Lacking a little motivation ?
After the initial panic of the COVID-19 pandemic settled and we started to establish the interim norms of finding new routines for work, home, and family, optimism started to shine on the opportunity to play catch up with “Round-To-Its” – Those projects we looked forward to doing (or getting done) whenever we managed to get around to it. From painting the bathroom to scrapbooking, or starting an online yoga class, our minds started to fill with all of the possibilities a stay-at-home life could offer. We were excited. We dug out dusty boxes of untouched scrapbooking and browsed Pinterest for bathroom décor ideas, and even saved YouTube videos of Yoga For Beginners. We were sure this would be the beginning of a long awaited adventure!
So what happened?
For many of us… nothing. Beyond a few days worth of excitement and a maybe a class or two, most of the things we were so gung-ho to do, still haven’t been done. We have time. We have opportunity. So what’s missing?
“I just can’t seem to get motivated,” my friend Liz said to me about finally having the opportunity to clean her closet. “I want to do it. I have time to do it. I just lost my motivation.”
Liz’s story isn’t unique. We have all at some point experienced that sudden urge to get something done only to find that same urge tapering off, sometimes before we even get started. We reassure ourselves we will get to it when motivation returns, except we never do…. because motivation was never the problem.
Most of us have long believed that motivation is a force that moves us to action and it alone has the power to determine our productivity. This narrow view of human behaviour leaves us at the risk of relentless self critique if, by chance, motivation is nowhere to be found. We call ourselves lazy, put ourselves down, and end up removing any reminder of the activity we just can’t seem to complete. So, our crafting boxes collect dust, our renos go undone, and our confidence takes a beating.
The belief that motivation creates action is garbage.
The truth is… motivation is nothing more than a good reason to do something. It is a push in the right direction but motivation itself is never enough. The formula for action is as follows:
Reason (Motivation) + Ability + Decision to Initiate (Starting) = Action
The reason we do anything matters. If we don’t have a good enough reason to take on a task, it’s not likely to get done.
Our ability to take on a task is rooted in the availability of resources such as knowledge and time required. If we do not have access to the resources needed, all the motivation in the world won’t help and the project or task will remain incomplete.
The decision to initiate is better known as “Just Do It”. Coined by Nike, the globally recognized mantra captures a call to overcome everything that goes into indecision and procrastination. In most cases, this is where the To-Do-List dies.
The Hard Part
The Decision to Initiate is by far the hardest part of taking action.
The decision to start is often weighed down by some belief or fear we have about the task, its requirements, or its completion. We tell ourselves we need to know more and ruminate on how to make the best decision possible (meanwhile not making any). We spend so much time paralyzing ourselves over how or if a task should be done and so little prioritizing the steps we need to take, that the possibilities get washed away in an endless river of procrastination. End of project. Beginning of “maybe someday”.
Once you have a good enough reason to take on a venture along with the resources and ability to make it happen, all that is left is the decision to move forward.
Use these 5 simple rules to get you moving!
Rule # 1 – Forget your feelings!
- Waiting until you ‘feel like it’ will KILL your decision to act. Your feelings are fluid and unreliable – your decision to act can’t be. So commit to starting even if you don’t feel like it. Likewise, the decision to continue a task is best made accepting that some moments might suck. Be prepared to grit your teeth and push forward.
Rule # 2 – Don’t Plan… Prioritize!
- A goal without a plan is a wish; but a plan that isn’t prioritized is useless! Set the date, time, location, and any other details you can about the action you will take. For example, consider the difference between, “I think I will do some scrapbooking when I get a minute to myself”, becomes, “On Sunday from 2-4 I am going to go into the den, close the door, put on some Lady Gaga, and enjoy some scrapbooking downtime!” I don’t know if Lady Gaga is ideal scrapbooking music but whatever you are deciding to do, you need to make it that specific. After you know the details, make whatever arrangements you need to ensure nothing gets in the way.
Rule # 3 – Correct As You Go
- Don’t waste time trying to solve every problem you think you might have in advance. Commit to sorting things out as you go. Give yourself permission to change your mind if you absolutely regret the decision and no longer see it as being valuable or sustainable.
Rule # 4 – Remember Why You Started
- Here is where motivation is important. Remembering why we started something will help us as we move through to completion, especially if things get difficult or less engaging. Standing in the midst of a demolished bathroom is more bearable when you can remind yourself of how nice the finished product will be. While, it may not be the only requirement for action, having the right motivation is essential!
Rule # 5 – Go for “Mo”!
- The force we think of when we think of motivation is really momentum. Momentum is the feedback energy we gain when we take consistent action. That accomplished feeling that feeds forward encouraging us to keep going. Momentum takes time and effort to build up. Think of the energy it takes to get a freight train moving. Once moving, the momentum it builds can make it difficult to stop. When you apply consistent action, you will start to feel momentum take over and suddenly, what started as one accomplishment turns into many. Have you ever started doing the dishes and realize you’ve cleaned the whole kitchen? That’s momentum. But remember, to catch momentum you need to take consistent action. Every time you stop, you start from scratch.
If you are determined to wait around for that magical moment when motivation shows up and saves the day, good luck with that. For the rest who are ready, and now equipped, I couldn’t be more excited for you!
The slow re-opening of our economy means there is still time to start that hobby, hit that to-do-list, or work on that dream! Whatever you chose to act on, let it be enjoyable or at least rewarding. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that having fun today beats the possibility of fun tomorrow!