WHAT IF MOTIVATION WAS ACTUALLY HOLDING YOU BACK?
I know, it sounds controversial, right? But hear me out.
Have you ever felt so motivated and ready to change to then find yourself back at square one after only a couple of weeks or so... and then you felt motivated again, thinking This time is different, I got it, but actually the same thing happened? Perhaps, you have been repeating this cycle year after year and you are still not where you would like to be.
If this sounds familiar, know, first of all, that you are not alone, it has happened to all of us. It happened to me too, many times and still happens from time to time, but I know a few more things now that I did not know back then, which help me get on a better path when this happens and I would like to share them with you.
What if I told you that there is something else, something bigger than motivation, something that would not leave you by yourself after only a couple of weeks; something you can rely on, something you don't need to keep chasing or wishing to find; something that will stay with you and will keep adapting to your plans, ideas, goals, as you go along... would you like that?
If so, you are in the right place. Keep reading.
Just before we get stuck in, I would like to ask you a couple of things - grab pen and paper, yes right now ;) and answer these few questions (personal suggestion: write down your answers, download them from your mind to a piece of paper, free some space in your brain, it will thank you for it).
Have a look at your goal(s):
1. How motivated are you to achieve it/(them) from 1 to 10?
(1 meaning, 'Not at all' and 10 being, 'I am ready to go!')
2. Can you list what motivates you right now to achieve such goal(s)? Why do you want what you want?
(Take your time on this one and write down a list of all the reasons you can think of)
Great! Leave this on the side now. We will get back to it.
So, what can be better than motivation to get stuff done and why motivation could actually be what's holding you back?
Don't get me wrong, a boost and some momentum can do us good and we all need that from time to time, but there are a few good reasons why you do not want to rely solely on motivation. Imagine Motivation as that type of friend that
keeps coming and going, whenever (s)he likes, but never really stays around for too long;
will get you all excited about your next plans, adventures but then (s)he will simply leave you to it - with not even much of an explanation or notice;
does not really know you: (s)he might think (s)he knows what you want, but deep down (s)he does not;
makes you believe you need her/him, you depend on her/him and makes you feel pretty crap for not being with her/him, leaving you looking for her/him.
Not that nice, is it? Good news is, it does not have to be and feel this way; there is a better friend waiting for you.
First of all, know and understand that motivation can be extrinsic or intrinsic.
So, just as an example, the extrinsic motivation, would be you wanting to get fit and lose weight to look good in your partner's eyes; or you accepting and doing a certain job for money; or you doing tasks to avoid other people's judgement, or to gain their approval.
The intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, goes deeper, so that would be you, for example, participating in a physical activity because it's fun, you enjoy it, it makes you feel good, happy; or you taking on a responsibility because you like being challenged; or you spending time with someone because you really enjoy their company.
If you notice, in both cases there is a sort of reward, but one comes form the outside, from an external source and it aims at gaining an external need - money, praise, approval; the other comes from an internal desire and it aims at fulfilling your psychological needs, whether that is independence, competence, purpose...
Now, this does not necessarily mean that one is good and the other is bad. We all might need to rely on some external factors at some point in our life, but let's focus on what helps you stick to your goal for longer and in the most fulfilling, healthiest way, as that is why you always wish for more motivation, right? You want to feel inspired, energised so that you can achieve your goal, you want to feel fulfilled, you want to pursue something that has meaning for you.
So, have a look at your piece of paper now, the one where you wrote down your list of reasons for achieving your goal and check.
How many of your reasons are extrinsic and how many are intrinsic? Write those down or highlight them in two different colours. To make things even more simple, let's call the extrinsic side, Motivation and the intrinsic side, Dedication or Inspiration. (You see where I am going?)
when you look at your list, ideally you would like the latter to outweigh the former. If that is not the case, that is fine, but perhaps take some more time to dig a little deeper into your reasons; or you maybe you have just realised that your goal is not really for you, or is not what you really want right now. If that is the case, don't worry, I have been there many times. In fact, you will soon see that you are in a great place. Yes, because now that you are aware of it, you can stop this ongoing frustrating chase and focus on what is really important to you and why that is so important; now you are redirecting your compass towards a more inspiring, exciting destination - I feel you might need a new piece of paper ;)
Secondly, understand and know that, like we said before, motivation might give you that initial excitement and momentum, but it will eventually slow down or run out of force, completely. It does not have solid foundations, it relies on external inputs, it might even get you to ask yourself "is this even worth it? Why am I putting myself through this?", and it just keeps coming and going.
Dedication, on the other hand, has an integral tool built in, called ACTION.
Think about it... you scroll through your Instagram posts; you come across one of your fitness idols and you start feeling motivated to wanting to look like her, being as happy as she is, working out on a daily basis and getting in the best shape of your life, but that does not necessarily mean that tomorrow you will hit the gym, you will start training, eating better, etc., right? This is an external/extrinsic input.
Once you are dedicated to YOUR cause, on the other hand, it means you have gone beyond that initial excitement and you are committed to take action, you are deeply involved in your goal, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Furthermore, due to dedication being of a more "inner" nature, it will keep adapting and changing as YOU move along and change, as a well set goal is deeply connected to your core values, so it will not be fuelled by some external temporary factors, but it will be YOURS and yours only and as you grow and change, so it will too.
Being dedicated also means that you will be better equipped to go past whatever bump in the road you might find along the way and you will surely not be stopped at the first difficulty.
Does this not sound way more exciting and way more sustainable? Hope it does for you just as much it did and still does for me!
With all this being said, I invite you to have a look at your initial goal again now and ask yourself: Am I motivated or am I dedicated to it?
Hope you find this blog post helpful, team!
Let me know below :)
In strength and health,