Musing on Motivation

Image of carrot on stick
Have you ever felt demotivated? You know, that heavy feeling where you’re dragging through the day procrastinating on the things you need to do, getting sidetracked with Facebook and Twitter. And by the end of the day you’ve achieved nothing!
I suspect most of us have been there at some time in our lives.

I’ve been looking at motivation – what it is, what it does for us, and, most importantly, how to turn it on when we’re not feeling it.

What is motivation?

Motivation is the impulse to take action towards some end result.

It could be internal motivation – that is you generate your motivation from within yourself, your thoughts, your dreams and desires.

Or it could be external motivation. You get up for work because you need the money to pay the bills and keep up your comfortable lifestyle. You turn up on time so you don’t get sacked. Someone, or something external to you is the driving force.
Another way to look at motivation is as Away From or Toward motivation.

With Away From motivation you want to get away from an uncomfortable situation – such as being broke, cold, and hungry. With Toward motivation you are working towards a vision of your future. Your goals and dreams are pulling you into your future.
The problem I’ve found with Away From motivation is that as you move away from the pain it becomes less of a driver. As you alleviate the problems a little the need to get away from them becomes less and less.

So you end up settling. Settling for OK. Settling for comfort. Settling for good enough.

But is it “good enough”?
What do you really want from your life and your business?

With Toward motivation you are continually pulled towards your goal until you reach it. Each step along the way is an encouragement to keep going.

How to increase motivation or turn it on when it’s missing?

Procrastination is a sure sign of lack of motivation, and procrastination is fuelled by depression. It becomes a negative cycle. The more you procrastinate the worse you feel about yourself so the more miserable and depressed you get, so the more you procrastinate.

Action and productivity are fuelled by happiness and become a virtuous cycle. Be happy, take action, feel happy about at the progress, and take more action.

Three tips to increase your motivation

  1. Get happy! Think positively, look for the good in every situation. Practice gratitude. If you start every day by being grateful for what you already have in your life you will be a lot happier than someone who focuses on what they don’t have.
  2. Find a purpose. Find your why. What is your ultimate big reason for doing anything? What’s your big dream? Create an overarching goal or destination that excites you, that thrills you and that will take a lifetime to achieve. A massive life time goal that will continue to motivate you through good times and bad. Once you have your overarching purpose you can create shorter term goals to focus on but always be aware of your Life Purpose to motivate you every day.
  3. Use the carrot and the stick. You know what it is you should be doing when you procrastinate and waste your days so set up a system of reward and punishment. Reward yourself when you take the action you know you need to take. These can be small rewards like breaking for a stretch or taking a quick walk.And set up a punishment for when you fail to take action. This could be something like promising to give £50 to a political party you despise if you fail to take the action you know you need to take. The thought of the party you despise benefiting from your procrastination will spur you into taking action.

    Find yourself an accountability partner. Someone to report to with your successes and failures. Someone to keep you honest about paying the punishments. And someone who encourages you and celebrates your victories with you. This could be a coach or a colleague, or a buddy in a similar situation so you hold each other accountable.

So when you’re having one of those days when everything is too much trouble and you don’t want to get out of bed practice gratitude, remember your life purpose and give yourself a kick to get started.

Or as the Nike slogan encourages: Just Do It!