The Surefire Way to Get Motivated for your Goals


Motivation for change is always a central theme in my work on a daily basis. We might wonder how on somedays motivation comes to us easy, while on other days, we just can’t get that energy to get things moving. On a more serious note, why do people continue to act dysfunctionally (e.g., alcoholism, abusive relationship) and refusing to change knowing full well that they are hurting themselves and even others?


  • To be motivated, the target has to be important, we need to be confident and willing.
  • Importance – how well your goal sits with your value system and priorities?
  • Confidence – how well you perceive your self-efficacy?
  • Willingness – the emotions, stories and beliefs you have around this goal?
  • Assess all these factors and rate them. They need to hit the benchmark of 7.

Like many psychological experiences, motivation is elusive, and that is why many people seek coaching to get to the bottom of their story. This is my professional advice.

Pertaining to shifting motivation, I practice a few forms of coaching/therapy models: Solution-Focus and Motivational Interviewing. To fully explain these models will be a drag; hence, I will summarise the keys techniques into three main factors.

If you can honestly assess these factors for yourself, you can almost fully understand your motivation structure, and know how to tweak this structure to work for you.

1. Importance (Priority factor)



Importance is always a discussion of your values and priorities. Sustaining an act is not about time management, but priority and focus management. Your goal need to have importance for you when you place it on your value system, and against other priorities.

For instance, having the goal of being more patient when communicating is of value to your relationship quality. And it stands strong against other priorities, such as work, exercise and leisure. As the goal gains importance in this manner, it begins to take our attention and we begin to act.

Questions for yourself. “How does this goal aligns with who I am now and who I want to be in the future?”, “What does this goal means for me?”, “Where does my character stands in this goal?”

What if without? If your goal is low in importance but it is something you know is good for you, sit down and think about whether the value and function of that goal big enough for you. From my experience, probably that goal is not important for you, but important for others, or prescribed by others. Again sit down, and think of something that is internally valuable and important for you.

2. Confidence (Self-efficacy factor)


Confidence is about knowing whether you can do it. It can be important for you, but if you lack the skills, knowledge and experience, it is difficult to even start. That can be a downer right from the start of your change process.

Another dimension of this factor is that it is the way that you perceive your self-efficacy that matters, not your actual self-efficacy.

You can well have the actual self-efficacy but choose not to use them due to a poor self-perception, that is still a lack of confidence. While others who does not have the actual self-efficacy may choose the grandiose self-perception approach, and can at least get some parts the goal attempted, which may not be of quality but still, kudos for being confident.

Questions for yourself: “Do I have the minimal skills, knowledge and experience to start on this project?”, “How do I perceive my actual skillset?”, “How is my confidence affect my emotions now?”

What if without? If you are faring low in confidence, there are concrete ways you can take to raise that score. Approach your confidence systematically to build it up. Confidence relates to certainty, once you gather sufficient (not full) certainty about yourself that you CAN do it, the ball starts rolling very quickly. Talk to people, upskill yourself, learn more knowledge in this area, and ensure your emotions are aligned with your confidence levels.

3. Willingness (Contextual factor)


Willingness is the hardest question to answer. It is a contextual element that comprises of important and confidence, and even more; which means once your importance and willingness are raised, your willingness will go up. However, that may not be enough.

Willingness is anything a person experience in the environment. It can be internal, such as feeling (“my gut feeling says no”), beliefs and assumptions (” I know they will judge me”), and external, such as limits and boundaries (“my kids need me”), timing (“the time is just not right”).

I spend the most time of my work here with my clients. And this is also where the gold of motivational coaching lies. Many of these contextual elements can be challenged and adjusted, but require skillful probing in a way to change the client’s schema. This is also where huge revelations begin to show up, and emotional epiphany arises, beyond which the ball will be bouldering down the hill of change.

I will briefly talk about assessing and improving willingness, but I will also dedicate a separate post to talk about this topic. Ask yourself these questions honestly. When people start lying to themselves, or not knowing that they are lying to themselves due to chronic avoidance, deep stagnation begins to form.

[Once written, the link will be attached here]

Questions for yourself: “What are my deepest fears around this goal?”, “What is the worst that can happen?”, “When my gut says no, what does my heart and head says?”, “If these feelings have a voice, what are they saying to me?”

What if without? If you are faring low in willingness, the only way is to be honest with yourself, because a conscious or subconscious part of you is blocking you. Find that unwilling part you, and have an honest conversation with yourself, or someone you can trust, or a professional who can draw that message out with you.

4. Last Step

I would like you to rate each of these factors on a scale from 0 (extremely low) to 10 (extremely high). For instance, “how willing am I to start acting on this goal in the near future?”, “how important is this goal for me?” “how confident am I to start working on this goal?”.

If you score at least 7 for each of these scales pertaining to your goal, it is highly likely you will not only act towards your goal, but also see through it. It may not guaranteed success, but at least you have taken the effort to try. If you score below 7 for any of these factors, use the tips to try to raise the scores if possible, if not, you might have to adjust your goals.

Original writings by The Realist, inspired by encounters in professional work in life coaching, physical therapy and PhD research.

What to do when the voice in the head just doesn’t seem to shut?


Overthinking, endless internal dialogue, excessive imagination and worry… These are internal processes that sometimes plague our lives that we cannot seem to control. We begin to lose track of the present, forget where we are and who we are with. And time begins to slip past before we know it. This is when we lose the monitoring and control of our mental processes, and the primal part of prefrontal cortex takes over. Losing mental acuity is losing our being, and it is important that we learn how to seize back that awareness.

In psychology, we call this cognitive fusion, whereby the mind has the life of its own. What I usually train my clients in is the process of cognitive defusion, to create the awareness, consciousness, seat of the soul (etc…) that we somehow lose along the way.

Try this the next time you feel mentally swarmed:

1. Create the Awareness. Slow down, lean back and open up your mind. Ask yourself “what am I thinking right now?”, and explicitly reply start with this phrase “I have a thought right now that I am thinking…”. And go along with growing this awareness for a while, until that train of thought slows down.

2. Assess Value. What value has this thinking got for you? Sometimes it helps us to plan, organise, conceptualise and create. Other times, it has absolutely no value, such as daydreams and replaying the past that can’t be changed.

3. Assess Functionality. Is this thinking process working for you at this moment? How is it making you feel? How are you evaluating its effect on you? Some individuals get depressed and anxious as they obsess into such thinking process. Others get distracted from the present that has bigger value for them. At better times, it does reduce their stress and spark their creativity.

4. Assess Time. Is this the best time to do this? Many thinking processes are invaluable to our development, but when the timing is wrong, such processes cannot be fully thought out. Rather than having a split-mind approach, write it down and save it for the right time.

Once your awareness is created, if discovered that the value, functionality and time assessments are inadequate, it is time to take specific actions/behaviours by means of getting up physically and do something that is of value to you that will take up your absolute focus and concentration, to break that mental state. In this process, you will seize back control and gain back mental acuity. In a future post, I will talk about using neuro-linguistic programming for breaking states, which is faster and more lasting.

Note that these tips are for everyday general distractions. I will use a more layered approach for serious cases of ruminations and catastrophising thinking, especially when infused with strong emotions.

Original writings by The Realist, inspired by encounters in professional work in life coaching, physical therapy and PhD research.


It is painful because something matters.


In my work, I have seen pain in its most myriad forms. Many people didn’t realise the commonalities of pain in our physical, emotional and mental existence. From my point of view, they all share a common ground, and it is resolving this common ground that we release the pain. The source of most pain is stress, and it is stressful because it matters to us and it has meaning for us.

“When we feel pain, it is a moment for us to pause and slow down. We need to start asking ourselves what message this pain is sending us.”

Emotional and Mental Pain. When I meet a client who is in huge emotional turmoil, wrecked with negative thoughts and beliefs about self, I see a client who is on the brink of being burnt out by stress. This stress probably lies in something that has importance to the client, because we won’t give others or something the power to influence us if they don’t matter. In a relationship breakdown, it is probably the trust that was promised; in depression, it is probably someone or something did not move the way we wanted and the anger got turned inwards, followed by dejection; in anxiety, it is probably the similar lack of control but the energy got directed into a flight state. In most cases, what I am really curious about when someone is suffering psychologically is knowing what matters for them in this process. Then really questioning, should it still matter at this point or should we let go? Or how is the best way for us to value this meaning in a more functional manner?

Physical Pain. For the context of this discussion, this physical pain refers to those stemming from voluntary actions, not mishaps or accidents. In my neuromuscular therapy work, clients coming in with physical strains and sprains usually demonstrates commitment to some form of activity they need or want to do. I tell them “if we have to eradicate pain for the long-term, what do you think this current pain would tell you?”. And they would reply along the lines of taking more rest and having varied movements and stretches throughout the day. Physical pain is a signal the body use to tell us that we have exhausted the body, only because we are doing something that is somehow meaningful for us. But, now it is inflamed and overused, and unsustainable for the long-term. The challenge right here is balance: being conscious of the status of our body and going about our lives and work.

When we feel pain, it is a moment for us to pause and slow down. We need to start asking ourselves what message this pain is sending us. It is only with this reflection can we begin to understand the structure of this pain experience and take effective steps to move past them. Physical and psychological pains are experienced very differently, but they all share a message that tells us what we are doing now is not working. Something needs to change, otherwise the pain will only get more acute or chronic.

Original writings by The Realist, inspired by encounters in professional work in life coaching, physical therapy and PhD research.