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The Counterintuitive Motivation Hack That You Are Missing

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Humans are always looking for that spark to get us moving when we’re stuck. We know what we need to do but we are fighting ourselves to actually do it. Plus, it’s an easy out not to follow through on our commitments to ourselves, “I’m just not motivated.”

We may check Instagram for some workout videos, Youtube for motivational speeches, or read an article much like this to get us going. It may work occasionally, but most of the time, you’ll just be staring at your screen instead and pushing it off for another day.

The problem with relying on motivation to get moving is this feeling is fleeting and inconsistent. It’s great when we feel aligned with our goals, and we can harness it, but if we don’t have it, it’s not very useful to wait until that feeling returns as it can be quite a while.

There are two parts to solving this motivation problem:

1. Addressing what is getting in the way

When we’re feeling apathetic or unmotivated, there’s usually something else happening in our lives that influences the way we think about achieving our goals. It may be that we’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious, and we’re spending a lot of time trying to put out fires and allowing other tasks to take priority. 

The practice of meditation, mindfulness, and breathwork is essential to be in a better mindset to deal with these challenges more effectively. This mindset allows us to save our energy and be in a calculated, calm state of mind. 

A lack of motivation can be disguised as a deeper-rooted emotional pain such as shame, guilt, anger, or resentment. When we are feeling emotionally heavy and burdened, it makes every area of our life more difficult. 

Let’s examine these feelings that we have about ourselves and the world and their stories. We can identify what’s true or merely a fabrication. The more truth and clarity we have, the lighter and clearer we feel, and this is the energy of motivation and drive.

Being too focused on the outcome takes away from our intention to give to the process. We tend to get too far ahead of ourselves and attach ourselves to the result, and when we don’t see the feedback we want, our motivation drops. 

A more useful approach is to follow the day-by-day strategies required to obtain the end goal. This approach allows us to give more presence and awareness to what we can influence daily, making it more manageable and more straightforward. Success is not a linear journey; there are ups and downs, but we will get there faster and easier if we stick to the process.

“I hate every minute of training. But I said, don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Muhammad Ali

To recap, here is what impacts our motivation:

  • Problems and challenges show up in our lives that are taking away our time, energy, and drive. 
  • A heavy emotional state and the story we tell ourselves about it, which keeps us stuck.
  • Focused too much on the outcome instead of the process required to achieve it. 

The second part to solving this motivational problem is not needing motivation at all but harnessing a much more powerful strategy instead.

2. Creating momentum

The more action we take, the more momentum we have, the more momentum we have, the more motivated we are. It does require us to overcome the initial resistance of extending ourselves and breaking out of our comfort zone. Still, the more often we do it, the easier this process becomes.

The positive feedback loops power is that positive action leads to positive results, which leads to positive feelings (motivation). The snowball effect builds and picks up speed, and once it starts, it’s hard to slow down.

What can break the momentum and set us back is looking at the wrong things. The human brain is wired for negativity, so we tend to focus, and energy on something that we perceive isn’t going well. We can lose sight of the small wins and victories along the way. 

Momentum manifests itself by journaling and self-reflective based work. This process creates stronger associations with the changes and steps we are taking, even if it hasn’t manifested itself in a tangible result yet. Consistently creating momentum takes us back to detaching ourselves from the outcome, and instead focusing on the process.

“Motivated people always find a way. Unmotivated people will always find a way not to.” – Ed Latimore

Striving for perfection or the “all or nothing” mentality is one of the most ineffective ways to create momentum. What typically happens is that once we “mess up,” we tell ourselves we will start over next week or another arbitrary date. This cycle of being consistently inconsistent continues again and again.

We need to understand that we will screw up from time to time, things will happen beyond our control, and we have to pick up where we left off. This perspective will ultimately make achieving our goals faster, easier, and more enjoyable.

We can create more motivation and momentum in our lives through these practical strategies. Still, it’s also important to understand that the continued practice of commitment to our goals and desires needs to take precedent over how we may currently feel at the moment. 

Galen Lundin is a high performance wellness strategist who partners with clients in an insightful, intuitive and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. You can visit him at www.galenlundin.com or on LinkedIn.

Motivation

How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals

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Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.

What is Motivation?

The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.

Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).

Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.

However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals. 

How to Get Motivated

James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.

This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.

4 Ways to Make Starting Easier

1. Schedule it

One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it. 

When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.

An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”

2. Measure something

It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.

3. Extrinsic motivation

This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.

4. Make it public

Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

How to Stay Motivated Long Term

When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.

These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:

1. Stay in your goldilocks zone

The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.

For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging. 

The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.

2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals

Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within. 

For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.

3. Use “chunking”

Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.

Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.

For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.

4. Be flexible

We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.

5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion

Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.

This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.

Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.

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Motivation

What Is Dark Motivation and How Can I Use It to My Advantage?

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It’s Thursday, 8 PM. I’m relaxing at home, doing normal things, and scrolling social media. Tomorrow is a big day. There are lots of things to do with moving pieces of furniture because I’m moving to another city. On top of that, a repairman is coming to my house at 8AM, so I’ll have to get up early. (more…)

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Motivation

The Killer Morning Routine to Boost Motivation

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If you’re anything like me, waking up in the morning is a hard task. Over the course of a number of years I’ve built a routine that helps wake me up and keeps me motivated. (more…)

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Motivation

Why “No Pain, No Gain” Is More Powerful Than You Realize

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Chances are you’ve heard the quote “No pain, no gain” before. Especially if you enjoy hitting the gym and getting a nice pump going on. What this means is that in order to make your muscles grow, you’ll have to shred the fibers so they can grow back bigger and stronger. This progress causes physical pain because you’re tearing apart your muscles, but the reward for the pain is always worth it. (more…)

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