Written by: Corinne Carter, Relationship Therapist
People often talk about “finding” motivation. How often had you heard someone say something like the following: “I’ll go to the gym, just as soon as I find my motivation”, or “I finally found the motivation to clean out the garage!”? How often have you said similar things yourself? People talk about motivation as if it were a stable entity that they’d misplaced, like a set of keys or an old receipt! We’re all susceptible to thinking about motivation in this way, particularly as we lead such busy lives. However, how would our lives be different if we stopped thinking about motivation as something out there waiting to be found, and instead thought of motivation as something that we could create in our lives every day?
Here are some ideas for transforming your relationship with motivation, from one that is passive (i.e., finding motivation) to one that is active (i.e, creating motivation):
1) Do one small thing differently every day: When it’s “same old, same old” day in and day out, the last thing you’re likely to feel is motivated. So, change it up by doing one small thing differently each day! For example, today you could take a different route to work, tomorrow you could try a new place for lunch, and the next day you could wear the shirt in your closet that you’ve never worn before but have been meaning to. Doing one small thing differently each day can help you feel more invigorated and excited about your life (keyword here: small) . And when you create excitement, you can create motivation.
2) Do things that build your self-esteem regularly: What makes you feel good? If you don’t know the answer to this question, try using a simple mood diary to raise awareness around your moods, including when you feel at your best. Do you feel good about yourself when you’re socializing with friends? When you’re exercising regularly? When you’re being creative? When you’re reading about topics that interest you? When we do things that contribute to our personal well-being, we create an atmosphere of motivation in our lives. Pay attention to what makes you feel truly good about yourself, and make it a practice to do those things more often.
3) Connect with your community: When we feel connected to something bigger than ourselves – when we feel that we belong somewhere – we often feel a greater sense of motivation. Try volunteering your time to an organization or cause that is meaningful to you. Join a club or a group that interests you. Talk to other people about their lives and experiences. As you seek out opportunities for connection, you are also creating motivation.
4) Live in synch with your values: When we live in accordance with our values, we’re more likely to feel better about ourselves and more engaged in our own lives. When we’re purposeful about this – that is, when we pay attention to how we’re living out our values in an intentional way – then we’re even more likely to create a sense of motivation in our lives. Try this: write a list of your top 5 values. These might include things like honesty, connection, determination, generosity, compassion, etc. Then, each day, pick one value that you will demonstrate in your daily goings-on. At the end of the day, write down whatever you did to demonstrate that value. For example, if you choose to highlight “generosity” for the day, then during the day you might decide to buy coffee for the person in line behind you at the coffee shop, or you might decide to spend an extra 5-10 minutes chatting with a friend, or you might offer a kind word to someone who appears to need it. We create motivation when we purposefully attend to our values and our corresponding behaviours. Every day, there are countless opportunities for living in line with our values and creating motivation in our lives!
There will always be things in life that we don’t particularly want to do (cleaning the toilet, anyone?), but when we actively create an environment of motivation in our lives, it can be easier to do those things that feel like grunt work, and we can feel more engaged in our lives overall!