Overcoming Loss of Motivation

“I believe there is no escape from the rule that we must do many, many little things to accomplish even just one big thing,” said James Dupont. “This gives me patience when I need it most.” 

Today I woke up with absolutely NO motivation to get things done! Even though I woke up with the energy to get things done, I knew that there was one major thing on my to do list that I needed to get done to meet my deadlines, and I didn’t want to do it. The reason? Fear. Fear of failure. Fear of not doing it good enough. Fear of making a fool of myself-all of the wonderful things fear brings with it-when you’re stuck in it.

So, when I woke up-I acknowledged the fear and still did the thing I least wanted to do. It was the first thing on my “to do” list as it has been for the past 4 months, and I’m almost done with it. Even though I wasn’t motivated to do it AT ALL-I still made myself do it, because I knew it had to get done. Also, I know from past experience that I’ll feel better sticking to the schedule I made myself (See 90-Day Plan Blog post) when I was motivated and created my 90 Day Plan.

The truth is, we don’t always feel like doing the things that we need to do to move forward, and achieve our goals. It’s not comfortable and we’d much rather be comfortable. We humans are a funny bunch. We crave comfort and our brains really love repetition. Yet, being comfortable keeps you in place, without motion, stuck. Not growing, learning, and living up to your full potential.

The difficult thing about finishing big projects like the one I’m working on, is that when we start them-we are motivated. We are so excited and spend a lot of time and energy to get them going. We feel like we can accomplish the project and that if we don’t have the tools we need to get it done, then we can gather them along the way. Yet somewhere along the way, that we lose out motivation. How do we sustain motivation over time? It helps to first consider the motivation cycle:

There are four parts of the motivation cycle. Starting out with a need. This can be a primary need like food, water, safety or a psychological need like love, connection, power etc… When there is a need, we naturally want to bring ourselves to a balanced state which creates the drive.

Drive is the internal motivation that propels us to move forward towards action. The hungry person moves to find food. The drive continues to build up until it is satisfied. So for a person who is hungry, their drive won’t ease until they eat.

Incentive is the situation which motivates the direction of behavior. Visualizing eating a delicious meal is the incentive a hungry person needs to find food. We often create and move towards positive incentives and avoid negative incentives. The saying”the cost outweighs the benefits” comes to mind.

Reward is The last stage of the cycle. If the reward is achieved, we feel good about what we accomplished and may continue doing it. If there isn’t a reward, the behavior usually won’t continue.

The question that remains is how to sustain motivation when the gap between the need and reward is vast? When you have to move out of your comfort zone and aren’t sure that you’re going to be successful? When you have to take risks and do things differently than you’ve done them before? When the reward seems so far off…that you lose sight of it?

Like many things, the answer is easy-the practice is not. The answer to success isn’t sustaining motivation over extended periods of time. But rather, it’s about creating and maintaining routines. Routines that work for you, so even when you don’t feel like doing the thing that needs to be done, you still show up day in and day out, and simply work towards that reward. Motivation will come and go, but our brains love routines and we develop habits around these routines. Routines make life easier because our brains don’t have to worry about whether or not we want to do something, we just do it-automatically and with little thought and drama.

Now is a great time to check your routines. How are they keeping you motivated and moving towards your goals? How are they no longer serving you? I challenge you to change the things you’re routinely doing, that get in the way of you meeting your goals and creating the life you love. Just simply change your routine and start doing it, today. I guarantee, thinking and worrying about creating this change in your life is harder than actually doing it. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.

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