by Jennifer Rego, LICSW
Motivation is something we all harness based on what feels important to us in life. It’s the energy behind a project. At times we can have intense bouts of motivation because we have more life energy or we had a good night’s sleep. We may feel enlightened and motivated to work on something meaningful like a promotion or graduation or planning a trip. All positive motivators.
It could be, however, that we are hard on ourselves and our motivation is tied to our feelings of self-worth. We put immense pressure on ourselves to be “busy and productive” and value that state over self-care. We may feel pressure to appear “motivated” at work, often equating busy to being motivated. This can translate to extra pressure and challenges or feeling that we are not meeting even our own expectations. This is why attaching our motivation to self-worth and using it as a benchmark for how “good” we are or how much we “care” is often a tricky trap. Depression, anxiety, and even Pandemic Fatigue or burnout are only some of the many reasons why motivation may waiver.
Steps to analyzing your motivation
Asking these questions can help just clarify WHY we are doing something and what is important. Demotivation and procrastination come when we aren’t clear of the WHY and the WHAT and we are now focused on the outcome/result rather than the process. Or maybe, we can’t see past the part that needs to be checked off because it’s so daunting.
- Define your reasons to do something and see if your habits and preferences are getting you to that place.
- Think about the values you have about this action.
- Analyze how you are acting and if you are I creating pressures that aren’t helpful.
- Check-in to see how you are feeling – do you feel you MUST continue even though your energy has changed.
8 ways you can “unstuck” yourself
Once you understand your motivation source, check-in and refocus to find a different pathway through. Here are some hacks to start fresh and build positive motivation:
- Start by breaking tasks into manageable chunks (one thing at a time).
- Write down each positive thing you experience throughout the day.
- Give yourself credit for the small things you do. YES, ACTUALLY DO THESE!
- Have some “me time” that promotes healing.
- Be gentle with yourself and kind about what you say.
- Aim to try and be present with yourself.
- Attend helpful events that focus on your needs.
- Ask for help from someone you trust.
At the end of the day, your reason for feeling inspired, motivated or eager to do something varies and changes throughout the span of the goal(s). Comparing this to another person, or how you USED to do it, or what once was, only keeps us in the same position. Ask yourself, is there another way, I WANT, or CAN do this?
Jennifer is a psychotherapist with over sixteen years of experience in the mental health field based in Massachusetts. She provides individual and family counseling, movement-based healing, clinical supervision and facilitates various workshops in the community with other multi-disciplinary professional providers.