Here's your kick up the bum

10th January 2017

Oh hey there, feeling refreshed but sluggish and lazy after the holidays? Kind of a comfortable slump? You know you need to get up and exercise, eat healthy…but there are leftover bad things in arms reach of the couch and you can’t find your motivation…

What the hell is motivation? Official definitions define it as a theoretical construct to explain behaviour. It gives the reason for people’s actions, desires and needs. Or what causes people to want to repeat behaviour. Motivation can be a reason, a reward, a goal or even that feeling of satisfaction or achievement.

If you are saying you lack motivation, is it that you lack a reason or goal? If you are saying you don’t have time or money, is that your reason to change is not strong enough? There is a video going around the internet about the lobster; the lobster out-grows its shell and gets uncomfortable so it sheds its shell and grows a new one to fit. The lobster’s motivation is its discomfort. Same can be said for people, we tend to only make an effort to change or take action when NOT doing it becomes more uncomfortable than just getting it done.

News flash! Motivation comes AFTER action – so you have to start to feel motivated.

Rituals or habits that we create and become so engrained that you don’t have to think is where motivation comes from. Think about it, what’s your morning routine? I get up, feed my cats, have a wee, make coffee and breakfast then I sit on the couch and study for an hour before I get ready for work. This ritual ends as I feed my cats because now I am up and moving. Even when I don’t feel like studying I still open my book and read the pages because that’s the habit I have created. So you don’t feel like exercising? Go put on your workout clothes, just the simple task of putting those clothes on is more likely to make you get up and move because its too easy to say no to, besides, then you’re already most of the way there.

Good news? Newton’s Law of Motion applies to productivity – objects in motion stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force. Same with being productive; once you get started its easier to keep going.

So how do we get started? Keep it as simple as possible, all I have to do is get up and feed my cats then the rest flows. Make a simple task that takes less than 2 minutes to complete, like feeding the cats or putting your workout clothes on and that’s the start!

See, its not so hard – a simple task to get you started. Now lets schedule that task in, we need it to become so engrained in your life that you don’t have to think about it, you do the task and the rest follows. My alarm goes off, I get up and feed the cats.

I’m also a big believer in rewards; it doesn’t need to be big or even physical, rewards can be extrinsic (physical or external to yourself) or intrinsic (internal). When you achieve a milestone you need to acknowledge it and celebrate it in some way. I’m currently studying every day and the date to take my test is looming – for me, passing that test and personal satisfaction and validation of my hard work and new knowledge is my (intrinsic) reward. Doesn’t sound like much, but to me it is important. Its also just a small step in my study journey so bigger rewards to come when I finish the whole thing! Make sure that your rewards are relevant to your goal, so if your goal is to eat healthy the whole week; don’t reward yourself with naughty food – its counter-productive, give yourself a high-5 and aim for the next goal maybe at that stage you buy yourself a new top or see that movie.

Eventually these new behaviours or actions become habits, engrained in normal everyday life, so working towards your goal(s) becomes second nature.

My last tip, keep a record of your progress. If your goal is to get a pole move, take photos or videos every week and keep them together. Then when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere you can look back over your collection and see the progress for yourself.

So go on, get up and make one small step towards your goal!

~ Jacinta Diamonds