As a mental health counselor who works with teenagers, I frequently have parents coming to me and telling me their teen isn’t motivated to do anything or make any changes, even the changes THEY say they want in their own lives. Although these parents are talking about their teenage kids, this is something we can all relate to. Why do you stay stuck in that dead-end job despite your sentiment every day that you want to leave? Why do you continue to eat in an unhealthy way and resist exercise like the plague even though you want to be healthy and fit? Why do you make a slew of promises to yourself only to be in the exact same position 90 days later? One word: Motivation.

What is motivation?

Motivation is a force which causes someone to act or do something. There are also varying degrees of motivation. We can be motivated to reach a certain goal but not be motivated to the degree that we’re willing to endure the pain and hardship it takes to get there. When this occurs you end up feeling hopeless because you have a desire but never see the end result you created in your head. This ends up lowering your degree of motivation. There are two main things you need to build motivation: a reason which will drive you so hard that you will endure whatever necessary struggles it takes to get to your end goal and continued action.

What’s your why?

Have you ever heard the saying “what’s your why?” Basically, it means what’s the passion and purpose which drives you forward every day. Maybe it’s your kids, financial freedom, making an impact in your community, or leaving a legacy which will always be remembered. If you don’t know what your why is yet then ask yourself “what would I do if I had everything in the world and if I could do anything without the risk of failure?” Write down a bunch of answers to this question. The more the better during this brainstorming stage! Next, post these in places you’ll see every day and pay attention to your shift in attitude, belief, and action when you merely read these statements.

Action is the key to success!

The next part to building motivation is taking action. This may seem counter intuitive because a lot of people think you need motivation to take action in the first place. Not true! You just need a desire to get there. Think about it, if I wanted to be the best therapist in the world but I never saw clients, my degree of motivation would lower. If, however, I open my doors and saw clients, then the more clients I see, the more motivated I become to continue pursuing my goal. If you’re thinking of starting a business, maybe start with writing down an idea and the value it would provide to your customer. Or maybe you want to lose 100 pounds but have no idea where to start. The first action step could be to download a workout app or create a support system to hold you accountable and encourage you. Or you can start altering your diet and throwing some healthier foods in the grocery cart. There are many starting points to reach any goal. The point is, the more you take action, the more motivated you become. This increase in motivation drives you to take more action in order reach your ultimate goal. This is also the point where you want to start testing out “what’s your why.” Every time you start to feel your motivation dwindle, start saying one of those reasons you wrote down earlier and see the impact it has on your ability to push forward.

At the end of the day, everyone has the ability to be successful! Yes, even you!