9 tricks to motivate yourself to reach your goals

Finish lineReuters Pictures/Kim Kyung HoonSometimes motivation needs to come from within.

Motivation often comes from outside sources.

Maybe your boss has set a due date for a project report or your personal trainer is shouting at you while you power through push-ups.

But sometimes motivation needs to come from within. Your boss won’t always be hovering over you asking for status updates on your project report — you have to make the personal choice to work on it.

Because pushing yourself to work toward your goals is anything but easy, we checked out the Quora thread, “How can I motivate myself to work hard?” and rounded up the best advice.

Read on for the tips.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others.

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When you feel like you're falling behind on your goals, it's tempting to look around at all the people who seem to be achieving theirs.

But that tendency will only undermine your confidence and your ability to make progress, says Micha Kaufman.

'A case of the Joneses is about the best way to make you feel like you're worth nothing,' he writes. 'When such comparisons enter your head, recognise that these are just negative thoughts and let them pass.'

3. Understand your purpose.

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'Find your why,' says Nelson Wang. 'If you don't know what it is, create it.'

Research supports Wang's idea. One study found that call center employees at a public university performed significantly better when they met students who had benefited from donations to the school. In other words, learning about the potential impact of their efforts motivated them to work harder.

4. Keep a daily diary.

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Gerard Danford mentions research by Teresa Amabile, Ph.D., a professor at Harvard Business School, which found that making even a little bit of progress is tremendously motivating for workers.

That's why it helps to record your progress along the way -- for example, a phone call you made to help secure a sale. That way, you can look back at the end of the day and feel empowered to take another step forward tomorrow.

'Keep track of your small wins,' Amabile says in a video posted on Academy Bridge. 'Keep track of your progress every day. That can be very motivational.'

9. Rely on habits.

Try as you might to summon it, sometimes motivation will elude you.

That's why Eduardo Matos suggests turning your desired behaviours -- like studying -- into habits.

'It's better to build the habit of studying X hours/day, and do it religiously, (so that) very soon you're going to be studying automatically,' he writes.

One reason why practicing habits often trumps finding motivation is that you don't have to exercise your willpower to make the choice to study. It's simply something you do without thinking.

To start, figure out both the cue and reward for your old habit. For example, maybe you have a bag of chips each day when you get home from work because it relaxes you. If you want to start a healthier habit, you can use arriving home as the cue to change into your jogging gear, and that warm and fuzzy post-exercise feeling as the reward. Soon the exercise habit will have replaced snacking, and you won't need to muster up the motivation to jog every day after work.

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