READ this post (10min):
What is motivation and why is it so important?
Motivation means having a reason to act or behave in a particular way. We can have the best of intentions but without motivation nothing happens. Being motivated is integral for taking action and facilitating change in any area of your life, including towards your health and well-being, which is the focus of this post.
Very few of us are really motivated:
Most of us struggle to not only find motivation, but also to keep it too. Just think about how many times you have said to yourself either ‘I can’t find the motivation,’ ‘I can’t stay motivated,’ or ‘I was motivated but then I lost it.’
Why we find it hard to maintain motivation:
So why do we find it so difficult to become and stay motivated? The reason is because we are not in alignment with who we are (our true-self). As a result, we tend to go about motivation in the wrong way, including by having an over-reliance on external goals, as well as through constant self-criticism.
*An over-reliance on external goals – This includes things like doing a fun run, or getting in shape before summer or for a birthday. The problem with being motivated by such goals, is that even if you do eventually reach them, at some point or another, your mind will no longer see a reason to continue the behaviour, and so the motivation stops. This occurs because your behaviour is often merely a means to an end, and never truly the reward itself. The result being that you need to find something else to motivate yourself, and also continuously try to summon up enough will power to stay motivated with it again. Don’t get me wrong, having external goals is not the problem. They only become a problem when you use them as your main source of motivation, as opposed to being motivated from within.
*Constant self-criticism – This is the carrot and stick approach – the carrot is ‘I want to feel good about myself’ and the stick is ‘I don’t want to feel bad about myself.’ This is a fear-based type of motivation – I am not ok if I fail, therefore I must try harder and succeed so I will be ok.
Many of us think we need self-criticism to motivate and keep ourselves in line. And whilst some amount of constructive criticism is useful in motivating ourselves to change, most of us do this in a non-constructive way. This is the nasty, harsh, belittling, you’re worthless, you’re bad, you’re no good type of criticism. This language may sound extreme, but if you were to actually write down (especially on a bad day) some of the things you say to yourself, you would be surprised at both how nasty and how frequent it really can be, eg. I’m fat, I look ugly, I can’t do that, etc.
The problem with this approach is that whilst it may initially motivate us, it often leaves us feeling stressed out and even depressed which is not exactly the most conducive mood for motivation. It also makes us lose faith in ourselves. If we constantly tell ourselves ‘I’m no good, I’m not worthy, I can’t do it,’ then we don’t feel confident to take on new tasks. The more we do it the more we become aware of failure – ‘I’m not even going to try because the consequences of failing are just too devastating – it’s better just not to go there.’ And so, we become less inclined to try and to keep on trying.
So why do we do it then? Well one of the main reasons why we are so attached to our self-criticism is that even though it is so painful, it’s because it gives us the Illusion of control. Think about it, how often have you said to yourself things like ‘I shouldn’t have failed.’ This implies that while it is theoretically possible that you will never fail… it’s because you have done something wrong… you shouldn’t have done this, you shouldn’t have been that, etc. We love the illusion that it is theoretically possible to be perfect. To never have things go wrong, and do anything we want to do. However, the reality is that we don’t have full control over everything, but yet we still criticize ourselves for it. We think if, ‘well maybe if I just tried that little bit harder, I could be perfect’ and that is not reality.
Where motivation should come from:
The key to endless motivation lies not in self-criticism or pursuits of the external, but rather by becoming empowered by your own sense of being, including the love and gratitude you have for who you are, and for life itself. This occurs naturally when you connect and live in alignment with your true self. – Robert Greco.
So, if the way we typically motivate ourselves doesn’t work, then how should we motivate ourselves? The answer is that we should be entirely motivated from deep within ourselves – from our very own sense of being, including the love and gratitude we have for who we are, and for life itself. This can only occur when we connect to, and live in alignment with our true-self, including our heart. Remember, it’s your heart that feels, not your head. If you want to feel motivated, then your hearts got to be in it. In this way, motivation has more than anything else, got to do with your relationship with who you are, or the lack of it. How exactly does living in alignment with your true-self motivate you? It does so in many ways, including
Increased Self-compassion – This is not a self-pity or poor me attitude, but rather the understanding that it’s hard for all of us – for me, for you, for everyone else. This is a more connected way of relating to yourself. Unlike self-criticism, self-compassion doesn’t evaluate and judge the worth of yourself as a person including whether or not you are good enough, or feeling like you have to always be doing more in order to see yourself in a positive light. Self-compassion is kind, enduring, supportive and constructive. This includes accepting, loving and embracing yourself for who you are, as you are – even though you’re not perfect and even though you fail sometimes. Yes, this is something most of us struggle to do!
You’re probably thinking… So, if I just accept myself as I am, flaws and all, then how and why would that motivate me? And the reason is because by doing so, we provide the safety needed to see ourselves clearly. And because we care about ourselves and don’t want to suffer, then we are going to want to make changes conducive to well-being. Think about it – if we love who we are more fully, then we are naturally going to want to look after who we are on all levels. We are going to treat ourselves with the respect, love and attention that we deserve. But if we don’t, then we are just going to do what makes us feel good in that moment rather than what is actually good for us long term. We also know that if we don’t succeed, it is still OK. There is no pressure that unless we change, then we are a bad person. Sure, it would be great if we could change, but also that we accept ourselves the way we are regardless.
Unfortunately, despite these positives, most of us find it really hard to motivate ourselves from a place of self-compassion. A common reason for this is because we don’t trust ourselves enough and or we confuse self-compassion with self-indulgence. This is where we think that if we are compassionate towards ourselves, then we will not do any exercise and eat lots of chocolate every day, or whatever else we like. However, when you come from a place of self-compassion, you understand that whilst pleasure in the short term feels good (self-indulgence), you are also aware that it harms you in the long run, so you are unlikely to engage in it. Self-compassion only wants health and well-being for ourselves, not harm, and as such provides the basis and motivation to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviours. When you are motivated from a place of compassion, including from a place of love and wholeness for self, you believe that you, and your health and well-being, are worth fighting for.
However, we need to ensure that we don’t use self-compassion as a way of making excuses for unhealthy choices. E.g. drinking two bottles of wine over dinner and saying ‘I’m only human.’ Sure, you could blow things off and say its self-compassion but is it really? No, because self-compassion only wants well-being, so make sure you live true to yourself regarding whether you’re using self-compassion as a source of motivation towards increased well-being and not for making excuses for unhealthy choices including irrational rewards. If you do make unhealthy choices, then it will be easier to take responsibility for them coming from a place of compassion because you won’t be so hard on yourself. This is important because when you take full ownership for everything in your life then you’re in control. The more you do this, the more you begin to trust and honour yourself and the easier it becomes.
Increased Inspiration – Did you know that after almost 20 years of working in the health and wellness industry, I have never met a lazy person. But I have met many who people who are uninspired. The problem is that when you feel uninspired, you don’t feel very motivated. So, the question is not ‘how can I become motivated,’ but rather ‘how can I be or feel inspired?’ You can do this by connecting and living in alignment with, your deepest nature.
Increased Purpose and Meaning – What really motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and do what you do each day? Without a consistent sense of purpose and meaning in your life, then it’s difficult to become motivated. However, when you begin to really connect and live in alignment with who you really are, then you begin to understand the true purpose of life. This leads to doing more fulfilling work and fostering more harmonious relationships, both of which imbue your life with a greater sense of meaning and purpose. This supports, rather than detracts, from our motivation for things like health and well-being.
Increased ability to live in the present – Did you know that the average person has about 50,000 negative thoughts each day. Thoughts which not only lead to increased stress and anxiety, but other mental health issues including depression. Being in this space can often make simple everyday things harder than what they should be, and it’s easy to fall into a state of learned helplessness or begin to feel overwhelmed. It’s like riding an emotional rollercoaster, where we feel great one day, but then down the next. And guess what, your motivation does the same. However, when we live in alignment with our true-self, we also live more in the present moment. This is important because virtually all negative thoughts come from either by analysing the past, or worrying about the future. By living more in the present, we significantly reduce most, if not all of the negative thoughts in our life. But more than that, when we do so, we also create/make space to experience our natural states of being, this includes feelings of happiness, peace, joy and enthusiasm; all of which helps us to become more motivated. In-fact, there is no greater source of energy, determination and inspiration for life and well-being, than when your heart is full of love and your mind is present. This is because universal energy/love, is more able to radiate though you without any resistance, providing a constant source of energy in everything we do.
Increased Gratitude – What’s your take on life? Do you love it, or do you think that life sucks? Because unless you love life and believe that you have everything to live for, then you’re always going to struggle to stay motivated.
However, when you live in alignment with your true-self, you begin to see the sacredness of not only who you are, but also of life itself. You begin to understand that each and every moment is a gift (that’s why it’s called the ‘present’) as there is no way of assuming that another moment will be given to you. Yet, that is the most valuable thing that can ever be given to us – life itself.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t really acknowledge just how sacred life really is. We think life’s just going to go on, and we think we have all of the time in the world, and as result, end up taking so much of it for granted. But the reality is that we don’t have all of the time in the world, because one day we will die. In-fact, the average life is only 27,000 days, and for many this is cut much shorter. In this way, life is precious and we must not take anything for granted. Every minute, of every hour, of every day, is absolutely precious, and needs to be honoured.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait until you’re living in alignment with your true-self before you start becoming grateful for life itself. Instead, start to write down one thing you are grateful for each day. The more you do this, the more in alignment you become with yourself.
Remember, you only have one chance at life. The question is, are you going to waste it, or are you going to make the most of it? Living in alignment with our true-self helps us to realise this, and the more we do, the more we become motivated towards well-being, including doing all of the things that give life, not take it away.
So, if you’re struggling to get and stay motivated, then it’s time you start to connect to, and live more in alignment with, your true-self. Because as you do, you will begin to also connect to that inner well of unconditional love, inspiration, purpose, gratitude and infinite energy. The result being that you will become empowered, rather than just motivated towards health and well-being, and this makes all of the difference.
Q.Do you constantly struggle with motivation, or are you someone who is empowered towards health and well-being?
WATCH this post (15min):
LISTEN to this post (15min):