I hear a lot about motivation at the moment, or rather, the lack of it: “I’ve lost motivation to exercise, to eat healthily, etc”. It’s easy to understand; many people are stuck in a rut right now.
Why is motivation necessary?
Motivation allows us to achieve what we value, eg. excellent health or fitness, improved work performance, personal growth, or a sense of purpose.
So, motivation is very personal and allows us to change things; however, to achieve it, two elements must be present: First, you must really want it; and second, it must be linked to a value. Otherwise, you will only be using will-power, and probably won’t achieve it, or if you do, it will be short-lived.
Let’s say you want to feel more positive about your life, yet you’re a sloth – you know you ‘should’ exercise because it starts the day positively and you feel good afterwards. But you have to link that to a meaningful value, one you want to create or one you already have.
For example, you admire high achievers, people who say they will do something and do. If this value means you like to be recognised for your tenacity or success, then that is a value. If you start feeling good about it, you know it means something. You will then begin to take action, and motivation will become easier; therefore, you will probably succeed.
Try the following exercise:
1. Pick one area of your life you’d like to improve, eg.
• Exercise – possibly trying something completely different.
• Healthy eating – trying veganism for a week.
• Relationships – could do with being more romantic/calmer.
• Intellectual – learning a language/philosophy.
• Finances – being more organised?
• Decluttering – giving your wardrobe and drawers the ‘Kondo’ treatment.
• Fun – doing silly things, like skipping down the street (I’ve done this with my husband, it’s genuinely uplifting and funny – but do be prepared for some strange looks!)
2. Now link the area to a value, or strong feeling. What is it going to provide you in term of emotion? It could be freedom, feeling productive, improved self-worth, connection, joy, etc.
3. Finally, imagine how you will feel after achieving it. This visualisation fused with a positive emotion will drive your motivation. Don’t forget that the brain grows when we do something completely new, so there’s a bonus!
As you can see, everything starts with values, which then drive behaviour. Unfortunately, most people don’t really know what their personal values are. Next month perhaps we’ll look more closely at how to find them. Meanwhile, start the motivation process by thinking about the areas you’d like to improve.
Therapist, Coach, Trainer