06 Feb THE MYTH OF MOTIVATION AND HOW TO REALLY MAKE CHANGE
At this murky nomansland between the festive period and spring, resolutions have probably
fallen to the wayside and your membership card for the gym might already be lost behind the
back of the sofa cushions. It’s now that we often start lamenting our lack of motivation.
But the problem with a word like motivation is that it is so heavily associated with notions
of the right mixture of thoughts and feelings; and we tell ourselves that we have to be ‘in the
right mood’ to start working on a task. You want to write your new business plan but you’re not
feeling inspired. Or perhaps you’ve got your next bestseller bubbling away but you’re just not in
a creative mood. Maybe you’re desperately in search of a new role at work but have no idea
where to start? If this sounds familiar, you’re probably suffering from motivational paralysis.
The problem with the concept of motivation is that it relies on the idea that we require a
set of pre-existing conditions in order to take action. If we wait until we’re in the right frame of
mind to take action, however, we often end up doing nothing much at all. Take Olympic athletes
as an example– Simone Biles doesn’t wait until she’s competition-ready to go to the gym to try
and learn a cartwheel: she starts training to become competition-ready.
Essentially, if you wait until you feel like doing something, the likelihood that you’ll end
up actually doing it is slim. Rather than allowing an emotional response or feeling dictate a
rational decision to do something, the key to changing your habits is to make decisions and act
upon them in spite of the feelings which tell you you’re unmotivated.
By reframing change as something that we just do rather than we feel like doing, we end
up taking more action. If you dream of having a perfectly sculpted gym body, you work out in
spite of your feelings; or if you want to learn to play the guitar, you pick it up and just play. If you
want to progress in your career, add to your skillset one unfamiliar task at a time. The trick is
dissociating the feelings of feeling low and unmotivated from the rational decision of wanting to
do something. Once you’re able to cut the link between feeling and doing, you’ll end up doing
more things more often.
Ironically, the benefit of separating feelings from the actions is that you end up feeling
better. Studies have shown that people who do away with the notion of motivation end up
feeling more positive about their work. Of course, these feelings of positivity come
retrospectively; and it’s only after we decided to take action do we feel better.
So how do we manage our feelings and initiate better behaviour patterns?
Make small changes and stick to them
If you’re itching to write a novel, take 20 minutes to write 100 words before you start the day. Or
maybe you want to become a yoga guru, then do a quick youtube video practice every night
before bed. Perhaps you want to take the next step on the career ladder, consult an expert on
your CV. If you can work small habits into your lifestyle you’ll end up on a better overall
trajectory for making the big, monumental shifts.
Lower the stress
Okay, this one may sound obvious, and it’s definitely easier said than done. But it’s crucial to cut
the stress levels if you want to make real changes in your lifestyle. This could involve scheduling
in more time sleeping, or a shift in your eating and exercise habits or maybe adopting a
low-information diet. Looking for your dream job? Work with a recruiter that you know and trust
to help streamline the process.
Clear the area
We’ve heard it time and time again, a messy desk makes for a messy mind. And whilst it may
seem low-priority with all your big ambitions, all the small interruptions to your day-to-day tasks
add up to an overall standstill in getting things done.
Put systematic reminders in place
If you know that you’re spending too much time on your phone and not enough time at your
desk, get buy yourself a small valuables safe and lock your phone in another room. Maybe the
excessive snacking is getting in the way of your gym bod? Stick a gym timetable to the fridge.
Whatever your overall goal is, it’s important to build structural blocks to divert you from negative
So the secret to achieving the new year that you really want and deserve is to establish a
healthy relationship between your rational decision making and your emotional responses.
Indulge in your binge days, but only when you take them on your terms. When we choose
discipline over motivation we allow for real change to creep into our lifestyle one sustainable
step at a time.
If you’re still struggling to make the changes you really want to see in your professional life, drop
us a call on 020 3405 7879 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org /
email@example.com , we’d love to hear from you.