Are you feeling motivated?*
And check with your self: what does the word motivated mean to you?
The thing with motivation is that it comes and goes, regardless of what you need it for.
Don’t let people fool you into believing that they’re bad at maths and 110% super motivated all day every day and leap out of bed before the alarm goes off.
Some important considerations on motivation and the busyness that we assume comes with it: people love to seem busy even if they aren’t.
The perception of being busy is enough for some. Never has the chance to look busy been more apparent than now, through numerous social media accounts.
We also frequently assume others are busier than they actually are. And even the most actually busy people are doing things in bursts of energy. There’s an explosion of activity for a period of time and then there’s the suck from the explosion, that pulls inwards again. We need time to recuperate, to retreat inwards and rebalance and analyse the next steps.
Bears hibernate, running on body fat they’ve stored up outwith cold winter months. Then they emerge famished and motivated. Be a bear for short spells of time.
Avoid the Workaholic Narrative
Modern media is saturated with a very unhealthy narrative that encourages workaholism.
In fact, you wouldn’t be at fault for thinking that you’re a piece of shit human being because you’re not juggling multiple projects with multiple clients, or running numerous businesses while training for an ultramarathon during your lunchtimes.
In between these activities you’re posting to every social media outlet available including snaps of your super healthy nutritious smoothies and kale salads. All while learning a foreign language and raising funds for the Outer Hebridean Dolphin Society.
Be realistic to your abilities and needs. What other people are doing is almost inconsequential. And the people that are getting air time have more resources than you have (a statistical guess). Be ambitious and have some aims in your life beyond the decision regarding your next snack.
But temper it with your current capabilities and what is achievable with your current life circumstance.
One trick to motivation is to find the positives in things you don’t like doing.
Hate doing the washing up? It’s great: you’re on your feet not on your ass. Use it as a way to create a break in your work day if you’re at home.
Don’t like taking the rubbish out? Boo hoo. It has to be done. Nobody is a fan of taking the rubbish out (I checked Facebook).
So already, you’re doing a necessity, and you’re not alone. You’re not some poor singled out person who has to do a routine task. And again, it is getting you outside, and moving. Exercise and time on your feet. Excellent. It’s good for you and you’re doing a task at the same time. The old win win.
But even for the things you do like doing, there is a breaking point at which you need to change the routine.
Your brain – that walnut looking gelatinous powerhouse – is telling you, subtly at first, that it is bored of the same routine. If you catch a lack of motivation early enough, you can respond faster and stay motivated with less gaps, less procrastination and more productivity.
If you leave it too long you get to the stage of burn out which is very unhealthy and even physiologically toxic for body and mind let alone extraneous things like your relationships, and the recovery time is subsequently elongated as well. The old lose lose.
Personalise your motivation.
Individualise it as much as possible. Make it mean something to you that you fully relate to. That way you are more likely to be motivated. And again to reiterate: stop looking to others to copy and paste. Give tasks silly names or acronyms. Essential tasks are just that, essential, so there’s no need to moan. Take responsibility!
Remember this: in the realm of personal pursuits nobody else cares if you do or don’t do any given activity.
If you don’t register a website that you envisage as a platform for your cats most precious moments of spontaneous devilry, guess what. Nobody outside of you cares about that, nobody cares about the things you don’t do or didn’t do.
Internal monologue: Remember that time I didn’t go for a run? Nobody on planet earth gave a shit about that.
I do care.
And that is the key here. I know if I didn’t do something I told myself I would. I am accountable to me and me only for what I do.
So the run I didn’t go for I feel bad about that. If a lack of motivation was the only reason I didn’t do it, then I am guilty. Judge: Smash that gavel and lock me up! The judge being me.
I need to work on my discipline, and ask myself why I didn’t do the run. (Occasionally there are valid excuses – I’m not trying to run an internalised dictatorship here).
You’ve probably heard the phrase, if you’re scared of something do it anyway.
Nike couldn’t have had a better long term slogan for their brand than Just Do It. Because it strips away any excuses you can conjure. It’s so simple and admittedly for some things oversimplifies but in its essence it’s an excellent snapshot of proactive thinking.
Excuses are never in short supply. Every one has them. But the difference between some one who does and some one who doesn’t is an ability to override the system, the aim being to be disciplined to the point of doing it, whatever it is, regardless of any other factors.
Don’t Breakdown, Change Gears
Allow your self to be unmotivated when a routine becomes too…routine.
Then change an element of it. It doesn’t have to be a whole change, tweaking even one part can be enough to inject fresh air into the system.
Allow time to reflect. Procrastinate. I encourage it.
John McEnroe: You cannot be serious!
I am. Because the mind needs time to reassess and recalibrate. For your own benefit the tennis ball needs to go out of play sometimes.
But do not allow yourself to be lazy in your thoughts and actions. Watching a movie for example, is not laziness, but a break from other things, a moment set aside for relaxation. It is laziness when it becomes habitual and replaces time spent on more advisable pursuits.
My final advice is to write it down (not digitally!).
Externalise your aims, then the evidence can’t be denied. Make habits instead of excuses. Find the small victories in the mundane.
If you run several times a week, you’ve jogged. If you run many times in a year, you’re a runner.
Simply replace the word ‘runner’ with whatever you do and it applies.
As a life coach, sometimes my role is to guide clients to see things as they are, not how they wish they were. To see problems from a different angle and perspective beyond themselves. Once an issue is reconfigured that is often enough to open the sluice gate and ignite motivation once again.
That way clients seeking personal development can gain insight into their dilemma(s) rooted in reality, and when entirely rooted in reality, they have the best chance to succeed, to grow personally and professionally.
When the personal motivational levers are found to crank up the voltage, that’s when the exciting stuff starts to happen.
*It’s a mindset not your emotional state. Motivation should be free from emotionality as much as possible. Tired mind? Tired body? It doesn’t matter once you reach a place of discipline whereby how you feel doesn’t dictate what you do. The key is to try and reduce the relationship between these elemnts as much as possible.