DEFINITION: Motivation is "a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way"
It seems that by definition “motivation” is ALWAYS present. We always "act and behave". As a matter of fact we act and behave non-stop! Even when we go to sleep we “behave in a particular way” motivated by tiredness, boredom, excitement to dream...
If that’s true then inevitably the question of why so many of us are looking for the “motivation” in their lives pops up again and again.There are tons of articles, books, strategies, motivational quotes ... the internet is flooded with "motivation" yet so many keep looking for that missing piece.
I personally was looking for the lost treasure for ages. I was even getting frustrated that something was wrong with me as I wasn't feeling particularly motivated for long periods of time. What's more I thought at points that people are just born this way - motivated, and I obviously wasn't one of the "chosen ones". But things changed, and today, full of motivation and enthusiasm, please let me share with you how you can actually cultivate motivation and turn around this important aspect of your life.
Starting with the very basics - There seem to be two types of motivation: 1. one that we want and ... 2. one that we don’t ... But what do I mean...
The motivation we want is one that triggers pleasant feelings. We crave it as it makes us feel as if we are able to take on the world. It sparks enthusiasm and joy. It often gives us a sense of purpose. This is the motivation that makes us stronger, determined and passionate.
The one we don’t want and hence we don’t even label as 'motivation' is the motivation that makes us do what we do (usually) on a daily basis. We might not like it, it certainly doesn’t produce the same pleasant feelings, but it is nevertheless strong and makes us 'act in a particular way'. The motivation to go to a job that you don't like is a common example. The motivation to sleep a lot longer than you in theory wanted to is another common example. (Please note, I am oversimplifying a little and I will not talk about lack of motivation caused by depression, because I've seen and have personally experienced the fact that even in depressed states, most people are able to make significant positive shifts in their motivation levels by just understanding what I am about to walk you thorugh. I am aware, fully acknowledge and will try to address the overwhelaming at times feeling that you lack motivation that's caused by depression, but I will steer away from the use of the terminology deliberately. Bear with me...)
A lot of people spend their lives driven by motives which they are not aware of and "act and behave" in ways which ultimately rob them from the zest for living. This is difficult, sad and undeserved but the good news is that in most cases it is due to lack of knowledge and understanding. Why is this the good news? Because you can learn anything, including how to be movitated.
BEING MOTIVATED IN 5 STEPS:
Before we begin, think of ONE PARTICULAR AREA where you think you lack motivation. For example: your career/job, finding a hobby, improving your performance in... , starting your entrepreneurial endeavor, creating a fulfillling love life, ect. Note it down. On a scale of 0 to 10 (where 0 is "complete lack. I am unable to take a single step forward in this area" and 10 is "I am 100% passionate, dedicated and able to take consistent actions in this area") - how motivated do you feel at the moment? Score your current level honestly. Now, think of YOUR OVERALL LEVELS OF MOTIVATION in life. Again, on a scale of 0 to 10 - how motivated do you feel at the moment?
Great! That was the first preparation step. It wasn't that bad, was it?
The second (and final) little ground work ask I have is simple too. Think of what "motivation" means for YOU and how do you know when you have it. In other words, write down in whatever format (e.g. bullet points or full sentences, it doesn't matter to me) how do you feel when YOU are motivated. The reason why this is important is because my motivation is different to your motivation, unfortunately. You and I want to feel specific things and associate "motivation" with particular words to describe it. When we feel these things we KNOW we are motivated. You have to be aware of what you are after before staring to chase it.
So, what does "motivation" mean to you? Enthusiasm; passion; when time flies; fuzzy, warm feeling; complete comfort; etc.
You are now ready to follow the steps that will take you there.
STEP 1: BECOME AWARE.
Recognising the reasons why we do what we do and above all the BENEFITS this gives us, is the key to being able to alter the reality and experience the motivation we all crave for! Any action we take in life gives us some sort of benefit. Rememer that even when it is not obvious. As human beings we are often driven by what our more primitive/ unaware self wants. This is why we often go for short-term satisfaction rather than sustainable, longer-term positive outcomes. In order to identify the underlying reasons behind different behaviours we must start by noticing where our FOCUS goes.
Answer the below questions:
(write yours down, this will help)
What is the usual, repeating inner chatter you have on a daily basis? (yes, you do have inner chatter... all of us tend to think of and repeat the same stories, sentences, single phrases or words in our heads over and over again. There is nothing wrong with that and there is no right or wrong answer at this point - just be honest in front of yourself and notice the chatter.)
What do you like talking about with your friends and family? (favourite topics? default topics? secret favourite topics that you'd like to talk about but substitute with silence?)
What are the most frequent daydreams you have?
What do you like to complain about?
What are your favourite pieces of advice you give others?
This should give you a pretty good indication of where your focus goes and what type of thoughts you have. Take your time to fully answer those questions. Are there any trends you see? Any particularly negative repeating conversations (either internal or external?)
It’s fair to say that only by doing the above exercise you are already ahead of the crowd. Few people really spend time to get to know themselves and that's the very first and crucial step. I am sure you cannot dispute the importance of knowing oneself in order to improve and/or change.
STEP 2: START SUBSTITUTING
Substitute the thoughts you didn’t like from step 1 with ones you do like. How? Paraphrase them in positive ways. If you found you often think: “I am tired of work”, “I am so busy”,“I need a break”,"I am not motivated". "I don't know what I want","Not everything depends on me","I am unnlucky","I don't believe XYZ will happen"...– what are the chances that you will feel motivated or energetic? Very slim! Let alone being able to take action in any forward direction. In your head there simply is no point of doing that.
However, by substituting your inner chat with: “I am working hard to achieve what I want”. "after all life is 99% in my own two hands", "I am a lucky person", "I do have energy, just look at me when swimming/ exercising, painting..."– how would that make you feel?
For each of your inner thoughts that you don't find positive or motivational - have an alternative and write it down!
The new phrase is potent as it encouraes your brain to think different thoughts. The new sentence can make you feel proud or trigger the sense that you are on the right track for example. You don't need to believe them fully yet and it won't feel natural! That's ok. Think of how many years and daily practice you have invested in thinking your previous thoughts. It is ok to not find it easy at the begining. All I am asking is to just make a note of all your current negative or limiting thoughts and rephrase them with empowering ones. It is not a trick but a consious decision to focus on the other side of the same coin.
Can you notice a slight change for the better? You are NOT your thoughts! They are just a tiny part of you together with your heart, lungs, arms and legs ... you are a lot more than just the perceived lack of motivation or your negative patterns. You are ready for step 3...
STEP 3: DIG INTO THE BENEFITS OF YOUR CURRENT ACTIONS & PERCEIVED LACK OF MOTIVATION
We, humans, are clever and rarely (if at all) do anything that doesn't give us something back. Something that we value even if we logically know it might not be good for us in the long term. This leads to sticking with activities and situations that are below optimal and makes us unhappy but we continue (type 2 motivation). Three examples I encourage you to read through (if you don't want to you can skip them): 1. The first one is of someone staying in bed all day. This is a common activity for those who feel deeply demotivated. They know it's not a solution to anything but do it anyway... more than ones, even after the repeated headaches that often follow it... Why? Because of the benefits they get out of doing so! When a person stays in bed they: avoid taking action; avoid or trasfer responsibility to someone else; don't expose themselves to potential failure; take the easier route; have some "me time" and use it as an act of love towards themselves; indulge in self-pitty which is comforting; reinforce a belief that "nothing good happens to them", etc.
2. Another example is a person that keeps going to a job that's no longer inspiring or has never been in line with their values. The benefits they get from this choice could be numerous: from avoiding the unknown by looking for another job and feeling significant by perceiving themselves as "serious" or "reliable" to being the one in control at home as the bread-winner or being perceived as a "good person"... the options are many. Regardless of how much this person dislikes what they do, never forget that the benefits they see are significantly larger than the negatives and hence they are likely to remain in the same situation.
3. A final example is of someone who simply says: "I am not motivated to do anything and feel bad even if I force myself to go out/go to work, etc." .They seem active and they are truly trying to find a solution to the unpleasant feelings, but the benefits they get from the belief that they lack motivation could again be multiple and keep them in a cycle: from having an excuse to not be trully attentive to their friends and family and allowing themselves to refuse doing anything that would require them to not be center of their own attention to giving themselves time and space to take care of their own personal needs without feeling guilty... It is an excellent umbrella of protection at times and often an attempt to be loving towards oneself. There is nothing wrong with the intentions. On the contrary! But the ways we try to get to the ultimate goals (i.e. sticking to the lable of 'lacking motivation') has more downsides than the perceived, subcontious benefits. Such scenarios are often seen as "lack of motivation" to move forward and be happier. But I'd like you to understand and face the somewhat uncomfortable truth - in most cases we do think we get more out of a negative situations than we believe we will if we stir things up. We are NOT motivated to do something about it because we already convinced our brains there is no point and we won't be significantly better off if we do.
The question is: WHAT ARE YOUR UNDERLYING REASONS for stayig where you are and not being motivated? In regards to the particular area you chose in the preparation phase - what do you get out of the actions you currently stick to? How about the overall general "lack of motivation" that you decided to feel - what benefits does that give you? Make a list of all that your current behaviour gives you. Try to be as honest as possible again. For example: If you are staying on a career path you don't like - why is that? It gives you financial stability? It provides you with the comfort of avoiding the work involved in an application process? It allows you to abvoid exposing yourself to potential failure? Your current job makes you feel significant even if you don't like it? Your current job is easy and you have a lot of free time? It gives you security. It provides for your family? It makes you feel accomplished? etc. etc.
Dig as deep as you can and make the list as long as possible! STEP 4: FINDING YOUR TRUE MOTIVES BY INCORPORATING THE REASONS & BENEFITS . Take your time to complete the sentences and write your answers down. Do it for all the benefits that you consider critical/ most significant to you. Best to do it for all of them.
What does “... insert your sentence... ” mean to you? (e.g. financial stability means ... my son can go to private school/ it means I can pay all bills/ it means I can always buy that new dress from REISS, etc.)
How does “... insert your sentence... ” make you feel? (e.g. providing for my family makes me feel ..."responsible", a "good parent/husband/wife", "proud" etc.)
What benefits do you get from “... insert your sentence... ” (e.g. I get "love", "appreciation", "status", "control", "pride", "security", etc.)
This DIG DEEPER part shows you your true motives – i.e. it shows what you are really after and gives you the ability to now chose the MEANS by which to obtain the end result.
A simple example: Love and appreciation from your family you can get not only by doing a job that you don’t like and providing for them financially, but by spending more time with them, cooking a nice meal or simply telling them you love them. In your chosen area - how would you like to change things now? What means will you choose to satisfy your real wants and wishes? Will you act differently? From 0 to 10 what is your current level of motivation?
STEP 5: USE YOUR BODY
And an important integral part of motivation is our physiology. Mind and body are one system and they give each other signals all the time. When you feel most demotivated and sown, support yourself by standing or sitting up straight; Look up; Uncross your hands and legs; Breathe deeper; Shoulders back. Legs firmly on the ground. Those are the basics. I challenege you to keep such body posture and be depressed and de-motivated. Try also being extremely motivated and having positive thoughts while sitting with your head down in your hands, slouched, with your arms crossed. It will be an achievement if you manage to do that.
One final time - score your motivation levels both for the chosen area as well as overall.
If you've gone through the above you are more than a star! It is not easy, it requires tremendous motivation to shift things us and you need to be proud because 1) not many people are willing to challenge themseelves on such deep levels and 2) even fewer are honest about the power they have because with power comes responsibility and that cannot be more true in the case of our own lives.
Drop us a note if you have any questions or you'd like to discuss further your speicfic case. We are always there for you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kindest Regards & Utmost Respect. The iLC Team
Play with the options of how you can meet your needs, focus on your true motives, use your body and voila – your motivation!