One of the intentions, when I started writing my blog, was to share few insights so that if someone is going through something similar, it might help them get some clarity or even a perspective. Today I wish to share how I discovered ways to stay committed to any action I decide.
I am not feeling motivated!
For the longest time I remember, I struggled in a few areas of my life and kept searching for a motivation pill. Be it studies, exercise or even getting into a routine. I was not taking a single step after taking a decision. Secondly, even if I did begin, I was not consistent. I was not keeping the word I gave myself. I used to take a few actions and then after a day or two fall off the radar. What do I mean by that?
- You decide to exercise every day but end up oversleeping, hitting the snooze button, or cheat through the entire one hour of exercise.
- Your friend messages you about an online course. You say to yourself, “This is going to look amazing on my resume and could get me the next level career break.” You sign up and stagger to complete the course.
- You would love to volunteer for presenting in those prominent client meetings . Each time you say to yourself “I am going to work on getting better with my presentation skills and take the next opportunity.” But you never seem to get started with improving your skills.
I hear some of my clients share some similar stories and call it lack of motivation. The dictionary says motivation means a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.
My friend loves to play table tennis and has not played in some time. She keeps speaking about it as the next thing she would be doing soon, and it has been years now. Yesterday she said,” It just does not seem to happen, tell me, how can I motivate myself?”
Sounds familiar? If you listen to ourselves, it is almost like we are hoping that just like the iron man calls out for his suit and zooms on his mission, we wait for some magic force to enter our system and propel us further. We want the result, but the process feels an effort. We try to sense a feeling and trust that it will enable us to take action. Mostly feelings like enthused, stimulated, encouraged or even pain, anger or fear.
What if rather than waiting and trusting that feeling to show up you could create it?
What I have found useful is to create ways to get myself on track when I dip. I put myself on edge and make sure I have no other choice than to leap. Today I motivate myself; I power up my mind!
Have you noticed how you power up after a hug from your kid after an exhausting day? A steaming cup of tea on a groggy morning? Your favourite video game goes to the next level automatically when the hero suddenly gains extra abilities by selecting the power up option. Just like that what if we created ways to click our motivation button to soar from inaction to action?
Creating ways to Power up
- Get clarity about what you truly want
My coach helped me see the difference between what I want and what seemed like a good idea to have. I liked the thought of having lots of friends to hang out with, socialize, do family picnics. It was always on my mind, yet I hardly did anything to make it happen. Soon I realized that the thought seemed great, but what I really wanted was only a few close relationships. I began focusing on that, and I did not need any push then.
- Ask yourself: Do I feel inspired?
If what you want to achieve is not inspiring, truly important for you then the chances are that you may not want to take any action. While growing up, I remember I had to pull myself out of the house to attend a Bharatnatyam class, but I was the first on the field to play dodgeball or go for a cycle race. So, ask yourself if you find yourself caught in inaction; Is it inspiring, is it truly important?
- Do you know what you want to do vs don’t want to?
You know you do not want to be flustered and tongue-tied during the AGM as usual. But you don’t seem motivated to do much to ensure it does not happen. What if you had clarity about the specific outcome you wanted from yourself in that meeting? E.g., If you said I want to practice and prepare before every meeting so that I feel confident and in control; would that lead inaction to action? It probably will, as now you know what you want to do!
- Just Do it!
What you say to yourself decides whether or not you do what you have chosen. Have you noticed in some contexts we keep having a dialogue with ourselves? Almost trying to find reasons not to do things that we have planned? Why? Because it feels like a lot of work or is throwing us out of our comfort. One tiny change I have made in my thinking is when I decide something, I just do it! No discussion with my monkey mind is allowed then.
- Have Choices
Always have a few choices lined up since we love to take an off from what we had decided to do. Train that mind to come up with alternatives so that you never have to say, “I did not do that because……… “My client has come up with different ways of exercising on a rainy day or on the day she drops her kids to school and cannot hit the ground for her run. I have a goal to learn by reading every day, and if I do not read, I listen to an audiobook, or I learn from some videos that I have downloaded. If I know I will not have much time through the day I get up early and read with my morning coffee.
- External Accountability:
One of the brilliant ways of staying on track with your actions is to be held accountable for our actions. It could be your gym trainer, manager, an office colleague, your coach or your family member. Sign up for group programs, activities and you will be forced to show up. Tell them of your goal and give permission to be held accountable. Sometimes when willpower gives away, this dangling sword above our head does the trick.
- Do periodic review and realignment of actions:
If you are working towards a goal, after sometime you may feel the pace not being useful anymore or actions not giving the results you want. That may cause low energy or lack of interest. Just a quick review and reset helps to get back on track. Discard what is not working and replace it with new.
What I have found as a useful way of thinking is to stop looking outside to feel motivated to do something. I would like to honour the word I give myself, and that for me is motivation. I look forward to the feeling of achievement that I get after taking actions, and that motivates me further.
I believe in some contexts it may be useful to stop and think but in almost all contexts the answer for inaction is, don’t think, just do it. Results are not entirely in our hands, but our actions are.
My Gym teacher used to shout to me when I used to rest between the lunges: “Enjoy the pain! “she said. And I learned to
Self-motivation is a choice!
Have a beautiful day