Note from Kate:
I see it happen every summer. The best laid plans get put aside and forgotten. What seemed so important in the Spring suddenly becomes less so as we make time to go to the beach or take a vacation.
The truth is, though, we need this time to relax. It’s part of what helps us stay on track with our goals and makes our goals meaningful.
Yet, finding time for relaxation doesn’t need to hold us back from staying motivated in other areas of our life. This article is dedicated to finding and keeping our motivation in all seasons.
Finding and Keeping Your Motivation
Motivation is, quite simply, the reason you do something. You can be motivated because you want a certain outcome or reward. Or you can be motivated by your desire to avoid something unpleasant.
But why is it that sometimes people think that they really want something yet don’t seem to do what it takes to get it? What happened to their “motivation”?
Some of the reasons that people don’t follow through on their goals are:
- Inattention due to ADD/ADHD
- Not being clear on what they truly want
If this is going on, how do we kick-start our motivation?
If you have a habit of compartmentalizing, you might draw arbitrary lines in your life or mind. Because of this, you might lose total focus on one area of your life while focusing on the other. If this is an issue for you, it’s important to do things to bridge the divide. This might look like keeping your goals all in one place where you can see them, creating ways of working and thinking that benefit multiple areas of your life at once, or using a coach to help you keep what’s important in focus.
On the heels of compartmentalization is denial. We can deny how not taking action effects us or we can deny that we ever made the goal in the first place. One of the ways to deal with denial is to turn up the volume on the feelings associated with not doing what we said we wanted to do. We might ask ourselves: Is it really true that not reaching this goal is fine with me?
Many people with ADHD also struggle with motivation. They get distracted. One thing leads to other things and before you know it you’re way off track. Often times, you have a difficult time figuring out what foot to put first. Maybe you’ve gotten so used to getting off track that you just plain give up on getting started. If this the case, ADHD self-help books can be a great resources to help you jump-start your motivation.
If you’ve ever stopped yourself from doing something or dreaming something because of fear, you know how crippling it can feel. In fact, many of the other contributors to losing your motivation are related to fear. The best thing you can do when you sense your fear is holding you back is to find out why you’re afraid and then support yourself through the fear.
Sometimes the reason you don’t have motivation to do something is that what you thought you wanted isn’t actually what you want. It can be challenging to know if this is the case, but one of the most surefire ways to figure this out is to work on the other reasons for loss of motivation first. Then, if you still are not feeling motivated, it’s time to ask yourself if you really want what you set as your goal after all.
Once you’re motivated, how do you keep your motivation? You can:
- Acknowledge your progress
- Recognize that undesired results can be part of the process
- Give yourself rewards
- Evaluate your goals regularly to keep them fresh
- Delegate things that crush your motivation
- Attend to your emotional state
It’s easy to lose motivation on big projects – especially ones that don’t yield immediate results. It’s important to mark your progress along the way and acknowledge your small successes to keep yourself feeling motivated toward the next phase of your goal.
While I often find negative consequences to be demotivating, they do work to keep people on track sometimes. If there’s something that you want to avoid, remind yourself that your current actions are leading you away from that.
Like acknowledging your progress each step of the way, giving yourself rewards for accomplishing your goals will help you keep your motivation up.
If you let your goals get stale, your focus and motivation might wander. What seemed like an exciting goal 10 years ago might be of little interest now. Often, the lifespan of a goal is much shorter. Make time to create and evaluate your goals on a regular basis.
If reaching your goal means you have to do a lot of things you really don’t like, it might make sense to delegate out your tasks to people who want to do them rather than trying to muscle through on your own.
And finally, it’s really important to make sure that you keep up on your personal development. By doing so you clear out backlogs of emotional residue that keep you from moving forward with ease.