Time and time again I meet with people who describe themselves as lazy and conclude that they don’t really want to do something because they don’t feel like it in that moment. These same people say, “I am just not motivated”. This statement reveals a belief in a dangerous myth, “motivation is all about how you feel”. Similar to love, motivation is so much more than a feeling. Just like the varying types and degrees of love, there are different kinds of motivation. Let’s take a look at some of them, starting with the feel-good emotion-based motivation.
Like the glamorized versions of romantic relationships we see in the movies, emotion-based motivation always feels good. We recognize this kind of love (and motivation) when we are excited and looking forward to something despite the fact that it requires effort and energy. In contrast, a deeper kind of love is what you demonstrate and build by going the extra-mile when you really don’t feel like it. Why? Because this kind of love is goal-oriented, it is purpose-oriented, it is commitment-oriented. So, is value-based motivation. Value-based motivation taps into a reservoir of energy and passion and meaning. As opposed to ignoring the energy and effort required, you can use it to validate the worth of your goal (or relationships for that matter).
So here’s my advice, whenever you don’t feel motivated, consider your goal. Ask yourself, “What is the purpose or benefit of this goal?” And then decide how you will move toward that goal each day. This kind of conversation will help you to access what I call positive motivation, the kind of coaching or self-talk that focuses on what you want and on the fact that you can and will achieve your goal. I encourage people to avoid negative motivation, the kind that considers the negative outcome if you don’t make a certain choice. While this approach can be effective for short distance goals, I have noticed that over time people lose sight of the depth, meaning and value of their goals and feel bitter because it seems that they really don’t have a choice. Negative motivation also lends to thinking, “I have to do this” vs. “I want to do this”. Who needs all of that pressure? Not me. I prefer to tell myself, “I want to… I can… I will…”. In fact, I have those words set as an alarm for certain things I am committed to doing.
Bonus Tip: In case you struggle to set goals and are pretty hard on yourself, simply replace the word “should” with “will” and you automatically have the beginning of a great goal. For example, “I should study more” is quickly turned into, “I will study more”. But be sure not to stop there. While studying more is a good goal, be sure to proceed to making a realistic schedule. Without a clear map to your destination, you can expect to get lost, feel discouraged and eventually lose hope. The idea of setting realistic goals cannot be emphasized enough. Be fair to yourself by setting realistic goals and you will achieve more and feel encouraged when you do.
Finally, for those of you who have fallen off a long streak of success, I feel your pain. I am attempting to make a come-back with respect to my level of health and fitness. One thing that was preventing me from being consistent was having so many goals and commitments that I didn’t have enough rest or energy to do what I used to do. So, I have decreased my daily fitness contribution until next month when some of my other commitments will end. Then, I will have more rest and more energy and will realistically increase my efforts. I trust that you too can find a healthy balance as you build great goals and choose a healthy kind of motivation to achieve them.
Have a great day!