Motivation comes in many different ways. It is the ultimate driver for anything that we can think of. It is the simple voice in our brain that says: GO.
It can be seen in many different ways. People are motivated to exercise because the desired outcome is to look and feel better. People are motivated to quit smoking because the desired outcome is to be healthier and spend less money on useless stuff. People are motivated to get up early and go to work that they don’t like because the desired outcome is to earn enough money to support themselves and their loved ones. People are also motivated to climb hills because the desired outcome is to be with their friends and achieve something new and see the world from a different place.
Whatever outcome is desired, there is always a need for a trigger. Something that starts the process. Something that ignites the fire and keeps it burning. It is impossible to do something without that trigger. Just like a car. Can you drive it and reach your destination without turning the engine on? You get my point.
But what if that trigger is not present. We are all familiar, how lack of motivation feels like. So how can we get it back? How can we keep that fire burning all the time?
Now, first of all, I don’t think that there is someone that completely lacks motivation whatsoever. I mean think about it. Even if you don’t like what you do, you are still somewhat motivated to do it.
Yes, maybe there is no other choice. Maybe you have to go to that damn work at 6 in the morning and you hate every single morning. But you are still motivated because there is no other way. And here comes the good part.
Eliminate the choice
Maybe we can use that as an example and hack the system. I know you are confused, but hear me out:
Let’s say, you have a subscription to the gym but you have no motivation to go anymore. Well, you can just say that you don’t want to waste your money anymore. Or want to have the opportunity to meet new people, or just say that you have no choice.
We often lose motivation for the stuff we do voluntarily. Because you have a choice. Well, if we get rid of that choice, and say that we have to go to the gym, we will all of a sudden find motivation to do so. Yes, it is still not exactly what you wished, but at least now, you are one step more motivated.
It is a very interesting phenomenon, but it works all the time. If you feel tired and start to move forcefully, soon you will feel this rush of energy. The same thing applies to motivation. If you force yourself to go to the gym, I am more than sure that you will be active and enjoy the time there.
It applies to anything we want to achieve but feel like we have the choice not to. In this case, of course, we won’t be motivated to start, and it will not feel comfortable to spend our time and energy pursuing it. But for some reason, when we start, the motivation and ideas towards that uncomfortable project come flying towards us.
Take, writing this piece for example.
I had the idea, but I couldn’t start. I used the excuse that I don’t have an outline. Then I sat down and wrote a few points, just to get rid of this obstacle. I did not have an excuse anymore, so I opened a new document and… started staring at it. I wanted to distract myself with something, so I opened youtube, just to check something related to writing. I soon realized that I am just trying to avoid writing, because I had a choice. I said to myself: ‘’You have to write, edit and publish this today, otherwise, your day won’t be completed’’. I had no other choice but to start writing, and soon the words just came. I was not looking for excuses or motivation to start. I was already motivated. I am motivated now to finish it.
It comes and goes
Even though it sounds very easy, the reality is that motivation comes and goes. It is never a constant. Yes, maybe there are people, that are just motivated all the time, but in my experience, they are rare, and the reality is that no one is always fully motivated. And that is ok. I think it is very important to acknowledge that, as it plays a huge role in our mental health.
And social media is a great contributor to that. How many motivational videos and whole channels there are.
‘’ You should not be lazy. Go and get what you deserve. Work hard and achieve stuff. Bla bla bla…’’
The more you listen to them, the more you feel sorry and angry for yourself that you can’t do what they tell you to do, or that you still can’t find the motivation you are looking for. So you end up not only lacking motivation but finally giving up.
You cant be always motivated, and in my opinion, you cant expect a speech or video to do the job for you and motivate you further. The best motivation doesn’t exist.
In fact, it does but it is not reliable.
The best way to motivate yourself to keep going is to see the desired outcome slowly starting to become reality. In other words, motivation comes with results. But results are not always present. Results don’t come right away when you start.
Take the gym for example. You know that going to the gym, will bring you closer to your desired look, right, but can it happen overnight? In order to see visible results, you have to commit for at least 2 months. That realistically means around 20 visits and 30 hours in total of commitment. If you rely on results, you will never be able to find the motivation to complete those 2 months. You have to wait, trust the process and find some other source of motivation. Then, after two months, when you see the results, you can use them as a motivation to continue with this project as it is worth the time and the effort.
Motivation is a very tricky thing. It is a feeling that a lot of people think they have mastered and are able to summon whenever they need it. The reality is that every person struggles with it, or has struggled at some point in their life. It is a very natural state of mind to feel demotivated, thus it is highly important to not hammer ourselves for feeling this way. Instead, maybe we should try to look at it from a different perspective and learn to live with it.