Build Lasting Motivation and Achieve Your Goals (While Apartment-Hunting)

Winter is a tough time of year to get motivated. There are so many things to do, and so little daylight in which to do them. For instance, you probably know that this is the best time of year to apartment hunt for next year. If you’re tired of dorm life and setting your sights on a beautiful new Davis apartment, like one of the Tandem Properties, now is when you should be signing on the dotted line. (The early bird gets the worm, and the best Davis apartment – and the best deal.)

But if, like a lot of us, you’re beset by ennui, you may need to work on building your long-term motivation. The good news is that this is a learned skill, and like any other can be acquired and strengthened. The harder you work at it, the easier it becomes. Need some motivation to get motivated?

A person with high self-efficacy believes in their ability to perform a task and achieve goals. Such a person might have thought patterns that look like this: “I’m sure of my ability to achieve the goals I set for myself;” “I believe that if I work hard, I’ll be successful;” and “I can move in another direction to achieve my goal, if an obstacle blocks my my path.” These beliefs are the strongest and most consistent predictors of exercise behavior. A person won’t pick up a 35-pound dumbbell—or even a five-pound one—as long as they believe they can’t. In contrast, the greater a person’s self-efficacy, the more likely they are to stick with an exercise program and make it a habit for life. There are three ways to build self-efficacy:

Ensure early success. When first starting out, choose activities you’re certain you can do successfully. If new to exercise, start with a fifteen-minute walk, one set of strength training exercises with a weight you can lift comfortably eight to ten times, or some gentle stretching. Similarly, if you’re looking to take an exercise routine to the next level, start small—say, by adding three more reps to a lifting routine or a few minutes of high intensity interval training to a cardio session. Gradually up the intensity level as you’re able, achieving more and more.

Watch others succeed in the activity you want to try. This is particularly effective if the person you’re observing is similar to you—neighbors, friends, co-workers, and gym mates are all good options. Witnessing their successes can boost your own self-efficacy level.

Find a supportive voice. Personal trainers and coaches are skilled in giving appropriate encouragement, as are good friends (usually). Just be sure the feedback is realistic and focused on the progress you’re making instead of comparing you to others.

Inspired? There’s a lot more great advice in the rest of this article. One of your early practice exercises can be looking at Davis apartments for next year. Killing two birds with one stone will really build your motivation!