Boosting Motivation
1. Motivation is a fixed state (it always stays the same)
Everyone feels unmotivated at times. Your motivation will fluctuate
throughout this course. However, being motivated will help you to
practice the skills you learn, recover, and stay well in the long-term. So,
it's important to notice when your motivation is getting low so that you
can do something about it.
Motivation Myths
Our level of motivation changes all the time - expect it to fluctuate
throughout this course. Your motivation is likely to dip when you face
difficult tasks or experience setbacks, and increase when you have a
success. This is normal, so try not to feel down or self-critical if your
motivation dips at times.
2. Nothing can be done to improve my motivation
Many strategies can boost your motivation, including taking action or
taking the time to think through your reasons for changing and your
reasons for staying the same. These and other strategies will be
explained in more detail below.
3. I need to wait until I feel motivated to try an activity I've been
meaning to try
Waiting until you feel motivated is a recipe for disaster! You may never
feel motivated enough to try that activity you've been putting off. The
best way to become motivated is to take action. The more you do, the
more motivated you will feel and the less you do, the less motivated you
will feel.
4. Some people just aren't motivated people
This is a very common misconception, but the world isn't divided into
motivated and unmotivated people. Everyone has the capacity to
become motivated, but we are all motivated to do different things, by
different things. The challenge will be for you to discover what truly
motivates you (which is usually something that you truly value).
Copyright © THIS WAY UP, St Vincent's Hospital Sydney Limited
Copyright © THIS WAY UP, St Vincent's Hospital Sydney Limited
5. Punishing yourself is an effective way to motivate yourself
Some people think that setting themselves high standards and criticising
themselves for not reaching these standards will make them motivated.
Sometimes, people also think that they will become 'soft' or 'indulgent' if
they praise themselves. The reality however, is quite the opposite. When
you berate yourself for your failures, how do you feel? How motivated
are you? How capable do you think you are? Try adopting a more helpful,
positive attitude towards yourself.
Helpful Strategies for Boosting Motivation
If you're having difficulty getting motivated, you can try these strategies
to boost your motivation levels.
1. Recognise when your motivation is low
Once you've identified that you're feeling unmotivated, you can do
something about it. Start by identifying the thoughts (e.g., “I can’t be
bothered”), feelings (e.g., bored, irritable), physical sensations (e.g.,
tiredness) and behaviours (e.g. making excuses, procrastination) that
characterise low motivation for you.
2. Explore your choices by weighing up the pros and cons
When you’re feeling unmotivated, it’s useful to weigh up the pros and
cons of the options by answering the following questions:
It’s important to write down your answers to the above questions. You
can use the Boosting Motivation Worksheet included at the end of
this handout.
What are the
advantages of staying
the same?
What are the
advantages of
What are the
disadvantages of
staying the same?
What are the
disadvantages of
Copyright © THIS WAY UP, St Vincent's Hospital Sydney Limited
The reasons why you want to take action.
The things that may hold you back from making this change.
What you’re afraid might (or might not) happen if you did try to
Whether this action or change is consistent with your goals and
Whether you’re ready to take that next step.
Consistent with your values (meaningful)
Achievable (small goals are more motivating than large goals that feel
These questions will help you clarify:
3. Recognise the external factors that are reducing your motivation and
take steps to manage them, if you can.
If physical illness, feeling tired, or being around certain people is draining
your motivation, try to take positive steps to change these factors. For
example, you could speak to your doctor about what you can do to help
manage your symptoms of illness, or change your sleep routine so that
you have more time to sleep.
4. Identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts that are getting in your
Once you identify the negative thoughts that are getting in the way,
replace them with helpful, encouraging statements. Think of what you
would say to a friend to encourage them to work towards an important
5. Set realistic goals and make a detailed plan to work towards these
Make sure your goals are:
Then make a specific, detailed, realistic plan to work towards your goal.
Consider what needs to happen, who needs to help, how you will do it,
when you will do it, and how you will overcome obstacles that might get
in the way. You can use the Goal Planning Worksheet.
Copyright © THIS WAY UP, St Vincent's Hospital Sydney Limited
6. Imagine yourself successfully implementing your plan
Studies show that imagining doing an activity actually makes us more
likely to do that activity! So, imagine yourself going through each step of
your plan and reaching your goal. How would you feel, what sensations
would you would notice, what would happen, how would others
7. Don’t wait until you feel motivated
Just do what you planned, slowly but surely, one step at a time. Doing
things helps boost our motivation. The more we do, the more motivated
we feel. The less we do, the less motivated we feel.
8. Tell others about your plans, and involve them in your plans
Even if you’re worried about not following through with your
commitment, share your plans and goals with other people. Making
commitments to other people to do things can help motivate you to take
action. Sometimes having external support and encouragement can help
get you going, and then your internal motivation will follow.
9. Use your strengths and think of past times you’ve been successful
Think about past times you have managed to do something when your
motivation was low. How did you do it? What things made it more likely?
How did you overcome the obstacles? How did you motivate yourself?
How can you apply this to the current problem?
10. Acknowledge success, even small successes
There are many ways you can reward yourself – praise and encouraging
self-talk, telling others, writing down and ticking off your tasks, writing
down a list of things you’ve achieved.
It’s normal to have dips in motivation and everyone feels unmotivated at times. However,
persistent low motivation feels unpleasant and can make it difficult to practice the skills
discussed in this course. Taking the time to think about the pros and cons of changing and
staying the time can help boost our motivation. So, if you’re feeling low on motivation,
take some time to complete the table below.
Copyright © THIS WAY UP, St Vincent's Hospital Sydney Limited
Boosting Motivation Worksheet
What are the advantages of
staying the same?
What are the disadvantages of
What are the disadvantages of
staying the same?
What are the advantages of
Goal Planning Worksheet
Set your goal
Make sure your goal is specific, measurable, and achieveable.
What do you need
to achieve this
Who do you need
to help you achieve
this goal?
How will you do it?
What obstacles will
you encounter?
How will you
overcome these
What will help you
achieve this goal?
What will you do?
When will you do
Why will you do