Finding motivation

Motivation requires value-congruence, self-esteem, manageable steps, resilience, and routine. Photo by Justin Veenema on Unsplash

At the beginning of their counselling journey, many clients talk about a lack of motivation. In fact, some continue being puzzled or frustrated by a lack of motivation for years. To some extent, we have to allow for lack of motivation to exist on its own terms – we can’t tell ourselves or others to care about life. But it’s worth outlining a few ways to find motivation, if that’s what we want.

  1. Look harder at what truly makes you tick. It’s hard to be motivated about stuff you don’t really care about. Spend some time exploring different people, activities and cultures. You may stumble on a new favourite person, activity or way of doing things that sets you back on fire.
  2. Learn to like yourself. Some lack of motivation is really self-disgust in disguise. If we don’t see a role for ourselves in society (because of fear of rejection), then we will tend to stand back and not participate.
  3. Split life into small goals. Demotivation can be caused by biting off more than we can chew. Having small steps to take means that the gratification of completion is more frequent.
  4. Learn to be briefly uncomfortable. Getting fit requires getting tired. Losing weight requires being hungry. Being independent involves coping with loneliness. Being social involves being irritated. If discomfort is what you fear, everything will be demotivating.
  5. Establish a routine. It’s a myth that motivation is spontaneous. Our bodies are built to recognise environmental patterns and convert them to hormonal patterns. Support your motivation with relevant daily and weekly habits.

The 5 tips can be summarised as this… Motivated people

  1. understand what makes them tick, and align themselves with it.
  2. have learned to like themselves, and don’t fear rejection.
  3. take pleasure in every small step.
  4. can cope with brief discomfort to make progress.
  5. have a relevant daily and weekly routine.

Or even more briefly:

  1. Do what you love
  2. Love yourself
  3. Work in small steps
  4. Expect some pain
  5. Have a routine