Feel like you’re constantly hitting a motivation brick wall? Maybe you’re looking for it in the wrong place
What is motivation?
Stripped back, motivation is how willing you are to take action. Each of us are motivated, even if we don’t think we feel like we are. We follow our basic desires and instincts to meet our physical and emotional needs, which are necessary for sustaining life or essential for wellbeing and growth.
image from Unsplash
When we’re talking about making changes to our lives or creating better health habits, motivation is a key player. From the moment your alarm goes off in the morning that decision to get out of bed takes motivation.
This is where many people feel they have no motivation, lose it as quick as they find it or just don’t know where to start.
The first thing to know about motivation is…
If you got up this morning and had some breakfast, you have motivation!
Going on the assumption that we all actually have oodles of untapped motivation. Could it be that actually the issue isn’t a lack of motivation. It’s not using it to your own advantage?
Is motivation important for reaching goals?
Motivation is a key for you to reach your goals. It gives you the drive to keep pushing forward and showing up every day to work towards your desired outcome. Even when you don’t feel like it.
When it’s cold and raining outside and you don’t want to run. When you’ve had a full on day at work and you don’t want to log on to that online course. When those takeaway menus are screaming at you to use them instead of cooking yourself a healthy dinner (does anyone else have that problem with takeaway menus or is it just me?).
In each of those moments, it’s motivation that pushes you to take a step in the right direction. Abraham Maslow is a very big deal in motivation theory and is responsible for the well known ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’. He put forward the idea that a person is first motivated to satisfy their lower-level needs (food, shelter, sleep etc) before they can move onto satisfying their higher needs which he coined as self actualisation. This essentially means that you are able to reach your fullest potential.
Image sources from simply psychology
Maslow has a great quote that I think sums motivation up perfectly.
“In any given moment we have two choices; to step forward into growth or back into safety” – Abraham Maslow
Motivation and wellbeing
If we take Maslow’s idea that if a person satisfies their most highest needs, they also reach their potential. We could then use this to understand how different people experience changes in their wellbeing.
In short. If you’re not meeting your own needs or potential, you might be experiencing negative thoughts, anxiety or even low mood and depression.
Remember that needs and desires are unique to you, just like your wellbeing. What I need to satisfy my higher needs could be completely different to what you need to reach yours.
We’re all snowflakes, in it together but subtly different in our own unique ways.
What causes lack of motivation?
There are many reasons why we can feel unmotivated to take that step into growth here’s a few popular ones:
Just because the motivation is there, doesn’t mean the action is going to be easy. Change is often uncomfortable, sometimes painful and I can guarantee you that not everyone approaches goals with the limitless amount of pizazz and unconditionally positivity that some influencers do. Some days will be hard but the reward comes when you look back to see how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved!
Not doing it for yourself
Sometimes we set ourselves goals or decide to change ourselves based on what other people want, not what we want. Doing something for someone else is admirable, but is it truly going to satisfy your own needs and desires?
Lack of clarity
Did you know that you’re statistically more likely to reach your goal if you write it down? If we’re only sure of the general direction but not clear on the final destination then it’s going to be hard to bat away those devilish thoughts to just give up. Get really specific about what you want, how it looks feels, even tastes like if your goal is to bake that tastiest cheesecake in the world (I’m happy to volunteer as a taster… just saying)
Self doubt or criticism
Starting is the scariest first step towards a goal because it means you can fail. No one likes to feel like a failure and that doubt causes so many people to not even contemplate a life different to the one they’re living.
There are occasions where experiencing a lack of motivation can be a symptom of wider mental health issues. If you’re concerned that your lack of motivation is linked to mental health issues then it’s important to seek advice and support.
How can I become more motivated?
If you’ve got this far and said to yourself, “that’s me” or “I do that all the time” then I have some good news for you.
You can get better at using your motivation to your own advantage.
What I mean by using it to your own advantage is motivation isn’t a one trick pony. It’s not a case of having it or not having it. Rather than writing yourself off as unmotivated, spend some time tapping into first what actually motivates you and also when you’re really motivated to do it.
I like the sea. It’s calming, fun to swim in or spend the day next to reading. It’s also really good at explaining motivation.
Imagine the last time you were at the beach watching the waves come in, maybe a few even made a surprise leap to cover your toes.
Was every wave the same?
Was the tide out and far in the distance or was the tide high bringing waves so close you can feel the spray on your face?
Just like the sea, motivation comes and goes. Sometimes it’s so strong and powerful you don’t need to do anything to ride it. Other times it’s so far out you can barely see it and so you need to put in the leg work to get to it.
If you’re struggling to find your motivation, I want you to try two things.
Get specific with what it is you want (and make sure it’s for you!)
Grab a pen and paper and brain dump, mind map, list in alphabetical order or however you fancy but get down what it is you’re looking for.
Think about what the long term goals are and the short term ones that will get you there.
Saying you want to race the London marathon is a fantastic goal. But what steps do you need to take to get you on the start line?
Lastly, is it for you? Are you doing this because you want it, because it’s going to help you reach the potential you know you have. Yes? Great, crack on.
No? Then who are you really doing it for and is it something you truly want?
2. Track your levels of motivation
You want to know what happens if I decide I’m going to do my training sessions in the afternoon or evening? They don’t happen.
I have to get out of bed and into the pool or on the bike first thing after a coffee. When it gets past 3pm that wave of motivation is so far out to the horizon I’m not sure if it’s the sea or a puddle.
I also find that working out in the morning enables me to work better. I start in a more positive headspace and I’m able to stay focused for longer.
I found this out about myself by tracking how motivated I felt at different times of the day. Below is the tracker that I used and you’re welcome to use it too!
Being specific with what you’re working towards helps, tracking general motivation is possible, but it might be trickier to then use it to its potential.
I’ve used this to track my motivation for different things from when is the best time for me to write blogs, when to get my training in and even when to get in some super healthy meals (FYI for me it’s breakfast and lunch. I can never say no to pizza for dinner!)
By tracking your motivation you’ll begin to see that it’s less that you have no motivation and more you’re just trying to tap into it at the wrong time.
Once you know you’re high times, you can begin to structure your actions (stepping into growth) when you’re most motivated and pumped to do it!
If you would like a PDF or word version of the motivation tracker email me with the word ‘motivation’.