This Is How to Get Yourself Motivated: 5 Expert-Level Insights

When I was a kid, my dad came home from school with a circular paper cut-out that said “round tuit.”

“What’s that, Dad?” I asked.

“It’s a ‘round tuit’”. He replied.

“A ‘round tuit’? What’s that for?”

Dad, being a 7th grade teacher, said, “It helps students do their homework.”

Skeptical. I asked, “But Dad, it’s only a round piece of paper, how does it help with homework?”

Dad replied with a big grin, “I ask students for their homework. Some hand it in, others say, they didn’t do it because they didn’t get ‘a round tuit.’ So I give them one.”

I smiled and began to laugh. “Oh, I get it. That’s funny. If a student doesn’t do their homework, you give them ‘a round tuit’ to help them get it done.”

By giving students “a round tuit,” dad was hoping to motivate his students in a light-hearted way.

Seems like we could all use “a round tuit” once in a while. With so many distractions, responsibilities, temptations, etc. it’s easy to lose sight of priorities or get overwhelmed.  The to-do list grows, we eat poorly, skip exercise, put things off, and walk right into procrastination.

And you know what fuels procrastination most?

Research says a bad mood.

To help us defeat procrastination, get in a good mood and get motivated, here’s five expert-level insights. And if you’d like “a round tuit,” Dad would happy to see you can get them here.

Now to the tips from Harvard researchers and motivation experts.


The first motivation insight comes from Teresa Amabile, author of a great book on performing better.

#1 Think Small Wins

According to Harvard motivation expert, Teresa Amabile, making progress is the golden ticket in motivation land. It’s the small wins that matter. They make us feel good and get us going.

From: The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work

...of all the positive events that influence inner work life, the single most powerful is progress in meaningful work; of all the negative events, the single most powerful is the opposite of progress—setbacks in the work. We consider this to be a fundamental management principle: facilitating progress is the most effective way for managers to influence inner work life.

With just a little bit of progress, we feel better and get more motivated. So start with small wins to get yourself motivated.

Next to psychological insights from Brendon Burchard, the author a New York Times best-selling book on motivation.

#2 Be Ambitious and Expect Goodness

Brendon says that from a mindset perspective, “motivation is sparked by the energy created by ambition and expectancy. Ambition is the choice to be, have, do or experience something greater in our lives. As soon as we want something greater for ourselves, our motivation is sparked.”


Maybe we want a better job, home, health or relationship. Whatever it is, the greater the ambition, the greater the spark of motivation.

(On Inspired Living™ Archive: To learn the 5 Evidence-Based Secrets of Healthy Long-Term Relationships, click here).

Said simply, “By deeply comtemplating higher aims, we energize ourselves to pursue them.

We need ambition to spark motivation. We also need expectancy.

Here’s how Brendon describes it.

Expectancy is “a choice to believe that your dreams are possible and that you can achieve them.  It’s easy to recall people who say they want something different, but don’t truly believe in themselves. This is why ambition without expectancy does not sustain motivation. Expectancy is the great differentiator between mere hope and motivation.”

(On Inspired Living™ Archive: To learn How to Build Belief and Self-Confidence, click here).

So, we’ve got small wins on our side, “round tuits” in our pocket and we’re feeling ambitious and expecting some goodness. Next comes a biggie.

#3 Get Rewarded

Rewards feel good. You knew that.

But can you guess just how much of an impact rewards have on motivation?

Roughly 75%.

From: The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People

Researchers find that perceived self-interest, the rewards one believes are at stake, is the most significant factor in predicting dedication and satisfaction. It accounts for about 75 percent of personal motivation toward accomplishment.

If we expect a reward will be coming, motivation goes up.  And what’s the key to sustaining it?

Back to Brendon, the motivation man…

#4 Give Attention & Effort to Your Ambition

According to Brendon, sustaining motivation is all about giving attention and effort to our ambitions and passions. Giving attention and effort to our ambitions is like jumping in a river of motivational energy that carries us to make progress. Progress motivates us and makes us happy.

And as we learned from Teresa Amabile, when we make progress with small wins, motivational energy sustains us. Meaningful work keeps us going while attention and effort keep it burning.

As Brendon put it, “the deeper and longer I give attention to my ambitions and passions, the more motivation I feel.”

Let’s be honest though, it’s easy to get distracted these days. Text messages, phone calls, multi-tasking, etc. When attention goes awry, motivation drops. This is when we need to amplify our motivation.

What’s the easy way to amplify motivation? Research says align with support.

#5 Surround Yourself With Excellence

It works wonders for confidence, success and motivation. Harvard success researcher, Dr. Stephen Kraus, talks about the value of surrounding yourself with excellence for health and success while Charles Duhigg talks about it for getting yourself motivated.

According to Charles, just joining groups with a common interest can raise us up. And when we do that, ambitions become realities.

From: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

When people join groups where change seems possible, the potential for that change to occur becomes more real.

Let’s huddle together to increase the potential for our dreams to become realities in the wrap up.



To get yourself motivated….ask my dad for a “round tuit” and…

  1. Thinks Small Wins – Little victories build momentum and motivation.
  2. Be Ambitious and Expect Goodness – With a desire for something more and belief in yourself, you can spark motivation.
  3. Get Rewarded – 75% of motivation comes from perceived rewards.
  4. Give Attention & Effort to Your Ambition – When your attention and effort align with your goals, motivation goes up.
  5. Surround Yourself With Excellence – The environment and people you spend time with can elevate you to higher levels of motivation.

Thank you for reading!


P.S. If you liked this post, I’d be thrilled if you forwarded it to friends or shared it!

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About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is a true health expert. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 18,000 hours of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 20 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his beloved) began writing evidence-based Wellness Newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various small businesses throughout Connecticut.

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