The Power of Motivation: How to Use it to Achieve Personal Success
What is motivation?
Motivation is defined as a reason to take action, but if you’re having trouble becoming and staying motivated, you already know it involves more than a simple reason to get motivated.
You may have plenty of reasons to be motivated, but if you’re not feeling motivated to accomplish things you have on your plate, you can move closer to where you want to be by managing your motivation.
Getting motivated and staying motivated.
You can manage your own motivation level no matter how little motivation you may have right now. Motivation is fluid and can be influenced. No one else is responsible for or controls your motivation but you.
How we think, feel, and behave
Motivation is often mentioned as a feeling (i.e. “I feel like…”) when in reality, successful motivation is a process that leads to taking action.
We behave as we feel, and we feel as we think. So, if we think differently, we’ll feel differently, and our actions will reflect how we think and feel.
That’s it in a nutshell, but let’s dive into this a bit further, as it relates to guiding yourself closer to managing the motivation to live the life you want.
If the definition of motivation is “a reason to take action”, self-motivation is about creating those reasons for yourself.
Becoming motivated is not something that just happens to you, it’s something you create for yourself.
If you wait for some motivation to simply walk up and knock on your door one sunny day, it’s not likely to happen.
Bottom line: Motivating yourself is your job, and no one else’s.
That said, you may have even worked hard at motivating yourself with mixed results, and wondering why your motivation comes and goes, ending up asking yourself “Where’s my motivation?”
Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.
— Zig Ziglar
Your self-talk may be working against you
Let’s look at some common self-talk that works against having the motivation to accomplish the things you’d like.
“I don’t feel like it”
This is an all-encompassing thought that sums up a failure to generate self-motivation for any particular task or goal.
Remember, we feel as we think. Your thoughts are blocking your motivation here, and this can be for several reasons. In some situations, the thoughts may be quite valid (like promising too much to others) but we’ll cover that some other time.
So for now, let’s look at thoughts affecting your lack of motivation for doing what you want to get accomplished.
“Later is better.”
If you’ve been relying too much on the thought “Better late than never”, and you realize it’s time to take action on a task or goal, you need to ask yourself exactly when you’ll be starting on the task or action.
Before you know it, things have piled up, and now it’s even harder to “feel” motivated enough to tackle what’s happening around you. There’s no guarantee the moon and stars will align themselves and surprise you later with a surge of sudden motivation.
Now may be the best time to start, and there may never be a better or easier time than now.
“I’ll screw it up.”
If your lack of confidence is bothering you on attacking a task, you may be telling yourself this, which basically reflects fear of failure.
If you avoid all such fears, you won’t gather the knowledge or learn to be successful on such tasks.
Gather more information, start small, or do whatever it takes to get going. But if you believe that you must do all tasks perfectly the first time around, you’re practicing avoidance for the sake of perfectionism.
“I don’t know where to start.”
This is more perfection thinking that hold you back from developing skills to handle situations. Starting may include learning by taking action first.
There’s no record of anyone creating a masterpiece of work the first time around. Most skills are developed and fine-tuned through practice.
“I don’t have the time.”
You have as much time as anyone else, and it’s a matter of saying “no” to something else to make the time for what you want to accomplish.
Each and every action we take means saying “no” to something else. If we want the time to do what’s in our best interest, we make the time by saying “No” to everything else.
“It’s too much.”
You may be overwhelming yourself by thinking in ways that make the task seem insurmountable and unachievable. Is this really true, or is it a fear of dreaded boredom that’s bringing this thought to mind?
It’s highly unlikely that there’s ever been a death certificate that read…
Cause of Death: Boredom
Either way, perhaps it’s a calculated risk you’ll have to take in some cases.
It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.
― Roy T. Bennett
When the going gets tough, the tough get chunking
Maybe when you said “it’s too much” it wasn’t just boredom driving that thought. Let’s go back to the kind of thinking that can lead to thinking “it’s too much” and how you can work with that to remain self-motivated.
There are times when even routine tasks can appear to be “too much.”
That’s the time to start chunking, and manage your motivation. In fact, you may have a habit in your thinking that approaches certain tasks in overwhelming ways that you’ll want to change.
“I’ve got to clean the house”
This may be an overwhelming task, especially if it’s been put off for some time. So, you may be demotivating yourself with “it’s too much” and the dread of boredom on this one. If putting it off has been happening for some time, it could even seem like an insurmountable task.
First off, there’s the “I’ve got to” or “I have to” thinking. What you’re doing there is saying this is a must and a demand… that you’re forced into this situation.
Looking at tasks as a choice can be of some relief when you’re looking for motivation. How can we say this differently that gives us some liberty here? How about “I’d really like if the house was cleaner.”
Now that you’re in choice mode, you’ve removed a self-inflicted demand that it get done. No one likes being told what to do and when you treat yourself this way with your self-talk, the result is the same.
You’d prefer that the house was cleaner. Good! It’s your own choice, so own that thought.
Now, let’s look at the task: “the house.” That may still be overwhelming, and you don’t “feel like it.” Sure you don’t! “Cleaning the house” is basically a never-ending task.
Now let’s chunk it up a bit
Chunking is breaking things down to practical activities.
Okay, so the place is a mess. Let’s pick a room… and say… the kitchen.
Are you feeling like it now? Maybe not! And you can manage your way around that by chunking with time.
So, now to get self-motivation kicking in, let’s time-limit the task to only 15 minutes, which becomes “I am going to clean up the kitchen for 15 minutes.”
If that doesn’t motivate you, make it for 10 minutes. Or 5 minutes. Whatever gets your motivation going. Or maybe it’s one simple task such as, “I’m going to fill the sink with soap and water.” And so on.
Remember we started with not cleaning the entire house, so nothing was happening. Now, we’re in the kitchen and something IS happening.
No one says that we’re cleaning the whole house today, but the motivation is now available to you to get some of it done by you generating it with chunking.
Large tasks demand chunking
If you look at larger and more important tasks in your life, they will naturally be broken into chunks. When you look to create the greater things you want in your life, like skills and education, you’ll see it’s not a single task but rather persistent and steady work toward a life goal.
Think of it as chewable chunks.
How do you eat an elephant? A – One bite at a time.
— Attributed to U.S. Gen. Creighton Abrams as “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.”
There may be times when motivating yourself to keep going will be required, as some of the demotivating thoughts creep in. The more skills that you build in motivating yourself, the more it will help you to keep going.
Motivation is an inside job
Again, motivating yourself is your job, and no one else’s. The good news is that you don’t have to wait for something that’s out of your control to become motivated.
Moving forward, as you develop healthy and daily routines, you’ll not need to motivate yourself quite as much as you may need to do today. Small changes made over time eventually create new healthier daily life routines.
Creating these new routines is not always comfortable. Just remember that discomfort is a normal reaction to growth in your life and changing your auto-pilot mode will involve temporary discomfort.
You can stand some discomfort in your life. Don’t allow temporary demotivating thoughts to con you out of what you want today or in your life.
Power forward with self-motivating skills that you create for yourself!
Also, see our page on Motivation Quotes.