If you’re struggling to find the motivation to brace the colder temps and make it to the gym or hit the road this winter, why not try one of these psychology research-backed ways to boost your willpower and desire to keep working towards your goals. Here are 6 science-backed ways to boost your motivation levels and achieve your goals.
1. Harness the power of peer pressure
While peer pressure usually carries negative connotations, research shows that it can be a powerful motivator for both positive and negative behaviours.
The people you associate with often determine the type of person you become. If you want improved health, association with other healthy people is usually the strongest and most direct path of change. We also tend to develop the eating habits and even career aspirations of those around us. So choose your friends wisely, and let them help you stay motivated to reach your goals.
2. Reward yourself
Rewarding yourself is undoubtedly the most common motivator, because it works. The problem comes in when that reward is counter-productive to our goals. This is why health and fitness experts often advise against using food as a reward mechanism. Rather stick to rewarding yourself with experiences or perhaps new workout clothing.
Financial rewards are also extremely effective if you can find someone who is willing to bankroll this type of approach. It is a powerful motivational tool that has been successfully implemented in wellness reward programmes such as Discovery Vitality Rewards. Joining such a programme may, therefore, help to boost your motivation levels. The trick is to find the rewards that are most meaningful to you.
3. Maintain a positive mindset
Studies in psychology have found a direct link between a person’s emotions and their levels of motivation. People who try to accomplish tasks with a negative mindset are far more likely to quit before accomplishing their goal than those who started out with positive thoughts. For this reason, it is best to think about the positive aspects of your impending workout rather than any negatives. As an example, if you’re heading out for a long run or ride consider how good it will feel to get outdoors, with the wind and the warmth of the sun on your face, rather than how difficult it will be.
4. Commit to consequences
Another powerful motivator is a type of commitment device that imposes meaningful and serious implications should you fail to achieve a goal. For instance, we’re more likely to follow through on our goals if we make them public by sharing them with friends and family.
The other commitment device often cited as a powerful motivator is the threat of financial loss, but this too needs to be meaningful to be effective. For example, committing to pay your gym partner every time you miss a gym session has been shown in numerous studies to be highly effective in ensuring adherence to an exercise programme. It is also one of the reasons why paying for a personal trainer increases gym attendance.
5. Give yourself a fresh start
A study conducted by researchers found that temporal markers – time-based landmarks that prompt us to start afresh, like New Year’s day or the first of a month – help boost motivation by helping people to let go of past failures and promote a positive perception of potential future outcomes. So start fresh with your goals – start next Monday or the 1st of the next month.
6. Track your progress
From Fitbit trackers to Apple watches – there is no shortage of quality fitness and health trackers on the market that not only tracks your progress and effort but motivate you to live healthier in general. These trackers keep you accountable and help you track your progress because few things motivate as much as seeing progress. (Here are 4 ways wearable tech is making you fitter)
There is no reason not to reach your fitness and health goals during the colder months. All you need to do is work smarter and keep yourself motivated!
How do you stay motivated? Let us know on social media!
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.