If you’re looking to boost your get-up-and-go this year, there are a few places you could start. Here, Claire Cantor shares what experts have to say about making the most of your 2024.

It’s a cold, wintery Monday morning, and I know I have to go for my morning swim. I really don’t feel like it. But for me, swimming is a ‘no discussion’ activity and years of engrained discipline kick in. I switch my brain to automatic and set off to the pool. The reward? I always feel better afterwards.

How many of us really feel motivated to do the things we know are good for us? How do we behave when 99% of our brain is telling us to give in and just stay in bed, leaving a mere 1% of brain power to get us going?

A new year augurs fresh starts and renewed resolve, to do things differently, for the better, and to make positive changes in our lives. Finding our ‘why’ and what really matters to us can help us glide rather than struggle to our goals, inspire discipline and support us as we find motivation in 2024…

Finding motivation in 2024 – What do we need to reach our goals?

We have all experienced that surge of excitement when we decide to start something new or challenge ourselves. Yet how quickly do we run out of steam when our goal doesn’t seem to get any closer, or it all feels too much like hard work?

Motivation is what gets you started. Discipline is what keeps you going,” says Federica Ross, integrative psychotherapist at Therapethical.com. “We need both to reach our goals. We may ‘feel’ motivated, but discipline is the ‘behaviour’ that keeps us heading to our goals. Discipline supports our positive behaviours even when we are not in the mood.”

Finding your ‘why’

Discovering and then pursuing what matters to you helps you stay motivated. “Motivation that comes from within – intrinsic motivation – is what truly drives us,” says Federica. “It’s a desire to do something we enjoy, that makes us feels good or is interesting. Extrinsic motivation which relies on external rewards like money or praise, or if we are afraid of losing something, is less able to inspire in the long-term.”

Diving deep into the question ‘why’ we want to do something can help us find our true goal says Arj Thiruchelvam, lecturer in Sports Science and founder of Performance Physique.

“I encourage you to ask ‘why’ three times to uncover your motivation when striving for a health and fitness goal, or indeed any goal. We do not need to dedicate hours and hours every day to gym work- outs to reach our desired fitness levels, simply fidgeting and moving more in your everyday life can be just as beneficial.”

Switch to automatic

Make your chosen healthy habit non-negotiable. Eliminate the self-debate, the humming and haa-ing, and just do it. Ease the process and help support your discipline by placing obstacles and friction between you and your temptation – such as putting unhealthy snacks out of sight or hiding your telephone.

“Modifying the levels of friction is important but nothing needs to be restrictive,” says Arj.

“Instead, work out ways to incorporate those things you enjoy into your week, rather than into every day. Think of them as your reward. When you decide on a new habit, make the steps simple to achieve, so you can perform them easily over and over again.

“Do something for three weeks and then progress. After three months you will have formed a habit. Set yourself small, achievable, non-negotiable goals such as a daily walk, come rain or shine.”

Try ‘chunking’; breaking tasks into smaller, manageable chunks that increase our motivation, sense of self-efficiency, and the belief that we can achieve a goal.

The experts’ top tips for increasing motivation and discipline.

  • Find your true ‘why’ and what motivates YOU
  • Always turn up
  • Physically track your progress and reward your successes
  • Get yourself an accountability partner or group
  • Don’t judge yourself too harshly and set the bar at an achievable height – learn to love yourself for the flawed human being that you are