Coaching Tools 101: "Get Motivated" Tool - What Words Inspire You to Take Action?

Client Get Motivated with Words Rocket on blackboard

What Words Inspire YOU to Take Action?

So, we all know that using words like "Should", "Ought to" and "Have to" can be demotivating:

  • But do you know how demotivating those words are for you?
  • And do you know which words inspire you the most?
  • And lastly, did you know that using different words for when you want to do something as opposed to something you don't want to do can make a HUGE difference?

As coaches, we all know that the words we use can significantly impact how we feel. Which words most inspire you to take action? Which words demotivate you? What about your clients?

I love this "Get Motivated" Tool!

This motivational language tool made a huge difference to me personally—helping me feel more motivated to do household chores!

Anytime words alone stop you doing what is important to you - change the words. Moshe Feldenkreis

Get the "Get Motivated!" What are the Words that Motivate You? Tool here:

How this tool works

The Get Motivated! What Words Inspire You? Coaching Exercise uses a series of words paired with "positive" and "negative" goal, our gut-response—and a simple scoring system to help your clients understand which words motivate and which words demotivate them!

The results give people the opportunity to change the words they use—and become more motivated!

NOTE: This exercise takes a little explanation to understand the process, but then it's straightforward to run through and score all the options. We do however recommend that you introduce and explain this exercise to your clients in a one-on-one session or workshop before giving it to them as homework.
Find Motivational Words Coaching Exercise
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Instructions for: "Get Motivated" What Words Inspire YOU To Take Action?

Click the tool image above to see a larger version of the tool so you can follow along.

1.  First, ask your client to pick 3 activities

i) a short-term goal
ii) a long-term goal and
iii) an activity they don't enjoy (eg. a household chore)

And then write them in the Goals/Activities Table provided.

2. Ask your client to choose words of their own to work with

Ask your clients to review the list of 5 'operational' words already provided, and then to pick 4 more expressions (in addition to the 5 already in the table) that they use when thinking about their activities and goals.

They can select a mix of 1) words they use and 2) those that appeal to them—and/or 3) they could choose their own words not on the list.

NECESSITY:     I Must, I Have to, I Should, I Ought to,
POSSIBILITY:    I Might, I Could, I'm Able to, I Intend to,
PROBABILITY:     I Will, I'd Love to, I Choose to, I Want to,

Now ask them to write these words in the left-hand column of the Motivational Words Discovery Table.

3. Get your clients to score the words in the table—for each of the 3 activities

Now, using the words in the left-hand column of the Motivational Words Discovery Table, ask your clients to make a sentence in their mind for each of their 3 goals/activities.

  • For this exercise to be effective they need to really FEEL into each statement first.
  • THEN ask them to write the score out of 10 (where 1 is totally uninspired and demotivated and 10 is excited!) for how inspired they feel to do each of the 3 goals/activity in turn.

4. Circle the words that are most 1) Motivational and 2) Demotivational

To wrap up, your client is asked to review the Motivational Words Discovery Table and circle the words that are:

  1. Most Motivational and
  2. Most Demotivational for them—for each type of goal/activity

NOTE: Although the Motivational Words Discovery Table may look like a lot to complete, it usually only takes about 5-10 minutes.

TIP: Some clients will complete this exercise more quickly that others. For example, some people will need to read each statement out loud and take a little longer to process, and others may quickly put the statements together in their head and whizz down the list. So, if doing this exercise in a session with your client, give them as much space and time as they need.

Then, when finished, hey presto! Your client now has scores out of 10—tangible evidence of how to motivate and demotivate themselves depending on the type of task they are doing.

5) Coach your clients to go deeper!

To cement the learning ask:

  • "What have you learned about yourself?"

And then identify what they will do differently going forwards:

  1. Ask your clients, "What situations or with which goals can you imagine using some different words in to increase your motivation?"
  2. And then ask, "Which new or different words could you use in those situations to feel more motivated?"
  3. And "When will you start?" and "How will you remember to do this?"

If you like, you can go even deeper into your clients' motivators (and demotivators), with questions like:

  • Are there any other words you use that you missed and might like to score?
  • What did you notice about how you felt in your body with each set of words?
  • Thinking of the words you currently use most often with yourself, do they motivate or demotivate you (or neither)?
  • What new words might you like to use that could be more effective going forwards?
  • What else can you notice about the words that most inspire you?
  • What else do you notice about the words that most demotivate you?
  • Is there a difference between the words that motivate you for a short-term goal, long-term goal and the activity you don't enjoy?
  • What will you do with this information going forwards? What specifically will you do differently—and when?

My personal learnings from this tool

Well, firstly, I learned that when I say "I'D LOVE TO" do something I feel motivated and inspired. My motivation score for this was 10/10. I now use this expression regularly when I talk about my goals.

But the biggest learning was around the activities I DON'T enjoy.

  • When it comes to doing household cleaning chores, if I say:
    "I MUST do X" my motivation to do the task was a big fat zero.
  • But when I say:
    "I MIGHT do X later" my motivation to do the task is a 6 (not very high - but it was my highest score, and who likes chores anyway?)

Once I started using "I might" with my household chores, I found I was a) more likely to do them and b) when I did do them I felt so much lighter!

This learning alone has made a huge difference to how I feel (and how many chores get done!). It seems odd—but also totally makes sense—that I feel more motivated when I give myself permission NOT to do something (using "I might"), because I'm not feeling pressured.

Get Your "Get Motivated!" Tool here:

Which is part of the Productivity & Time Management Toolkit:

Other Ways/Areas to Use This Tool

Business, Leadership or Executive Coaches:

If your client manages people, you could redo this exercise but this time use the words your client uses when giving others tasks. The 3 categories would be 1) An immediate task, 2) A longer-term project and 3) An unpleasant, boring or tedious task. This could help your client get an insight into how others might feel when given tasks.

You could also work with your client to get their staff or employees to complete the exercise. Then you would discuss and share the results with your client, so they have a better idea of the words to use with individual staff members.

Are you a Parent or Teen Coach?

Consider how you could use this tool with your teens to give them more self-knowledge and self-motivation, or how parents could use the learnings from this tool to communicate better with their children!

So, now it's your turn!

I recommend you try this on yourself first. Then you'll see how easy—and powerful—this tool can be.

Get the Get Motivated! What Words Inspire You? Coaching Exercise here >>

If you liked this article on motivation and the words we use, you may also like:

And this is just one of our many coaching tools! Learn more about what coaching tools are, when to use them and how they can help in our Complete Guide to Coaching Tools here >>

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

Image of Client in front of Blackboard with Rocket by Ahmet Misirligul via Shutterstock

Image of Motivated Client by Kurhan via Shutterstock

Image of Motivated Client Cleaning by Serhiy Kobyakov via Shutterstock


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