Tips for Getting Motivated

December 9, 2020

It’s very easy and effortless to get motivated to do things that you like doing when you are feeling positive and everything looks rosy, so what about when times are challenging and you are not experiencing the resourcefulness that facilitate really great motivation, what then?

Well, during challenging and difficult times, some people find a different way to get motivated and maintain an ‘up’ state and others just stop because they no longer feel that they have the necessary internal resources to get motivated and take action.  Life grinds to a shuddering halt and everything feels really difficult or even impossible.  Understanding how you get motivated is the first step to maintaining motivation, even during the most challenging times in life.

You either move toward or away from engaging in certain events, behaviours and activities.  People who move toward things they want to do too strongly may never get around to doing the things that they perceive as being unpleasant or not worth their time and which are necessary.  People who move away from getting things done may never move until things get bad enough and they are forced to act by an external deadline which often carries with it an unpleasant penalty.  The key to motivation is to be able easily and effortlessly to do things that are unpleasant or continue to function during challenging times.  Most people do not need help in doing things that are pleasant.

You have internal strategy for getting motivated which you are not consciously aware of.  There are some general elements of really great motivation strategies that work:

Elements of an effective motivation strategy:

1. Your internal dialogue (the stories we tell ourselves) has good tonality, it sounds kind.

2. The internal dialogue uses language of possibility rather than necessity. I can, I want to.

3. Includes a representation of what is desirable about the task (the completion or consequences) rather than a representation of the process of doing the task.

4. The task is chunked appropriately.  Chunking is about breaking things down into manageable parts to avoind getting overwhelmed.

5. Toward strategies are more enjoyable and result in less stress than away from strategies.

6. Toward, away and mixed strategies work.  Mixed is the most general.

7. If mixed, think of negative first and then positive that it leads to.

8. Try to replace away with toward strategy.  Set frame that “if you do not learn a new strategy you will have to feel bad over and over again in the future” which uses your current strategy of moving away.

9. Good strategies work across all contexts.

10. It may be necessary to adjust the internal picture of the task being done in order to get a strongly motivated response.  The picture in your mind should be as compelling as possible.

Example of a Good Motivational Strategy:

Self-talk in a pleasant voice “It will be so good when it is done” leading to an internal picture of the completed task and the positive consequences, leading to a positive feeling which leads to beginning the task or planning to do the task as appropriate.

Typical problems in motivation strategies:

1. Begins with Overwhelm:  You begin with the feeling of overwhelm and you needs to chunk the task down into smaller elements.

2. You person only move away:  Either this is not enough to motivate you or you experience too much stress, anxiety and unpleasantness.

3. Uses Language of Necessity:  You use the language of necessity with harsh tonality resulting in bad feelings.  For example, I have to, I must, I’ve got to, I need to…

4. Caution:  There are some things that one should move away from.  Be careful about removing away strategies entirely.  It is better to design a strategy with both elements.

Something to try for yourself:

Give this a go, it’s a technique called The Motivation Builder.  

Think of something specific that you got motivated to do, really easily.  Now, when you think of that thing, do you have a picture?  Close your eyes and put that picture up on your mental screen.  Make it so that you are experiencing the picture, looking through your own eyes.  Make that picture as compelling as it can be for you.  You may need to adjust the colour, the focus, the size, the location, the sounds, just like when you adjust the picture on your TV.  When it’s the most compelling picture it can be, turn up the feeling of motivation as high as you can.  Imagine a dial from 1 to 10 and turn it right up to 10!  When you are totally happy with your picture, step out of it so you are looking at yourself in the picture.

Now, please take that picture and zoom it away from you.  Push it right up into the corner of the room that you are reading this in, far away, small and dark.  Notice what happens to the motivation, it disappears right?  Now, zoom the picture back towards you very fast, let it hit you and cover the whole of your body, making you part of the picture once more and feel the motivation.  Then, zoom it away again and have it come back at you fast, splat!  Feel the motivation.  Repeat the process once more and this time hold the motivational feeling.  Open your eyes and go and take action.

Did you notice how the feeling of motivation grew stronger each time you zoomed the picture back towards yourself?  You can build motivation in this way any time you need it.  Give it a go, we would love to hear how you get on.

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