Many people tell me they’re struggling with motivation right now, whether due to exhaustion, a setback, a loss of direction, or just a cold, dark winter. So it’s timely to take a look at what we can do to keep moving forward, in spite of the things that seem to be holding us back.
Firstly, what are you struggling with? Are you feeling a broad sense of apathy about life in general, or are you having trouble getting motivated in relation to a particular goal? If it’s a general feeling, start with a stocktake of each of your life domains. Write down the following categories on a page: Work; Leisure; Health; Finance; Family; Social; My environment; Community. Now give yourself a rating from 1-10 of how satisfied you feel in each area. This should give you a clearer picture of the one or two areas to work on as a priority. Hopefully, this also reminds you that there are some aspects of your life that are going OK, or even great, and puts into perspective the parts that you feel dissatisfied with.
What Do You Want to Be Different?
Once you’re clear about the area you want to work on, try to shift your focus from what you’re not happy with, to expressing what it is you want that’s different from the current state. For example:
If you’re unmotivated at work, you might say ‘I want to be doing work that is challenging, interests me, and uses my skills in….’
If you’re unfulfilled in your relationship, you might say ‘I want to spend more time alone with my partner talking about our future goals and dreams’.
Motivation increases significantly when we have a compelling reason for taking action. So once you’ve established what specifically you want, you’ll need to ask yourself why this is significant to you. The reason has to be something that you personally believe in, not what someone else thinks is important. The most compelling reasons arise from our core values. For example, getting out of a warm bed to go for a run will require less effort if you have the core belief that your well-being is more important than anything else, and that running increases your well-being. It will take enormous energy if you are doing it because you believe you ‘should’ or because someone else tells you it will be good for you.
Finally, think about your general level of energy. Motivation takes physical, mental and emotional energy, so if your energy is generally low, you’ll naturally have trouble summoning the will power to take action. Think about what drains your energy. If it’s poor diet, inactivity or disrupted sleep, what habits do you need to change? What activities, environments or people drain your energy, and can you limit your exposure to any of these? Now think about the activities, habits, environments or people that boost your energy. What opportunities do you have to build more of these into your life to keep your energy levels topped up and your motivation on auto?
Motivation isn’t the only ingredient to getting us where we want to be, but without it, we’re sure to be stuck somewhere we don’t want to be. What do you need to do, to get motivated and to get moving?