The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way
The general desire or willingness of someone to do something
Motivation seems to be talked about as an elusive “thing” that controls our behavior and something we rely on when it comes to making decisions and reaching goals. In fact, one of the most common roadblocks to success as it relates to health goals is “losing motivation.” This being the case, it’s a pretty important topic to address, and even more important, to find strategies for when our motivation just seems to run out.
One of my favorite strategies to address lack of motivation is to use a reframe:“Motivation isn’t real.”
You might be shaking your head saying of course it is, and you might even find it incredibly important. So, let me explain what I mean.
Think about this: If you were relying solely on motivation in order to go to work every day, would you show up? My guess is no. Even if you love your job, there are going to be days when you simply don’t FEEL motivated to go, and yet, you wake up to your alarm, get dressed, and make your way in. Another example of this is brushing your teeth. I bet you don’t need to get yourself motivated to do so, it’s just something you do, right? Even on nights when you’re tired, you likely don’t even think about it – but it gets done.
When you can stop viewing motivation as something outside of your control and learn to stop relying solely on what you feel as your source of action, that is when true change can begin.
So then how do we begin to cultivate this new attitude toward motivation?
Begin to use the reframe above, “motivation isn’t real,” remembering that motivation is more like an emotion – meaning it comes and it goes and is directly related to an impermanent feeling affected by many causes.
Another strategy to combat lack of motivation is to get clear on your why. When you can remember that the end result of your actions will be worth the momentary struggle, you can take action from an empowered place rather than disempowered one. There is a reason you are taking x, y, or z action and usually, the result you are after is much more important to you than one moment of “I don’t feel like it”.
If you haven’t already, spend some time to get that end result crystal clear in your mind. What will you feel like, what will you be doing, where will you be, how will you be acting? Then in the moments when you are struggling to take action, remember this vision, and act from there.
When creating this vision, another thing to consider is how you set your goals. When you create your goals, it’s important that they are big enough to excite you and small enough that they don’t overwhelm you. Break down large goals into smaller, more manageable steps. If your goals overwhelm you you will most certainly not be “motivated” to make change because it will continue to feel out of reach, even if it’s not.
Another great way to stick to your goals regardless of how you are feeling is to utilize support and accountability. This is when having a coach or accountability partner really comes in handy. This person can hold space for you and your goals and keep you accountable for the goals you have set, regardless of how you are feeling. A coach can also help you to develop reliable systems that will keep you on track and create sustainable habits.
Systems are important because they make taking action easier and can help you develop habits unaffected by feelings. When you have the correct environment, you are less likely to be swayed by your emotions at the moment. Here is an example of a system related to health goals.
The Goal: You are trying to make it to the gym in the morning
The System: Laying out your outfit the night before with your shoes and changing into it first thing out of bed
Why this system may be effective: It puts you into immediate action with fewer decisions to make and reduces the amount of time it takes you to get out the door. The more time you spend not taking action, the more likely thoughts and feelings are to settle in, reducing the chance of making it to the gym
This is just one example, and I imagine you’ll be surprised how such simple and small changes can have a large impact on your results. There is nothing wrong with finding easier routes to accomplish your goals.
Remember that “losing motivation” is normal and it is something that every person experiences. The difference is whether or not you make the choice to take action, despite your emotions. There are many ways to overcome a loss of motivation — there is no need to lose hope or wait to start taking action. You can start today with small steps, putting results over temporary emotions, and reframing your thoughts around motivation.