the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
“escape can be a strong motivation for travel”
the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
“keep staff up to date and maintain interest and motivation”
I love making promises to myself. Huge grandiose ones. I’m a romantic at heart. I love deep meaningful vows. How often do I keep promises to myself? Promises like: I will wake up at 6AM every morning! or I will make ten calls everyday! or I will finish this work project within the hour!
Then, I hit snooze 50 times, I put off my calls until it’s too late, or something else “comes up” and I take a “quick FB break”. One of my favorite things that I say to myself is, “I’m just not feeling very motivated today”. Or when I lose focus, “I just can’t focus on anything today. I’ve lost all my motivation”. “I will try again tomorrow”.
Even writing those things makes me feel like crap!
Here’s what I’ve learned about motivation: it’s like love, you choose it.
When I am motivated, I irritate the crap out of my husband because I am a force of change to be reckoned with (he doesn’t like it when I clean and start rearranging the furniture and throwing everything in the Goodwill bin…) When I am not motivated, I feel bored, depressed, and anxiety starts creeping in because I know I’m procrastinating on things that are important to me.
Somehow we think that motivation is something that just comes to us, and then leaves us. Like inspiration (that’s another post…). Motivation is like feeling warm versus cold. It comes and goes and there’s nothing we can do about it. Right? Go stand by the heater. Put on a sweater. Start running.
Motivation is about my will. It is the will to start. It’s the ignition switch. Once you’re going, like Newton’s laws, motivation turns into momentum and propels you forward.
An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion… (Newton’s Law of Inertia)
I’ve recently started riding my bike more. There are two connected lakes near my house with a lovely bike path around them. The smallest lake is closest to my house. Usually when I’m about halfway around the small lake I have to make a decision. Am I going to bike around both lakes or just around the small one? It’s at that point that I start feeling tired, out of breath, and I start thinking about how tired I will be if I do the whole thing. Sometimes I cave, and I just go around the small lake. But sometimes a voice inside me shouts “NO! You actually want to do this! This is important to you! You will feel amazing when you accomplish the whole thing!” (Do you notice a pattern of how we talk to ourselves affects what we do?)
So I pedal harder, I give myself a boost of speed and soon I’m cruising around the big lake, marveling at the sparkling water, feeling the wind on my face. I can feel my muscles surging with new motivation. Then momentum takes over, I feel like I’m flying around the lake (Thank you adrenaline). When I get home, I collapse on the floor to stretch out and I feel satisfaction. The hardest part was only a half a mile in when I felt like rationalizing and taking that short cut.
Motivation is not a feeling. It’s a choice. It’s choosing to tell yourself a different story. Don’t tell yourself all the reasons you feel tired and can’t do it. Tell yourself the reasons why this is important to you. Do what’s important to you! Here’s how I change my mindset about the three examples I related earlier:
Getting up early:
Not helpful: “I’m so tired. It’s so late. I can’t get up early tomorrow.” “The bed is so comfy, I don’t want to get up.” “I don’t want to go to work, I’ll just hit snooze one more time“.
Helpful: “Tomorrow, I’m going to get up early, put on my coziest sweatshirt and slippers, and drink tea while snuggling my cat on the couch” (Notice I’m visualizing a very pleasant event) “Getting up early is important to me. I always feel better when I do it.”
Making Phone Calls
Not helpful: “I can do it later.” “I did them yesterday, what’s one day?” “I’ll just do 5 today.” “I’ll text people instead.” “I only have 15 minutes before it’s too late, I’ll just do it tomorrow” (Notice the rationalization)
Helpful: “If I do it now, then I don’t have to think about it anymore and I can enjoy my evening!” “It always feels so good to get my calls done before I get home for dinner.” “I love the feeling of meeting new customers, I want to meet more!” (Notice I am focusing on remembering happy and satisfying feelings rather than the dread of getting on the phone)
Motivation at Work
Not Helpful: “My brain is dead, I’m just going to browse Instagram quick.” “I’m just going to read a couple emails first.” “I haven’t checked the news recently.” “I’ll have more time to do that tomorrow.” “I’m not feeling very inspired to work on that project, I’ll work on this one instead.” (Notice the rationalization and the self-fulfilling prophecies of telling myself that I can’t do things because of certain feelings)
Helpful: “I’m feeling bored, so I’m going to dive into this project and not stop until it’s finished. Then I will feel amazing!” “I could look at Facebook right now, but it usually makes me feel like crap, so it can wait till later.” “I love the thrill checking things off my to do list. What are 6 things I can absolutely tackle today?” (Again, focus on feelings in a productive way. Recognize that many of our feelings are decisions.)
How do you stay motivated to do what’s important to you?
Looking for a great book? I really loved what Darren Hardy has to say about motivation and momentum in his book, The Compound Effect