woman lining up behing the starting line on a track ready to go

6 Simple Self Motivation Methods To Start New Healthy Habits

Most people have a health, fitness, or nutrition goal in mind that they would love to achieve. 

It could be losing a few pounds, preparing for an athletic event, getting healthier, or just feeling more confident.

In order to achieve health and fitness goals we must change our habits. And to commit to getting started on a new goal or habit, self motivation must be high. For this reason learning how to motivate yourself is an important life skill!

But what if your motivation is lacking?

How can you increase motivation so you can get started on the goal that’s important to you? Are there ways you can motivate yourself to start working out or eating healthier?

Fortunately, there are!

This post will lay out several methods to help you increase your motivation and confidence to start a new habit or a goal, even though you might not feel ready just yet.

What Causes Lack Of Motivation To Start A Goal?

"Procrastinating on something important is choosing to delay a better future." – @JamesClear #AtomicHabits Share on X

So why would anyone choose to procrastinate on a goal that’s important to them, thus delaying a happier, healthier and more confident future?

There are many reasons that a person might be hesitant to start a new habit or goal. Many people might say that the person is simply “making excuses”, but I believe there’s more to it than that.

When it’s hard to start a goal – especially if it’s a goal that’s important and meaningful to someone – they aren’t just making excuses.

In my opinion, this procrastination is evidence of an underlying problem that needs to be solved, so that the person has the confidence, motivation, and tools to get started on their goal.

Below are just a few of these problems which might lead to lack of motivation, and cause someone to procrastinate on a goal that is important to them.

You need self motivation to make the leap.
Not quite ready to make the leap? You’re not alone.

Not Sure Where To Start

When starting a new goal, people may feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start.

If this is the case for you, check out my step-by-step goal setting process which will help you form a plan of attack!

Fear of Failure

Many people have tried to adopt a habit in the past and were unsuccessful. This can cause a pretty strong fear of failure.

The best way to overcome this fear, is to start with small goals to build your confidence back up. 

Adopting a growth mindset can also help you treat past failures as learning opportunities so that you can be successful the next time around.

Lack Of Knowledge Or Skills

Some people may feel that they lack the knowledge or skills needed to successfully form a new habit. 

Maybe they don’t feel they know how to workout or eat properly to achieve their goal.

If this is the case for you, it might be a good idea to do some reading or even take a class! This will help you feel a little more confident in your skills so that you’re ready to tackle your goal head on. 

It’s Not The Right Time

One of the most common reasons I hear for delaying getting started on a new goal is that the timing is just not right.

Generally these people already have a lot going on in their life, and they aren’t ready to take on a new habit. Instead they tell themselves that after _______ ends, I’ll have more time, or things will be easier. 

Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. Things always continue to pop up unexpectedly. That’s just life.

Chinese Proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." Share on X

The same is true of healthy habits! Don’t delay getting started, even if it doesn’t feel like the perfect timing.

My advice to these people, is to just go ahead and start now – but only take on what you can manage. There’s nothing wrong with starting small – we’ve all got to start somewhere!

How To Motivate Yourself To Start A New Habit

The following activities are designed to help you overcome the fears and apprehensions leading to your procrastination when it comes to starting a new goal. They are meant to increase your motivation and readiness to tackle a new goal or habit.

List The Pros And Cons Of Starting Your Goal Or Habit

The purpose of this activity is to see where you’re at in terms of readiness to start a new goal. 

Once you’ve got a goal or habit in mind, write down as many pros (benefits) and cons (drawbacks) as you can think of for getting started in a good old fashioned list. 

Once you’ve finished, compare how many pros you wrote down versus how many cons. Is one column longer?

If you see a lot more pros to starting your goal, you will likely have more motivation to do so! 

On the other hand, if you have a lot more cons than pros, your motivation is likely to be very low.

If you find that your pros column is short, I would recommend doing some research to learn more benefits.

For example, if your goal is to walk everyday, then search “benefits of walking” on Google and see what it comes up with.

If any of these benefits appeal to you, then add them to your list! 

Ready to start your new habit? Woman lining up behind the starting line on a track ready to go
What are your pros for getting started?

What Is Your Why? 

Our “why”, is the reason(s) behind wanting to adopt a new healthy habit or setting a goal. 

This “why” can tell us a lot about our motivators to make a change.

Ask yourself:

  • Why do I want to achieve this goal? 
  • Why is this goal or habit important to me?

Grab a pen and paper and answer these questions in as much detail and with as much honesty as you can. 

Check out the following post if you’d like to learn more about the different types of motivation and which are best for sticking to goals long-term!

Answer The Following Thought Questions To Increase Motivation

The next part of this post provides a series of thought questions to help you reflect on your current situation. 

These questions are designed to help you overcome fear, take action, and imagine how your life would be different, for better or worse, based on your decision to either start working towards your goals, or to continue as you are.

Make sure you take the proper time to reflect on these questions. If you’re feeling stuck, it can be better to set them down and come back to them after you’ve had some time to think.

Imagine How Your Life Would Be Different If You Achieved Your Goal

Ask yourself, “How would my life be different if I achieved the goal or habit I have in mind?”

When answering this question, think about what you would be able to do if you achieved your goal that you can’t do now. 

Think about, how you might feel, both physically and emotionally, if you achieved your goal.

Take about 5 minutes and answer this at length. Use your imagination and really try to FEEL how things would be different for you. Write it all down.

Imagine What Your Life Would Be Like In A Few Years If You Don’t Start Your Goal

The next question to ask is, “What is the cost of inaction?”

With this question I want you to consider what the consequences of NOT pursuing your goal (making no change) might be in the long run.

Would not pursuing your goal effect your health, relationships, emotional well-being, career, financial situation, or other aspects of your life in any way? If so, how?

Again, take at least 5 minutes and write down everything that comes to mind. 

Once you’ve completed the list, look back and decide if these are consequences you’re okay with, or whether the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action.

Use Fear-Setting To Overcome Self-Paralysis And Take Action

Fear-setting is an awesome technique that I learned about from a Ted Talk with Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week. 

This exercise can be especially useful if the fear of failure is what holds you back from starting on your goal or habit. Give it a try!

How Fear-Setting Works

First, ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could possibly happen if I start working on my goal?”

This is where you finally get to let all those fears out! Write down all your concerns and worries, and when you’re done, ask yourself, “How bad would that be if it actually happened?”

Use a scale of 1 to 10, where one is a minor inconvenience, and ten is global destruction. Take some time and try and put things into perspective when assigning a number to your fears.

Finally, for each of the fears that you came up with, ask yourself, “What steps can I take to either prevent that fear from happening, or make it less bad if it does happen?”

Check out Tim Ferriss’ Ted Talk for examples of how to use the Fear-Setting method to take action.

Boy jumping off a cliff into beautiful blue water.
Fear-Setting can help you take action!

What Would Make You Feel Ready To Start Your Goal Or Habit?

Finally, our last question is, “What would make you feel ready to tackle this goal?” 

It’s important to be really honest here. Think about what would give you the confidence you need to get started. It can be one thing, or a few.

Is it taking a class on healthy cooking? Having your mom babysit for an hour a twice a week so you can go for a run? Having your best friend work on the goal with you? Whatever it is, write it down. 

Is what you wrote down something you can make happen? If so, do it! 


You’re not alone if you’re feeling a little intimidated about committing to a new goal or habit – change can be scary!

If you do need a motivation boost, a little reflection on where you’re at now and where you want to go can be just what the doctor ordered!

If you want to get started on a new goal, take some time on reflect on the following:

  • What are your pros and cons for starting the goal or habit you have in mind?
  • How would your life be different if you were to achieve that goal?
  • What would be the consequences of not pursuing your goal?
  • If you were to start your goal, what is the worst that could happen, and what could you do to prevent it?
  • What would it take to make you feel ready to tackle your goal?

Your Turn!

Are you feeling the motivation yet?! If so, the next step is to set yourself up for success by setting a clear goal and making an action plan.

Share your experiences with us by commenting on the following:

  • Have you ever used any of these self-motivation techniques before?
  • If so, were you able to motivate yourself to get started on your goal?
  • Are there any of these techniques that you would like to try, if you haven’t yet?
  • Finally, are there any other methods you have used in the past to motivate yourself?

I can’t wait to hear what has worked well for you! Thank you for sharing your experiences, you never know who might benefit!

Share the knowledge!

Author: clarissa.cabbage

Clarissa is a health coach, autoimmune warrior, and avid adventurer. And she is on a mission to help women escape the diet-culture mentality so they can build healthy habits they actually WANT to stick to - without all the guilt, deprivation and FOMO! When she's not coaching amazing women like yourself, you'll find her outside - hiking, paddling, and hunting for hidden waterfalls on the island of Kauai where she lives with her partner and furry side-kick, Ipo!

56 Replies to “6 Simple Self Motivation Methods To Start New Healthy Habits

  1. A really interesting read. I’m terrible for telling myself either the time isn’t right or that I can feel a niggling injury. I’ve got better, but I’ll be heeding your advice from now on.

  2. I think we’re all bad at that Graham! It seems like there’s always something going on that we say, if I could just get past ______, then things would be easier. But it never seems to work or that way, at least for me! ??‍♀️
    Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment!

  3. Nice post. I usually don’t start a goal because I’m confused of what to do and fear of failure. Lately I’ve been reading and watching videos on how to achieve a particular thing I want then writing them down and dividing them into monthly, daily and weekly.

    1. That’s perfect Anita! That’s essentially what my last post was about. ? A big goal can be really intimidating until we break it down into smaller chunks and make a plan. Best of luck with your goal, and thanks so much for sharing your experience with us! ♥️

    1. 2020 has been quite the year so far, hasn’t it? I figure, what better time to slow down a bit and reprioritize health! Times like these serve as a reminder of just how important it is. Thank you for reading!

    1. I am so glad that you loved it! I agree that finding your why is critical. I also find it really useful to come back to your why after you have started the goal and the road starts to get a little bumpy. This can help us stay the course!

  4. Hi, Clarissa! You’ve done an amazing job with your post. I love how you talked about the different reasons we get stuck and how to get past them. The less excuses we can come up with, the better the results. ?

    I think finding our why is critical. When we take the time to examine our motivation for doing or wanting something, we can then discover if it’s even healthy or not. In today’s world with all of this pressure to be/look a certain way – I think finding our why is more important than ever. What about you?

    Fear-setting, that’s an interesting concept. I wasn’t familiar with it before reading it here, thanks! I’ll give that a go. It sounds effective because when we take power away from the fear, the fear diminishes or disappears. Fear can seem larger than life. Realizing it’s just smoke and mirrors 99.9% of the time really dismantles that lie. We all need that in our lives.

    Thanks for sharing! I pray you & yours stay well, safe, and blessed. ♥

    1. Aww thank you Holly, I am glad you enjoyed it!

      I really love your point about making sure that your motivations for achieving a goal are healthy! I think this is especially relevant for weight loss goals.

      I hope you like the Fear-Setting, I really love it! I’ve worked with so many people where the fear of failure was just crippling! I’ve found that this technique can help put some of that into perspective so people can get past it.

      Thanks so much for reading and adding to the conversation Holly! ♥️

  5. I like the worksheet for planning. ❤️❤️
    As to Tim Ferris and his method, I find that fear can paralyze a person instead of that person pursuing their goals. I’ve appreciated this effect with some of my clients.

    1. Awesome Addy, I hope the worksheet makes the process a little more streamlined!

      I have found the Fear-Setting exercise to be extremely useful! I too have seen many people who are prevented from even starting their goals because the fear of failing, or just a fear of the unknown or change. It can be so intense! I hope you find that exercise as helpful as I have in helping people overcome some of those fears. Thank you for reading!

      Thanks so much for reading!

  6. Asking yourself what your ‘why’ is really helpful in keeping motivated. Your ‘why’ helps to shape your standards & how far you’re willing to push yourself to see your goal through.
    Love this post!!!

    Karen x| The K component

    1. Aww thanks so much Karen! I agree, a good why goes a long way! It’s surprising to me how often I ask someone wanting to start a goal what their why is and get just a superficial answer. A lot of people don’t take the opportunity to really dig in and examine why a goal is important to them. Thank you for reading!

    1. Thanks Gabby! I love the pros and cons list for making decisions. It’s a simple yet effective way to make a decision, and I find it especially useful when deciding whether or not to get started on a goal or habit. I hope it helps!

  7. I so needed this article; every reason you listed why people do not start a healthy habit describes why I haven’t started meal prepping mason jar salads. I know how it’s done and have my recipes picked out, but I don’t know if I will like those recipes, if I should make my own dressing or use store bought, and so on. ??‍♀️
    The only self-motivation technique I have tried is listing the pros and cons, and I have somewhat thought of what life will be like if I don’t start this healthy habit, which is why I ordered my mason jars. I will try the others, too. Thank you so much for this encouragement. ?

    1. That’s a fantastic goal Robyn! I have always loved the mason jar salads – tasty, healthy, AND sustainable. Win-win-win!

      I know for me, if I can’t decide on a plan of action, I get caught in this pattern of indecision. Something I have found that works for for me, is to just commit to trying things until I can decide what I want to do.

      For example, with your salad dressing situation, maybe set the goal to experiment with three new salad dressing recipes this week. Then you can either decide you like one, or, if you don’t you can buy something. But that way you’re actually taking a step rather than just debating in your mind.

      Just an idea, it works for me. Maybe it will for you as well. Either way I wish you the best of luck on your goal!

  8. Love this post! I love the fear-setting technique as well! This is one thing I have a hard time with when trying to start a new habit or try to overcome an obstacle is fear and anxiety. I will have to give this a try!

    1. You’re not alone there Kadie! It can definitely be nerve racking to put ourselves out there and try something new! I see people struggle with it all the time and have been there myself.

      I LOVE the Fear-Setting technique exactly for that reason – it can help put some of those fears into perspective, and help you make plans to deal with the things you’re nervous about if they should come up.

      I hope it will help you get started on some of the goals you have in mind. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your experiences!

    1. I’m so glad to hear that Lisa! ☺️ I know it can be tough, especially when things get busy, but with a little planning, we can do tough things! ? Thank you for taking the time to read, and best of luck with your goals!

  9. Great post, it is so hard to get motivated sometimes but using your skills and practices and addressing the reasons for change will certainly help. I like the fear setting idea
    Thanks for sharing

  10. I needed this right now. I’ve gained almost 30lbs in this quarantine and I need to get myself eating better and to the gym to start moving again. I keep telling myself I’ll do it but I never get around to it. Maybe this is the motivation I need to finally get myself into a routine.

    1. I know you aren’t alone there Steph! This quarantine has caused major disruptions to many people’s usual habits and routines. I hope the worksheet serves as a guidebook of sorts to get you back to where you want to be. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, and best of luck! ♥️

  11. Not knowing where to start has always deterred me from being as productive as I should be. These are great tips that I will be sure to remember when I notice myself making excuses.

    1. It’s tough to get started when you aren’t sure on a plan of attack, I definitely agree Emily! And I’m glad you mention it because I have an upcoming post focused specifically on that! ☺️ Thanks so much for reading!

  12. I really enjoyed the post! I find that oftentimes, the root behind not starting goes further than just procrastination. It could be confusion or fear. Thank you for sharing!

    1. I 100% agree with you Karen! ? When it’s hard to start a goal – especially if it’s a goal that’s important and meaningful to someone – they aren’t just making excuses. I really believe it’s because there is a problem that needs to be solved (it could be a fear of failure, indecision on how exactly is the best way to go about accomplishing the task, etc.). That’s what I hoped to touch on with this post. Thank you so much for sharing your insight with us! ♥️

  13. I enjoyed reading this post, Clarissa! And I like how you mentioned fear-setting & to imagine how life would be like if we achieved the goal. Will definitely be referring back to your post the next time I need motivation to start a healthy habit 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading Lauren! I agree, once you’ve gotten started on a goal, maintaining motivation then becomes important. Building a routine for yourself definitely helps with that!

  14. Clarissa, thanks for outlining such helpful tips here.
    It’s made me realize that in my goal-setting process, I don’t analyze my “why” deeply enough. I definitely need to apply more introspect here in order to be able to use my core reasons as substantial motivators when I’m in goal pursuit mode.

    1. Thanks for reading Simone! I love the “what is your why?” exercise. It’s so simple yet so effective! I hope as you said, examining your why more deeply will help you use those internal motivators to their full extent!

  15. Great post! To me, procrastination comes as a mix of the reasons you explained in the post. Sometimes I’m too overwhelmed that I don’t know where to start, other times I tell myself that it’s not the right time. With experience, I came to realise that there’s never a “right time”. So, one of the things I use to motivate myself is to stop overthinking about what could go wrong, and start doing. Most of the time, our worries are not real. We create them with our constant overthinking.
    I used to write the pros and cons on a white paper, but I never took the time to sit down and think about the possible future scenarios – what could go right, what could go wrong. I believe it’s a really powerful technique. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. You are very welcome Claudia! I am glad I could introduce you to a new technique that may be helpful for you. I absolutely love it for myself, and people I have worked with in the past.

      I agree that oftentimes the worries are unrealistic or blown out of proportion – they call this cognitive distortion in psychology and its affects can be really crippling. I love how you work through yours. Thanks so much for reading!

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