How to be motivated: Part 1 – Be kind to yourself

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Motivation is the excitement to reach a goal. It can come from outside or inside you. For example, we work because we need to pay for our house. This is called outside (extrinsic) motivation. The reason to act comes from outside us; we need a place to live.

Motivation can also come from inside us. For example, we work because we think our job is important for our community.

To have and keep self-motivation, you need five things:

  1. to believe in yourself and be nice to yourself
  2. having a growth mindset
  3. to have inside (intrinsic) motivation
  4. to make good goals and deadlines
  5. to use good rewards

This guide will talk about the first, and maybe the most important step, to reach a goal.

When you’re positive, you’ll be more able to find new ways to solve problems you have reaching your goal. You’ll also have more energy to work on your goal.

To believe in yourself and be nice to yourself

We often want to reach a goal because we know it’s important. For example, we want to speak English better because we live in Canada. Speaking better will make our life easier. We start working on the goal – maybe we go to English classes or watch learning videos on YouTube. These are great steps to reach our goal of speaking English better. But we slow ourselves down if we talk badly to ourselves. For example, we go to English class twice a week, but we always think that we aren’t getting better fast enough. Another example is if we watch YouTube videos, but we always think that we aren’t learning everything we need to know.

Tip: When you’re talking badly to yourself, change what you’re saying. Change “I’m not getting better fast enough” to “I learnt ten new words this week and I’m proud of myself”. Think “I can” and “I have already” rather than “I can’t” and “I haven’t even.”

When you’re positive, you’ll be more able to find new ways to solve problems you have reaching your goal. You’ll also have more energy to work on your goal.

In short: Being negative takes your energy! It’s not “if” you’ll reach your goal, but “when” you’ll reach your goal.

A thing you can do today: Choose a goal you’re working on now. Write down three things you often think about that goal. If the thoughts are negative, then rewrite them to show that you are hopeful.


Here are three negative sentences that show a lack of trust in yourself.

  • I am learning English too slowly.
  • I will be stuck in this job I don’t like forever.
  • Learning English is too hard.

Here are the same three sentences but changed to be positive and to show trust in yourself.

  • Learning English is a slow process, but I work hard at learning English, and I’m proud of what I’ve done.
  • I will not be in this job forever, and I am working towards finding a better job by studying English.
  • Many people have learnt English and I will too.

By Nastashya Wall
Sources: How to build authentic motivation, Steven C. Hayes Ph.D., Psychology Today; Self-motivation explained + 100 ways to motivate yourself, Courtney Ackerman, Positive Psychology; and How to increase self-motivation, Arash Emamzadeh, Psychology Today. Accessed September 7, 2023.

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