Motivate Yourself: Engaging Your Personal Agency!

Do you find it is hard to motivate yourself? If you are a highly motivated person, you don’t need to read this post.  Go take a nap.  If you have all kinds of excuses to get things done, read on…

What is motivation?

Motivation is a term that refers to a process that elicits, controls, and sustains certain behaviors.

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on any external pressure.

“Being defeated is a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” ~Marilyn Vos Savant

Extrinsic motivation refers to the performance of an activity in order to attain an outcome, which then contradicts intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of the individual. Common extrinsic motivations are rewards like money and grades, coercion, and threat of punishment. (From Wikipedia.)

motivation your soul craves a purpose

Good news: If you are not intrinsically motivated to do something, you can always use extrinsic motivation to get you there. (i.e., giving yourself a treat for a job well done.)

I bribe my kids all the time. I’m sure you’ve done it too. Kids, sometimes are lazy, (not your kids, I know).  Left to their own whims, they might not clean their messes, because they are too young to realize the hazards of a bug infested house.  We, as the adults, need to motivate them, by offering something they want, or by withholding a privilege until the job is done.

Understanding lack of motivation

Some people have trouble motivating themselves, making all kinds of excuses:

“I don’t have time.” means “I don’t want to.”

“It wont work.” means “It’s too hard.”

“It’s pointless.” means “I don’t want to try and fail.”

Does this sound familiar?  These excuses insinuate that the person has no control.  It makes people very anxious. But doing nothing makes most situations worse. It supports the belief that we have no control. And this is a dangerous belief!

It not only makes us more nervous, but has us judging ourselves harshly. Non motivation can get us into a rut that is hard to come out of.  The habit of avoiding what we don’t want to do, even though we very much want the result, is very hard to break. It takes no time to start believing definitively that: “We can’t.” Anxiety and judgment become our biggest obstacles. We judge ourself before–and thus affecting–our attempts at trying. In short, we fail because we are afraid to fail.

First of all, you can’t fail, because the story is not over.

There is always time to make up for things.

Second of all, lack of motivation often comes when we are disconnected to our personal agency- the idea that we are an agent in our life.  We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can control our response, both physical response and our mental response. Our mental response is how we make meaning about what happens to us.  Do we think everything is our fault and this means we are an idiot or do we take a step back and see the situation from the big picture view, taking it less personally?

It’s about your response

Non response is a misnomer: it is a response. And it holds us back from things.

To control our response, we need motivation. And it is easier to have motivation if there is a point to it. For example, I see a point to everything, which is how I get so much done.

People who don’t see a point to things don’t get much done.  Please know that there is always a point to it. How we respond makes or breaks our life.  It defines us. (Wouldn’t you rather have control over your definition instead of what happened to you defining you?)

Our response can make us joyful or devastated. Our emotional stability depends on it. To me that is intrinsically motivating since I’d like a joyful life. A big point.

It starts with an intention, then a belief that it is possible, and then an action.  Be an agent in your life! NO more excuses!

What are you going to do today?

Read more about personal agency in my book: Understanding Pain, Anger and Fear.

“The road to success is always under construction.”

19 thoughts on “Motivate Yourself: Engaging Your Personal Agency!”

  1. I will book a ticket for August 🙂

    I was trying to work few months ago with my therapist about finding out what could be motivating me, what are the things i like to do and why. The outcome of that brainstorming was that my motivation is always dependent on others, and never on myself. I used to write, when my friend wanted to read my writings. I like going to the movies, when it’s something that would make my kids laugh. I can enjoy a walk when in good company or cook a meal for someone i love. I have never done or thought of doing anything just for myself because i like it.
    I used to read a lot, because i enjoy discussing the book with someone, now i stopped reading except the blogs (because the comments are kind of a discussion about the subject.
    I am very motivated to go to that seminar in August 🙂

  2. Sometimes the hardest part is having too many things we’re doing. The question for me especially is how to prioritize? And once I prioritize, how not to feel guilty about what I’ve chosen not to priorize? Is this a working, writing, Mom’s dilemma or what? This is a different kind of motivation I know, but I think your post still applies.

    Thanks!
    Lisa W. Rosenberg recently posted..When Cancer Chose HimMy Profile

  3. Very good post. I need to boost my motivation to write. I think I haven’t taken myself seriously enough to set a firm intention. Thanks for the suggestions here.

  4. Wise words from both Marilyn Vos Savant and you! I agree with all of it. I am pretty intrinically motivated to do my writing and art because I love doing these things. Extrinsically though, I have a lot of obstacles. I guess I need to get motivated to clear the obstacles. A maid, a gardener, a chauffeur, an accountant, and a all-around errand-doer would be a helpful start. In the meantime though, just need to keep plugging along and not giving up.

  5. I could not have read this at a better time. Thank you Jodi. And I love that first quote, really sets the right tone for this post!

  6. Great post. Motivation can seem the hardest thing to find when day to day life becomes draining – paying the bills, fighting with those who are dishonest, coping with health problems – but then a snatch of birdsong or reading with my children drag me from the mire and I find my motivation again. Motivation to write, to act, to enjoy life as much as I can.
    Fi Phillips recently posted..LeapMy Profile

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