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.)
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.”