Motivation, or lack of, to be more precise, is cited as a major cause of our inability to reach our goals. We all feel that we need to be motivated to lose the weight, take the exercise, write the book, save the money etc. But is this really the case? Do we need a healthy dose of motivation in order to achieve any of these things?
The difficulty with a lack of motivation is that it can be wrapped in many different guises, and so we just assume that we’re not motivated, rather than thinking that there may be another reason for our lethargy.
Sometimes we just feel overwhelmed with the things we think we have to do and consequently, we fail to make a conscious decision on what we should progress and instead fall into the trap of doing nothing. Ironically this is also a decision. We have decided, albeit unconsciously, to do nothing. Consequently the feeling of overwhelm not only continues, but is further compounded by guilt!
We often feel the pain of failing to make a conscious decision and then bemoan our inability to move beyond the ‘something’ that is holding us back from taking action. But what is this ‘something’? Sometimes we’re not even sure that we know what’s causing the road block. Maybe it’s tiredness, laziness, resentment (why should I do it, no one else is doing anything), boredom or overwhelm, as described above. But, there could be many other emotions rattling around our heads, never really making themselves distinct enough for us to deal with directly. They become a fusion of negative thoughts which ultimately result in inertia.
But this inertia can be dangerous territory if we’re not very careful. Life can be a juggling act, and learning to prioritise one task over another can make a huge difference in our perceptions of ourselves and the world we experience. We will all be familiar with the phrase ‘the road less travelled’ which alludes to our unfortunate tendency to do the easy or familiar stuff first (or even instead of), rather than the things which will give us a greater return in the long run.
Think about these examples:
- As we get older, our metabolism tends to slow. If we’re helping this process along by leading a more sedentary lifestyle we will put on weight and our health will suffer;
- If we don’t regularly enhance our skills at work we will fail to be promoted, which will lead to a relative drop in our pay (since the value of money decreases over time);
- If we fail to nourish our relationships by giving as much (or more) than we get in terms of emotional input, our relationships will suffer, sometimes unperceptively, until it’s too late.
For these reasons and many others, we really do need to push ourselves beyond our natural boundaries, because, like it or not, the world is moving on. Nothing stays the same and we need to develop at least in some modest ways to even just keep pace with what’s happening around us, otherwise, by definition, we will fall behind.
But, I hear the cry, I don’t have any motivation! Well, so what? We hear it so often – “I just don’t feel motivated” or “I just don’t feel like it”. It’s well known that as human beings if we’re left to our own devices we are likely to do just enough, but no more, to keep the wheels turning and to maintain our lives at their current level.
But how do we deal with these feelings? Fortunately there is a simple solution, and it is: just get started! Stand up, jump about, move; just get some oxygen moving around your body! I know you’ve heard this advice many times before, so you’re probably not convinced, and frankly, that doesn’t surprise me. But, really, it is the answer!
Do you feel happier when you’ve allowed yourself to procrastinate all afternoon (you’ve watched tv, played video games, dealt with email, cleaned the house etc) rather than doing the thing you knew you really should do? Or, do you feel happier and more contented, elated, even, when you’ve managed to push through your personal inertia and arrived at the other end of the task? I already know the answer…
You see, expecting to have motivation every time we need it to push beyond our apathy is an indulgence that, strictly, we don’t need! Oh, yes, I agree that it’s great if we have it, but really, do we actually need it? The answer to this is ‘no’. I’m sure, like me, you have experienced times when you’ve been able to get on with the job at hand, despite not really being in the mood to do it. Maybe you were under pressure from an impending deadline, maybe the job had just been hanging around for a long time and you just needed to get it out of the way, or maybe failure to deliver at that particular time had bigger consequences than just getting on with it. Whatever the reason, you got the job done.
Then, as you progressed the task, did your attitude to it shift slightly? What we often fail to realise is that the motivation is in the progress, it’s often not at the start. It’s in seeing the empty spaces appear as we declutter a room or a cupboard, it’s in seeing the words begin to appear on the page as we progress the report, and it’s in feeling our achy legs as we take the first steps of a long-overdue jog.
So next time you’re battling with the sofa-monster, just remember that you don’t need to be rescued by Mr Motivation. Instead, acknowledge it’s going to be difficult to haul yourself up, but, that once you do, he will make an appearance, and that you will feel so much better for having made the effort.
So what are your thoughts? Do we always need motivation, or is the lack of it just an excuse to procrastinate?! Leave a comment and let us know!