Motivation is what gets us up in the morning, drives us to succeed and is central to creativity, productivity, and happiness. It’s what causes us to act, and when we act, we create movement, growth, and change.
Sounds great, but what happens when you just aren’t motivated or inspired? Motivational gurus and business coaches like to take a rah rah approach to get you going again; set goals, push harder, create accountability checks that will push you, and run your life using GTD methods and to-do lists. These strategies are ineffective with most types of de-motivation, and in some instances can even make you more unmotivated.
Here are several reasons for de-motivation and strategies for reversal.
Even if you’re excited about the project, a part of you is determined to avoid going forward based on fear. It slows you down and makes you hesitant and careful, which can be beneficial to you as a stop gap, but sometimes your fears are based on your imagination rather than on an accurate assessment of the risks in your reality.
Strategy: Make a list and name your fears so they are out in the open. Pose questions such as what you are afraid of or look at the likelihood of this even happening. Some of the fears will begin to fade away. Look at the fears that are left to determine the research you need to do; gaps that need filling and risk management strategies you need to put in place. Lastly, consider breaking down the changes you want to make into smaller steps and focus on those-this will help calm your fears.
2) wrong goals
Many of our goals come from perceived “shoulds” heaped upon us by society, peers, family, colleagues. And when these goals don’t correspond to what our authentic selves want, we become unmotivated to slow us down to detach from them.
Strategy: Take some time to review your goals. Notice your body’s reaction. If there is a tightness or constriction, that’s a pretty good indication you’re trying to follow the wrong goals. In evaluating goals, notice what makes you smile spontaneously or lose track of time, and set goals related to that instead.
3) lack of clarity about what you want
Manifesting and putting into action things for the future is wonderful, but if you really aren’t clear about what you want, we tend to default to recreate what is familiar. Without a crystal clear vision, then it makes sense you’ll lack motivation to act because you’d rather stay with your current familiar reality.
Strategy: It’s not enough to just know what you don’t want. It is important to be able to articulate a clear and specific vision for what you want to create.
4) conflicting values
Values are what’s important to you in life. A values conflict means there are several values that are important to you but you believe you can’t satisfy all of them in a particular situation. Brief spurts of motivation may be followed by complete lack of enthusiasm because the effort of dealing with internal conflict quickly tires you out and saps your energy.
Strategy: Acknowledge the internal conflict. Create two columns and write about the different directions you feel pulled, summarizing with a statement of what each part wants. Focus on one column and determine the desires and results it hopes to achieve. Keep asking the questions until you feel you’ve hit on the result you ultimately want. Now do the same for the other part, and notice when you get to the level where the answers in the two columns are the same.
Your end-goal might be nice and clear, but if you haven’t taken time to reduce it down into smaller parts, you’ll get stuck, confused, and unmotivated when it’s time to take action.
Strategy: Take time to create clear project plans and schedule the phases into your calendar.
Use your fears to point to potential risks you need to manage in your plan. Write down all of your “I-don’t-know-how-to” concerns and turn these into research questions since the first part of any planning stage is research. Finally, ask yourself what smaller goals need to be achieved to reach your end-goal, and schedule deadlines for yourself.
Motivation makes us feel involved, masterful, and significant. We feel powerful through experiencing how we can change the world, and we create more of what we love in our lives. And all of this gives our lives purpose and happiness. Get going!!