieving our goals is in some ways what provides us with motivation. However, some goals are much easier to measure than others, so our motivation can be hard to maintain. This is especially true for longer-term goals, which often have no tangible daily benchmarks. Maintaining motivation for these longer-term goals is something we need to address within ourselves. It is easy to put up barriers to this motivation. By the same token, it is also possible to get over them. Once you learn how to do this, you have mastered your own motivation, and are on your way to being the best you can be.

Take easy steps

One of the best ways to get over barriers is to recognise them and acknowledge your success when you do get over them. For instance, by reading this article, you have already taken the first step in making a new start. If you have felt your motivation running low, you have looked for (and found!) a way to start improving it. Another way of putting this; don’t be too hard on yourself. Long-term goals cannot be achieved in the short term. We can feel overwhelmed if we try and think too far ahead, so breaking larger goals into manageable daily or weekly activities will go a long way toward helping you overcome this. Small bite-sized goals mean you can celebrate your progress regularly which will give you motivation and spur you on. In the here and now, it is much easier to analyse small obstacles. While these may indeed be small individually, they can add up very quickly to create a daunting whole. It is likely that each small obstacle comes with its own history, which you can separate from each individual problem. By breaking obstacles down at this level, you start to take control of individual barriers. This itself gives you the motivation to tackle other obstacles in a similar, logical way whether at home, at work or in life.

Don’t compare

One real barrier to motivation is comparing ourselves to others, or what we imagine are other people’s achievements. In fact, it is highly likely that any given individual has their own motivation issues. When we have conversations with new acquaintances, they often compliment us on how “in control” we look! This is a reminder to focus on what we can control ourselves. It is very important not to fall into the trap of wondering what other people think. The simple fact is that we never know what other people are thinking. Making real progress in overcoming barriers to motivation can only happen if we don’t feel we are being watched. Getting over this worry will free you to address what might seem “trivial” problems, but which are in fact real obstacles stopping you from improving your own motivation. There is nothing wrong with starting small; a fact you may only be able to believe without an imaginary audience.

Build on your successes

Keeping track of your achievements is a great way of sustaining self-improvement. Rather than keeping everything in your head, write it down. This itself is a barrier you can overcome. Write down exactly what it is that is stopping you from doing something. This will not only help you visualise each barrier, but also normalise the process of keeping a written record. It may be that you can tick off each barrier you get over, as a reminder of what you have achieved. This could help in forming a plan of what you want to achieve each day. We are all different, so one size doesn’t fit all. When keeping a written record or plan, make sure it suits you and helps you, rather than becoming an obstacle itself. By working out how your own motivation works, you can prepare yourself to ask for the help of others. Positive self-help programs work with your own self discoveries to find out how to improve your motivation in the longer term. By realising your own mental processes, you help others help you in ways which feel right for you.

What barriers have you overcome to stay motivated?