What’s the Secret to Being Motivated?

What’s the Secret to Being Motivated?

Motivation is one of the most coveted and talked about feelings. It’s important to know that motivation is just that: a feeling. This means the motivation comes and goes, just like feelings do, depending on your situation. This also means that you have limited control over whether or not you feel motivated. Just like other emotions (such as happiness or peacefulness), you can’t magically conjure motivation. The problem is, many base their actions on whether that feeling is there. This is risky and leads to inaction, self sabotage, avoidance, or even self-loathing. 

While you aren’t sovereign over when you feel motivated, you do have the power to influence your feelings. In this article we are going to focus on some basic tools that you can implement to help you stay consistent regardless of your emotions or circumstances. 

1. Reframe your inner dialogue

Typically a negative soundtrack in your mind (aka your inner critic) interferes with your ability to stay motivated. If you have a constant voice that questions your ability to accomplish tasks, tells you that you’re incapable, or places a consistent voice of doubt, you will be sure to feel drained and want to quit. Reframing means allowing your inner voice to become an encourager or a coach to yourself when you take on hard things. Reframing your dialogue can looks like:

  • Daily positive affirmations - listing your skills, strengths, capabilities to yourself each day
  • Negating or challenging the critical thoughts - “I’m not going there right now, that is not a kind way to speak to myself”
  • Owning your mistakes or weaknesses but allowing it to be an opportunity for growth. “I’m learning from this so I can do it better next time”
  • Validating any frustrations you have but not letting it stop you “I feel tired, but I will still practice these new habits that I committed to”

2. Reforming your core beliefs

Your core beliefs are your central beliefs on yourself, others, and the world. They act as a lens in how you perceive life circumstances. For example, you might struggle with negative core beliefs about yourself - such as being unlovable, helpless, unskilled, or worthless. If those beliefs underlie your perspective, you will never feel motivated enough to change - because you don’t actually believe that you can. Even if others affirm you or try to change your mind, it will never feel enough to you because you are internally at war with yourself. The only one that can change your core beliefs is you. Once your core beliefs support your efforts and your intrinsic value, motivation will come naturally - because you believe in your ability to change or accomplish tasks!

The good news is that this is completely in your control and completely attainable. It just requires being aware of it in the first place. Changing your core beliefs can be done by:

  • Being aware of the negative beliefs and challenging them
  • Suggesting an alternative to the negative belief “I’m not unskilled altogether, I just lack skills in this area but I will work on learning them”. 
  • Socratic questioning/examining evidence - asking analytical questions and analyzing data in your life to assess if the belief is accurate. This also requires that you seek evidence that goes against your negative core beliefs such as recalling a time in your life that you succeeded or brought value to a situation.

3. Focus on your inner locus of control

An inner locus focus means that you are more consumed with what you have influence or control over. This means you put your focus on your actions, habits, your mindset, and your skills….rather than hyperfocusing on your fleeting emotions, others’ behaviors, what your providers are doing, how others perceive you, or anything else that you can’t control (external locus focus). When you have an inner locus perspective, you are empowered. When you are empowered, you know “I can do this”. And motivation flows as a result. 

4. Keep your goals SMART

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.  If your goals are vague and perfectionistic, you are setting yourself up to fail and be frustrated. When it comes to motivating yourself, it is especially important to be specific and time-bound. This means you keep yourself on a short leash with small, specific goals that you are setting. No one is able to stay motivated with lofty goals that take a lot of time and effort. SMART goals also require that you break up your goals into smaller pieces, or accomplishing your goals into smaller stages. So if your goal is to lose 40 lbs, you focus instead on how you can lose 2 lbs at a time. 

5. Reward the small wins

Positive reinforcements help you to celebrate small victories and keep your momentum going. Your reinforcements are whatever naturally excite you or motivate you. For example, maybe you get a small square of dark chocolate for every 1 hour of desk work you accomplish. Or maybe you and your spouse go out to dinner after successfully deep cleaning your house. Small reinforcements give you something to look forward to when you are facing mundane or difficult tasks. 

6. Surround yourself with accountability

It’s hard to meet difficult or new goals on your own. Having accountability helps you stay consistent when you want to quit. Accountability partners can be family, friends, counselors, or any professionals. 

Motivation is fleeting and can’t be expected to always be there. Those who succeed at meeting their goals aren’t magically staying motivated each minute - they just know how to set up a positive environment for themselves to succeed. Helping yourself stay consistent requires self-compassion: acknowledging your limits, reframing your negative thoughts/mindset, and being willing to reward yourself along the way. Bottom line: you can do this.

If you are struggling with motivation relating to your mental health, addiction, or relationship issues, seeking professional guidance is important. Our case managers, medical providers, and therapists can help provide you with essential tools and reinforcements. Contact us for more information.

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