Move It! Scientifically Proven Ways to Get Motivated

Setting goals is a big step—but it’s only the first one. Now comes the tough part: how to get motivated to fulfill them. Whether you’re embarking on an ambitious set of New Year’s resolutions or gunning for that promotion at work, these six tricks keep you on track. Consider them the fire under your seat that’ll get—and keep—you motivated.

Write Down Your Goals

Pulling out the old pen and paper and sharing your goals with friends could be the secret to staying motivated. When Dominican University of California researchers asked participants to create a set of goals—ranging from writing a chapter of a book to selling a house, the group that wrote them down, shared them with a friend, and kept that friend in the loop with weekly updates was 33 percent more likely to achieve their goals compared to the group who simply thought about them. This group also achieved 76 percent of their goals by the end of the study.

Tweet About It

Social media is infamous for oversharing (you don’t really need to see a photo of your friend’s baby every day). And while other people’s oversharing can make you want to quit social media for good, 140-character Twitter updates could be beneficial in some cases. Like when you share weight-loss and fitness goals. A 2013 study published in Translational Behavioral Medicine found that for every 10 tweets, participants lost .5 percent of their body weight. Another study conducted by the cofounder of fitness social media platform Weilos found that those who posted selfies capturing their progress lost 1.2 pounds a week compared to .27 pounds for those who didn’t share.

Put Money on the Line

All it takes is a threat to your bank account to really kick motivation into high gear. For a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers asked participants to bet their own money to meet their weight-loss goals. If they didn’t meet their goal to lose one pound a week, they lost the moolah. If they were successful, their dollar contributions were matched. At the end of eight months, those who wagered lost almost nine pounds more than those who didn’t bet. The continuous financial incentive helped keep weight off—but once the deal was over, most participants regained weight. Try it yourself by joining our DietBet, and get paid to lose weight.

Avoid Unrealistic Goals

It’s totally normal to motivate yourself through the last sit-up set by imagining abs like Gigi Hadid’s at the finish. But giving too much weight to stick-thin models could actually derail your fitness goals. Consider this Dutch study: Female volunteers were given diaries to track what and when they ate for a week straight. Half of the volunteers received a diary with a skinny model on the cover while the others used diaries with neutral, diet-related imagery. Seeing super-thin bodies seems like it’d make you want to step away from the Oreos, but that thinking backfired. The group with models on the cover of their books tended to reach for high-calorie snacks and actually gained weight during the study, while the group with the neutral diaries lost weight. Researchers determined that setting unattainable goals discouraged participants from giving it their all.

Do It with a Friend

Researchers found that teammates kept each other’s weight loss on track over the course of a 12-week weight-loss competition. In fact, people who reported that their teammates helped them lose weight also reported losing more weight than those whose teammates didn’t. Weight-loss success tended to happen in groups, according to the Obesity study.

Watch an Old “Friends” Episode

When self-control and willpower are lacking, watching reruns of a favorite TV show can boost motivation, according to a University of Buffalo study. Caution: Not just any TV show will cut it. You’ve got to fire up reruns of a show you know and love. That way, you already know what the characters are going to do and say, which makes the experience more relaxing. As a result, the show restores your energy and even fulfills your need for social interactions in a way that could be more beneficial than the real-life kind, researchers said. You can always rely on Monica, Ross, and Joey.