What is Motivation?
The urge to move forward.
Why do we lose it?
How do we get it back?
We move anyway.
This week I’ve been exploring how we get motivated, how we lose motivation and how to get it back. Frank Tibolt says, “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.”
In other words we move forward with intention to motivate ourselves.
When taking action it is important to set small yet attainable goals. Most people set goals too high and out of reach. When our goal is too high, we lose interest. We get tired. We lose motivation.
We are wired to set goals and fail. How many of us have started to exercise or diet and only tried a couple of weeks before we gave up? Well those actions and reactions are wired into our neural-pathways. We have to change our wiring to sustain, complete and reward a goal achieved.
When setting a goal, set something that is slightly out of reach, but attainable. You will hear those voices in your head tell you that your goal isn’t good enough. You might hear yourself putting yourself down for the goal you set as being too easy, but ignore the voices. Move forward anyway.
So let’s say that currently you are not exercising. You work all day and come home to eat, have a glass of wine and mellow out. You work very hard, longer than 8 hours and the last thing you think about is moving. However, you know that you need to move to either lose weight, help alleviate some mild depression or because your body needs the cardio movement. So you set a moderate goal of walking for 30 minutes two times a week.
Usually when we set a goal, we make it too big. We decide we’ll move 5 days a week for an hour. STOP. Because if your currently not wired to move 3 days a week, going from nothing to 5 days will be unsustainable. So slow down. We’re changing our wiring here, and that takes more intentional effort and patience.
You set your goal to walk 2 times per week for 30 minutes-small, attainable goal. So the first week you walk two times for 30 minutes. Hooray you think! Well that was fairly easy so this week you’ll walk 3 times. STOP. Don’t increase the goal yet. Walking 2 times a week isn’t a habit; you just accomplished one week.
The second week, you walk one time and then you put yourself down and think, “What’s wrong with me?” Or you think, “there I go again. I try but I usually fail.” STOP. This is a goal. A goal means that you aren’t going to hit it each week, you are practicing hitting it each week. The third week, you walk twice, the fourth week you walk twice. After about 4 to 8 consecutive weeks of walking twice, now it is a habit. Now you’ve integrated this new activity into your life. You wake up every Tuesday and Thursday, and you walk for 30 minutes. Isn’t that great?
But you still don’t increase your goal. Not yet.
Next you reward yourself for accomplishing the goal. You download some music on you computer, you buy some new sneakers, or you get a massage. You do something nourishing for yourself that honors your accomplishment. Those voices might try and come back. They might tell you, “Are you kidding? You only walk twice a week! What kind of reward do you deserve? Not much!” IGNORE THOSE VOICES. Keep moving.
You’re changing our wiring to acknowledge your success. This won’t feel comfortable because you may not be used to intentionally honoring your accomplishment, but just do it anyway. In time you will re-pattern how to succeed.
After you have completed your intentional reward for a job well done, then you increase the exercise. You either add 10 minutes to your walks or you add a third day and the process begins again.
Motivation works by staying intentional, moving forward and honoring your changes. Be patient and steadfast. Re-evaluate if the goal becomes too large. Break it down into smaller pieces and acknowledge your success along the way.
This is your life. You deserve to feel success!