941-462-4807 meg@megyounglcsw.com

Motivation…you used to have it; it used to be easy. More recently, you lost the motivation to do whatever it is you were doing before (exercise, playing, going out with friends, going to work). Now it just seems like a chore.
What is motivation? Where does it come from? How do you get it back? The dictionary uses the word in the definition, which is, to me, somewhat annoying, but here are the three definitions of motivation: “the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way; the state or condition of being motivated or having a strong reason to act or accomplish something, and something that motivates; inducement; incentive.” Motivation provides us with a reason to act. If we lose that reason, we lose motivation. In order to get motivation back, we need to get the reason back. Furthermore, that reason needs to be compelling. Motivation can come from internal or external sources. Sometimes we need motivation from both sources. In the end, the research shows the motivational factors that come from an internal reason will last longer than motivational factors that come from external reasons.

Whether you use internal or external motivators, the important thing is where to find that motivation. What moves you? What is your reason for doing this? Depending on the situation, you might find motivation from a challenge. AA for example tells you that once you get to a certain place in your recovery, give back to the AA community – start serving the coffee for example. Choose another reason to stay with AA. This increases your chances of continuing to stay sober. Your motivation will change based on several circumstances and if you don’t change your reason behind the motivation, you set yourself up for falling back into old habits.

As an example, I found motivation to start walking again using both a fitbit and the phone app “Zombies, Run!” Zombie’s Run is an app that is a storyline. It will play the music on your phone and every so often give you an update on your “mission.” This was fun and gave me a reason to get out and walk…I wanted to know more! Furthermore, the fitbit would give me a step goal to reach, so sometimes I had to challenge myself to get to the step goal, but I had the visual cue of how far I’ve walked along with the fun of the Zombies, Run app. I did very well with this for a long time, but realized about 6 months ago that I just didn’t care as much. I would start making excuses for why I didn’t meet my step goal, and I started to feel less and less enthusiastic about walking. I liked hitting my goal, but it just wasn’t enough anymore. I tried increasing my step goal (yeah that was a disaster; I actually walked less as I just gave up – I couldn’t reach my original goal and I increased my goal?!) I thought about challenging others on fitbit. I got bored of that really fast (or forgot to challenge someone some days). I eventually decided that I have to walk a 5k every day (plus whatever other walking I would do during the day). This helped significantly. I have several 5k options from Zombies, Run! And I have other options such as yes.fit to find 5ks and other distance runs. Furthermore, fitbit has “solo challenges” that get me walking through different areas such as Yosemite or the NY marathon. I started challenging myself to walk a 5k every day (just for one week). The following week I would choose another challenge for myself. Each week I will chose a “weekly challenge” to ensure I get to my step goal. I had to find the reason again, and this was the reason.

This being said, it is still an external reason and noted above, internal reasons will last far longer than external reasons. I will need to keep this in mind if and when I lose motivation again.
People can lose motivation at any step along the way. I did very well with my motivators for about 2.5 years before losing motivation. The most difficult part is about a few weeks to a few months in when changes aren’t being seen yet, and you start to question why you’re even bothering. We like to see results. When results aren’t happening quickly enough, it is very common for the human race to decide this isn’t working and stop what they’re doing. The fact is, you know nothing happens over night. You know change takes time. But you still want it now (yesterday even). Motivation is what will get you through this difficult time. If you have the right motivation, you will be able to combat the feelings of doubt and uncertainty. In order to stay motivated, it is important to understand when you, personally, tend to start losing motivation and to stay focused on the motivating factors during that time.

Why is finding the right motivation so important? The answer to that lies in the why are you doing whatever you’re doing that you need to get motivated for. As an example: If you are trying to exercise more, why? Because you want to lose weight and get in shape? Why do you want to lose weight and get in shape? Because you can’t keep up at work the way you used to due to exercising less and eating more junk food than you used to. Why are you exercising less and eating more junk? Because due to the stress at work you have no energy after work to exercise and the junk food has become a comfort. So in this example, it sounds like if you had more energy, you’d likely be exercising more. The motivation will come from finding energy. Finding a few things that energize you may help with your motivation. What gets you going? Is it a certain song or type of music? Is it daylight? Is it having a challenge? Find what energizes you and that will help you get motivated.

What is your answer to why you want to do what you want to do? Ask yourself “why” several times (at least 4). From that, you can find some motivation. If that doesn’t work, go back and look at your whys again. Maybe they aren’t the correct whys for this situation. Or maybe the thing you found to motivate you isn’t enough by itself and you need to find two motivators. Don’t give up. Never give up. Always grow and learn. Life is about growth. When a tree stops growing, it dies. When our cells stop growing, they die. Life is about growth. If you need help honing down your whys, call or email me. I’d be happy to help. I can be reached at 860-501-9767; 941-462-4807; meg@megberrylcsw.com.