Train your entire team for a ridiculously low price.
Over 90% of YIPA members renew year after year.
Become A Member

Motivation Micro Steps Make a Big Difference


Motivation ebbs and flows. It’s not a constant force for anyone. People often think motivation is something you either have or you don’t. But because motivation is not a psychological trait or a personality characteristic, it is something everyone can learn to cultivate.

If you’ve ever struggled to make changes or achieve goals, you know how hard it is to start or maintain progress when motivation is lacking.

But you don’t have to wait for motivation to move you!

In fact, motivation often grows from taking action. So, using micro steps to make progress really does make a big difference.

    Check Out Our Featured Training!

    Addressing Suicidal Thoughts and Plans

    Learn More
    View All Trainings
    • Live Online Training
    • Thursday, May 30, 2024
    • 10:30 am to noon Central Time
    • FREE for YIPA members

    What are motivation micro steps?

    Motivation micro steps are tiny actions you can take every day to move forward. Making small changes is easier than making a big change. But you can achieve any big change by stacking up small changes along the way. It’s like building up your motivation muscle.

    One big reason why you might feel unmotivated is because your goals seem too big or overwhelming. But what if you break those big goals down into smaller, more manageable ones?

    Setting small goals makes it easier to identify small but significant actions you can take. Instead of saying, "I want to finish all my homework tonight," try saying, "I'm going to finish one assignment before dinner." Doesn't that sound easier?

    By setting smaller goals, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment each time you reach one. And that builds momentum to keep you motivated to tackle the next one.

    Teach and model this motivation strategy

    Young people are just as likely as you to feel stuck when their motivation is low. Teach them about micro steps as a way to work on any change they want to make. It’s much more effective to spark motivation by small actions than to wait for motivation to strike before you start.

    Whatever a young person wants to work on, change, improve, or achieve can be broken down to micro steps. Here’s some examples:

    • Reading: Read for 15 minutes every night before bed.
    • Exercise more: Do 10 jumping jacks every morning before breakfast.
    • Expand learning: Learn a new word every day and use it in a sentence.
    • Increase creativity: Spend 20 minutes drawing or writing each afternoon.
    • Be kind: Compliment someone every day.
    • Make connections: Take 2 minutes to text a friend just to let them know you’re thinking of them.
    • Better organized: Clean and tidy up for 5 minutes before bedtime.

    Tips for taking motivational micro steps

    Now that you know what motivational micro steps are and why they work, you might be eager to start taking them yourself. And teaching them to young people as well. These tips will help you get started:

    Start Small - Pick one small action you can do every day, like reading for 10 minutes or doing 5 minutes of exercise.

    Set Reminders - Use sticky notes or phone alarms to remind yourself to take your micro steps each day.

    Track Your Progress - Keep a journal or checklist to track your daily actions and see how far you've come.

    Be Flexible - If you miss a day or slip up, don't worry! Just pick up where you left off and keep moving forward.

    Celebrate Your Wins - Celebrate each tiny victory along the way to keep yourself motivated.

    So, there you have it—motivation micro steps! These tiny actions might seem small, but they can lead to big changes. Whether you want to become a better youth worker, a healthier person, or just happier overall, taking small steps every day will help you get there. And make The Passionate Youth Worker podcast one of your micro steps for motivation!

    About the author

    Barbara Van Deinse is the operations director of the Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA), a non-profit association of youth-serving organizations. We're your source for exceptional, affordable, personal and professional online learning via The Professional Youth Worker.  Join us!

    To ask Barbara a question or share your feedback about this blog, email

    We'd love to have YOU join the YIPA community too!
    Become A Member
    If your organization isn't a member yet, consider an Individual Membership.