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Motivation is an important component of human behavior that enables someone to take the actions necessary to achieve their personal and professional goals. It can help you pursue valuable opportunities that have the potential to help you advance in your career and develop meaningful skills. Understanding how to build motivation can provide you with the inspiration necessary to accomplish tasks and set goals for yourself. 


In this article, we discuss what motivation is, explain how to build motivation in six steps, offer tips for building motivation, list the benefits it has and provide an example to increase your understanding. 

What is motivation?

Motivation is the desire and willingness to act to complete a task. It initiates the behaviors that ensure that you continue to work toward achieving a goal. You can apply motivation in school, work or in your personal life.

To build motivation, you can develop routines for yourself, create goals and set deadlines for achieving those goals. By setting deadlines, you can see the progress you've made, which may enable you to continue working toward long-term goals.

If you're a member of management, you may feel the motivation to help your employees finish projects and develop their skills. If you're an employee, you may feel motivated to perform a high quality of work and assist your colleagues to feel more motivated.

Motivation can help you recognize your strengths and improve your productivity. For example, if you feel motivated, you may be able to complete your project early and earn your manager’s recognition.

Related: 6 Common Types of Workplace Motivation

How to build motivation

Building motivation may help you increase your productivity and efficiency. Use these six steps to improve your motivation:

1. Set goals

Setting goals can make the process for completing tasks easier. By setting specific goals, you can apply motivation to each one, which may build your determination to complete each task associated with your goals. Try making a list of what you want to accomplish, including long-term and short-term goals.

Be sure to include the date that you want to achieve each goal. For example, if you want to earn your real estate license, you could list completing your education as a primary goal. Try to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable and time-bound.

Related: How To Write A SMART Goal (And How They Work)

2. Develop a timeline

Develop a timeline that can help track your progress and review your effort for accomplishing each task. Consider when you want to achieve a goal and then create a timeline according to your preferred deadline. After choosing a date, select milestones to help you reach the deadline.

For example, if you want to increase your typing speed to 60 words per minute, you could set milestones for slowly increasing your typing speed by 10 words each month.

Related: How To Create a Timeline (With Steps, Example and Tips)

3. Work on smaller tasks first

To build your motivation to complete a task, start with smaller tasks that may be more manageable for you to achieve. For example, if you’re completing a major project for a class try completing a series of smaller tasks first, like engaging in research for the project or outlining the paper for it. This can make it easier to complete larger tasks with more efficiency and measure your progress.

4. Assess your progress regularly

It may motivate you to see your progress as you’re completing a task. Consider implementing a system to assess your progress. For example, if you want to learn a new programming language, you might develop a project for yourself like building a website using that language with a checklist of the elements you want to include in it.

As you progress and increase your knowledge, you can check off the things on your checklist. You could also invest in a calendar or planner to record your milestones. 

Related: How To Monitor Progress

5. Develop a support system 

Look for mentors, colleagues, friends, family or instructors willing to help you achieve your goals. Having others who also care about your progress can help increase your motivation for completing tasks. Their encouragement can also help you when you’re experiencing a challenging time and require additional support. 

Related: How To Find a Mentor in 5 Steps

6. Create rewards

Creating a rewards system may help motivate you to complete tasks and achieve goals faster. Consider establishing rewards based on the goal you're trying to achieve.

If you're working toward a short-term goal, you may give yourself a small reward, like promising yourself a stay-at-home movie night if you complete your work by a certain time each day for one week. If you're working toward achieving a long-term goal, you may allow yourself a bigger reward, like a new computer.

Related: How To Apply Self-Motivation in the Workplace

Tips for building motivation

You may notice that certain factors affect your motivation in different ways. For example, you might have more motivation during certain times of the day. Understanding how to remain motivated can help you better retain your focus throughout a task and avoid missing a deadline. Here are some useful tips to help you in building motivation:

  • Practice positive thinking. Thinking positively can help you better retain your motivation and focus on the things that are most important to you. For example, if you receive constructive criticism, consider the ways you can use it to improve your performance. 

  • Continue to set new goals. As you progress and achieve your goals, continue to set new ones for yourself to remain productive. Consider what you want to achieve over the next week, month or year and work toward one goal at a time to avoid overwhelming yourself.

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise can help you improve both your mental and physical health. Try to take some time each day to go on a run or engage in some other physical activity. 

  • Take a break if necessary. If you begin to feel more stressed, consider taking a break so you can better retain your focus. For example, if you’re in the process of studying for an upcoming exam, consider taking a 10- or 20-minute break every 50 to 90 minutes.

Related: 4 Simple Ways To Maintain Motivation for Career Success

Benefits of building motivation

Here are some benefits of building motivation:

  • Increased productivity: Motivation may help you feel more willing to complete tasks, which may enable you to be more productive throughout the day.

  • Improved efficiency: By building motivation, you may have a better idea of how to create proper deadlines, which allows you to work more efficiently.

  • Healthier habits: Building your motivation may help you adopt healthy habits and reduce your more negative behaviors. For example, if you set a goal to study harder, you may use motivation to set studying goals, create a timeline and adopt better studying habits.

  • Important skills: Having motivation can allow you to develop important transferable skills that you can use personally and professionally. For example, your motivation may help you develop leadership skills that you can use with colleagues or friends.

  • Better engagement: Motivation can increase your engagement with others. For example, if you practice motivation in the workplace, it may be easier for you to interact with a higher number of customers.

  • Increased achievements: Having motivation may help you create deadlines and tasks that you can use to achieve important objectives in your life. For example, it could help you obtain an important certification for your field sooner, leading to increased career opportunities.

Related: A Guide to Achievement Motivation

Example of building motivation

Martha, a customer service representative, wants to build motivation so that she can help more customers and create a positive work environment. To strengthen her motivation, she sets a goal to talk to 20 customers per day, which can help increase her customer service skills. She decides she wants to achieve her goal in eight weeks.

She begins by starting with small tasks that can help her reach her goal. She starts by talking to five customers per day and recording information about each customer interaction. If Martha reaches her goal by the end of the eight weeks, she decides to reward herself with getting dinner from her favorite restaurant with her colleagues.

Each week, Martha tracks her progress and decides that she wants to talk to one extra person per day until she achieves her goal. By the end of the eight weeks, she’s able to achieve her goal.

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