The Biggest Secret to Consistent Motivation

Maintaining motivation is a challenge that everyone understands. Whether it's sticking to a fitness program, pursuing career goals, or even just keeping up with daily tasks, the journey often starts with a burst of enthusiasm that fades quickly.

This isn't just a personal inconvenience; it can be a significant barrier to achieving our highest goals.


So, what's the secret to breaking this cycle? How do some people seem to find a well of motivation that never runs dry?

Let's find out.


What's the Secret to Consistent Motivation?

Breaking your goals into small, manageable ones will keep you consistently motivated. Especially as you accomplish each goal, your "achievement stack" becomes a source of motivation to keep you going.


Prepare to discover a path to motivation that is more consistent and enjoyable. When your motivated pursuing your goals becomes a fulfilling journey instead of a grind.


What is Motivation? 

Motivation is the driving force behind all human actions. It's the internal energy that moves us towards achieving goals, whether they are personal, professional, or social. There are two kinds of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.


  • Intrinsic Motivation: This comes from each person. It's driven by personal satisfaction or the joy of doing something. For example, you might work on a hobby because you find it fulfilling or a project because it's in line with your values.
  • Extrinsic Motivation: This type of motivation is fueled by external rewards or pressures. Examples include working hard for a promotion, studying to get good grades, or dieting to lose weight. The motivation comes from the desire to gain a reward or avoid a negative outcome, not from the enjoyment of the activity.

One of the biggest misconceptions about motivation is that it can be summoned at will or is something that some people have more of. However, motivation isn't a character trait but a state that can fluctuate and be influenced by different things.

 Another common myth is that motivation is all you need to achieve goals. The reality is that motivation is just the starting point.

Consistent effort towards long-term goals requires more than just initial enthusiasm. It requires strategies, habit formation, and, often, a shift in mindset.

 Three principles can help explain how motivation works:


  • Goal Setting Theory: This principle states that setting specific and challenging goals is key to better performance. The key is the goal's specificity and the challenge it presents, which focuses attention and effort.
  • Self-Determination Theory: This idea explains that people are more motivated when they feel they are choosing their actions, are competent, and have a sense of connection with others.
  • Expectancy Theory: Expectancy theory says that people are motivated to act in specific ways based on their expectations of what will happen because of their actions. In other words, if people expect their efforts to lead to great results, they are more likely to be motivated to make the effort.


The Biggest Secret to Consistent Motivation

In pursuing personal and professional success, we often run into obstacles that challenge our commitment. The biggest secret to overcoming these obstacles isn't a grand plan but something much simpler -- "Small, Manageable Goals." 

The Power of Small Steps

The concept of 'Small, Manageable Goals' is simple but powerful. It's about breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more achievable parts.

It's like solving a jigsaw puzzle – focusing on one piece at a time to eventually complete the whole picture. By setting smaller goals, what once seemed overwhelming becomes less intimidating.

Sustaining Motivation Through Achievable Goals

One big benefit of setting smaller goals is a consistent sense of achievement. Each time a small goal is accomplished, it triggers the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for pleasure and satisfaction.

This positive reinforcement motivates us to keep pursuing our goals. This is where you begin to create a positive feedback loop that supports motivation through each small victory and holds back discouragement.

The Science Behind the Strategy

The effectiveness of small, manageable goals is well grounded in psychological principles. According to the Goal-Setting Theory proposed by Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham, specific and challenging goals lead to higher performance. 1

When goals are broken down into smaller parts, they become more specific and achievable, enhancing focus and commitment.

This method works together with the concept of the 'Zeigarnik Effect.' The Zeigarnik Effect is a l phenomenon where people remember uncompleted tasks easier than completed tasks. 2

By breaking goals into smaller steps, our brain remains engaged and focused on the task, improving our memory and attention to detail.


How Do You Do It?

Now that you understand the concept, how do you make it work for you?


Set Small, Achievable Goals

  • What's the Big Picture: Start by identifying your main objective. This could be anything from improving your health and advancing in your career to learning a new skill.
  • Break It Down: Once you have your big goal, break it down into more manageable tasks. For example, if your goal is to write a book, your smaller goals include researching the book, writing a certain number of words daily, or completing one chapter every two weeks.
  • Be Specific and Realistic: Ensure your small goals are specific and measurable. Instead of setting a goal to 'workout more,' set a goal to 'walk 30 minutes every day'. Make sure that your goals are realistic within the time frame.
  • Set Deadlines: Set a clear deadline for each small goal. This creates a sense of urgency and helps in maintaining focus and momentum.

Celebrate Small Victories

  • Acknowledge Every Achievement: Celebrate each small goal you accomplish. This could be as simple as taking a moment to appreciate your progress or treating yourself to something you enjoy.
  • Reflect on Progress: Regularly look back at what you have already achieved. This boosts your morale and helps in understanding what tactics are working and what should be changed.
  • Share Your Success: Sharing your progress with friends, family, or a support group can be incredibly motivating. It creates a sense of accountability and provides encouragement from others.

Making It a Consistent Habit

  • Daily Planning: Make goal-setting part of your daily routine. Spend a few minutes every morning or the night before planning your goals for the next day.
  • Visual Reminders: Keep your goals visible. Use sticky notes, digital reminders, or a journal to keep track of your goals and deadlines.
  • Regular Review: Set aside time each week or month to review your goals. This practice helps in maintaining focus and adjusting goals as necessary.
  • Stay Flexible: Be prepared to change your goals as life happens. Flexibility is important in maintaining the sustainability of this practice.
  • Mindset Matters: Cultivate a growth-oriented mindset. Understand that setbacks are part of the process, and what matters most is continuous effort and improvement.


Things to Watch Out For 

 As you move forward, here are some common issues to watch out for.

Procrastination and Fear of Failure

  • Understand Why: Procrastination and fear of failure come from issues like perfectionism or a lack of confidence. Understanding why you procrastinate or fear failure is the first step to beating it.
  • Set Realistic Expectations: Setting unreachable standards can lead to fear of failure. It's important to set realistic and achievable goals.
  • Break Tasks into Smaller Steps: Overwhelming tasks lead to procrastination. Break them into smaller, manageable tasks so you won't feel overwhelmed.
  • Focus on Progress, Not Perfection: Emphasize your progress rather than striving for perfection. This way reduces fears of failure.
  • Implement a Reward System: Reward yourself for completing tasks. This can help combat procrastination.

Staying Motivated When Progress Seems Slow

  • Track and Celebrate Small Achievements: Keep track of your progress, no matter how small. Celebrating progress can boost your morale and motivation.
  • Reassess and Adjust Goals: If progress seems slow, reassess and adjust your goals to make them more achievable.
  • Seek Inspiration: Find stories of people who have achieved similar goals or talk to mentors for motivation and guidance.
  • Stay Patient and Persistent: Understand that progress takes time, and consistent effort is critical to achieving long-term goals.

Dealing with Distractions

  • Create a Productive Environment: Set up your space to reduce distractions. This might mean finding a quiet place to work or using apps to block digital distractions.
  • Set Boundaries: Learn to say no to commitments that don't line up with your goals. Setting clear boundaries will keep you focused.
  • Surround Yourself with Support: Surround yourself with people who support your goals. 
  • Practice Time Management: Use time management techniques like time-blocking to make more efficient use of your time.
  • Reflect on Your Why: Remember why you set these goals in the first place—a strong why can be a powerful motivator. 

Overcoming obstacles is part of the journey and contributes to personal growth and success.


Beyond the Basics

Now that you have the basics let's check out some more advanced techniques.

Habit Stacking and Motivational Pairing

  • Habit Stacking: This technique involves pairing a new habit with an existing one. For example, if your goal is to read more and you already drink coffee every morning, you could stack the new habit of reading a few pages of a book with your coffee routine. Habit stacking makes it easier to adopt the new habit as it becomes a natural extension of an old habit.
  • Motivational Pairing: Motivational pairing is about associating a task you may not be particularly excited about with an activity you enjoy. For example, if exercising is tedious, you could pair it with listening to your favorite podcast or music. This pairing can make the less enjoyable task more appealing and increase your motivation.

The Role of Supportive Community

  • Leveraging Community Support: Being part of a community that shares similar goals will give your motivation a huge boost. The community provides encouragement, accountability, and valuable insight. Being surrounded by like-minded people is a powerful motivator.
  • Seeking Feedback and Mentorship: Regular feedback and guidance from mentors can help keep you on track. Constructive feedback can offer new perspectives and solutions to your challenges.
  • Networking and Collaborating: Networking and collaboration open up opportunities for learning and growth. It can also provide a sense of belonging and increase your commitment to your goals.
  • Celebrate Community Achievements: Celebrating others' achievements within your community can be inspiring and motivating.


What Will You Do Now?

This is your life and your journey. Let the simple process of setting small, manageable goals help you crush each day.

Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can. Set a goal, however small, and commit to it.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and your step today could be the beginning of a journey toward your dreams.

The power is yours to meet all your goals and make every day better!



1.Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2013). Goal setting theory, 1990. In E. A. Locke & G. P. Latham (Eds.), New developments in goal setting and task performance (pp. 3–15). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

2.Online, E. (2021, April 1). Learn Better with the Zeigarnik Effect. EDHEC Online.

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