Five Easy Ways to Motivate Others

easy ways to motivate others

“I’m so frustrated,” my friend complained. “Sam (her husband) and I were supposed to lose weight together.  After about a month, he just gave up. I keep reminding him we had a deal, but he won’t listen. I don’t know what to do! I’m worried about his health.”

Sound familiar? Substitute anyone you care about for husband, and anything that’s not being accomplished for weight loss, and, you get my point. We all know people who could use some motivation.

Over 25 years as a mom, 7 + years as a boss, and 5+ years as a weight loss group leader, I’ve learned a few things about motivation. First, if you want to motivate others, you should, yourself, be motivated. (see Top Five Ways to Boost Your Motivation). Here are a few more ideas:

5 Easy Ways to Motivate Others


Sometimes just the simple act of venting their frustrations may be enough to help a person regain their motivation.  Other times, your person might want to brainstorm with you. Be available and try not to be judgemental.

Ask How You Can Help

Holding the person accountable for the type of help they need gives him or her ownership in the process.  Offering the help you think they need takes the power out of their hands. And yes, everyone wants to feel like they have some control of their own destiny.

If you really feel you absolutely must offer specific help, why not offer a choice between two options? For example, in the case of my friend and her husband, she could say something like, “Why don’t we schedule a workout date this week? Would you rather go for a hike or take a long bike ride?” This way you are steering your person back on course, but reminding them that you know they are still in control.

Remember Past Successes

When Bud was a senior in high school, he was having difficulty with Algebra II.  The concepts were difficult for him to grasp. He wanted to give up. I knew if he quit, he wouldn’t graduate, since Algebra II was a required course.

I sat down with Bud and reminded him of how good he was at setting goals and figuring out how to achieve them. How when he was ten, he had decided to lose weight, after seeing a photo of himself on a family trip. Bud and I had started run/walking every day and cut back on snacks and sweets. He was so proud of himself when we took family photos the next year and we could all see the difference!

I reminded Bud of how, when he started sixth grade in homeschool, he decided that the following fall he wanted to start public school with his friends, who would all be in the eighth grade. We set a schedule, and Bud managed to complete BOTH sixth and seventh grades in one year.

Bud appreciated the pep talk. He and I made a plan of attack, that would get him caught up on Algebra II by the end of the school year.  I was proud for multiple reasons when Bud graduated on time in June of 2012.

Be an Example

During my years as a weight-loss group leader for Sparkpeople, I have found that being an example can be one of the most positive motivating factors for others.  However, examples don’t all have to be about successes.

If we are honest with ourselves, the path to achieving our goals is very rarely a straight line forward. More often than not, it is more of a zig-zag, a two steps forward, one step back scenario.

Those who are at the beginning of the steps to achieve their goal, can be encouraged by finding out that those of us who have reached the other side had the same setbacks and stumbling blocks along the way.  I like to share how I lost 20 pounds, then gained 50, lost 30, got stuck at a 4 1/2 year plateau, and finally lost another 10 pounds six months ago. Only 10 more pounds to go, but what a journey it has been! And while the destination will be awesome, the journey is where I learned and grew.

Be Patient

Patience is your biggest ally as a motivator. After all, we’re not all on the same journey, even though we may have similar goals. Everyone moves along their own path, at their own speed. You can not singlehandedly make a person move ahead any faster. All you can do is be available with the tools, resources and motivation, if needed.

How do you motivate others? Please share your tips in the comments.

Compassion – Thinking Outside Ourselves

I have to admit, that sometimes my anxiety can lead me to be a bit oversensitive. An offhanded  remark can feel like a knife to my heart. Something as simple as a deep sigh from someone I love can lead me to wonder why they are disappointed in me.

Other times, something so big happens in my life, it feels like a bomb went off, blowing up my world. How do I forgive someone for causing my catastrophe?


Compassion and Forgiveness Go Hand in Hand

As a Christian, compassion and forgiveness go hand in hand.  Ephesians 4:32 reads, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (NIV) As a child, and even as a young adult, I thought I understood the concept of forgiveness, but I was missing the compassion component.

Because I am extremely empathic (don’t even get me started on three-hanky movies), I  believed I was also compassionate. In reality, compassion and empathy are not exactly the same. The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, says “Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help.”

Once I understood the meaning of compassion, I started putting it to work. Did Art snap at me? Maybe I should ask him how his day was and see if there is anything I can do to ease his load. Am I hurt because a friend missed a phone call? As the saying goes, “the phone works both ways”. I can make that phone call and ask about her week.

It’s Not About the What, It’s About the Why

When  we realize that the other person’s actions are not about us, it becomes less about the what and more about the why. If we can determine the why, we can be more understanding about the what. And if we’re not caught up in our own hurt, we can prevent the situation from escalating and maybe even offer help to the other person, if needed.

Empathy and Compassion Don’t Trump Self Care

In the case of catastrophic acts, empathy and compassion don’t trump self care. While forgiveness is necessary for your own well being, you are not required to have a relationship with a toxic person who has no remorse. I don’t want to go into specifics here. Let me just say that while I have the tendency to overreact in small situations, I have also been known to under-react in disastrous situations. My fear of ending relationships caused me to accept abusive behavior for a long time. Compassion has enabled me to forgive and maintain relationships, from a distance, if necessary.

We Don’t Have to Agree in Order to Get Along

Once we learn how to use compassion towards those who hurt us, we can move on to show compassion in all our relationships.  Putting a human face on an issue has been proven to lead to compassion and understanding.

As an example, let’s look at the current political climate. Many of us, here in the U.S., have strong feelings, one way or the other, about the current administration.  Instead of deciding, generally, that all people who think differently from us are “idiots”,  let’s sit down with each other and discuss, either virtually or in person – not what we believe,  but why we believe it.

We won’t necessarily change the other person’s beliefs, but compassion and understanding can often lead to acceptance. We don’t have to agree in order to get along.

Thinking Outside Ourselves

“Putting a face on it” can also make us more compassionate to those we don’t know. Living down the street from a family who struggled to put food on the table, and later being in the same position ourselves, has led me to have immense compassion for those who struggle with food security.  I also have a heart for the elderly, starting at age 17 as a “friendly visitor” to home-bound seniors and assisting my church with nursing home visitations.

Since we have moved to Oregon, I have not yet found a church home or a volunteer opportunity. As preparation for this blog, I discovered our local resources, and will be calling tomorrow to see where my skills can best be used.

How do you show compassion to others?