How to Find Motivation: An Expert’s Advice from Colleen Marshall | SilverCloud Health

Colleen Marshall who is wearing a black shirt and has blond hair, next to the words SilverCloud Monday Motivation.

Kickstarting our Monday Motivation is Colleen Marshall, US Director of Clinical Operations at SilverCloud Health. She is currently working on building out the training suite for the coaches. She is also working on deep diving into coach outcome data to identify key coaching principles that increase client outcomes.

Colleen has a vast level of experience when it comes to behavioral health and behavior change. Colleen also serves as a consultant for startup organizations and healthcare organizations that are looking to implement motivational interviewing.

Colleen has specific expertise in behavior change, specifically Motivational Interviewing, and applied this approach to a start-up coaching practice helping individuals diagnosed with terminal illnesses make health care choices. She led the development of the therapeutic coaching model, designed the evaluation of the coaching, created the training of the coaches, developed the hiring models, supervision models, and lead the scaling of the coaching team.

Motivation is a state of mind which is based on increasing productivity or self-belief to generate better results, it can be difficult to find motivation. We asked Colleen a few questions and got great insight into her take on finding motivation.

What Are Some Ways People Can Understand What’s Truly Important to Them?

A large part of making a change is clarifying what is truly important to you. What is the real reason you want to make this change? We all have competing priorities and many things that are important to us. We have short-term priorities and long-term priorities. Often these factors conflict with each other. For instance, short-term priorities like enjoying our downtime can affect our larger goals like losing weight or increasing our exercise. To help clarify what you truly want, consider starting with first self-acceptance.


Negative self-statements, self-judgment, or pressure can get in the way of you making the changes you want in your life. Instead, accept that there are good reasons why you are choosing what you are choosing at this moment. But don’t stop there. Next, clarify what is most important to you and why that is so important. For instance, if you are wanting to improve your mood or decrease your stress. Why is that important to you? How would that relate to what is most important to you or what you value? Ask yourself, what would you get from improving your mood or reducing your stress? For instance, maybe this will lead you to be a more patient parent or more focused on your work to accomplish more of your work goals.

What Is Your Approach to Defining Goals and Creating an Approach to Stay Motivated?

Once you are clear about what you want to do, the next step is to think about what you truly think is possible. This means identifying the larger goal and breaking it down into smaller doable steps. Another part of staying motivated to make a change is believing that the change is possible. So, making specific goals that can lead to your larger goal can help. Use the SMART goal framework to help. Make your goal specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timebound. For instance, if you want to improve your stress, identify what you think you can do that can help you improve your stress. You might set a goal to spend time meditating every day. So, your SMART goal could be, I will meditate for 10 minutes each day for the next 2 weeks. Then in two weeks, you can see how you are doing and increase or add to your goal.

How Should We Measure Our Goals?

Monitoring your progress is also important as you try to make improvements. Set milestones or a timeframe to check in our plan. Most plans need some adjusting as you try new things and learn new things about yourself. To monitor your progress, you want to be clear about what you are measuring to know if you are making progress on your goals. This means measuring both the actions and the overall goal.

For instance, if you want to lose weight, monitor whether you are staying on track with your healthy eating habits, like eating mostly veggies at each meal and your weight going down. To achieve your overall goal, you might need to change your actions, like increasing your veggies and reducing your sugar intake. However, you won’t know if you need to change your plan if you are not monitoring whether you are on track with your action plan. Remember, the goal is to create small goals that you can do and not set yourself up to fail by setting unrealistic and unreasonable goals. For instance, losing 1 to 2 pounds a week is typically recommended, but if we set our goals to lose 5 pounds a week and we do not achieve this, then we are less likely to feel motivated to continue our plan.

What Are the Keys to Understanding People's Motivation to Change?

There are a lot of elements that go into someone’s motivation to change. But some common themes are helpful to understand. Starting from a place of self-compassion and acceptance is important. It turns out that if we put pressure on ourselves or others pressure us to change, we are more resistant to change. We feel the need to argue and defend why we are doing what we are doing.

If instead, we start from a place of acceptance, understanding that there are good reasons we are choosing to do what we are doing now. In that case, we can open ourselves up to consider other ways of doing things rather than feeling like we need to defend what we are doing now. So, if you feel yourself judging yourself or your current choice, try to talk to yourself as you would a friend. What would you say to them if they were in the same situation, you are in now?

What Are Some Strategies People Can Use to Influence Their Motivation?

From that place of acceptance and understanding, you can then look at some questions that might help you clarify what is important to you, why that is important, and what you believe is possible. A change needs to be both important to the person making the change as well as they need to believe the change is possible to be able to decide if they are ready to make the change. We call that ready, willing, and able to make a change.

So, think about the change you are considering and ask yourself some of these questions to clarify what is important to you. Write down your answers and read them back to yourself and reflect on what it means to you. Why might you make this change? If you did make this change, what good things might come from it? If you do not make this change, what bad things might come from not making the change? Then think about what you believe is possible. If you did decide to make this change, what do you think is possible? How have you done things like this in the past? How could those successes help you with this change?

Tell Us What Motivates You?

I became a leader, therapist, and coach because I love helping other people reach their goals. It is so important that we each approach our lives from a place of authenticity. We are each uniquely different, so understanding that we each have unique strengths and there are many ways to achieve goals and make a change can help us have more compassion for ourselves and others and help us achieve our own goals. I find a great deal of motivation when I can help someone find out what they want, helping them find a way to be themselves and grow to achieve what they want.

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‘We are each uniquely different, so understanding that we each have unique strengths and there are many ways to achieve goals and make change can really help us have more compassion for ourselves and others and help us achieve our own goals.’ - Colleen Marshall