How to Motivate Yourself
In my article “No One Can Breathe for You” I made the observation that motivation is something that comes from inside you. No one can “motivate” you. This is an internal feeling brought about by your own mind. Those images and thoughts bring about an emotion. The emotion starts you on the path dictated by primarily your emotion, directed by your mind. Notice that I have not discussed the dimensions of how strong the emotion is to you nor in what direction your emotion sends you. Either towards you goal, or away from your goal. See, you can be motivated to do nothing. Mostly this means not achieving what you want out of life. Unless being motivated to do nothing is somehow related to achieving your goals. Let’s break the word “motivation” into the basics again.
- Motion – activities, tasks, things you do or say
- Direction – a goal, an objective, something you wish to accomplish
- Emotion – a feeling inside you
These three things taken together equal motivation.
There is a multiplying affect when these three things are focused towards a single goal.
Direction*Motion*(Emotion)2 = Achievement
Now, here is the really powerful part of motivation. You are in control of the whole equation! Do you realize just how much power and control you have over where you are going and what you achieve in life? This is powerful stuff.
Remember when you were learning to drive a car, or play a musical instrument? Learning how to motivate yourself is just like learning to drive or play a musical instrument. You have to practice. It won’t happen overnight, so don’t worry. But after lot’s of practice you will be wondering “why did I not take control of my life earlier?” Then the fun will begin.
Most everything that I read about goal setting, achievement, and self motivation all revolve around one part of the equation, the direction. They talk about setting aside time, about writing down your goals, about putting in targets and definite dates. So on and so on all about setting a direction and then measuring progress. Most people have very little problem with this part of the equation. Some do, but that is for another blog. The problem occurs when after writing down all that stuff, we still end up sitting around and doing nothing. Then we look at the list and we feel like we are a failure. Which reinforces a feeling that we can’t accomplish what we want. Which in turn leads to more sitting on the sitting on the couch. Ouch!
Instead, let’s start with the most powerful part of the Achievement equation, your emotions. Here’s what I want you to do. I am sure that you have something that you want to do right now. No need to make a list. Maybe it is as simple as getting up and cleaning the kitchen. So, when you find yourself in front of the TV, not doing anything, stop and do the following:
- Think about what you think you should be doing (cleaning the kitchen)
- Imagine yourself getting up and going into the kitchen
- Now STOP, focus inwardly first on what images are in your head right now, also any internal dialog you are having (I always do the dishes)
- Next focus on your emotions. You know, that spot right at your heart. What do you feel? A tightness in your chest? A feeling of unhappiness, unease, what is it?
Okay, now you have found it! This is what I call the pivot point. It is right here, focusing inwardly on your thoughts and emotions, that you can change your direction.
This is where the mind get’s to help set the emotionally direction. Change your thoughts right now. Bring up images of a clean kitchen, what does that feel like? Erase the internal dialog of negativity. Replace it with something positive. Soon, you will get up of the couch and head towards the kitchen. Even while cleaning the kitchen monitor your thoughts and feelings. If you start feeling negative again, pivot towards what you want.
Consider this your training program. Use this technique whenever you find yourself in avoidance. A negative feeling about something you need to do or want to do. This is Drivers Education. Right now you are learning the difference between the accelerator and the brake. Keep trying don’t give up.
And for those of you right now, feeling negative about this approach, stop. Read again this article and try again! Learning how to motivate yourself, because only you have the control, is going to take work. If you are feeling negative about doing the work, then pivot towards what you want.
Good luck to all (really, luck has nothing to do with it, but it makes me feel good)