I’m not sure who exactly they is, but they lied to me about motivation. And I already know what non-millennials are thinking… because I am a millennial I think things happen instantly or that I must not have any sort of concept of hard work or something along those lines. But that ALL would be false. I pride myself on being an innovative, competitive, competent, self-starter. I am self-taught at almost everything and have found what I consider a good amount of success especially considering I do not have a college degree. So, I’ll ask that you give me the benefit of doubt and just follow me down this rabbit hole…
I had this assumption that hard work + preparation + a plan or even a S.M.A.R.T. goal (I am starting to really dislike SMART goals) = self-motivation. For this purpose, I am defining self-motivation as an internal force that helps us keep going. I know that I am not the only one that had this same assumption because 75% of clients I work with struggle with motivation themselves. I consistently applied logic and worked my plan but often found myself back to the starting point of trying to re-motivate myself to get going. And this inconsistency doesn’t discriminate; whether it was learning a new language, pursuing a new relationship or even continuing to try to grow my business. Somehow doubt, and indecisiveness seemed to almost always rear its ugly head. THEN I would beat myself up for being unmotivated and the cycle goes on and on. If this sounds completely bananas and you are a person who almost always stays self -motivated, fearless and finishes everything they start- thank your lucky stars because you are a freaking unicorn. For the rest of us- this is a safe space to explore :).
My journey of becoming a certified coach and then starting my own private practice has truly highlighted the fact that majority of us struggle with motivation- especially self-motivation. Why? Well, there are too many reasons to name but because I know I will only have your attention for about 2 1/2 more minutes I want to focus on 1 reason. We don’t know why we are doing what we’re doing as it relates to self. For example, I talk to my girlfriends all the time about men and being in or out of a relationship (why do we spend so much doggone time talking about men ladies??). Some of them really really want relationships but often can’t articulate how being in one would serve them. Most of the time it is because they feel like they’re getting older and should be in one or have pressure from family to settle down. But when the opportunity comes to go out and date or meet someone new… they just don’t feel like doing it. LOL crazy I know. We say we want that thing but don’t want to do the things it might take to get it. Maybe… we really don’t want it.
This is the work that happens during a coaching session, work on the issue not the symptom. So how does one identify how to figure out if a goal is attainable and if they are motivated enough to pursue it? How do you narrow in to your real why? Then, how do you keep that in front of you to stay at it? Here is a glimpse of steps I take to determine if and how I can stay motivated to achieve my goals…
Do I want to pay my bills or nah?? Step 1: Type of Motivation Many times when we talk about motivation, we think about all the stuff we must do but don’t necessarily want to do. We do a good job at work so we keep our jobs and get paychecks, manage our finances on a budget so we can pay bills and have somewhere to live, feed our kids so they don’t starve (kidding). Research shows we get motivated in 2 different ways, from what the consequences or rewards will be (extrinsic) OR because we are genuinely interested in the activity (intrinsic). To be clear you will have both types all throughout your life and mostly at the same times. You could be an accountant and literally dread every second you are in front of your computer, but you understand that you need a paycheck, health insurance and a 401k so you skip cussin your boss out. This is an extrinsic activity because you are aware of the consequence of cussing your boss out and quitting. However, you might take a painting class and devote time to practicing a technique even though you are tired from working at your accounting job all day. Because you enjoy the activity, it’s worth it. This is intrinsic motivation. It’s important to take a moment to make sure you are aware that sometimes your motivation is going to come from the need to survive and because not doing it will result in a significant loss. Maintaining motivation will feel different based off what type of activity it is; that’s why it is important to keep it real with yourself on why you are doing it in the first place.
Hm..What could possibly go wrong? Step 2: Prepare for obstacles I was trained to spend time with each client exploring what potential obstacles could come up that would prevent them from completing their homework. This gives the client an opportunity to prepare for worse case scenarios. It’s human nature to get tired of doing something- especially if that thing causes us to feel rejection, hardship or discomfort. So, go ahead and think about all the excuses you’re going to try to make. It may even go as far as self-sabotage, remember our minds produce efforts, thoughts, actions and behavior based off what we focus on. So, excuses are coming if you belabor how hard it all is. But by exploring what those excuses will be, you can come up with a plan to overcome them BEFORE they come up. For example, I want to get toned… I’m talking body builder toned. However, I am a longgggg way from that point. My goal is to work out in some capacity 5 days a week. 4 out of the 5 days I don’t feel like it- let me be honest. So, I put my workout clothes on when I get ready for the day. The first hour or so it’s no problem, but around hour 3 I am SO ready to take off those itchy, tight…very tight clothes. It’s a nag that keeps my workout top of mind, literally. This typically sends me back on the path of my overall goal (tight and fit!) and makes me do a quick workout to get closer to my goal. The point is taking the time to do this step could be the thing that prevents you from falling off course completely- it’s worth the time.
Am I ready set go?? Step 3: Make sure you have what you need I think of Kobe Bryant when I think about preparedness. I read that he contributed most of his success as a basketball player to how committed he was to practice. Typically, the first one in and the last one out the gym. If he were to show up without water, his basketball shoes and maybe a ball it would probably prevent him from having a productive practice. You may not know all the things you will need as you begin to tackle this goal, but I promise you do know some. Let’s say you are looking to have a better work-life balance, what things might you need? Maybe a planner to help manage your time, maybe you will need to go to work earlier or work later some days, maybe you need to set boundaries with coworkers about what you can and cannot do after work. You want to set yourself up for success the best you know how. Whether they be mental and emotional things or physical things that you need to put in place to be more likely to achieve your goal- find em, get em, keep em.
Can I do this alone? Step 4: Get Support I’m a life coach so I will always advocate for getting support. If we unpack this thing, you may find that you’re having problems even getting started. Or feel stuck in the same cycle and cannot apply a new behavior. I can tell you it’s going to be difficult to stay motivated for something that is unclear. The investment in support is partly about what you will accomplish during your sessions, but also partly about getting the tools to apply in the future. There is no better feeling than feeling prepared, ready and committed to a goal. A support system could be the missing piece to get you there.
It’s worth mentioning that sometimes you just must take a step back and reevaluate. We sometimes start pursuing a goal and when our motivation drops, we think we should work harder at doing the same things…but sometimes it could be a sign to do something differently. How do you know?? Go back through the 4 steps above. Why am I pursuing this goal (extrinsic or intrinsic) -What obstacles could knock me down and make me want to quit — Do I have everything I need to be successful — Will support help me get clear and help me be more likely to succeed? If there is still a struggle after those steps perhaps it’s time to move on or adjust. Stay flexible and do not be afraid to start over.
Motivation can be tricky. If you’ve never taken the time to become self-aware on your tendencies, then it might be even trickier to pick up some momentum. What I know for sure is ignoring the fact that you are unmotivated will not serve you. We do not have to operate in a space of agony. Although everything we do will not be because we have a deep love for it, we can call that thing out and put it in its place to create more space for what we do love. My hope as a coach and as a person who is always setting big goals, is that we do the work required to live a life of purpose and joy. If we continuously start and stop everything, we do it will inevitably suck the joy out of us. But taking the time to do some due diligence before you commit and add tools to help you stay committed could render a better result to achieving your goal.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done” -Nelson Mandela
Keep at it my friends,