How does one pick up difficult habits and develop them over a period of time? What drives a person to break her old ways and do stuff that she has never done before? How come your neighbor is playing the guitar while you crunch on oil-laden chips and watch cricket?

We all know what to do to be a healthy and happy person but we never even get to the starting line. Why?

Common answer: Lack of motivation. I am simply not motivated or driven enough to start!

Immediate Solution: Talk to someone who has been there, done that. Or pick up a course on motivation.

While others might inspire and motivate us, that kind of motivation only lasts for a short while. And it is easier for the other person to tell you a lot of inspiring stuff while it seems to have no long term effect on your schedule. Your brain is tricked into believing that you are motivated. Sadly it is not.

Motivation is more of a daily practice. Just like the way we train our bodies for health, we need to work on our motivation regularly. Stop training and it wanes out gradually pushing you back to square one. We need to be working on our serotonin levels (training, meditation, connecting with nature) which are more linked to long-term benefits than on our dopamine (fast food, binge-watching Netflix, scrolling through Instagram) levels which is usually related to instant gratification.

So, now it is Dopamine>Serotonin and it has to move to Serotonin>Dopamine.

How do you stay motivated? Link your habits or tasks to long term goals. For example, you love the mountains and you always wanted to trek through the Himalayas. Definitely not possible with your fitness levels. So how do you get there? By hitting the gym daily. Remind yourself of your goal every time you feel lazy or procrastinate things.

Also your basic feelings and emotions also drive motivation. Especially the negative ones. A bad day at work will motivate you to slouch on your couch, rather than writing that long awaited blog post. Next time, try to observe your motivation levels in different states of emotions. You will begin to realize that the concept of motivation is waning and waxing based on your mental states.

It’s okay to skip a good habit once in a while. Maybe even pamper yourself. But you should always be ready to spring back and remember that much planned trek to the Himalayas! Work on your goals. Work on your motivation.

And you will be surprised to learn that motivation is something very personal and within us. No outside element can drive it for very long.