Most people have goals of one kind or another. And yet, not everyone accomplishes their goals or even starts on the journey toward them. For a variety of reasons, people struggle with performing various tasks that come their way every day, and they don’t get where they hope to be.They may be trying to get healthier, finish school, get a new job or a promotion, start a business, find a new romantic relationship, or travel somewhere they’ve wanted to go for a while now.
Whatever the goal, things can sometimes get in the way of your accomplishing it, and one of them is a lack of motivation. Without motivation, it’s hard to get started, let alone persevere in accomplishing a goal. When you’re motivated to do something, it may not reduce the amount of work you have to do, but it positions you to face the task ahead with the desire and attitude that can help you accomplish your goals.
What can cause a lack of motivation?
A lack of motivation can flow from several sources. It might be that you’ve tried something similar in the past, but it didn’t work out well. Or perhaps you’ve heard horror stories from other people who attempted the same thing and consequently, your enthusiasm for your project has drained away.
A lack of motivation can also flow from having one too many things to deal with in other areas of life, and you simply lack the capacity to deal with this one thing. Other people may find themselves lacking motivation because they doubt their ability to accomplish their task – the fear of failure looms large in their minds and saps initiative.
If you’ve faced criticism or have negative voices in your orbit that aren’t supportive of you, that can diminish your enthusiasm and sense that you can do this. Lastly, a lack of motivation can stem from looking at the task and seeing that it’s large, and then feeling daunted because you don’t know where to begin tackling it.
How to Motivate Yourself
Your story is unique, and the reasons why you’re struggling to motivate yourself are your own. What follows below may apply to you wholly or in part, but either way, take what will work for you and use it to move forward toward your goals.
If at first, you don’t succeed . . .
Past failure can take the wind out of anyone’s sails. But instead of looking at it as a reason not to try again, look at it as an opportunity to try something different. Other people before you may also have tried and failed, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll also fail if you try.
It isn’t a case of thinking you’re better than they are, but it’s about the fact that sometimes things happen at a specific time because the circumstances line up in such a way that certain ideas or plans take off while others don’t.
Malcolm Gladwell has authored many articles and books including The Tipping Point and What the Dog Saw that explore this reality. You can’t give up simply because of past failures. Perhaps this next attempt is the one that changes everything. Knowing that fact can motivate you to step out once more and try again.
Break it down.
When you look down the maw of what is sometimes called a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) it may seem too large to tackle. Often that’s true, but what follows is feeling intimidated to even begin. Instead of looking at the whole thing and being intimidated out of taking those first steps, try instead to break down the goal or process into smaller parts.
There’s a saying from other parts of the world that the only way to eat an elephant is to do it one bite at a time. So, take that Big Hairy Audacious Goal and break it down into the smaller steps that you can take to achieve it. Set out a workable timeframe within which you can accomplish the goal, as well as listing the various resources (human, financial, etc.) you will need along the way to get things done.
You’ll find that it’s easier to manage fifteen small steps than to take one giant leap, and that may kick your motivation into high gear. You may want to start on smaller projects to build your confidence and improve your workflow before tackling the big one. Once you’ve built a solid history of successes, that can fire you up to tackle the projects that may have daunted you.
Silence the critics.There are sometimes people in our lives that doubt our capacity or make us feel less than capable. In some circumstances, we may internalize those voices and begin doubting ourselves. That doubt can wreak havoc on your motivation and willingness to put yourself out there.
Rebuilding your self-confidence is a project that can take time. For one thing, those critical voices need to occupy less space in your head. This may require you to physically distance yourself from them or mentally creating the space yourself if physical distance is difficult to achieve. There is a significant difference between “critics” as described here, and voices of wisdom and truth in your life.
Sometimes people will tell you things that may sting but are intended to better you. Those wise counselors consider carefully how to speak truth to you; they are not saying potentially hurtful things for the sake of it. And you can tell who these people are because they celebrate your successes and support you in your journey.
They are vastly different from people who criticize but can’t be bothered to put the work into helping you achieve your goals. If the critical voice is your own, learning to speak gently toward yourself is important. Being compassionate and forgiving toward yourself will go a long way in helping you begin to believe in yourself. Silencing the critics (including your inner critic) is one way to get yourself energized to do the things you’ve always wanted.
Find positive voices.
In addition to silencing the critics who tend to tear you down, you can also seek out more positive voices that are constructive. This can be in the form of people in your life that have accomplished things despite tough circumstances, or books and podcasts that tell inspiring stories, or a therapist that helps you process what’s happening in your life and helps you maintain perspective.
One way to determine how to motivate yourself is to see what is possible, and the things that other people have worked through to achieve their goals. Just like how a good underdog story or rom-com fires you up and makes you believe in the little guy and the power of love, finding stories of triumph and guidance in tough situations goes a long way toward helping you get motivated to face your battles. Having real-life heroes opens your eyes to what is possible, and that is why some people find mentors in the fields they want to excel in.
Remind yourself why it matters.Lastly, one way to motivate yourself is to do an inventory of why the goal you want to achieve or the task you want to perform is important to you. In the busyness and clutter of life, it’s easy to forget why the things that matter, matter.
Old loves can grow cold and taking the time to remind yourself why you set that goal in the first place, what it would mean to you to accomplish it, and what happens after that can go a long way toward motivating you to press on or get started.
Knowing why you want something can push you toward action that you’d otherwise simply let slide because surely, it’s not worth that much effort, is it? Reminding yourself why it matters can be just the thing you need to get and keep moving.
Though many things can hinder motivation, it’s possible to regain the desire to meet those goals. When your vision is obstructed and you can’t see where you’re going or why, it’s hard to keep pushing through. Sometimes, the way forward is to pause and take stock of where you are here and now, and that just might do the trick to motivate you to go forward.
Christian Counseling for Personal Development
If you’d like more support on how to motivate yourself, feel free to schedule an appointment with me or one of the other counselors in the counselor directory. We would be happy to help you find the motivation and growth you’re looking for.
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