What’s the why, or the driving force that causes us to sit still or take action? Why are some days full of slacking off and others motivational and semi-productive?
More importantly, how do we learn to harness a motivational steadiness so that we can create what we truly desire?
A man by the name of Steven Pressfield once said:At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it. Click To Tweet
I believe this to be true. Humans in general fight change. I had to laugh when a wanderlust friend of mine said she wasn’t like this. She changed locations often and met new and interesting people all of the time. She rarely stayed in one place, job, or relationship for any length of time.
When asked about marriage or family she said she hadn’t found the someone who made her want to settle down yet. But it was obvious to everyone around her that she was unhappy and running. She was afraid to slow down and place roots anywhere. Her constant change was what needed changing.
For many, it’s just the opposite. They have a steady job, albeit not doing what they truly desire. They want children but continue to put it off until they can “afford” it. Or they want to put money into retirement but can’t cut expenses or shopping habits. What motivates people to change?
Is Your Motivation Forced or Willing?
Are you enthusiastic about it or forced into it. For most, it’s usually a combination of both. Face it, most of us do not have motivation in every facet of our lives. If we did, the work/life/fitness/spiritual/emotional balance would be so much easier.
If you believe Mr. Pressfield above the sad truth would be that many of us have to be forced into motivation. The pain of not doing so is like a cattle prod pushing us into something different.
- A woman is so tired of self-loathing on her couch and hating everything she wears that she finally joins the yoga class even though she fears what they might think of her.
- A man is financially exhausted and decides he is going to patent his latest idea in the hopes that it will be his ticket out of the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle.
There are hundreds of examples of people being pushed by the negative to produce something positive in their lives.
Take my blog journey for example. I was tired of working in a job I did not enjoy. My college degree was not landing me a job in my field. I missed my children. I was tired of my employer controlling when I could and couldn’t spend time with them.
Did I have fears of falling flat on my face? Yup. Fears of no one reading my content. Absolutely. Fears of my friends and family finding out and telling me it was a huge waste of time. Definitely. And sadly the third has been my experience.
Every choice comes at a cost. When we muster up our own motivation it is much easier to slide through a slight inconvenience than to remain the same. When motivation is forced, change can hurt. (Think breakups, job firings, etc.)
So how do you cross the mental threshold from forced to willing and maybe even enthusiastic?
The Truth About Motivation
Well, my truth anyhow. Motivation often arrives after we start a change not beforehand.
Huh? Sure some new video, book, or article can inspire you to want to change. But inspiration and motivation are not the same thing friends. Motivation is often the result of an action, not the cause of it. Starting something, even in very small ways, is a form of active inspiration that naturally produces momentum.
Remember when I wrote about small ways you can begin change that make a huge difference? I wrote about motivational mojo as I like to call it.
Creating motivation in our lives is much like getting the law of attraction to work for us. We have to sow before we can harvest. Once we get going though, if inspired by the right things, motivation can build steam quickly.
Like Newton says, objects in motion stay in motion. A locomotive struggles to build steam and start down the tracks but once those wheels make the first few revolutions it starts to build a force to be reckoned with.
Your friction is at the beginning. Once you start going, you will build momentum and motivation.
If you are someone who struggles with motivation I highly suggest you schedule it. I sent out a tweet a while back that said, “work out before your mind figures out what you are doing”. People who exercise in the a.m. or with an accountability partner are far more likely to stick with it.
Scheduling your goals will help put some things on auto-pilot instead of leaving them to chance. Here are two examples:
You are 15lbs over your ideal weight. Pants aren’t fitting and you don’t dare wear that LBD you so confidently wore last year. You know you should be working out more. You can leave it to chance and hope you feel motivated enough most days to squeeze it in somewhere. OR, you can schedule it in 4-5 days a week and make it a priority. That’s entirely up to you, and if your body image health is a priority in your life. Start with 10 minutes and pretty soon you’ll be motivated to go 20 etc.
You’ve started a blog and are trying to master it all. Blog posts, social media, email marketing, photos, etc. You can fret every day about what to do and what to focus on. OR you can schedule some blocks to tackle one thing at a time during that block and actually get something accomplished.
Give your goals a place and a time to become reality.
The funny thing about routines for motivational success is that we already have many in place that doesn’t matter all that much. We simply need to learn how to apply them to the things that do.
Take a woman’s bedtime routine. Many have a set routine of removing makeup, brushing, flossing, putting on lotion….insert your routine here. Same goes for prepping dinner. Some people pull all ingredients out first, set the table, clean as they go…etc. People have routines. Maybe yours is as simple as stopping at the same coffee shop every morning and ordering the same thing.
Learn to apply this to areas where you want to crush success.
Start with something so easy you can’t say no.
- Exercise 10 mins every morning before you even get dressed. (Physical Health)
- Call a friend every Sunday night at 7. Keep the routine even if no answer (Emotional Connect)
- Read your bible or devotional, or meditate 5 minutes every night before crawling into bed. (Spiritual Health)
- Spend 10 minutes of your lunch break balancing your account and making sure bills are paid. (Financial Health)
- Schedule a regular activity to do with your significant other one day a week. No exceptions or canceling. Preferably something that is physical and requires you to put down your phone. (Relationship Health)
Obviously what’s important to one person isn’t always important to the next.
Think about where you are in the present. What kind of things are holding you back?
Where would you like to be? If you are having difficulty with this, try my Free 5-day Challenge. Some of us get so far off track that our motivational map gets buried because we have no idea where to start.
Once you have nailed the little things that are so easy you can’t say no, you should find it much simpler to challenge yourself. The motivational flow should start to appear. This flow is what athletes like to call the “zone”. I use that term for writing too. I like the “zone”.
Motivational Ebbs and Flows
Certainly, at some point, your motivational mojo will take a dip. This could signal a few things.
- You are burnt out and need a recharge. Take a vacation or get outdoors. I have found these two things nearly always re-inspire and motivate us again.
- Remember why you started. Often the thought of regressing back to where we started is enough to scare us back into motivational mode. Who wants to give up full-time control of their schedule to go back to work for a boss? Who wants to trade in their size 8 for their old size 18. And who would want to turn their beautiful, blissful oasis of a bedroom back into the clothing covered, closet exploding nightmare they had before? No one I hope.
- You need a new challenge. Sometimes you motivate yourself to do something and you succeed. Several months or years have passed of you sticking to your routine and totally crushing your goals. You begin to notice the flame and passion for something flickering. Perhaps it’s because you need some new stimulus or a more challenging goal
Melyssa Griffin was a great example of this, not once but twice.
She was a successful English teacher living in Japan and teaching English. Although she was traveling and seeing new cultures and such she wasn’t happy. She started a web design business blog after hours. She soon succeeded and moved back to the states.
Melyssa ran this successful business for a couple of years. Then, she realized how she had become a little bored with design and really wished to teach other creative people how to make a living online with their own blogs. She shifted her motivational focus and her success exploded.
The choice is yours friends. You can stay where you’re at until you are forced to change. Or you can inspire yourself to make baby steps and get that motivational locomotive chugging down the tracks.
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