The 5 Best Ways to Motivate Yourself

UPDATED: March 29, 2024
PUBLISHED: September 7, 2017

How comfortable are you right now?

You might be reading this on a cramped subway shuttling to your job. You might be using this article as “research” while your bigger entrepreneurial project goes untouched. You might be looking for a quick boost to spur you on to become your version of successful.

On your success journey, you’re going to be uncomfortable, and staying motivated is one of the most difficult parts of achieving something great.

These past three weeks have been emotionally tough for me—I lost a client and significant funding keeping my business afloat, among other things. But I pride myself on my stoicism and ability to stay motivated regardless of what is going on around me.

Related: 11 Powerful Mantras for Those Who’ve Lost Motivation

So I did what I always do when I’m having a tough time. I read, and read, and read some more. I compiled the five best ways to get and stay motivated from across the web. For your reading pleasure…

1. Sometimes all you need is 5 seconds.

The most bizarre trait of human beings is how willing we are to stay dissatisfied with our lives. You have an incredible life-changing idea… and then think of 100 different reasons why you shouldn’t do it. Now imagine a life where each of these amazing ideas becomes reality.

Mel Robbins has a so-simple-I-can’t-believe-I-didn’t-think-of-it technique called the 5 Second Rule: “If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within five seconds or your brain will kill it.”

Initially, your body hates the action, but it gets results. For example, I was on a train the other day and spotted a cute girl, and 5- 4- 3- 2- 1- GO! I’m sitting next to her and we’re having a great conversation. The hardest part of that entire process was turning the instinct (She looks cute) into “Hello, my name’s Nathan.”

Next time you have an idea or an instinct, count down from five and then act. It might simply be writing down the idea, but you need to attach a physical movement to the mental impulse.

2. You need to bathe more… in motivation.

When you’re working toward a goal, it’s easy to get caught up in the drudgery of getting to that finish line. You start working harder, and harder, and harder, inching ever closer to that dream… and before you know it, you’ve lost sight of what your goal was in the first place. Cut to a loss of motivation, cut to intense stress, cut to complete personal burnout.

Enter success coach and originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Jack Canfield. His solution? Constantly bathing in things that motivate you. How? A vision board.

A vision board is a collection of affirmations, pictures and quotes that you keep in a prominent place. You need to look at this board every day to continually remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.

3. Chunk it out.

I want to have a stock investment portfolio of $650,000. Even just writing it down seems insane. On top of shelter, food and water; on top of travel costs, socializing and adventures; on top of the sheer expenditure of just existing in one of the most expensive cities in the world, if I saved $50,000 per year, it’d still take me 13 years to reach that target.

Staying motivated when faced with a goal that large and that feels overwhelmingly hard is a tough thing to manage. Thankfully, Brian Tracy, one of the original greats of the personal development world, has a concept that simplifies the goal-setting process. I’ve lovingly labeled it “chunking.”

With any of your goals, “chunk” it down into a checklist of actions that need to be completed. Each time you complete one of the smaller goals, you’ll feel that winning feeling of accomplishment.

Using my dream and my business as an example:

Goal: Have a stock investment portfolio of $650,000 in 5 years


  • Need to invest $130,000 each year
  • Need to invest $10,833 each month
  • Need to sell one end-to-end book writing package each month
  • Need to contact 100 warm leads per month to sell my service
  • Need to contact 25 leads per week
  • Need to contact 5 leads per day

Suddenly, my dream isn’t as scary as it once was. All I need to do is make five sales calls a day. Break down your goals into simple daily tasks and focus on consistently completing them.

4. Play that funky music.

I was with one of my book-writing clients the other day and he told me that he never listens to the radio. When I asked him about this, he said “I don’t allow outside forces to control my mood.” Before we all join him in putting on our tinfoil hats, he’s got a point.

Music can control your emotions, I mean we’ve all got that “killer track” that we can’t help but move our bodies to. That’s why we include music in films, to cue the audience on what emotion they should be feeling and add to that emotional beat.

Award-winning author, record producer and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin has written much on the subject, but one of the most important points is that the right music will motivate you. Whether it’s the lyrics that speak to you, the pounding beat or that irresistibly funky bassline, it’s hard to pin down why some tracks make us feel incredible. Spend some time compiling the music that gets you fired up, and when you need a dose of motivation, press play.

5. Talk to a “you expert.”

Who knows more about you than, well… you? One of the most painful truths that I had to realize about the world and myself is it’s up to me to change myself and shape the world around me. There’s just one problem: We are terrible at knowing ourselves and our motivations.

Hal Elrod, creator of the hugely influential Miracle Morning program, lists positive self-talk as one of the pillars of his program. When you wake up and before you go to sleep, mentally repeat or say aloud your personal affirmations about changes you’re making in your life.

These affirmations aren’t things like I’m a happy person or I am wealthy. Hal’s brand of affirmations go deeper. He says you need to have a clearly measurable goal and the driving force behind why you’re committed to the goal. For example, I am committed to become fitter over the next 12 months, increasing my weekly hours exercising from one to eight, so I can be proud of my body and dedication.

You’ll also need to include the actions that will enable you to reach that goal. The next part of the affirmation might read, To ensure I increase my level of exercise, I will watch one less hour of TV per day and wake up 30 minutes earlier.

From five motivational masters, straight to your brain…. Let’s get motivated!

Related: 13 Life Rules to Keep You Motivated

Photo by Dean Drobot/

Nathan Chai

Nate Chai is the founder of Five Years to Financial Freedom, a publication dedicated to helping you build success, wealth and freedom in your life. Head over to his free Financial Freedom Coaching group for daily motivational tips, high-value articles and entrepreneurial advice.