What Is Motivation?

On a recent session on motivation we spoke about some of the conditions needed to inspire motivation and what motivation means to people. It was interesting to hear some of the different definitions people have of ‘motivation’:

‘Having the will to do something without massive push from outside’

‘Behavioural positive attitude and goal orientated’

‘Anything that helps me get in the right frame of mind to achieve what I need to- it might simply be a pat on the back. Some people require more tangible things to motivate them’

‘Moving forward’

‘The means, mechanisms, tangibles and intangibles that inspire you to achieve’

‘Something that inspires, encourages to do things, Aim, Goal’

‘Inclusion, sense of recognition’

‘Feeling like I want to do something rather than that I have to’

We also asked people to rate their current level of motivation and although we were delighted to see 17% of our attendees said their level of motivation was ‘fantastic’, the fact that 50% of the group reported ‘average’ levels and 33% of the attendees stated they were ‘struggling’, it’s clear that motivation is a hot topic right now.

The truth is that we all need a little boost sometimes, especially right now, so below are 12 tips to get and stay motivated when times are tough.

12 Motivation Tips

  1. Take a step back – sometimes a little perspective can be a powerful thing, so taking time to think ‘will this matter in a week/month/year/five years?’ can be really effective. If it turns out that, yes, that thing will be important, then it might motivate you to crack on and deal with it. If it’s not going to matter, then perhaps you can let it go and focus on something more important.
  2. Focus on the next step – in contrast to tip one, sometimes we need to look at the smaller picture instead of the big one. If you are struggling to get started with a task due to feelings of overwhelm, start small. Take the next step available, and just see what happens. You might just get that next thing done, which is great in itself. Or it might snowball, and before you know it, you’ve done 10 next steps.
  3. Work 10 – similar to the above, this is about taking things a bit at a time. When you’re really struggling to get moving, set yourself a 10 (or even 5) minute timer and just do the task for that time. Give yourself permission to stop once the timer goes, or to carry on if you’re in the flow. Often getting started is the hardest bit, so telling yourself you’ll just do a few minutes can make it seem more achievable.
  4. Keep moving – exercise is great for all aspects of our health and wellbeing, and this includes motivation. Not only will it boost your energy, but you may have a brainwave while out walking or on your exercise bike that suddenly motivates you to get on with that task you’ve been dreading. And if nothing else, you’ll get a hit of endorphins and give your body a well-earned treat.
  5. Find your blocker – when we’re procrastinating, there’s always something blocking out path. This might be feelings of overwhelm, fear, exhaustion, or boredom. Dig deep and evaluate what it is getting in the way and then work out ways to minimise or remove that blocker.
  6. Deconstruct your fears – fear is one of the biggest motivation killers, and can be a particularly challenging blocker to deal with. The key is to really explore that fear and find out whether it’s actually as scary as your mind is saying. Often it’s not, and the easiest way to find out is to ask yourself ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ Once you’ve answered that, you can move on knowing that even if the worst did happen, you can deal with it.
  7. Get a motivation buddy – some people are much more likely to get things done if they are accountable to others. Sometimes this accountability will come from sources such as your boss, customers, or family. But in other situations, you’ll need to find your own motivation/accountability buddy. You can then encourage one another if things get tough and knowing you’re not alone can be a big motivation booster in itself.
  8. Kickstart your day – in short, this is about ‘getting up and getting on’. Don’t give your brain time to distract you with worries, simply get up and get on with whatever you need to do. Once you’ve done one thing, suddenly everything else becomes far more achievable.
  9. Learn something new – sometimes the brain simply needs a break from the routine, and just learning a new skill can be enough to energise your mind. It also serves as a great reminder of how capable you are, which can be powerful when fear or doubt is blocking you from moving forward with something.
  10. Get the right tools – there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to complete a task and being constantly hampered by ineffective equipment, so ensuring you have the right tools is essential. However, tools aren’t just the physical equipment you use, but also things like support networks, knowledge, and time. Do a quick assessment and see what you might need to boost your chances of success.
  11. Tackle frustrating problems head on – there are lots of ways to address big problems such as reframing them, chunking them down into smaller parts, and just taking action. However you choose to do it, it’s good to deal with those ‘big’ things as a priority because ultimately they suck your energy when they’re sitting in the background, so getting it off your plate frees up your brain for everything else.
  12. Develop a mantra – often we get so caught up in what we’re doing and dealing with that we can lose sight of everything else. A mantra can help balance things out by reminding you of basic facts. For example, ‘this too shall pass’ is a good reminder that even the worst life has to offer won’t last forever. ‘I can cope with anything’ is a reminder of how much you’ve already overcome, and that you have the resilience to come back from whatever life throws your way.
    Your mantra can be whatever you want it to be, but it works best if it’s something you truly believe.
  13. (Bonus tip): Think about what it is that motivates you – people on our session told us that ‘success’, ‘satisfaction’, ‘progress’, ‘health’, ‘giving’ and ‘achievement’ motivated them. What word would you choose? And how can you inject more of what motivates you, into your day to day life?

Those are the twelve tips we discussed during the recent webinar, and we hope they help give you the motivation you need, when you need it.

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