This is a VERY common human struggle. Yes, even for those who appear perfect and completely in control….not mentioning any names 😉 I will give you some advice from my professional experience. I have had the opportunity to see people in their real states, people who appear perfect in public or who make a living from writing books and delivering workshops on human motivation and optimal functioning and I have found that they are actually human too. Yeah I know! Right?!?! So, please stop thinking that just because someone spouts a quote, or is a self-help writer, that they are perfect and living the perfect life. I guarantee they are not, or they are, for a very short time in their life…and then they are not again. That is the reality for all humans. Motivation ebbs and flows.
Motivation comes and goes. Life giveth and taketh away. Sometimes I am so on top of everything and then it all changes and I wonder why anyone pays me to do anything. Fortunately, the latter happens less often now that I am older with life experience. Phew! I now understand the ebb and flow of my motivation and I use strategies that help be kick my butt when needed. What a gift of knowledge I now have!
Remember, like the quote above, sometimes we lose focus, things get blurry and we start asking ourselves “why am I doing this again?” All normal! Mastering motivation means using strategies that can help you regain your focus and get moving again, not the expectation of naturally being super motivated all the time. No human is.
Todays post is part of a 10-part series on how to treat your brain in a way that fosters wellbeing. Check out blogs that I have posted in the past to help you find the best motivation strategies that work for you! Please know that I always write from my professional experience and from my own personal experience of what works, and I am far from perfect. I am just a human being human who loves human behaviour and finding ways to be my best human version.
I thought that it would be helpful to start with a definition of motivation that I think encompasses all the main factors. Check this out…
Motivation results from the interaction of both conscious and unconscious factors such as the (1) intensity of desire or need, (2) incentive or reward value of the goal, and (3) expectations of the individual and of his or her peers. These factors are the reasons one has for behaving a certain way. An example is a student that spends extra time studying for a test because he or she wants a better grade in the class. Source: Business Dictionary
Make sure this is your why, your goal, not someone else’s goal. It is so hard, actually almost impossible, to motivate yourself to achieve the goals others have set for you, especially if it completely doesn’t interest or matter to you. Examine your “shoulds“! Explore further if they are realistic, or too harsh, or not in line with your goals or not the expectations you have for yourself. If they are not yours, change them to something that is helpful to your wellness and your goals. Make goals your own, makes it easier to make it through the difficult times.
Once you know what you want and it is your plans/goals/desires, create a “how to” plan that also includes how to get through the rough times. How will I meet my goals when I feel fantastic and how will I still move toward my goals when life gets complicated or difficult? You need both, and you need to have patience and self compassion in this process. Ask yourself “am I heading in the right direction??, this is all you need to focus on, not how fast or how much. We all need breaks and down times in our pursuit of our goals.
Take small steps toward your goal(s). Focus on the direction of the goal not the intensity; making sure are you heading in the right direction despite set backs or procrastination days. Direction matters more than progress. I often use the Irish teaching of getting “stuck in” on days that I feel “meh”, but still need to get something done. How I do this is I set a timer for 15 minutes, I get started small parts of my task and see if I get sucked into the task and motivated to continue. This works 95% of the time for me, especially when it is my goal and should.
Check out this TEDTalk for one perspective that could help you get moving by preparing your mind for what it takes for you to be successful.
Main take aways:
Anything that I have done, that surprised me and that I am most proud of, came out of intense struggle with my mind, struggle with my confidence and struggle with my ability to stay focused.
It is worth the struggle! But do it in a way that is healthy for you at your own pace, with your own goals and with your own strategies.
Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)
eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success