Without motivation, you’re going nowhere. Motivation and goals go hand in hand when it comes to success. It’s the driving force that propels us towards our desired outcomes. There’s no shortage of self help and personal development books claiming they have the magic formula to improve your motivation. Social media feeds are full of motivational quotes, some good, some not so. But why is it that some seem to find it easier to sustain their motivation and succeed, whereas others struggle and invariably fail?
What really is ‘Motivation’?
Motivation is the force that drives everything we consciously do. Everything. The time we set our alarm for, whether we hit snooze, getting out of bed, walking to the bathroom….. All actions driven by what we want to achieve. That’s all well and good, but you can achieve these simple actions just fine right? Apart from hitting snooze a few too many times aside, maybe. But what about more meaningful and ‘important’ tasks or goals? Why do some people have no problem staying motivated, whilst the majority struggle?
Here’s the thing; if you truly want to improve your motivation, your goals must align with your values and beliefs. In fact, when your goals are in sync with what you genuinely care about, self-motivation becomes not only easier but also unnecessary.
Values and beliefs
When you’re striving for goals that resonate with your core values and beliefs, you’ll find an intrinsic motivation from within. You won’t need external factors or constant pep talks to improve your motivation to propel you forward. The alignment acts as a powerful, natural fuel for your endeavours. It ignites a fire within you that keeps burning, fuelling you relentlessly towards your desired destination.
On the flip side, when you’re pursuing goals that don’t resonate with your values or ones that you don’t fully believe in, motivation suddenly becomes elusive. It becomes a constant battle to muster up the energy and enthusiasm needed to make progress. This misalignment leads to a cascade of negative effects: depression, procrastination, and low energy levels, which inevitably result in failure.
A common trap
Sounds crazy right? Why put yourself in a situation where you don’t believe in what you are doing? Why do that you ask? Well, crazy as it sounds, most of us, and most of those around us do this day in day out. Where? In their Jobs. Their employment. People take jobs based on salary and benefits or hours rather than on whether they truly believe in their work or the mission their employer is on.
Staying motivated in a job you don’t like or believe in is no easy feat. It’s like trying to swim against a strong current while carrying a heavy load. The mismatch between your interests, values, and the work you’re doing creates a significant barrier to motivation.
First and foremost, when you lack passion for your job, it becomes challenging to find meaning and purpose in your daily tasks. Without a sense of fulfilment or a connection to the larger picture, motivation dwindles. You may find yourself questioning the point of your efforts, which can be demoralising and drain self motivation.
Think about it: if you’re investing your time, effort, and resources into something that doesn’t genuinely excite you or align with your principles, it’s no wonder you’re struggling to stay motivated. It’s like pushing a boulder uphill, with no clear sense of purpose or fulfilment.
The example of your job, is just that. An example of how we can easily find ourselves in situations where we rely on motivation and its successor discipline, in order to complete tasks or achieve targets. Targets that aren’t really ours, from an emotional and value point of view that is.
Avoid the black hole
So, how do you avoid this motivational black hole? It’s simple: choose goals that matter to you, ones that resonate deep within your being. When you align your ambitions with your values and beliefs, motivation becomes a natural by product. It’s no longer a fleeting feeling that comes and goes. Instead, it becomes an unwavering force that drives you towards success. Then, check in with those goals on a regular basis. Explore them mentally. Are they lighting that fire in your belly?
Assuming we have goals and targets that we do believe in, align with our values and light the fire inside us, we need to examine what external factors can affect our motivation.
Common external factors that can affect motivation
- Environment: The physical and social environment we find ourselves in can influence our motivation. A supportive and positive environment can boost our motivation, while a negative or unsupportive one can hinder it. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals, seeking out encouraging mentors, and creating an inspiring workspace can help counteract the negative effects.
- Rewards and recognition: The presence or absence of rewards and recognition for our efforts can impact motivation. When we receive acknowledgment and meaningful rewards for our achievements, it can fuel our motivation. On the other hand, a lack of recognition or unfair reward systems can demotivate us. It’s important to ensure that our efforts are recognized and rewarded fairly, and to seek out intrinsic rewards such as personal growth and fulfilment.
- Goal clarity and feedback: Clear goals and regular feedback are crucial for maintaining motivation. When we have a clear understanding of what we need to achieve and receive feedback on our progress, it helps us stay on track and make adjustments as needed. Establishing clear goals, breaking them down into smaller milestones, and seeking feedback from supervisors, peers, or mentors can help prevent a lack of motivation due to unclear direction.
- Workload and stress: Excessive workload and chronic stress can drain our motivation and energy levels. When we feel overwhelmed, it’s challenging to stay motivated and focused. It’s important to manage our workload effectively, set realistic expectations, and practice stress management techniques such as time management, prioritisation, and self-care to prevent burnout and maintain motivation.
How to protect your motivation levels from external factors
- Reflect on our values and priorities: By understanding what truly matters to us, we can align our goals with our values. This intrinsic connection provides a strong foundation to improve your motivation and helps us navigate external challenges.
- Cultivate a growth mindset: Embracing a growth mindset allows us to view setbacks as opportunities for learning and improvement. It helps us stay resilient in the face of external obstacles and maintain motivation despite temporary setbacks.
- Seek support and accountability: Surrounding ourselves with a supportive network of friends, colleagues, or mentors who can offer encouragement, guidance, and accountability can help us stay motivated. Sharing our goals with others creates a sense of responsibility and makes it harder to give up.
- Break goals into smaller, manageable steps: Breaking down larger goals into smaller, achievable steps provides a sense of progress and prevents overwhelm. Celebrating each milestone reached keeps motivation high.
- Focus on intrinsic motivation: While external factors can influence our motivation, relying solely on them is not sustainable. Cultivating intrinsic motivation, driven by our own passion, purpose, and values, ensures a deeper and more enduring source of motivation.
By recognizing and addressing external factors, and taking proactive steps to align our goals with our values and maintain intrinsic motivation, we can overcome obstacles and achieve our desired outcomes.
The role of discipline
Of course, discipline is still required on the journey to achieving your goals. It’s the steady hand that keeps you on track when motivation wanes. But when you’re working towards goals that genuinely matter to you, discipline becomes easier to maintain. It becomes a companion, rather than a relentless taskmaster.
If you want to improve your motivation and increase your chances of success, make sure your goals align with your values and beliefs. Do, create or be a part of something meaningful. Don’t waste your time and energy on pursuits that leave you feeling empty and uninspired. Choose the path that resonates with your innermost desires, and watch as motivation becomes your constant companion on your journey to achieving your dreams.
Photo featuring TrueSapien Hill Climber ‘Rapid’ Richard Stoodley (@rapid_rich)
Photo by Anthony Wood (@tonywood29) 🙏