How To Keep Your Motivation On Track: The Essential Guide For 2021

Steve Alama —

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.”Anatole France

Welcome to January 2021!

The fuel tank of inspiration and motivation is often directly proportional to the month of the year. In January and February, it’s pretty full because we have a clean slate and a renewed sense of energy.

Fast forward a few months and the levels tend to go up and down depending on the season and what is going on for you.

Don’t leave your internal fuel tank up to the mercy of external factors.

How can you keep a steady gauge despite what the year holds for you?

When life does happen and you find your tank dropping below the halfway mark, consider these strategies:

Just do the next right thing for 5 minutes

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”– Aristotle

You have started the year with every great intention to make progress on your life and business goals. Generally, the first two weeks are amazing and all go according to plan. It’s when you hit week two that these plans tend to fall off the rails.

What happens if you fall off the wagon and skip the exercise session you promised yourself or give into the brownie that was staring at you for the last hour?

Before you head down the familiar path of self-judgement, interrupt your pattern and forgive yourself. Fast track the negative self-talk of the inner critic and just do the right thing for the next 5 minutes.

Go and get a glass of water or walk outside for 5 minutes. If you lost your temper, go give your kids a hug and just do something that signals to yourself you are back on track and on the path to progress.

See your day in micro choices

“The difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is how high you raise your foot.”Benny Lewis

Reframe your day from an ‘all or nothing’ attitude to micro choices.

Don’t fall into the trap of writing off the entire day because of one poor decision.

If the last choice wasn’t your best — then make a conscious decision that next choice will be a better one.

You can also break your day into quarters so if your morning wasn’t your best performance, you still have multiple opportunities to correct it.

What would this look like if I did things differently?

“Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.”– Benjamin Disraeli

Often motivation declines when you feel like you have tried everything yet you still have not progressed on your goals. Naturally, over time, this will start to derail your motivation and drive.

Author, Tim Ferriss, suggests you ask yourself this question:

‘What would this look like if I did things differently?’

If you are sitting in meetings all day and only start your ‘actual work’ at 3 pm– ask yourself if you need to set stricter boundaries on accepting meeting requests.

Do you have a pattern of scheduling exercise for 5 PM and when the time comes, you would rather slump down in front of the TV from exhaustion?

What about finding a new time slot that matches your energy levels — early morning or lunchtime?

See your day as a lifestyle design experiment, keep trying new things until you find the routine that works for you.

It will require you to give yourself permission to let go of how you used to do things in order to find a better solution.

Your own inaction and failure to keep the promises you make to yourself will chip away at your confidence and ultimately leave you feeling unmotivated.

What is the best use of my time right now?

“In a single moment, a person can choose to change everything. Change doesn’t have to take a long time, it happens the instant we decide.” ― Benjamin P. Hardy

When you find yourself in overwhelm, ask yourself ‘What is the best use of my time right now?’

If you only have a 30-minute gap, what is the best use of your time?

If you sit procrastinating and browsing the socials and perusing the latest news updates, that time disappears along with the lost opportunity of progress.

Remind yourself, it is micro wins over time that create the improvements you are seeking. A micro win is simply a small step — think Lego block — towards achieving your goal.

If you are writing a proposal or creating a PowerPoint, just writing down the table of contents or slide headings is a micro win.

At the end of that 30 minutes, you made progress! Then when the next gap of time comes up, you can continue with the momentum that has been created.

Don’t think just because you have a small gap, you can’t get anything significant done so you may as well waste it.

Those pockets of time are little gifts throughout the day. In order to utilize this found time effectively, you need to have done the work first of defining the most important tasks for the day first so you are ready to go.

Understand where your time can’t go

“Design your life in such a way that you would never need a vacation from it.” Boruch Akbosh

If you are feeling unmotivated to move forward be it on your work or personal goals, start by planning your week before you are in it but with a new spin.

Think about it differently this time — start by including everybody else’s schedule into the diary first.

For example, if you have kids — schedule in their lessons, homework, activities, and your daily zoom call with your team. In this way, you can clearly see what gaps are remaining in the week.

Now — insert your self-care blocks, work blocks, housework blocks, etc. If you don’t take all of this into consideration, then you are setting yourself up for failure and frustration because you haven’t managed your own expectations of what is practically possible with the time available to you.

By managing your time this way, you can create an attitude of time abundance rather than time scarcity.

I don’t mean you have more hours available but you have a realistic view of the hours available to make progress on your life and business goals.

When the inevitable distractions arise, you know exactly what blocks are available for the rest of the week.

Failure to plan this way will leave you in constant overwhelm, and an attitude of time scarcity — a fear there isn’t enough time in the day for your life and business goals.

Adopt the Maui habit

“If you want to have more, do more and be more, it all begins with the voice that no one else hears” — Tim Ferriss

BJ Fogg is a Stanford professor and author of ‘Tiny Habits’. He says that every morning, you should start your day with the Maui habit. It goes like this :

‘After I wake up and put my feet on the floor, I will say ‘It’s going to be a great day’.

Even if you are not feeling it inside, it creates a trigger for your brain and body and puts you into a positive state. Think about the alternative of ‘Oh no — not another Monday!’ How can you possibly feel motivated on the latter?

BJ says ‘The Maui Habit creates a positive feeling that inspires many people to add other good habits to their morning — like making the bed.

As you do the Maui Habit, you can experiment with other habits, like doing the dishes before you leave in the morning or thinking of one thing you’re grateful for as you brush your teeth.

I champion the Maui Habit because this simple action helps you to tackle other challenges in the morning. When you succeed with those, you create an upward trajectory for your day that can uplift your attitude and boost your performance at work and beyond’.

Practice gratitude

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance” — Eckhart Tolle

This is an instant way to change your mood, focus and perspective. During challenging times, one tends to focus on what is missing.

When you find yourself erring on the side of lack, take out a piece of paper or a journal and write down what you are grateful for. Don’t think about it — write it.

Aim for at least 3 things every day and at the end of the day, add another 3 things you are grateful for that happened in the day.

Over time, you begin to change the lens of what you focus on and by appreciating the small things, you generate feelings of joy and boost your energy from the inside out.

Replace the word should with want

“Either you must control your thoughts or the outside forces will control them and be warned that the outside forces usually consist of fears, worries and doubts.”― Maddy Malhotra

You are probably wondering how this is going to boost your motivation.

Let me tell you, this one is crucial to keep your internal fuel tank at full capacity. You often fall into the trap of allowing ‘mind sneakers’ to creep into your vocabulary. You know what I’m talking about — words like ‘ought to, should, have to’.

“What should I do today? I should be further by now…”

These words create instant anxiety because you immediately think ‘what if it’s the wrong decision? What if I miss out on another opportunity?’ When you operate from this space, you are signaling self-doubt and fear of failure.

And the more you buy into this story, the more you begin to question if you can trust yourself and ultimately hold back taking action.

When you begin your day asking yourself ‘what do I want to do today?’, you start to show up to your creative self and more importantly not your perfect self.

Words like ‘want, can, choose’ — these tap into the energy of inspiration. The intention becomes about something that brings your authentic self along for the ride and this is where you really flourish.

Have the courage to trust yourself and bring your own unique spin and ideas. There are no absolutes, anything and everything is up for grabs. There is no ‘should be’ way of expressing yourself.

In the words of Oscar Wild — “Be Yourself. Everyone else is already taken”.


“Your future self is watching right now through memories. Do yourself a favor and make it something worth watching’ — Aubrey de Grey

Intention precedes motivation. Decide who you want to be and show up congruently in your actions.

Once you have made the choice of what you will no longer tolerate, then strictly speaking you don’t need motivation to convince you to do the right thing.

You need to be your why and let that be the ultimate driving force to make decisions in your own best interest.

On the days where none of these tools work for you, simply reach out to someone and make their day better.

If you are feeling low, chances are they are too — especially friends who have gone into radio silence or hobbit mode.

Being a contribution to someone else is the most immediate way to energize yourself.

Here’s to a fabulous 2021,

Warm wishes



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Lori Milner

Lori Milner

Author. TEDx Speaker. Trainer. Coach. Mother of two. Passionate about personal growth and creating work/life harmony.