Motivation: Made not Found?
As many of you are aware, whilst the restrictions have been lifted a little (haircut and a pint anyone?) unfortunately some areas of life are still not returning to normal. I was talking to my clients and a common theme appeared – people were losing their motivation. Motivation to exercise. Motivation to eat healthily. And so forth and so on.
A massive problem with regards to motivation is people believing that motivation is found. Sorry to disillusion you. Motivation is made not found.
Not convinced? Read on.
Motivation can be defined as the desire to act in service of a goal. It is crucial when setting and attaining goals. And despite popular belief, people can influence their own levels of motivation.
Motivation is usually broken down into two categories: intrinsic or extrinsic. Extrinsic motivation originates from external sources. For example, being motivated to exercise by people’s comments on how you look. Intrinsic motivates from internal sources. In this case, your motivation to exercise may come from doing well in your chosen activity. Unsurprisingly, intrinsic motivation is the stronger of the two and more likely to lead to satisfaction on obtaining your goals.
Sounds simple, right?
So why do people struggle with motivation? (And everyone does at some point)
Some reasons may include having a goal that it perceived as being too big or unobtainable. You may suffer from a lack of confidence rather than motivation (especially if you are a perfectionist or have low self-esteem). Lack of motivation may also be a sign of depression – especially if you are struggling to continue interest in many areas of your life (if you think you may be suffering from depression, please go talk to your GP!).
There is also something called the desire-goal conflict. Humans have evolved to avoid pain and discomfort whilst actively seeking pleasure. In this case the discomfort experienced whilst obtaining your goal outweighs the desire to complete it.
So how can you increase your motivation?
Self-control is going to play a large part here. Know that you are in control of your choices. Say you have set the goal of going for a run after work every night. At the weekend, whilst you were well rested and you were idly chatting to your friends or other half, that simple goal appeared very achievable. Fast forward to Monday. You get home from work. You’re tired. Your boss had just dumped a shit load of work on you with a tight deadline and you’re worried about how you will get it done. All you want to do is sit on the sofa, grab a glass of wine and watch some rubbish TV.
If you choose to do that, I would not judge you. I think we’ve all been there.
But notice the word “choose” in the previous sentence. You can make that choice. You are in control. Own it. Admit to it.
Another way to increase motivation is to try and plan what you would do a in few scenarios. We’ll keep with the running example above.
So, when you set your goal to run after work, this time we are going to acknowledge that sometimes you feel tired after work. This time we’re going to put in the proviso that should you come home from work and want to veg out on the sofa – first you will go for one short 10 minute run first.
To further increase likelihood of adherence, we could even make sure that you have your running clothes and trainers set out so that you can get home from work, change and go.
Having a plan A, B, C etc has been shown to increase adherence to goals.
Identifying the sources behind your motivation will also help (remember intrinsic vs. extrinsic). Why do you want to go for a run after work? Are you imagining all the wonderful comments from friends and family? Perhaps you’ve signed up for a race and you want that medal!
Or perhaps your motivation is more intrinsic – you want to lose weight to feel better about yourself. You want to improve your 5km time. You’re aware of the health benefits and you would lie to be around to see your children grow up.
As previously mentioned, you are more likely to remain motivated by intrinsic reasons. Not to say extrinsic motivation isn’t valid, for many people it is.
Still not convinced?
Remember I said at the start motivation is made, not found?
Motivated people are often just habitual. They’ve built that habit into their life. Day by day. Every day just chipping away. By doing something every day, over and over again, your brain creates new neural pathways which help you make incremental improvements.
Sorry that it’s not that sexy but it’s the truth.
I hope you’ve found this blog helpful. Let me know what goals you have set and, of course, when you achieve them!