Lost motivation? This is for you.
by Annia Baron
“Annia, I’ve lost my motivation.” Go on, I say listening intently. “Well, I feel as though I once had oomph, more get up and go, you know? These days, everything feels as though it’s too much effort. And what’s worse is that I know what I should be doing to get out of this funk, but I can’t find the motivation to do it. Inevitably, I end up procrastinating further, which robs me of any motivation I may have had left in the first place! And so the cycle goes.”
If this were you, and I was sitting across from you, I’d look you right in the eyes and speak with the sort of straight-talking, truth-telling, kick-up-the butt kindness you’ve come to see me for. I’d remind you:
“Stop waiting for your motivation to come back – it won’t.”
Motivation isn’t something you’ve lost. You’ve lost sight of how to honour yourself. Your motivation isn’t low. You’ve lowered yourself into believing a convenient façade your mind came up with long ago. You’ve convinced yourself motivation comes first, then you’ll feel better to pursue change but that’s not how it works. Waiting for motivation is an excuse you’ve easily woven into your psyche to justify your inertia so that you can keep complaining about how things are so hard, which gives you permission to rely on those old coping mechanisms that have become a familiar comfort zone.
(Perhaps as my client, your face turns somewhat pale here).
But my dear friend, understand this:
You don’t find motivation. You ignite it.
And if you give yourself permission to see more broadly and shift perspective, you’ll realise that generating motivation is in fact, easy.
(Here, hope returns to your face – hoorah!).
See, most of us view motivation from a narrow lens. We think we need motivation in order to start pursuing our goals. This pattern of thinking creates a psychological association: Motivation must be present before I can take any action. As a result, your frontal cortex jumps to an unhelpful conclusion and interprets this as, “I can’t/won’t do what I know I should do until I feel good/motivated enough to do it.” As though only positive emotions and thoughts (e.g., happiness, joy, excitement) must be present first and then you’ll be able to do that thing you know is good for you (e.g. exercising, downloading that mindfulness app or enrolling in that personal development course you’ve been thinking about).
We talk about wanting to reach our goals but we’re waiting for our emotions and thoughts to change before we do something to change them!
Try looking at motivation differently: “Being in a negative state (e.g., low, flat, sad etc) doesn’t stop me from moving my body towards meaningful actions. I can act on my intentions WHILE I’m not feeling good.” For example, you can feel unfit AND at the same time be squatting or lunging. You can feel anxious AND at the same time click play on a meditation video. You can feel lonely AND at the same time send your friend a nice text message. You can feel unenthused AND at the same time search the net for inspiring stories. You can feel powerless AND at the same time sign a community petition to oppose something you care about.
Your action is the very spark needed to light the fire within you. And independent of how you feel that day, continuing to act on your meaningful choices is what keeps the motivation flame ablaze.
Don’t wait for motivation.
And for whatever reason, you notice the glow is disappearing, that’s ok. Give yourself a moment. Do what you need to do to calm the mind. Take a few long, slow, deep breaths and ask yourself, “have I lost motivation or do I need to adjust my lens?”
Action leads to greatness!
Did you know that it took Leonardo Da Vinci 15 years to complete the Mona Lisa? Did he lose motivation? Far from it. The great genius spent a lot of his time immersed in action, all kinds of action. He would often doodle in notebooks and engage in creative pursuits that led to his inventions of the helicopter, tank, scuba diving gear and the parachute. His actions contributed significantly to the fields of science, math, sculpture, and architecture. Sounds as though he had a good fire going!
If you feel your motivation could benefit from a boost, visit www.remindyourself.com or contact Annia, Clinical Psychologist & Mindset Coach on 0402 448 278.