The last couple of days I have felt incredibly motivated. Which is kind of weird. I’m already following a path that I feel connected to and that gives me great intrinsic satisfaction. It made me wonder about motivation sources – why we sometimes feel motivated, and why we sometimes feel like the simplest task is like dragging our arse over hot coals. For me, I think it requires a few conditions to be in place before I can feel motivated. The actual desire to get stuff done isn’t coming from an external source, but from a few different internal spaces that we (or at least I!) don’t often consider.
When I’m talking about motivation, I’m not talking about some fleeting feeling of excitement to get something done. This isn’t that feeling you have on New Year’s Day when you realise you’ve over-indulged over the Christmas period with too much turkey and an esky full of Coronas at the ready. This isn’t the sudden elation you feel after watching a Tony Robbins video on YouTube. It’s about the subconscious and how it leads us to take different steps in our lives – follow learnt patterns and stick with unhelpful habits. But it’s the same process that leads us to the great satisfactions of our lives. And when you have a deeper understanding of the things that spark these motivations, you can begin to tap into them and make lasting change.
I think most of us go through our lives with a subconscious knowledge of what our values are, but they’re not necessarily front of mind. I had this discussion yesterday – so many of the things we think are values are actually just aspirations. Think about it – you might say that you value health and fitness. How does this show up in your reality? Certainly it shows up when you finally drag your arse to the gym or out for that walk. But how deep does the value run? Are you reflecting this value when you smash that block of chocolate in your drawer at work or ask for extra cheese on your pizza? Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticising either of these behaviours. As I’ve said before, we’re all doing the best we can. But when our values and behaviours don’t line up, it’s really hard to feel positive and motivated. In fact, it’s likely we will become more self critical.
So I sat down the other day, knowing that my motivation had been down for a couple of weeks. I was finding it difficult to know what to do next. I have achieved so much over recent months and plans had become complex, and I don’t mind saying, a little overwhelming. So I decided to come back to the core reasons why I am following the business and life paths that I have sought out. Leadership and organisational thought leader Simon Sinek would likely have applauded me. I stepped back and looked at my ‘Why?’ before trying to get to work again on the what and how. This helped me to realign my values and my actions – I was able to consciously adjust any behaviours that didn’t fit in with my ‘why’ and congratulate myself for the ones that did. That simple knowledge of your underlying motivations – your true values – can lead to new understandings and breathe new life into your… life.
If you’re struggling to get something done and the procrastination monster is beating down the door, then I think it’s well and truly worthwhile asking yourself why that is. It might be that you feel unmotivated because what you’re asking of yourself simply doesn’t stack up against your values. Or it might be that you need to understand your values better so that you can attack the task from a new perspective. Either way, lasting motivation isn’t found in flashing lights and a charismatic speaker. It’s found in you. You’ve just got to find your why!