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Why Motivation Is A Bad Friend


Motivation can be such a ‘Biatch.’ She’s the flighty, unreliable friend from High School. When you need her she’s not around, and when you don’t have time for her she comes and harasses you wanting to be ‘besties’ again.


She seems to be uncontrollable and inconsistent. All the things that frustrate me.


I like to know what’s happening and I like to make a plan and stick to it. I get great satisfaction from ticking things off my list, and when I don’t feel like it (when motivation isn’t around), I try and drag myself to get it done (mostly, not all the time guys, I am not a robot🥴). And then sometimes I get motivated and do stupid things like clean out the linen in the middle of the night instead of doing the sensible thing - sleep!


Surely I am not the only one plagued by ‘random cleaning time’ motivation? 🤣


Our body uses natural motivation because our bodies are wired to move and get things done, but when natural motivation fails us, we need to use our cognitive abilities to produce motivation.


This means figuring out what motivates us. It could be your competitive personality that pushes you to achieve, it could be your fear of looking like a fool motivating you to reach the goal, or it could be the fact that if you don’t hand in your assignments you will fail the class, have to take it again next semester and push back graduation and therefore employment in your chosen field.


There are 2 types of motivation I want to mention - you have probably heard of them before.

External Motivation is the fear of your boss calling you into his office because you didn’t get your project finished in time, and no one wants that.

You know that if you do your accounts you will get a tax return and some extra $$. Or you get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday to coach your son’s soccer team because you want him to learn how to be a team player, and at least soccer is a sport you can tolerate.


And then there’s Internal Motivation. You help out at the Mother’s Day stall at your kids’ school because it makes you feel happy to be helping. You exercise because it makes you feel good or you decide to go back to study because you have a love of learning.


If you really think about it, we rely heavily on motivation in our everyday lives. If we want to achieve anything, even if it’s just getting dressed, going for a walk, making a healthy lunch, playing with your toddler, there has to be a reason behind it, to give you motivation.


But what if motivation isn’t there?


I have days where I could.not.be.stuffed. Where motivation seems to have gotten lost somewhere between going to sleep the night before and waking up the next morning.


If it’s cloudy and rainy when I wake up, I really struggle to be naturally motivated. Depending on where I am at in my cycle, I have a day a month I just can’t function properly, where all desire and motivation go out the window.


Here is some good news for us. There are ways around low levels of motivation, ways that mean you can still get things done and even ways you can boost your natural levels of motivation.


Here are 3 tips to get you motivated when you don't feel like it:


1. Make your decisions without the influence of motivation, before motivation has a say. If you decide you want to do something, write it down and stick to it. This is when a whiteboard, or wall planner come in super handy.


2. Learn to recognise what stops you from following through. This is one that requires some thinking.

  • Why am I procrastinating? Even if you do things that are important, you can still use them to procrastinate. I know my house is always cleaner when I am avoiding something important.

  • Why do I not follow through? Be aware of your unique blocks, is it time management? Perfectionism? Overwhelm?


Then you get to problem solve and figure out the hacks around how you do life. If you make the decision to eat a healthy breakfast every day, but by the time you get to the kitchen in the morning you’re hungry and impatient, you’re going to struggle to follow through on that decision. So, get up earlier, prepare a breakfast option you can get ready the night before or have a reward at the end of the week if you eat healthy breakfasts every day.


3. Have your WHY set out really clearly. I wrote about the importance of your WHY about a month ago in Creating Healthy Habits.


Why are you having healthy breakfasts?

  • Because it helps me feel physically better during the day

  • It helps my focus

  • It means I don’t slump later in the day because I started the day off fuelling my body well

  • I am working towards the healthier lifestyle I want to have, it will make me feel happy to be able to run with my toddler at the park… and so on.


Whatever your WHY, be detailed and clear, and include how you will feel when you follow through on the decision and reach your goal despite motivation being a fickle friend.


The one important and great thing about motivation is that it’s like that stubborn child you have (well I do) that never wants to come when you ask them to come.


I have learnt to just get ready and start heading out. Yes, it causes a flurry of rushing around, but that child ends up coming. And so does motivation. As you take a step, motivation scrambles and ends up coming along and fuelling your steps as you get closer and closer to your goal.


As you continue, motivation grows and it turns into momentum. And for the sake of being scientific right now, momentum is the force behind an object. A car travelling at 10kph can stop pretty quickly, but a car going 100kph takes more effort to stop.


That’s what happens when motivation grows into momentum, little things that stopped you before don’t matter anymore, they don't stop you in your tracks.


That’s the sweet spot. That’s where you are on the road to making big changes.

But it starts small. With one small decision, one small step after another.

The first step is always the hardest, but I know you've got this! ⭐️


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