An important thing to understand about motivation is that, as humans, we will only become motivated under the right set of circumstances. The struggle most people experience with motivation is that the ‘stuck’ state or feelings of frustration when trying to become motivated for a particular task they feel they should be doing regularly.
The cycle, in the form of self-talk, might sound something like this:
“You need to go to the gym today.”
*Feelings of displeasure or perceived pain creep in.*
“Ugh, I really don’t want to. How in the world does Jane get herself to go every single day. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow instead.”
Has this happened to you before?
Unfortunately, the people who consistently repeat this cycle are more likely to continue it. As you consistently fail to accomplish the task, you begin strengthening your body of evidence that you aren’t a motivated person. Compounded, this cycle of ineffective communication will strengthen the conviction that you no longer feel capable of doing the work you feel you should be doing.
Understanding how to effectively talk to yourself is so ridiculously important. If you simply commit to the basic understandings about how your brain works, you can rewrite any chapter of your life and start regularly completing any task.
Like I said, it all comes down to creating the proper circumstances. If you can shape the conversation you have with yourself into something that will empower you to take action, you will be more likely to.
And this is where motivation strategies come in.
If you combine strong and empowering internal dialogue with a desirable end result, you can get yourself to do just about anything.
Let’s focus on the former- empowering self-talk. This is the starting point for getting yourself to do anything, as highlighted by the conversation above.
“You need to go to the gym.”
Really? I need to? I didn’t yesterday, and no one died. How can that statement hold any power if you didn’t go to the gym yesterday and nothing bad happened?
Your brain is very smart. Without even being aware of it, your brain will dissect what you say to determine if it needs to take action or not. And the truth is, it’s also designed to expend as little energy as possible.
The easiest way to get on the right track is simply to become more aware of your negative motivation strategies. If you can identify them, you then hold the power to change them into something more favorable.
Here are 4 approaches you absolutely shouldn’t take to motivate yourself:
- The Negative Motivator. This approach is the mother of all procrastination. In essence, you only start taking action because your imagination starts wandering towards the horrible consequences you will face if you continue putting it off. This approach is painful, and therefore, not sustainable. You should always strive for sustainability as you work towards your goals, because without it, you are unlikely to be consistent.
- The Dictator. Seen in the example above, the dictator gives him/herself stern orders, much like a military commander. Do you regularly use words like “must”, “have to”, and “should”? The big problem with this strategy is, once again, the lack of sustainability. Think back to the teacher you had that was strict beyond reason. What happened? You probably responded when the rubber met the road, but anytime you had a chance to deviate away, to ‘stick it to him’, you took full advantage of that, too. In a way, this strategy is the same thing, except you are doing it to yourself.
- Imagine Doing It. All human behavior is the result of one of two things: either seeking pleasure or avoiding pain. This motivation strategy puts you in the thick of the process of reaching your goal, which isn’t always the most stimulating thing. Instead of focusing on the 5-mile run, focus on the end result and the feelings of accomplishment you will experience as a result of your workout. Said another way, focus on the pleasure you’ll receive over the pain you’ll experience. What you focus on expands.
- Overwhelm. This strategy is utilized by people who imagine the magnitude of all the work they must complete, discounting the fact that they will inevitably be forced to break the work up into bite-sized chunks. The feeling of overwhelm becomes so discouraging, that they either live in ignorance or indifference to the task that they feel must be completed.
Flip a switch, and try taking another approach from the get-go. You will be more motivated by simply shifting what you focus on and how you are talking to yourself.
Your power to accomplish anything is just as strong, if not stronger, than your capability or tendency to avoid things. All you need is the right strategy.