How to be motivated: Part 4 – Goals and deadlines

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Do you suffer from low motivation? You can use goals and deadlines to keep your motivation high!

In order to have and maintain self-motivation, you need five things:

  1. belief in your ability to accomplish the goal and a kind attitude towards yourself
  2. a growth mindset
  3. intrinsic motivation
  4. good goals and deadlines
  5. good rewards

This guide will discuss the fourth step to reaching any goal.

How can you set goals you want to reach?

The most important thing to do to have a lot of motivation is to choose goals that you enjoy. This is common sense, it’s easier to be motivated to work towards something you’re interested in. That being said, many people choose goals they should do, rather than those they actually want to do. It’s a fact that we don’t always get to choose our goals.

When you do get to choose your goals, remember to make them SMART goals. SMART means specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. You can find out how to make them here: Setting English learning goals the SMART way. Starting with SMART goals make it more likely for you to succeed. Also, being in a team can be motivating. If you can, find other people who are working towards the same goal. Maybe you can support each other as you all work independently, or maybe you can share the work of reaching that goal.

Illustration of people on steps pulling each other up

Image by RosZie on Pixabay

“The most important thing that you can do to have a lot of motivation to reach your goals is to choose goals that you enjoy.”

How can you use deadlines for your benefit?

There is one time when everyone loses motivation – can you guess when that is? It’s in the middle of reaching your goal. This is called “the middle slump”. When you begin a goal, your motivation will be high because you haven’t done any of the work yet, so you’re not tired. Same for the end, you’ve already done most of the work, and the goal is within reach. But halfway through is when you feel like you’ve already done so much work, and you still have so much to do.

You can keep your motivation high the whole time you’re working on your goal by shortening your deadlines. This keeps the middle slump short. This way, if your motivation goes down, it will only be for a short amount of time. For example, you’re taking an eight week English course. Instead of setting deadlines for each week, set deadlines for each day. This way, the middle slump will only be less than an hour each day rather than a whole week.

How can you maximize your motivation?

Our motivation decreases sometimes – especially when the work we have to do to reach the goal is difficult or we don’t have time to do everything we need to do. The best way to keep your motivation high is to find an aspect of the work that you enjoy. For example, imagine that you’re taking a three hour English class once a week to become a permanent resident of Canada. You also have to work and take care of your family. You resent the work you have to do for the class. This is absolutely normal, and what I suggest is to acknowledge the frustration – it’s real – and then focus on what you enjoy about studying. Do you find the material interesting? Do you see how the information you’re learning improves your day to day life? Do you enjoy interacting with your classmates?

It’s helpful to remember that you’re unique. You, and not anyone else, should decide when and how you reach your goal. Don’t force yourself to study in the morning if you’re not a morning person. Don’t sign up for an online class if you find it difficult. There are many ways to accomplish something – find the way that works for you.
By Nastashya Wall
Sources: How to Increase Self-Motivation, Arash Emamzadeh, Psychology Today; What Separates Goals We Achieve from Goals We Don’t, Kaitlin Woolley and Ayelet Fishbach, Harvard Business Review; How to Keep Working When You’re Just Not Feeling. It Four strategies for motivating yourself, Ayelet Fishbach, Harvard Business Review; and and When thinking about a goal undermines goal pursuit, Fishbach and Choi, Science Direct. Accessed September, 2023.

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