For many motivation as well as the state of ‘being motivated’ is a learned behavior. Many people learn (or do not learn) strategies for self-disciple and motivation through the values and lessons learned from family, participating in team sports and school experiences. However, not everyone is taught good strategies or habits that support optimal motivation.
Poor habits, beliefs, fear, self-doubt, negative self-talk and procrastination are also some common reasons why we lack motivation.
Additionally, things like life’s day-to-day energy drainers can block people from moving forward effectively. Lack of inspiration, lack of alignment of values and negative association with ‘tasks’ as work or not fun all contribute to a lack or decrease in motivation.
The good news is, it is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks as they say. We can all learn, grow and create positive change in our lives, mindset and habits when we apply intentionality and consistency.
So how do we create a shift in our lives when it comes to motivation? Here are some techniques backed by science and psychology to help you –
The Technique: Identifying Poor Habits, Practices & Patterns
Many of our habits, practices and patterns are things that people do without even thinking, these things are unconscious and they’re on autopilot. If we can gain awareness around them and apply intentionality as well as consistent action, we are able to rewire our habits to remove the things that are keeping you from getting where you want to go. When you notice or identify a habit or pattern that you have, ask yourself: Are these habits supporting me in achieving my goals, or are they distracting me?
No matter the habit you identify, try not to judge it. We all have habits, practices or patterns that are part of our journey, whether we choose them or not, and they are serving some purpose. This is crucial – those habits and patterns are serving a purpose. Either out of convenience or comfort, we make meaning around things in our lives, and these habits and patterns are a byproduct of this. Recognizing this behavior takes a lot of awareness and honest reflection.
The first step towards change is awareness. Try asking yourself some of the following questions and journaling your responses –
- What do you want to do with this particular habit?
- In your big picture, what habits or practices have you let go of, and which ones have you adopted?
- When you envision the future, what has changed, and what did you have to do to get there?
- What new habits or practices do you want to try on?
- Although this habit may not be serving you anymore, what purpose IS it serving?
- What lesson has this habit or pattern taught you?
For a deeper understanding of habits read: https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2012/01/breaking-bad-habits
The Technique: Reduce Energy Drainers
You may find that you want to be more present and motivated but have too many energy drainers in your life keeping you from doing this. When we address energy levels, we’re at least bringing some awareness to how we are making space for those drainers and keeping them in our lives.
To increase your awareness around the energy drainers in your life, ask yourself these powerful questions:
- What energy drainers are you contending with right now?
- How will releasing these drainers change your energy?
- On a scale of 1-10, where do you think your energy level needs to be in order to feel great in the session? Where is it today? How can we bring that number up by one?
Once you identify your personal energy drainers take steps each day to try to reduce these drainers in your life.
For a deeper dive into energy drainers read:
The Technique: Positive Motivation – Rewards
Far too many of us beat ourselves up as a strategy to create change. This is not helpful. Negative reinforcement diminishes long-term motivation whereas positive reinforcement inspires sustainable motivation. So how can you lean into positive motivation? Celebrate the small steps along the way! Instead of focusing on how much more you need to do, focus on taking small steps to MOVE towards your goals. Celebrate each tiny win along the way. This will not only inspire motivation it will fuel your energy and increase your odds of successfully achieving your goals. Negative feedback may give you an initial ‘kick in the pants’ but doesn’t provide motivation long term. Also, negative feedback leaves you feeling worse, not better.
For more insight on positive motivation read:
The Technique: SMART Goals
Many times, we are clear about what we want, yet not clear in setting goals correctly or taking effective actions to achieve or reach our desired outcome or goal. This causes significant setbacks and drains motivation. When we set a goal, it’s important to know what an effectively set goal looks like. One of the most effective ways to set a goal is to set a “SMART” goal. The SMART goal will help bring clarity to what steps will help you reach your goals, and to be a benchmark for effective versus ineffective actions.
So, what exactly is a SMART goal? A SMART goal is a specific format to setting a goal that’s used very frequently in business and coaching. The formula looks like this:
S: specific and simple.
M: measurable and meaningful to you.
T: timed and moving towards what you want rather than focusing on what you’re moving away from. “I don’t want to feel ___” is not a “move towards,” that’s a “move away from.” (Example: I want to achieve ____ by [specific timeframe].)
I recommend taking the following steps to help the goal setting and goal getting be successful –
- Write out your goal in a SMART goal format.
- Set an intention towards that goal and meditate or visualize what it will be like once it is achieved.
- Create tasks lists based on your SMART goal.
- Take action daily.
- Let go of the outcome.
More on goal setting can be found here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318390296_Why_written_objectives_need_to_be_really_SMART