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Five tips to improve your motivation

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For people living with mental illness, feeling a lack of motivation can be a common experience.

This can present in many ways. It may be lack of motivation to go to work, to socialise with your friends and family, difficulty getting out of bed, or problems tending to basic personal needs such as having a shower or brushing your teeth.

Lack of motivation can be a debilitating feeling and it can be difficult to know how to create a shift when feeling this way.

When people talk about improving their mindset, a common concern is not having the motivation to make the necessary changes. People often say, 'I don't have the motivation to do that' or 'I can't do that'. This dialogue then becomes a vicious, repetitive cycle, that can be tricky to get out of.

It's hard to implement any changes when we are lacking the motivation to do so. The reality is for this to shift to occur, it requires affirmative action. This probably sounds daunting.

So, here are five strategies to help you make changes, decide on your 'plan of action' and increase your motivation.

Goal setting

Setting goals can be a good way to know what it is you are aiming to achieve. When they are achieved, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and in turn increases motivation. 

It's common for people to set unrealistic goals, which makes them unachievable and decreases motivation. To ensure you meet your goals, and in turn increase your motivation, setting SMART goals can be helpful.

SMART goals stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-measured. 

When setting your goals, try thinking about them through the lens of the SMART principles.

Short and long-term goals

Further to SMART goals, it can be helpful to think about what your longer-term goals are.

These long-term goals can be broken up into a series of short-term goals that, step-by-step, take you closer to your ultimate end point.

For example, if you want to run a marathon, you wouldn't go out tomorrow and try to run a full 42kms. That would be too much for anyone as a first step. 

You would break this down and train yourself to run 5km, 10km and 21km, before you reach the final goal of 42km. Each short-term goal requires it's own steps. Breaking your goals down into more manageable steps makes them more achievable.

Using values to guide goal setting

For goals to have meaning, it is important that they align with our values. It can be worthwhile working out what your core values are, then ensure any goals aligns with what you believe you should be investing your time and effort in.

Activity schedule

Having a schedule for the week – breaking days into either morning, afternoon and evening, or hour blocks – will help you schedule the activities you want to accomplish.

This can start out small, by scheduling one activity a day, or a few through the week. You can then gradually introduce more activities into your schedule.

What you add to the schedule should be guided by your goals and values. This will ensure it aligns with what you want to achieve.

Schedule enjoyable and purposeful tasks

When scheduling activities, it can be good to think about tasks you find enjoyable or pleasurable. This increases your intrinsic motivation, meaning you want to do these tasks because you enjoy them.

Tasks that make us feel a sense of accomplishment, or fulfil a purpose, increase our motivation once completed. There is a sense of wanting to continue to achieve. It's this sense which is the driving force, or 'secret', behind feeling motivated.

If you need further guidance or support to meet your goals, don't hesitate to call the SANE Help Centre on 1800 18 7263, or connect with others on the SANE Forums

The Forums are an anonymous, online community of people who live with mental illness. So there's a good chance you'll find some practical tips to help you on your journey.

You can also join the special online #TopicTuesday event 'Motivation and mental health' on Tuesday, August 14 at 7pm AEST.

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