The Mental Perks of Setting Goals and Maintaining Motivation

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Feeling motivated is like rolling a ball downhill. It can be incredibly difficult to get started—but once momentum is gained, anything seems possible. So if we’ve found ourselves in a slump, how do we break out of it? What are the first steps toward setting goals that are achievable and creating habits that stick? And how can we motivate others around us to join our journey towards success?

Audience Questions

In this session, Dr. Lisa W. Coyne shares ways to build small habits, talks about the importance of setting goals and how to stay motivated, and answers audience questions about mental hurdles.

  • Why is it so important for our mental health to set goals?
  • Can you talk about setting reasonable goals and what those might look like in regard to our expectations?
  • Why is it important for us, emotionally and mentally, to fail along the way to achieving goals and how can we dust ourselves off when facing failure? Often, we feel defeated and may just give up on trying.
  • How do you prioritize your goals, especially if they all seem so important?
  • How do we combat “too much too soon”?
  • Why do we quit these great plans, like exercising? How do we keep up our momentum and give ourselves a pep talk?
  • If one of our goals is to be a better student, how can we train ourselves to better retain information and focus on the one thing in front of us?
  • How do I help encourage others to start setting goals?
  • What if your goals don’t align with your family’s goals?
  • How can I encourage my kids to be more motivated?
  • As someone who works in the mental health field, I sometimes find it difficult to practice what I preach when it comes to motivation. How do you cope with having an understanding of self-care and motivation yet not always prioritizing it?
  • You mentioned that sometimes a major change is imposed on one, rather than being a choice. How does one break out of the mindset of not being able to think beyond “I don’t want this”?
  • How do we support those who are encountering new types of failure as part of their learning?
  • What would you say to someone who claims that using a reward system to stay motivated is unhelpful? For example, why would I exercise now and watch Netflix later when I can just watch Netflix now?
  • Is there a relationship between resilience and motivation?
  • How can one deal with the resistance that comes with changing a habit? Sometimes I find it difficult to make the choice that is good for me in the long run. That moment comes with a lot of resistance. Any advice?
  • How do we maintain motivation even when we’re burned out?
  • What are the behavioral steps before action and motivation? How do we tap into that in order to start moving and get into action?
  • If a goal is to be more mindful and serene, how can we incorporate more peace into our lives?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.

Helpful Resources

During the session, Dr. Coyne references these resources:

About Dr. Coyne

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, part-time, at Harvard Medical School, and is a senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) at McLean Hospital.

Dr. Coyne has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on anxiety, OCD, and parenting. She is the author of “The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years,” a book for parents of young children.

Recent books by Dr. Coyne:

Learn more about Dr. Coyne.

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Originally aired December 29, 2020