Often times when a person is struggling to find motivation, they are struggling with some aspect of their mental health. The lack of motivation is a signal that the person may be struggling with a mental health issue or is out of balance on some kind of mental wellness area in their life.

The ability to find the energy, motivation, or desire to get things done or to become healthier is just not there. They find it difficult to have the motivation to do things to get healthier. They find themselves saying, “I know what I need to do, but I just can’t find the energy to do it.”

Or, they might say, “I just don’t want to do this.” Sometimes these tasks can be as simple as getting out of bed in the morning or as complex as finding a new job or breaking up with a toxic partner.

Most people understand that they need to take responsibility for their own health and wellness.  They want to live happy, healthy, and inspired lives. This is vital to living a full and abundant life. So, why is it that some people succeed and others don’t? Why do some people find themselves with a lack of motivation that can be challenging to overcome, while others rally and find solutions that help increase their motivation?

Here are 10 things you can do to help you find motivation and avoid deteriorating mental and physical health. The following list is meant to help people find the motivation they need to get going again, find ways to meet their needs, and find the ability to live a healthy lifestyle.

This list is not comprehensive, and parts of it will take some discipline, but people who follow these guidelines are on the path to finding positive momentum and the motivation to change.

Ten Things to Help You Find Motivation to Change

1. Identify your needs.

This needs to be the first step because it will establish what is important. It is impossible to be successful and motivated without understanding what you truly desire to achieve. In this stage, the idea is to identify your top ten wants or needs. Look at each area of health in your life: spiritual, physical, emotional/mental, social/relational, familial/romance, financial, occupational, environmental, and intellectual. Ask what you need to be healthier or happier in each of these areas.

Is it more time in your Bible? Is it developing the discipline of meditation or prayer? Is it more time at the gym or going for a long walk? Is it saying yes to more outings with friends or cozying up with a good book? Is it putting money in savings or spending on some needed improvements?

Is it having intentional conversations with your spouse or spicy alone time? Is it getting more sleep or watching less Netflix? Is it having more alone time or travel or time outside? What is it that you really need and want?

2. Write it down.

There is a Harvard research study that clearly documented that when people write things down (i.e. goals), they are significantly more likely to achieve them, even if they never look at the list again! Also, when you write things down, you are more likely to pay attention and get them done.

Some people find that setting a timer to work on something for a mere five minutes, gets them over the hump of inertia and when the timer goes off, they are so into getting things done that they keep on working. Get out some plain paper and make those lists.

Label each page with one area of health mentioned above. Write down some goals to focus on for the next several months in each area to meet that need in your life. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer, and no one can do this for you. If you want to be healthy and struggle less with motivation and mental health issues, then write these things down.

3. Set realistic goals.

Setting goals is so important. Remember to be kind, gentle, and realistic in the first round of goal setting. When you think of goals in each area of health, consider keeping it to one area and setting 1-2 goals to work on.

Reflect upon how realistic they are for you during this season of life, and take into consideration any additional stressors concerning whatever you are going through. For example, if you haven’t exercised in months, it might be too stressful to write down that you want to go to the gym six times a week. Start slow and steady. Being realistic gets results.

The idea is to create small, attainable, measurable steps. A more realistic goal could be going to the gym two-three times a week. Make sure to look at the goals you set. Are they doable for you? If not, it’s okay to set smaller goals. If you have little to no motivation and are battling mental illness or trauma or other serious issues, it’s important to take one small, a realistic, and achievable step at a time.

4. Find accountability.

If you want to go someplace fast, go alone. But, if you want to go someplace far in life, go with a buddy! It is difficult for people to sustain the motivation to achieve their goals when no one is in their corner cheering them on.

Accountability is a great motivator because you have someone asking you how you are doing with your goals, helping ensure you are getting your needs met, and taking care of yourself. We are social beings, created to live in fellowship with one another.  People tend to fair better together. We aren’t meant to do life on our own. Find someone to help you in this journey.

Remember there are lots of options for support. It could be a professional counselor, a mentor, a partner, a pastor, or a friend. It may take a little courage and vulnerability to ask them for help, but you can do it! Just ask them if they would be willing to exercise with you, text you in the morning to get out of bed, or do a Bible reading plan with you.

It takes honesty and humility to share your struggles and needs with another person, but most people are honored to help. Keep in mind that this person is helping you, and you are entrusting them with your needs, so choose wisely!

5. Understand the “why.”

Time to take a kind and gentle but honest look at yourself.  It’s time ask, “Why am I struggling so much?” There are many possibilities for why a person may be struggling. Take the time to ask yourself: “Why is this so hard for me to do? Why am I struggling to do this at all? Am I possibly struggling with a diagnosable mental illness that is affecting my daily life?

Is it time I seek out a counselor or therapist to explore why so much of the time I am barely functioning? Is it possibly grief or trauma or significant loss? Is it a difficult transition or a new stage of life? Is it a lack of self-worth or low self-esteem?”

It is important to identify what it is that is keeping you from taking care of yourself and ensuring your needs are met. If you can’t name it, find someone who can help you to identify and name it.

Then think about those needs and those goals you wrote about earlier and consider why you would do them in the first place. Is it to be the healthiest version of yourself? Is it so you are better able to love others? Is it because you want to feel better? Name it so you can claim it.

6. Build in rewards.

Rewards are strong motivators to help you reach your goals and they work to positively reinforce new behaviors. An example could be something like, “if I go to the gym three times this week, I’ll buy a new book” or “if I have that hard conversation with my boss, I’ll treat myself to some ice cream.”

Think about some things that you love to do or want to have in your life and build in rewards. After you write those goals, then write your rewards down. Then follow through with rewarding yourself when you can do the things you need.

7. Set intentions.

If you do any mindful meditations or practice yoga, you will often hear them tell you to set your intentions for your day or the practice. It could look something like, “I intend to put aside my anxious thoughts today and be present in the here and now” or “I intend to reach out of my shell today and connect with another person” or “I intend to pay attention to my needs today.” Setting an intention every day can help motivate you to focus on that for the day.

8. Measure your progress.

As mentioned earlier, you want to have goals that are measurable and not vague. “I want to go to the gym more” is vague. “I want to go to the gym three times a week” is measurable. “I want to save more money” is vague. “I want to save $50 a week” is measurable. Track your progress. If one week you only make it to the gym once, write that down. That’s progress toward meeting your goal.

If you are only able to say $35 one week, write it down. It’s progress. It’s about small, attainable steps in the right direction. When not motivated, it’s hard to do any steps, much less the baby steps. Tracking your progress can help you see you are at least moving in the right direction.

9. Say positive affirmations.

This step may seem silly, but affirmations are powerful tools for self-esteem and self-worth building and are also highly motivating. Write some down in places where you will easily see: your bathroom mirror, on a card on your dashboard, on your nightstand, on the background of your phone.

These can be something like, “I am just as valuable as others, and my needs matter, too” or “I can be a healthy person” or “I am capable of doing _____.” Don’t make it complicated, but you may find that it could be helpful to cheer yourself on.

10. Be gracious with yourself.

Remember, change won’t happen overnight, and it takes a while to gain motivation to be healthy or make changes in your life. There may be weeks you don’t get to the gym, or you overspend, or you don’t spend any time in your Bible, or you sleep too much. You won’t be able to do this perfectly, so don’t expect yourself to. It’s okay to go slow. Be gracious with yourself and have realistic expectations.

Christian Counseling to Increase Motivation

If you’d like additional support in implementing some of the steps outlined in this article, I would be happy to meet with you. Feel free to contact our office to schedule an appointment with me or one of the other therapists available to meet your needs. You don’t have to struggle alone; reach out today to take the next step in your wellness journey.

“Remember why you started.”, Courtesy of Cristofer Jeschke, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “You Got This”, Courtesy of Prateek Katyal, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Fearless”, Courtesy of Tegan Mierle, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Standing on the Point”, Courtesy of Samuel Scrimshaw, Unsplash.com, CC0 License


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