First things first. You are not alone.
But let me make one thing very clear: there is no magic pill or wand I wave to give you the goods. Motivation is something you have or don’t have. It is something you BUILD.
I have some info, tips, and tough-love coming your way, friend.
Who knew motivation was so tricky?! Let me ask you this genuine question: When was the last time you truly felt motivated? Maybe it was in work, in a relationship, in a sport, in a health and wellness journey — whatever! Can you vividly recall when it was and what it was related to?
IF you can recall such a time (many of us can’t), can you also recall if you were motivated BEFORE you started?
In both my own personal life and in working with clients, I’ve found that it is often difficult to recall a time we remember feeling motivated in doing/having something. And if we can recall a time, it is often rare that we felt motivated before we started working on said journey.
What I want to draw to light is the fact that our perception of motivation is –> it is something we are supposed to feel, and feel BIG, before we start making the changes we want to make. Before we start working towards the promotion, training for a bucket-list activity, or working on ourselves. But let me ask you this, how well has that worked for you in the past? Has it been more common for you to wait until you felt truly motivated, then made changes, and actually saw success? OR has it been more common for you to stay stagnant, stuck, the same…unfulfilled and unmotivated?
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT…AND WHY
Here comes some work. Prep work actually before the real work begins. One of the primary reasons the yo-yo effect (the starting and stopping then starting again) is so strong for so many of us, stems back to this factor– we do not have a crystal clear mission or goal. We have a faint Point A (starting point), but our destination is hazy at best. “I want to be healthier,” “I want to make more money,” “I want a nicer car,” but what does healthier look like for you? How much more money? Or what kind of a car? So start there. Make your destination super specific. Detail it out as if you already are there.
The next step I would argue is even more important and helpful than knowing what you want. Knowing WHY you want it. Believe it or not, even with a very specific goal in mind, our innate pull towards the least amount of resistance and work is very strong. Enter: yo-yo effect, once again. We are hard-wired to reserve energy, take the path with the least obstacles and challenges, and so when we’re presented with the choice of going against that grain and let’s say — wake up earlier to workout vs. stay in our warm and comfy bed for an extra half-hour, we naturally are drawn to the latter.
When your WHY is very apparent however, that starts to enter your train of thoughts when making those decisions and it is harder to say no. Find something that is stronger than your excuses, because that will be what helps you build consistency, and consistency momentum; momentum, habits; habits, change and results.
DETERMINE THE DAILY BEHAVIORS
Alright, so now you know what you want and why. You’ve got a Point A and a Point B. But what the heck are the steps to take to get from A to B? Can you guess what often happens at this point? People stop, they give up before they really even get started. And honestly, I’ve been there too! Knowing what to do can feel very overwhelming. Our thoughts start to get the best of us, and then next comes Googling things which over-complicates it exponentially, and before you know it you feel even more defeated than you did initially.
Great news for you though! Combat this quickly and effectively by identifying 1-3 behaviors you do DAILY that help move the needle from that Point A to Point B. These should be small, simple, tasks that seem insignificant at times and often overlooked, yet when done consistently are what yield results. For example, if you have a goal related to getting healthier, a daily behavior you could commit to would be to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water (I.e. 200 pound person would drink 100 ounces of water daily). Another daily behavior could be to go to bed by 10pm, or to walk 10,000 steps.
These are specific activities that you can easily even track daily to monitor progress. Most of us LOVE check-lists, crossing things off once we’ve done them, and witnessing our achievements stack up. THIS is how motivation is ignited. Without doing these vital behaviors, not only does our motivation not grow, but we don’t see change and we stay stuck.
Not possible, but you get the gist. Start immediately. You’re never going to have all the answers, and you know what — you don’t need them! It’s like having a birth-plan. You may think you know exactly what you want and what to do when, but life has its own plans and ones you do not see coming. Pretty sure any job we’ve had we don’t know how to do it all before we start, but we still take the job. Parenting, same deal. No parent knows what they’re doing, but you figure it out as you go.
Instead of letting that make you feel anxious or fearful though, see the beauty in not having to know it all. Take a step today and take small action, and if you need to course-correct tomorrow, do so! But at least you’re moving. Maybe you don’t walk your daily goal of 10,000 steps today, but a total of 6,000 may be double what you typically do, and how great does that feel?! Mood is boosted, motivation is sparked, and tomorrow you will be way more likely to get steps in again.
“I’ll start tomorrow,” unfortunately has way too much power over our lives. The sooner we can take small action TODAY, the sooner the ball gets rolling and momentum is started. “An object in motion stays in motion, and and object at rest stays at rest, until acted upon by an outside force.” It doesn’t have to be a strong outside force — one of your small, daily behaviors is all that is needed. And then repeat again tomorrow.
HAVE REWARDS ALONG THE WAY
Reward yourself, and not just once you complete your goal. Reward yourself during your journey. What’s more rewarding with your job than getting that paycheck every two weeks? This is the same concept! Have check-ins with yourself every month or so, or maybe even weekly as you first get started. Did you stick to those daily tasks every day this week? If so, celebrate that! One thing I do nearly each month or a designated amount of time is I have a specific thing identified to positively reinforce my efforts. A reward if you will. Sticking to a plan is critical, and recognizing the achievement of that success when you do is super powerful in building motivation.
Putting focus and emphasis on the process, the daily actions, is the bread and butter. When you stop to really assess not only the successful people around you, but those who are happy, organized, productive, they are the ones who make their daily non-negotiables priority.
These behaviors are very easy NOT to do, as they often seem a bit too insignificant. They don’t impact us greatly that day or even if we do or don’t do them a few days in a row, so they can be easy to skip. However, when we opt to do them consistently, they are the exact things that you’ll experience create the change you want. So celebrate the consistency in completing these daily habits and recognize the victory in your diligence.
So start today in some small (or big!) capacity, pick one thing you can and will do daily and commit to it, and also commit to rewarding yourself in four weeks from now after you successfully stuck to your word and your plan and your motivation is solidly underway.