We are in the second week of this new year, holidays are well over and we are getting back to our routine, at least most of us. So, are you still keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions? Or are you already losing motivation?
It’s not always easy to stay motivated and focused on our goals, on the contrary. But oftentimes, the lack of motivation can tell us important things about our goals and about ourselves. So pay attention to your level of motivation when trying to achieve a goal.
To help you keep that focus and motivation on track, I want to give you a couple of insights on the topic. You maybe already know all of this but it’s always useful to refresh.
I recently listened to this Ted Talk by Daniel Pink on Motivation, explaining how extrinsic motivation doesn’t work for most tasks. The talk, based on Daniel Pink’s book Drive, was addressing motivation at the workplace and how whenever we are working on creative tasks, extrinsic motivations such as bonuses actually lead to poorer performance. This is quite interesting since this is how most businesses operate. So to keep it short, the point of the whole talk was that what truly works in these instances is intrinsic motivation. Believing that the work one is doing serves some purpose, is useful to the world, is important and can have an impact. This kind of motivation can only come from within us and that is what drives us to achieve goals and perform better.
But even if you are not lacking motivation at the workplace but in other circumstances, it can still be applicable. Just take a moment to think about it. Are you relying on external motivators to achieve your goals? Or do you have that intrinsic drive to do more because what you are doing is important and serves a greater purpose? Maybe your goal is to simply be healthier and get into better shape. What is your motivation to work out and eat healthily? Is it for others to like you? Or is it the fact that a healthier body will make you more confident and that confidence will help you achieve even greater goals or maybe inspire other people to do the same? Does that motivation come from the inside or from the outside? If you realize that it’s coming from the outside, maybe it’s not the best kind of motivation for long term goals. Maybe it’s time to shift your focus to your intrinsic motivation.
Your reason why
This is quite connected to the previous point. Your internal motivation is your reason why. The bigger and clearer the reason why the more motivated you will be to reach your goals. Sometimes we don’t even know why we are doing things, or we are not sure. And when the why is not strong enough, how can you stay motivated to keep going? If you are not sure why you are working towards a certain goal, what will fuel you?
There is a quote attributed to several different people that says “When the why is clear, the how is easy.” So, if you find yourself lacking motivation, think back to your why? Is it clear enough? Is it strong enough? Does it have a bigger meaning? If not, it’s either time to refocus on your why or to change your goal.
There is no failure
Sometimes we are so focused on achieving that even when our goal loses its meaning, we still go after it. We keep going just because quitting would mean failing. And nobody wants to fail. Even more, nobody wants to BE a failure. Because we attach failure so much to our identity that sometimes it’s not just a failed project, we are the failure. And of course, we don’t want that. So, we just keep working toward that goal, with no passion whatsoever. We are not feeling motivated, but we force ourselves.
But sometimes it’s not such a bad thing to give up. Our aspirations can change, our dreams and values can shift. And so can our goals. Deciding to change our goals is not failing as long as we do it because we realize that is no longer what we want to achieve.
So if at some point you realize that you don’t feel motivated enough because your why is no longer clear, or has changed, then it’s okay to shift your attention towards something that makes more sense and is more aligned with your values. Just don’t use this as an excuse to quit when things get hard. There’s a thin line there and sometimes it’s not easy to distinguish things. So be honest with yourself.
Staying motivated is not easy, but if you understand your motivation, it can get a lot easier. And these points might not be quick fixes nor straightforward solutions. They require introspection and awareness.
But the more you question yourself, the more answers you will find. It’s just how the brain works. Give it a question and it will keep searching for an answer. So ask yourself: Are you feeling motivated to reach that goal? What is your reason why? Is that clear, strong and inspiring enough? Do you still want to achieve that goal? Is it still in line with your values and beliefs?