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Getting Motivated

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

Have you ever had the problem of having a task that you need to do but never feeling motivated to do it? This is a common problem for people. So how can you get motivated when you need to?

The problem of waiting to become motivated has a simple but unpopular solution: do it anyway. Now this might sound terribly obvious and unhelpful, but I don’t mean it to be. Most people go about motivation and tasks in the opposite order, waiting for motivation before starting on their tasks. In actuality, if you begin, the motivation generally follows.

Examine your task and make sure your first step isn’t too big. That is, is the first step in your task overwhelming? What is the tiniest step you can think of? Make a list of 4 or 5 tiny steps. For example, if I needed to pay my bills, my steps might look like this:

1. Sort through the mail and pull out any bills.

2. Open the envelopes.

3. Look at each bill; set aside any that don’t need to be paid right now.

4. Pull out my checkbook or log into my bank account online to write checks.

5. Write a check for the bill on top of the stack of bills.

6. Set aside the newly paid bill and repeat step 5.

Each step is small but each time you can check off a step, you have a feeling of accomplishment and you give your brain a little dopamine hit. (Our brains really like dopamine hits! We experience dopamine as pleasure and excitement.) Dopamine is an important component of motivation, so each time you can check off a step, you’ll generate a little burst of dopamine, which lends itself to creating your momentum and motivation.

So what if it’s something like you know you want to exercise on weekdays but you rarely feel motivated to actually do it? In these types of cases, you don’t need a list of steps (although you could create one); instead, what can be helpful is a ridiculously easy goal. Set a goal that you know you will have no trouble reaching. If your regular plan is to hit the treadmill for 30 minutes but that 30 minutes just seems overwhelming before you start, then commit to walking for 2 minutes. At the end of the two minutes, you will likely find that you’re interested in going ahead with the full 30 minutes. (But if you aren’t, don’t beat yourself up, okay? The important thing is that you kept the routine going and you got on the treadmill that day, strengthening your new exercise habit).

This last bit isn’t directly related to creating motivation, but I think it’s worth mentioning: celebrate your successes. If you managed to make any progress on your task when you started without motivation, that’s worth celebrating! And who knows: maybe after celebrating your progress you will find that you’ve got a little more motivation!

We are all so busy with so many demands on our time and attention that life gets overwhelming. It can be hard to get motivated when overwhelmed. I invite you to call or text me at (816) 226-4678 to set up a free 30-minute consultation or an appointment.

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