Is Motivation Really the Thing You're lacking?

I hear this a lot in my work... "why am I not motivated enough to just accomplish what I want each day? To make change in my life that I deeply want? Why do others have motivation and I just don't." While some may lack motivation, I believe the vast majority of us have it, we just have to learn how identify it, observe how we are using it today and then re-channel it into our deepest priorities. We are all human, and motivation is a finite resource, so how do we do this?

First, let's define the word, motivation

- the general desire or willingness of someone to do something (Google's definition, 5/12/2017).

Yeah, pretty vague, but basically, it's the thought and energy we put towards doing something... be it something we care about or something we don't want to do, but feel like we have to. So when people come to me and say this, I tell them simply, "you have it, the act of you telling me you want a change shows motivation in itself." 

But let's dig deeper, because when we think about motivation in the colloquial sense, it means to get sh*t done, in a heads down, no Facebook checking, effortless way. Cleaning the house, updating the resumé, doing that work assignment we've been procrastinating on, work expenses reconciliations, grocery shopping, getting a new job, etc... Why do some people get all of it done, and some people just don't?

Here's my take on it:

  1. We're tired
    • A lot of us don't sleep enough (i.e. 7-8 hours/night) or our sleep quality may be poor due to stress, tech/screens before bed, insisting on your wiggly dog sleeping in your bed, or maybe your partner snores. A lot of this is life, but every single one of these things is in our control. If we let these things happen on a regular basis, our energy dwindles and that zaps motivation. Change one small thing about your evening routine (ear plugs that work!?) and you will start to feel much better! It will give you the energy to start making change on the bigger stuff.
  2. Too many priorities:
    • Even if we do sleep enough, a lot of us are overcommitted and so exhausted by the end of the day that we choose to watch mindless TV instead of doing the thing we really want to accomplish (don't guilt trip yourself for this, you are human and guilt takes up even more energy). Taking a step back to re-examine how you spend your time is a good way to ensure that your top priorities are getting your attention. How can you say goodbye to 1 or 2 of things you really hate doing? Can you outsource? How about sharing the responsibilities with a friend or family member? Start small. 
    • Sometimes we also need to dig deeper and ask ourselves WHY something is a priority. Is it something that you committed to out of guilt? Is it a role that "you've always played, you can't stop now." FOMO? Disappointment? Status? You feel like it's something you HAD to do at the time? Or is it something you genuinely care about, that aligns with your core values and ultimately brings you more joy. Take some time to check in with the gut; start by removing or outsourcing the small things that give you a conflicting or unsettled feeling. My personal belief is that all the stuff we hate doing takes up a whole lot more of our energy than the fun stuff. Ditch it, you'll have so much more motivation for the truly important stuff!
  3. Fear of commitment:
    • Making a big change can seem scary and overwhelming. You've most likely become comfortable where you are, but this little voice inside you says it's not enough; you need more! But what really stops us is fear of the unknown, rejection, but also "What if I do the work and it isn't what I had hoped for - that's really scary because I've held this dream on a pedestal and now there's nothing left to aspire to." So your excuse becomes lack of time/motivation, when in fact, it's actually fear. Dip a toe in, face the fear (in very small chunks), and as you start doing it more and more, you'll realize that the fear seems so much worse than the reality. It's pretty cool.
  4. We feel like we're not enough:
    • A lot of us experience negative self-talk (anything from "ugh, that was so stupid of me" to "if only I could lose 10 lbs, then I'll feel ready to date and interview for new jobs" or the dreaded comparison dialogue "that woman has so much more education than me, I can't do her job." I plan to write a lot more about this topic because it's SO important, but what's key to note here is that when we get quiet and listen to what our thoughts are telling us, we drive awareness, the first step in the power to change. Challenge those thoughts with positive ones - inserting more self=compassion into that noggin will make it easier to drive change in your life.

We all have 24 hours each day, and we each choose how we spend that time. So let's reprioritize, face our fears, learn that we are MORE THAN enough (and get some good shut eye to fuel it all). Because let's face it, we've all got awesome lives to live, gifts to give, and the world needs us to be our best in order to make it a safer, happier, more peaceful place.