“The condition of being eager to act or work.” This is the definition Merriam Webster gives for motivation.
It’s also the topic that clients bring to coaching sessions most often. And here’s why.
You can be aligned with your values and have really strong systems in place that support your success, yet still not have the desire to take action.
This is where one of the misconceptions about motivation comes into play. There’s this idea that motivation is a switch – it’s either on or off. You either have it or you don’t. You’re motivated or not.
But the reality is that there are several motivation strategies you can leverage to put yourself in drive and keep yourself there.
When you don’t feel like doing something, it’s not that you’ve lost your motivation. It’s not that the motivation is gone. It’s just that it has been redirected. Your priorities have shifted.
Instead of going on that bike ride for exercise, you’ve decided to watch Netflix instead. You tell yourself that you’ve lost the motivation to go on the bike ride, which gives you an external excuse.
But what if you took a different perspective. Next time, try telling yourself, “my new priority is Netflix right now.”
Now that changes it! It’s no longer an external excuse, but rather an internal choice. That choice very well could be one that you’re totally satisfied with. You might say “Netflix is my new priority right now and I’m good with that.”
On the other hand, you might find yourself thinking, “Netflix is my new priority right now and that’s a load of crap!”
This is where the motivation strategies come in. If you tell yourself that your priority has shifted and the feeling that follows is one of dissatisfaction, simply ask yourself, “what do I need to redirect my motivation? So I’m not motivated to watch Netflix, but instead I’m motivated to go on that bike ride.”
Let’s take a look at the six ways you can redirect your motivation.
Intrinsic vs Extrinsic
This is the pairing that you’re most likely familiar with. Intrinsic is being motivated by the process itself – you just love what you’re doing. The process or journey to your destination is so enjoyable that it keeps you moving forward.
Extrinsic, on the other hand, is being motivated by the outcome or the reward in the end. Sometimes this is a very tangible reward like treating yourself to something. But it can also be that feeling of satisfaction when you get to cross an item off your to-do list. The key to this motivation strategy is that you have to be disciplined to only reward yourself when you hit the milestone, not just because you tried.
Reactive vs Proactive
Reactive motivation is being motivated away from something you don’t want. For example, maybe you have a history of diabetes in your family, so that motivates you to eat healthy. Your motivation to eat healthy derives from not wanting to get diabetes. You’re motivated away from something you don’t want.
On the flip side, proactive motivation is being motivated toward something you do want. This typically shows up as setting a goal, creating your plan, sticking to the plan, and ultimately succeeding. If you were to consider health again, you may be proactively motivated to eat healthy because you want to be happy in your body. You have this image of what you’re striving for in the future and you’re making changes to accommodate that future. You’re motivated toward something you want.
For Yourself vs For Others
The final pairing is as straight-forward as it sounds. Motivation for yourself is because of the benefit that you will gain by doing the thing and motivation for others is because of the benefit others will gain by you doing the thing.
Now, motivation for others has a slight complexity to it because the benefit for others can be for the people you already have in your life – your friends, your family, your coworkers, your neighbors – but it can also benefit others whom you haven’t yet met. For example, if you decide to write a book, you may consider all the people who will purchase your book in the future as a motivator to keep you moving forward in the writing process. It can also benefit your family because of the additional income from the publication of your book.
A Word of Caution
You may be tempted to examine these strategies and mark some as better than others. In reality, each of these motivation strategies serve a unique purpose and you can even leverage multiple strategies to accomplish a single project. This is the power behind having this collection of strategies in your back pocket.
When you sit down on the couch to watch Netflix instead of riding your bike, and find yourself feeling dissatisfied, simply ask yourself, “which strategy will help me redirect my motivation toward riding my bike?”
- Is it intrinsic? I know I will enjoy the ride if I take the path along the lake.
- Is it extrinsic? I know I will follow through if I treat myself to ice cream afterwards.
- Is it reactive? I know going on this bike ride will keep me healthy, so I don’t have heart problems.
- Is it proactive? I know a 30-minute ride will get me closer to my ideal weight.
- Is it for yourself? I know this ride will help me feel energized.
- Is it for others? I know this ride will help keep me young, so I can play with my kids longer.
The only right strategy is the one that focuses your motivation in the direction you want to go, so you are eager to take action.
Content provided by Women Belong member Bri Salsman